Fangraphs’ ZiPS projections have been released and like previous projections, the Milwaukee Brewers are on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.
It’s that time of the year now with baseball back, that we are starting to see record projections for the upcoming 2020 season. A few have already been released and both have the Milwaukee Brewers taking a step back this year, albeit at varying degrees, after posting 89 wins in 2019.
A few weeks ago, USA Today has projected that the Brewers would finish the season 84-78 just one game out of the second wildcard spot. Meanwhile, PECOTA is really down on Milwaukee this year as they are projecting a final record of 79-83 which puts the Crew in fourth place in the NL Central.
And most recently in Fangraphs ZiPS projections, the Milwaukee Brewers are splitting the difference between USA Today and PECOTA with a final record in 2020 of 82-80. And while above .500, they are still on the outside looking in when it comes to the playoffs.
Now, before we dive into ZiPS projected standings, here is the process that Dan Szymborski goes through to project each team’s final record:
“Stored within ZiPS is the first through 99th percentile projections for each player it projects. I start by making a generalized depth chart, using our depth charts as an initial starting point. Since these are my curated projections, I then make changes based on my personal feelings on who will receive playing time, as filtered by arbitrary whimsy my logic and reasoning. ZiPS then generates a million versions of each team in Monte Carlo fashion.
After this is done, then ZiPS applies another set of algorithms with a generalized distribution of injury risk, which changes the baseline PAs/IPs selected for each player. Of note is that higher-percentile projections already have more playing time than lower-percentile projections before this step. It then automatically “fills in” playing time from the next players on the list (proportionally) to get to 700 plate appearances for each position and 1458 innings.
What I end up with is a million different rosters for each team and an associated winning percentage for each of those million teams. After applying the new strength of schedule calculations, based on the other 29 teams, I then end up with the standings for each of the million years.”
In addition to their overall record of 82-80, ZiPS is projecting that the Brewers have a 23 percent chance of winning the division, which is the second-best odds behind Chicago. They also have a 30.4 percent chance of making the playoffs, and a 1.9 percent chance of winning the World Series.
And as expected by many as well as the other projections, the NL Central is going to be a gauntlet. ZiPS has the Cubs winning the division but just with 85 wins and they are the only division winner that doesn’t reach the 90 win mark. In second place is a tie between Milwaukee and St. Louis with 82 wins each and they are closely followed by Cincinnati with 81 wins.
However, while it can be discouraging that another computer-generated projection has the Milwaukee Brewers missing the playoffs, what we can glean from this is that between Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Cincinnati, the division is truly up for grabs between those four teams.
I mean, of the million simulations that the computer runs, the final projection has these four teams all within four games of each other. So even with all of these simulations, it’s difficult to consistently pinpoint one clear-cut winner.
On the flip side, it’s easy to see why these projections aren’t very high on the Brewers this year either. This offseason they lost key contributors to free agency, which includes Mike Moustakas, Yasmani Grandal, Jordan Lyles, and Drew Pomeranz.
Also, players that had huge roles in the team’s success over the past few seasons were either let go or traded away. And to replace this group, GM David Stearns has brought in a number of low-cost options that have the potential for solid seasons but they also come with low floors as well.
Overall there is just a lot of unknowns surrounding this 2020 Brewers team.
Yet ultimately these are just projections and in the end, they have no bearing on how Milwaukee’s season is going to turn out. But with that said, all three have the Brewers with a similar win total and missing the playoffs. Which I think many will agree, is a real possibility.