Standouts from Fangraphs’ ZiPS Projections for the Padres

Padres Fernando Tatis Jr.

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On Wednesday, Fangraphs released their ZiPS projections for the San Diego Padres. ZiPS projections are the brainchild of Dan Szymborski, a longtime Fangraphs writer. In short, it uses historical data and statcast information to project a player’s season.

Fernando Tatis Jr. is great (HOT TAKE)

Everyone knew that Tatis would have the best projection of any Padre, but it is shocking just how high his projection is. ZiPS gave him a 7.6 fWAR, .340 ISO, and an Alex Rodriguez comparison. Let’s break that down a bit further.

Bryce Harper posted a 6.6 fWAR last season on route to winning his second MVP. While factoring in Tatis’ injury concerns, he is still projected a whole win above Harper’s season. This could spell another top-five MVP finish for the 23-year-old.

Regarding Tatis’ comparison to one of the game’s all-time greats, ZiPS finds a historical player who has posted a similar season. It landed on Alex Rodriguez, who would be a first-ballot Hall of Famer had it not been for his usage of performance-enhancing drugs.

Lastly, his ISO projection is astronomical. ISO is a simple stat of slugging percentage minus batting average, measuring a player’s ability to get extra-base hits. Keeping up with the Rodriguez comparison, A-Rod never posted an ISO higher than .324 in his 22-year career.

Steven Wilson has potential for a big debut

Patience is the story for Steven Wilson. After six years spent in college, he finally got drafted in the 8th round of the 2018 draft. Since then, he has grinded his way into being considered a Padres top 30 prospect. The 27-year-old has done just about everything that has been asked of him. In 2021 he posted a 3.43 ERA and struck out 40.1 percent  of all batters he faced in AAA.

ZiPS is optimistic about his future in the majors, ranking him higher than bullpen arms like Austin Adams and Emilio Pagan. It predicts his strikeout percentage will remain high at 31.4 percent. He is looking at a 3.57 ERA over 45.3 innings pitched for more traditional stats. A fresh arm will be a welcome sight for a team whose pitching staff fell apart from overuse last season.

A catching battle will ensue

It’s been a long time since the Padres had a solid catching core for an entire season. Last season, any hopes for that were squashed. Austin Nola was plagued with injuries, Luis Campusano failed to take advantage of the opportunity, and Victor Caratini deflated in the second half.

It’s time for round two for this trio, but it could be a two-way battle. ZiPS has Nola and Campusano having very similar seasons with a slight edge to Nola. They are neck-and-neck in many key categories. Nola is looking at a 98 OPS+ with the bat, while Campusano is projected for a 94 OPS+. Both players have been praised for making strides in their game-calling and defense behind the dish.

It may come down to relationships with the starting pitching. Victor Caratini is known for being Yu Darvish’s personal catcher. Nola and Blake Snell seemed to click. The two paired up for Snell’s last seven starts of the season when he posted a 1.83 ERA. Campusano has spent time catching minor league pitchers like Steven Wilson.

Remember, these are just projections based on historical data. Changes can be made in the offseason, and someone could show up looking like a brand-new player. Regardless, there is a lot to be excited about when baseball returns.

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