I’m a few days late on this, but Dan Szymborski released the 2011 ZiPS projections for Pirates players on Sunday. There is nothing all that earth-shattering in the projections, but there are some certainly a few interesting things to note.
The projection for Tony Sanchez immediately jumps out to me. ZiPS sees him posting the second highest on-base percentage among all Pirates hitters, at .353. Overall, Sanchez comes up with an OPS+ of 99, pretty similar to the projected 102 for Ryan Doumit. Other catchers Chris Snyder (88), Erik Kratz (85), Kris Watts (74) and Jason Jaramillo (69) lag far behind those two. After watching Sanchez catch a few innings in the Arizona Fall League’s Rising Stars game over the weekend, it is easy to see that he is already a far better defender than Doumit. Sanchez has not played above High-A, and he certainly needs plenty of reps after missing so much time with the broken jaw, but I wonder if we should expect to see him in Pittsburgh fairly soon.
John Bowker (102), Steve Pearce (102) and Garrett Jones (101) are all projected to produce an OPS+ near league average. Expect to see those three play prominent roles in any right field/first base platoons next season.
Based on these projections, the Pirates could have seven starting position players around or above average offensively. Shortstop is the only exception, with Ronny Cedeno’s projected .253/.295/.385 being the best option.
The starting pitching projections are ugly. Rudy Owens has a projected ERA of 4.62, which is better than Zach Duke (4.87), Charlie Morton (4.95), Jeff Karstens (5.06) and Brad Lincoln (5.35). That Lincoln projection is especially disheartening.