As everyone gears up for the start of Major League Baseball’s regular season, Jay Jaffe over at FanGraphs has been releasing power rankings for every position based on ZIPS, Steamer, and their depth chart projections. While Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA projections were quite high on the collection of offensive depth on the SF Giants roster, FanGraphs’s rankings are far less favorable to San Francisco’s hitters. While PECOTA projects 12 different hitters in the Giants system to be at least league-average performers, FanGraphs only projects 6 hitters to produce a weighted on-base average (wOBA) above .320 (considered a league-average benchmark).
FanGraphs positional power rankings (SF Giants rank in parenthesis)
First Base (12)
Second Base (19)
Third Base (27)
Left Field (20)
Center Field (24)
Right Field (10)
Without much star power, the Giants have leaned on offensive depth to carry them during Farhan Zaidi’s tenure. PECOTA seems high on their ability to generate average or better offense from maximizing player platoons and utilizing their depth. One might expect that the platoon pair of Austin Slater and Alex Dickerson to make a formidable duo in left field. FanGraphs’ projections are skeptical of either playing offering enough offensively to generate above-average production.
That trend tracks throughout the projections. Holdovers like Evan Longoria, Brandon Belt, and Brandon Crawford are all projected to take major steps back this season from their performances in 2020, while younger players like Slater, Dickerson, and Mauricio Dubón are projected to regress as well.
There are obvious caveats that come with any projection system. They are not a reflection of qualitative scouting reports but historical averages based on players of similar track-records. Of course, these projections do not consider swing changes and are often highly skeptical of players that lack extended big-league experience. Needless to say, the SF Giants hope to prove FanGraphs’ projections wrong in 2021.