In case you aren't familiar, ZiPS is a projection system that forecasts player performances for the coming season and beyond. If you want a more technical description, here's one courtesy of Fangraphs,
(ZiPS is) the work of Dan Szymborski over at Baseball Think Factory, the ZiPS projections uses weighted averages of four years of data (three if a player is very old or very young), regresses pitchers based on DIPS theory and BABIP rates, and adjusts for aging by looking at similar players and their aging trends.
While Epstein may not have used this particular model in Boston, it's certain that he does use some sort of projection system to assign value to players (as he put it) for what they will do in the future rather than what they have done in the past. Here are the ZiPS projections for some of the current Chicago Cubs. Keep in mind, though, that these projections are based on general patterns and cannot account for individual improvement. It only measures tangible information and the projections assume a full or near full season for each player as a starter.
Among the highlights (and lowlights):
- A slight dropoff in power for both Alfonso Soriano and Aramis Ramirez. Both are projected to hit 21 HRs.
- It projects Starlin Castro to have pretty much the same year he had in 2011.
- Bryan LaHair as an above average offensive player with an OPS+ of 107. As far as traditional stats, it has him hitting .262 with 24 HRs and 77 RBI.
- Brett Jackson has a right around league average 99+ OPS. Traditional stats include a .254 avg with a .335 OBP, 16 HRs and 22 SBs
- It projects Tony Campana to have a .273 avg (.317 OBP) with 44 SB
- They have Josh Vitters hitting .260 with 14 HRs but with a woeful .297 OBP.
- Matt Garza: 12-9, 3.52 ERA and 181 Ks.
- Interestingly it pegs both Ryan Dempster and Carlos Zambrano as league average pitchers (96+ ERA). They have each as .500 (ish) pitchers with an ERA of about 4.25.
- Andrew Cashner is the only pitcher besides Garza whom ZiPS projects to be above league average. They have his ERA at 3.76 and splitting the year between the bullpen and the rotation.
- Trey McNutt projects to a 5-7 record and a 4.95 ERA
- Nick Struck is at 6-10 with a 5.29 ERA, but unfortunately, there's no projection for Chris Rusin.
- Chris Carpenter is projected to shuttle between the rotation and the bullpen (do they know something the rest of us don't?), and an ERA of 5.11 overall.
- Amongst the relievers, Marshall, Marmol, and Wood project as above average.
- Jeff Beliveau has the best ERA of the rookies with 4.24. Fellow lefties John Gaub and Scott Maine project to 4.35 and 4.37 ERAs respectively. Beliveau and Gaub project to over a strikeout per inning while Maine is just under that mark.
- Rafael Dolis projects to have a 5.04 ERA
- Starlin Castro comps are ..1) Derek Jeter 2) Robin Yount 3) George Brett. Now that's pretty good company. We have actually made the comparison with the first two right here on this site.
- Bryan LaHair's best comp is Greg Walker
- Brett Jackson's first comp is Bernie Williams. I'll take that.
- Tony Campana's first two comps are Willie Tavares and Willie McGee. That is far better than I would have expected.
- For some reason, Steve Clevenger's first comp is...Steve Clevenger. That doesn't help. I'm assuming that's a typo. His second comp is none other than AJ Pierzynski.
- DJ LeMahieu's best comp is Julio Franco
- You don't want to know Tyler Colvin's comps. They're all fringe major leaguers.
- Josh Vitters comps are former Cubs farmhand Casey McGehee and Wilson Betemit. You'd expect more from a #3 pick overall.
- Pitching comps were nothing to get excited about. I'll let you guys look those up.
There's lots more interesting stuff to browse through, including a lot of stuff on Starlin Castro, who ZiPS projects as a consistent 5 WAR player in his prime with good OBP and slugging numbers. You can see the rest by clicking on this link.