Projections aren't predictions. Projections in baseball are simply a likely income based on what we already know. If the rain in Spain falls mainly in the plains, then we can project that the majority of rain in Spain will fall there. But we can not predict it.
ZiPS was created by Dan Szymborski of Baseball Think Factory. It uses 3-4 years of history to project what a player will most likely do over the course of a season. No projection system can be perfectly accurate, but using likelihoods, we can use these systems to make timely and wise fantasy decisions. Whether it be on the trade market, or on the waiver wire.
ZiPS updates as the season goes on, and we can see how they best project a player will do over the course of a season. If a player is doing especially better than originally thought, most likely the RoS stats will be lower, and vice versa.
Here are some notable ZiPS RoS Projections:
RoS: .267/.390/.579, 26 HR, 61 RBI, 60 R
Bautista can't slug .795 all year can he? CAN HE?! Facing impossible odds, he is so far outdoing his 54 home run season and nobody thought he would ever do that. He's probably one, if not the, hardest player in baseball to project because his last 4 years of data, minus last year, don't nearly identify what kind of a hitter Bautista is.
Still, those are pretty good numbers for any player. It doesn't mean you have to sell high on Bautista just because he might "only" hit 26 home runs over the rest of the season. But it's reasonable to suggest he won't finish with 60. Then again, who knows?
Its also interesting that Bautista, in this scenario, would only finish with 93 RBI. But he's got only 32 so far to go along with his 19 HR. Lots of solo-shots for the big fella.
RoS: .295/.339/.379, 5 HR, 31 RBI, 57 R, 23 SB
As an M's fan, I adore Ichiro. I've seen him rack up 10 consecutive 200 hit, Gold Glove, All-Star seasons. He is a first ballot Hall of Famer, and he has never really appeared to slow down... until now.
Though Ichiro is a notoriously slow-starter, and 37 years old, I can't sit here and tell you that I know what he is going to do for the rest of the season. I've seen people doubt him for his entire career in the states. Any moment that he seems to lose "it" he goes on a hitting binge that would put him right amongst the league leaders again. There does appear to be some decline in Ichiro over the last 3 years, but a decline from what? His .352 average in 2009? Where is he supposed to go from there?
Everybody thought Ichiro was figured out by pitchers in 2003 when he hit .312. Then he hit .372 in 2004.
Ichiro adjusts to you, not the other way around. He can't be figured out. He is an enigma. If these projections hold true, it will mean that he doesn't reach .300 or 200 hits for the first time in his career. He's still be valuable on the basepaths, but without all those hits and high average, it would be a very sad Ichiro and a very sad me.
RoS: .261/.355/.461, 12 HR, 45 RBI, 5 SB
As it currently stands, Joyce is hitting .367/.431/.639 with 8 HR and 26 RBI. It's not just that Matt Joyce can't sustain that, its that very few players this side of Ted Williams can sustain production like that.
If going into the season you were told that Joyce would hit 20 HR and drive in 71 with a .300 batting average, you would happily take him on a late round flier. It's not incredible production overall, but it's good value. Still, if you were to acquire Joyce now, you might only get the lesser part of that flier, and how much are you going to pay for that?
Still, there's not a lot of data on what Joyce could actually do since he had only 261 PA's with the Rays last year and 103 PA's in his major league career before that. He's not super young (turning 27 in August) but he could be in line for a couple peak seasons right now that put him in that 20-25 HR range. I remember Joyce as being a good, not great, prospect for the Tigers and now he's getting regulat PT with Tampa.
You could sell high on Joyce and nobody would blame you. I'm just not sure how far he will regress, but it could be a cliff.
RoS: 10-5, 3.26 ERA, 2.72 FIP, 9.46 K/9
Grienke has given up 5 HR in 28 innings, but has otherwise been phenomenal. We can't expect his HR/FB rate to continue to creep around 20% all season or for only 52% of runners to be stranded. These are the main reasons for his 5.79 ERA this season. Otherwise, he's been every bit as good as advertised in his first trip to the NL.
In 28 innings, Grienke has struck out 39 and walked 3. Those kind of numbers match up really favorably with the likes of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee. And it was only 2 years ago that Grienke put up perhaps the best season by a pitcher since Randy Johnsons 2004. (It was the highest WAR by a pitcher since that year)
I don't know that Grienke is a buy-low candidate right now, I would highly doubt that. But he might be a bought at a fair price right now, compared to what could be a premium by the time July rolls around. He's been as good as anybody over the last month.
RoS: 8-7, 4.27 ERA, 3.42 FIP, 7.40 K/9
ZiPS is actually pretty fair with Masterson. Where you might expect to see serious regression for him, he's actually projected to continue to be an above average pitcher who will raise his K rate.
Currently, Justin sits with a 2.50 ERA and a 2.98 FIP. If his projection holds true, he would still finish with a true breakout season, despite his continued struggles against lefties. But Masterson, like the Indians, is still projected to regress back somewhat. It shouldn't be too discouraging though for a player and a team not expected to do a whole lot this season.
The Indians should feel very happy that they traded a rental of Victor Martinez for Masterson, Nick Hagadone (1.67 ERA in 15 minor league games this year) and Bryan Price. Masterson has already paid off dividends and the Indians are chugging along. You can expect to get good production out of him going forward, but probably not as good as what he has done once he gives up a few more home runs and strands a few less batters.