Last year the preseason projections project at BCB took a bit of a different form wherein I rambled a bit about groups of players and then chose whether I thought the over or under was more likely for a given player's production. I am going all in on this concept this year.
It's going to be simple. In each of these posts we will tackle a starter-- 8 in the field and 5 in the rotation. I'll give you a summary of projections from some of the base systems and provide a bit of commentary. I'll also make a call on the over/under. Then there will be a poll asking for your input on the over/under, which will allow us to do some potentially interesting aggregation at the end. And you're more than welcome to join me in making your opinion publicly accountable by posting it in the comments, so we can figure out who is most right and who is most wrong next winter.
Let's get this thing underway with Jonathan Lucroy. Steamer projections are provided for an additional reference point; we'll be doing all of the over/unders based on the player's ZiPS projection, so the number in the bottom right corner of the table is the one to keep in mind.
There were only a handful of position players more valuable to their team last year than Lucroy, and once you take into account his stellar pitch-framing abilities that probably bump his defense ability from way above average to best-in-baseball levels, there was maybe no one but Mike Trout who was more valuable. Still, it's hard to expect that level of production each year, especially at a position as strenuous as catcher.
Lucroy is only 28 this season, so it's not like we're projecting a decline phase of his career- it's just that a lot of things have to break right to have a season like he did last year, and the odds are against him repeating it. ZiPS is still plenty optimistic about his hitting ability. If Lucroy is in fact the everyday first baseman against left-handed starting pitchers, he will gain some offensive production at the expense of defense. I just have a hard time banking on a catcher to put up near as many plate appearances as he did last year, which is why I'll take the Under. If Lucroy doesn't spend any time on the DL, he beats the line, but that's not a bet I'm willing to make.
Feel free to tell me why I'm wrong below.