2021 ZiPS Projections: San Diego Padreson November 19, 2020 at 4:20 pm

2021 ZiPS Projections: San Diego Padres

After having typically appeared in the hallowed pages of Baseball Think Factory, Dan Szymborski’s ZiPS projections have now been released at FanGraphs for nine years. The exercise continues this offseason. Below are the projections for the San Diego Padres.


Not that there was any real chance that his 2019 debut was a fluke, but Fernando Tatis Jr. kept it going in 2020, proving very deserving of his place in the NL MVP voting. Tatis is probably the most likely of the game’s young starts to pull a Mike Trout and make the Padres’ 90-win challenge simply one of building a .500 team around him. And so far, they’ve more than done that! Tatis finally got his middle infield partner, which rather than being Luis Urias, came in the form of Jake Cronenworth, seemingly the umpteenth high minors second baseman with power developed by the Rays in the last decade. Cronenworth’s 2019 minor league breakout looked quite real once he reached the bigs.

Eric Hosmer‘s projection is hardly exciting — he’s likely the worst player in the lineup unless the NL retains the DH in 2021 — but his increased loft and resulting success over the short season was enough to bump up his win projection by more than a win since last winter. It still remains to be seen if the increased loft will continues — he’s had spikes before and his groundball percentage steadily increased over the course of 2020 — but there’s certainly more reason for optimism than before that his deal will avoid landing on a list of baseball’s most notorious signings and instead be merely a run-of-the-mill bad idea.

Manny Machado‘s season was encouraging, with his .950 OPS the best mark of his career. This is a particularly good sign after a relatively weak first year in San Diego. His .256/.334/.462 2019 line could hardly be described as a debacle, but it wasn’t the kind of performance the Padres had in mind when they gave him the richest contract in team history. If you’re disappointed that his top comp is “only” Sal Bando, I’d recommend you go do some Sal Bando research! Don’t worry, I’ll wait. That’s kind of how text works.


The Padres have a few really fun top comps that I rarely get in ZiPS. Tatis received Alex Rodriguez and MacKenzie Gore got the ultra-rare Steve Carlton comp (it was number two for him last year). My favorite, however, is the comp for Dinelson Lamet, one of my breakout candidates in 2020 who worked out (let’s not talk about Adrian Houser). There’s an annual ZiPS tradition of some middling veteran reliever getting a Bob Gibson comp, forcing me to remind people that there’s another Bob Gibson. It has happened enough that I’ve even changed his name in my database to Not That Bob Gibson, the companion to Other Frank Thomas and I Don’t Know Which Jeff Robinson This Is. Lamet, one of the other hand, got the Bob Gibson, which I do not believe has happened before. Now, it’s Bob Gibson before he had his huge breakout, but I’ll still take it!

Losing Mike Clevinger for the 2021 season is a huge blow, as he was projected as the best starter in the rotation, but it’s not a crippling one. There are still plenty of options, with upside in Gore and Lamet as well as Chris Paddack and Luis Patino, plus a couple of returning innings-eaters in Zach Davies and Joey Lucchesi to limit the risk. I still think the Padres should add another starter for depth, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Similarly, moving on from Kirby Yates isn’t ideal, but Austin Adams has long been a favorite of ZiPS and was a sneaky good pickup in the Austin Nola trade while recovering from ACL surgery. He’ll likely be on the team long after Nola and Dan Altavilla have moved on. Adams’ bread-and-butter isn’t a splitter like Yates throws but a nasty slider he learned to throw reliably in 2019. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him as the closer eventually and go down as yet another in the Nationals puzzling list of relievers they gave up on for nothing.

One pedantic note for 2021: For the WAR graphic, I’m using FanGraphs’ depth charts playing time, not the playing time ZiPS spits out, so there will be occasional differences in WAR totals.

Ballpark graphic courtesy Eephus League. Depth charts constructed by way of those listed here.

Players are listed with their most recent teams wherever possible. This includes players who are unsigned, players who will miss 2021 due to injury, and players who were released in 2020. So yes, if you see Joe Schmoe, who quit baseball back in August to form a Finnish industrial death metal fourth-wave ska J-pop band, he’s still listed here intentionally.

Both hitters and pitchers are ranked by projected zWAR, which is to say, WAR values as calculated by me, Dan Szymborski, whose surname is spelled with a z. WAR values might differ slightly from those which appear in the full release of ZiPS. Finally, I will advise anyone against — and might karate chop anyone guilty of — merely adding up WAR totals on a depth chart to produce projected team WAR. ZiPS is assuming that the designated hitter will continue in force in 2021; if it does not, there will be widespread minor adjustments across the board come April.

ZiPS is agnostic about future playing time by design. For more information about ZiPS, please refer to this article, or get angry at Dan on Twitter or something.

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