The Pittsburgh Pirates 2023 ZiPS projections were released on Thursday, and as you would expect with computer related models, there definitely were some interesting results.
If you aren’t familiar with ZiPS, here’s a quick rundown on MLB.com. Here are some highlights from the projections:
— After his breakout 2022 season, it’s of little surprise that there will be a lot of hype surrounding Endy Rodriguez this upcoming year, and ZiPS is no exception. Despite just 37 games above A-Ball, ZiPS is glowing on what could be Rodriguez’s rookie year, projecting 14 home runs, 66 RBI, a 105 OPS+ and 2.6 WAR.
— The Pirates have been super aggressive this offseason in improving the first base position, and these projections certainly show that. They have Carlos Santana and Ji-Man Choi combing for 27 home runs and a 2.3 WAR. That’s a far cry from the -3.0 collective WAR they got from the first base position in 2022.
— Another concern was the bullpen, and even before they go out and look for some external help, they should get a big boost from players returning from injury. Yerry De Los Santos and Colin Holderman will be returning from seasons cut short in 2022, and should help out the bullpen.
For De Los Santos, he is projected to strikeout 43 batters in as many innings as well as 101 ERA+ and 0.3 WAR. Robert Stephenson was a waiver wire pickup with former top prospect pedigree, and in a full season with the Pirates is projected to finish with the second highest ERA+ on the team (113), behind just David Bednar (128).
Maybe the biggest surprise from the reliever side of things, Nick Dombkowski getting a 0.5 WAR and 100 ERA+. After being signed as an undrafted free agent, Dombkowski is emerging as a left handed reliever candidate after a strong 2022 that saw him finish in Altoona.
— The rotation picture is still a little cloudy, but they do have plenty of options that they can explore going into 2023.
Roansy Contreras is expected to finish with the highest ERA+ (113) and WAR (1.7). He’s also the only one of the starters to finish with an above average ERA+.
Mitch Keller and JT Brubaker, two of the other seeming locks to finish in the rotation for now, have similar WAR and ERA+ projections, and both are expected to top at least 120 innings.
Of the starters, there is one intriguing name up there. He won’t pitch in 2023 due to injury, and he isn’t a big strikeout guy, but the projections were really kind to lefty Trey McGough. With some of the best control in the season, McGough had a 96 ERA+, 4.18 FIP, and 1.0 WAR across 78 innings.
Highlight of the Day
Pirates Prospects Daily
By Tim Williams
**Every year I do an article using the ZiPS projections. I’ll have some form of that this year, but right now I’m in producer mode. The biggest thing I’m working on: Setting up a better ad network than the spammy stuff on Google Adsense. More to come in the next week.
**This week on Roundtable, we looked at whether the Pirates can have a winning season in 2023.
**The Pirates received the last competitive balance pick in 2023. They will pick at the end of Competitive Balance Round B after the second round, although the draft order isn’t fully set for that range yet.
**There are a lot of left-handed pitchers to choose from in the Rule 5 draft. John Dreker recaps the most notable lefties who have been discussed ahead of next week’s winter meetings.
**Baseball America released their top ten Pirates prospects, and Endy Rodriguez took the top spot.
**Diego Castillo reached base three times on Wednesday. John Dreker has the latest Pirates winter league updates.
**Missed yesterday? Anthony looked at catching prospect Carter Bins and the crowded catching picture.
Song of the Day
Pirates Prospects Weekly
I love editing these weekly Roundtable articles. I get a chance to read what everyone else has to say, giving me a chance to be a reader for a fully-formed article. There’s a lot that I learn from these, as each writer tends to take their own approach, which leads to covering topics from all angles.
This week’s Roundtable looks at whether the Pirates can have a winning season in 2023. The answer was a universal “no”, however the information included within gives a great breakdown of what lies ahead for the Pirates.
Jeff Reed has the latest Pirates Discussion hitting the site on Friday at noon.