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2019 Rockies projections: Depth in the rotation and the outfield

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The Rockies look to have a lot of capable outfielders

Another major projection system released its view of the Rockies in 2019. ZiPS, hosted on FanGraphs, sees the Rockies in a similar manner as Baseball Prospectus’s PECOTA. It’s another positive outlook for the upcoming season.

The biggest positive is in the rotation. Like PECOTA, ZiPS views German Márquez as not only the best pitcher on the Rockies’ staff, but one of the best pitchers in baseball. It’s lower on Kyle Freeland, but it still projects him for 2.9 Wins Above Replacement. Interestingly, Antonio Senzatela and Jon Gray are forecasted to have about the same value, 2.4 and 2.5 WAR, respectively. It’s not surprising to see another bounce back projection for Gray, but it is surprising to see such a high projection for Senzatela.

The major positive in the lineup is at first base, where Daniel Murphy is projected for 2.1 WAR. Given that Rockies first baseman put up a collective -1.8 WAR in 2018, that would be a significant improvement. Unfortunately, the guy responsible for -0.7 of that 2018 first base WAR is still projected to get a ton of playing time, this time at a much harder defensive position. I’m talking, of course, about Ian Desmond.

At Spring Training, Bud Black told Nick Groke that Desmond will primarily be a center fielder in 2019. With that position in mind, Desmond is projected for 0.2 WAR. I’m pretty sure a lot of Rockies fans would be satisfied with that output, but it’s only a positive in relative terms, unless you were really happy about Adam Engel’s 2018.

To make matters more frustrating, both David Dahl and Raimel Tapia are both projected to outperform Desmond in 2019 — 1.4 WAR for Dahl and 1.5 WAR for Tapia — and from the sound of it Desmond is all but guaranteed to get a lot more playing time than both of them. Even Mike Tauchman is projected for 1.7 WAR on the strength of his defense. But this is just shouting into the void at this point. Let’s just hope Desmond dramatically over performs this projection, and that if he doesn’t and repeats his 2018 Black will do the eminently thinkable and move Desmond to a reserve role.

Other ZiPS tidbits:

  • ZiPS thinks Brendan Rodgers could hold his own in the majors starting right now.
  • Márquez’s top comp is Roy Oswalt, which is good.
  • Senzatela’s top comp is Milt Pappas, which is a good name.
  • Arenado’s top comp is 1981 World Series co-MVP Ron Cey, which makes me wonder who Arenado will have to share that award with in 2019.
  • ZiPS believes in Charlie Blackmon, consistently good player, as it projects him to have about the same quality season he had in 2018.
  • ZiPS is not a fan of the Chris Iannetta/Tony Wolters catching duo, but catching is also the most difficult position to evaluate.
  • From a writing standpoint, Dan Szymborski is snarky as hell in his writeup of the projections, but he’s not wrong.