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Brewers 2015 ZiPS projections released

One of the more notable projection systems in baseball's numbers are out for the 2015 Brewers. What does it expect from the team next year?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Dan Szymborski's ZiPS projections have been released for the Milwaukee Brewers. Here is the Brewers projected lineup, with their ZiPS line:

Carlos Gomez .277 .336 .482 22
Jonathan Lucroy .290 .351 .454 14
Ryan Braun .287 .353 .500 27
Aramis Ramirez .278 .332 .440 14
Adam Lind .291 .356 .468 15
Khris Davis .253 .320 .473 21
Scooter Gennett .286 .318 .415 11
Jean Segura .277 .318 .390 9

And starting rotation:

Player ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9
Yovani Gallardo 3.94 3.92 7.54 2.95 1.05
Wily Peralta 4.21 4.27 7.11 3.60 1.02
Kyle Lohse 3.91 4.17 6.28 1.93 1.21
Matt Garza 3.82 3.82 7.52 2.68 1.02
Mike Fiers 4.05 4.00 8.24 2.43 1.28
Jimmy Nelson 3.95 3.98 7.90 3.95 0.78

A few notes that I take away from these projections:

  • That Ryan Braun line is encouraging, but I'm going to trust it less than I do any of the other projections. There's just too much up in the air for anyone to accurately predict where Braun will fall, and the computer certainly isn't accounting for the likelihood of Braun coming back healthy from an uncertain thumb procedure. His ZiPS projection would once again make him the best hitter on the team with a .367 wOBA, a huge step up from a 2014 wOBA of .340.
  • The above lineup would, according to the Baseball Musings Lineup Analysis Tool, score 4.415 runs per game. The 2014 Brewers scored 4.012 runs per game. That's a difference of 65 runs over a full season. The best lineup would feature Lind at leadoff, Braun second and Segura ninth and would be expected to score 4.652 runs per game.
  • I think the most outright wrong projection is likely to be that of Wily Peralta. In 2014, Peralta had a 3.53 ERA, a 4.11 FIP, struck out seven batters per nine innings, and had the look of a future ace. ZiPS has him taking a step back next year, I think mostly due to his BB/9 worsening which is, admittedly, a decent possibility given his history. I think his strikeouts will increase, though, and he'll be able to work around any control issues. Personal opinion, but I think Peralta ends up being the best pitcher on the staff in 2015. Then again, I thought Marco Estrada was a dark horse for that honor in 2014.
  • As far as home runs go, Braun is projected to lead the team with 27. Second and third, however, aren't even likely to be on the Brewers next year. Mark Reynolds is included as the Brewers were the last team he played for, but his projected 25 homers won't be back. Meanwhile, Matt Clark is now blocked by fellow lefty Adam Lind. Still, 23 homers and a .243/.310/.447 line from Clark wouldn't be so bad to have on the bench. The problem is he doesn't backup any positions of need.
  • The ZiPS projections show how balanced the Brewers rotation is, which is both a good and bad thing. Not one of those six players would be bad (according to this), but none project to be a top-of-the-line starter in 2015. The Brewers lack an ace, but they'll have a solid pitcher going out every night. Though the starting staff is already six-deep, they sure could use a bonafide number one pitcher. Those aren't easy to come by, though, and it's arguable whether it's worth it for the Brewers to try and acquire one.
  • The bench options don't exactly look promising at the plate. Gerardo Parra (if he sticks around) will be solid enough especially given his defense, but Luis Jimenez (.302 wOBA), Elian Herrera (.292 wOBA), Hector Gomez (.271 wOBA), Logan Schafer (.280 wOBA), etc. etc all look like an ugly bunch. The Brewers may like defensive-oriented players for backups, but they'll need someone who can hit, too. Jason Rogers (.313 wOBA) could be that guy well backing up first and third, but he's probably more likely to start the year in Triple-A.
  • Similarly, the bullpen doesn't look superb by these measures. ZiPS expects Will Smith to be the best reliever by FIP (3.27) while presumed closer Jonathan Broxton is best by ERA (3.44). Most of the bullpen is in the high-3.00s to low-4.00s in ERA. ZiPS thinks Smith and Jim Henderson will put up strong strikeout numbers. If I'm remembering right, though, ZiPS tends to underrate pitching a bit, especially with relievers.
  • When it comes to defense, ZiPS doesn't project any Brewer to be a huge deficiency. Meanwhile, Carlos Gomez, Gerardo Parra and Jonathan Lucroy all get a big boost to their WAR from their gloves.
In the end, ZiPS (and any projection system) is mostly a fun thing to look over in the middle of the offseason rather than something we should take as gospel. It is a good way to start thinking about what we might be able to expect from the 2015 Brewers, though.

Is there any major takeaway you have from the ZiPS projections?