5 SF Giants ZIPS Takeaways:
Positive: Mike Yastrzemski
Some fans might be underwhelmed by Mike Yastrzemski‘s projection, but it’s important to remember two things. First, projection models are naturally conservative. Since they build off expected values, which are formed from averages of previous performances, they naturally tend towards the middle of the pack. Secondly, Yastrzemski was a fringe Quad-A player that seemed likely to leave baseball without ever making significant contributions at the big-league level less than two years ago.
Now, ZIPS is projecting him to hit 22 home runs, produce a .261/.341/.477 triple-slash, and 3.2 WAR in 2021. It may not be the MVP-caliber performance he posted this year, but it’s easily an above-average big-league starter. On Opening Day in 2019, the Giants starting outfielders were Connor Joe, Steven Duggar, and Michael Reed. If fans had known one above-average starter would come out of that trio, it would have been a win. Most probably would have predicted it would be Duggar, but the fact that it was a career minor-leaguer who few fans had heard of at that point should not make a difference.
When Farhan Zaidi was hired as the Giants president of baseball operations, one of the most common asks from fans was one simple thing: find the next Max Muncy. Muncy was a solid prospect with the Oakland Athletics who could never find consistent success. Then, after joining the Dodgers, produced 10 WAR in two seasons. If you pace Yastrzemski’s 2020 season over a 162-game campaign, he has produced roughly 9.5 WAR since debuting in 2019.
Muncy regressed mightily this season, but no one doubts that he’s an above-average everyday player. Giants fans should prepare for the same thing with Yastrzemski. Even if his numbers take a step back from his .297/.400/.568 triple-slash this season, he clearly looks like an above-average everyday player by both the eye test and statistical tools like ZIPS. That’s a mission accomplished.