Last week, Fangraphs published its ZiPS projected standings for 2023 with the SF Giants finishing with an 88-74 record. All was right with the world. The Giants were not projected to win the NL West but they were expected to be surprisingly competitive. I can live with that but I understand if others cannot.
However, the mood has changed in the past 24 hours. Baseball Prospectus published its own PECOTA projected standings for next season and the Giants are penciled in to go 82-80 with a 23.8 percent chance at reaching the playoffs. Nothing has actually changed, it is just a difference of opinion between two projections.
PECOTA projected standings paints different picture than ZiPS for SF Giants fans
82-80 would not be a bad outcome for the Giants. However, it would represent a one-win improvement compared to the 2022 team. With 82 wins, the Giants would fall well short of playoff contention.
Seven teams would be ahead of them in the standings, which would be the same result as last season. Not making any progress in the National League standings would be a bad sign for both the coaching staff and the front office.
Dan Szymborksi of Fangraphs offered commentary with the projections. If the Giants were to win 88 games, it would be due to a good bill of health and strong depth. The Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres are both superior teams, but Szymborksi maintains that the Dodgers have gotten worse this winter whereas the Padres do not have enough quality depth in the rotation.
The Giants can weather an injury or two. In fact, they have built a roster around it. The front office has six starting pitchers under contract with several more options on the 40-man roster. They have also added some non-roster depth with Joe Ross and Sean Newcomb. Of course, Kyle Harrison will be the name to watch if he performs in Triple-A.
The lineup will have some length to it. It may not have a true impact bat, but the middle of the order should present problems for opposing pitchers and the bottom part of the lineup consisting of Brandon Crawford and Joey Bart should be able to do occasional damage.
However, Baseball Prospectus did not offer any commentary. Similar to many Giants fans, the projections are likely bearish on the fact that the Giants do not have any impact players outside of Logan Webb. Plus, Michael Conforto and Mitch Haniger represent the two key additions to the lineup, but their production will be correlated with the number of games each outfielder plays. That is the case with any player, but both Conforto and Haniger are high in terms of injury risk.
Nevertheless, it would not be surprising to see the Giants finish somewhere in between 82 wins (PECOTA) and 88 wins (ZiPS). Is that enough to reach the playoffs? That remains to be seen but the Giants should be somewhere on the fringes of the playoff picture if they are not entrenched in it by the end of the season.
I like projections because it is what front offices use when evaluating rosters. Plus, it offers a more objective look at how a team or player might perform. At the end of the day, the games still need to be played. A favorable or unfavorable projection does not change that fact.