Blue Jays: What Steamer and ZiPS are projecting for the 2023 Jays

Michael Fisher
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles - Game One
Toronto Blue Jays v Baltimore Orioles - Game One / G Fiume/GettyImages
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Wouldn't you love to know how the Toronto Blue Jays will perform in 2023 before the season starts?

During a long offseason, when Spring Training feels so far away (70 days away as I write this) projections are a fun way to get your baseball fix and dream about the possibilities for the coming season.

While projections are dissected and debated across the baseball industry throughout the offseason, they can also be fun for casual baseball fans to browse through during the long winter months to see how their favorite players and team might perform.

A word about projections

If you're unfamiliar with projection systems, they crunch the numbers to predict player results for the coming season.

Several projection systems, each using its own method, release data for the entire league. Many can be found on FanGraphs, including the always popular Steamer and sZymborski Projection System (ZiPS).

A lot of data goes into systems like ZiPS. But how do they work?

Per the ZiPS glossary entry on MLB.com, “ZiPS uses growth and decline curves based on player type to find trends. It then factors those trends into the past performance of those players to come up with projections.”

Just keep in mind that projections aren't perfect, so don't take them as gospel. Think of them more as possible baseline results for a player if everything goes well.

Dan Szymborski, the creator of ZiPS, explains in this year's introduction that the system performs two primary tasks, "estimating what the baseline expectation for a player is and then estimating where that player may be going using large cohorts of relatively similar players."

Not all ZiPS projections are published yet, but the Blue Jays forecast for 2023 is available, so let's check out some highlights.

The offense

We'll begin with the offense, which was elite in 2022. And there's good news looking ahead to 2023. Both ZiPS and Steamer are projecting the lineup to be strong again.

Per Szymborski, "when you look at Toronto’s lineup, there isn't much to complain about. ZiPS disagrees with Steamer on some of the individual players, but the overs and unders are pretty even, meaning that ZiPS thinks this will be as potent a run-scoring squad as Steamer does."

Having both projections in agreement is promising, so it sounds like Jays fans should be in for another fun season watching the offense terrorize opposing pitchers.

One stat line that stands out is Matt Chapman being projected to have another strong campaign. ZiPS thinks the Toronto third baseman will hit 30 HR (second behind Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) with 85 runs scored and 85 RBIs. And despite a team-high 171 SO, he will sport a healthy .341 wOBA thanks to his team-leading 70 BB. He's also projected to lead the team with a 4.3 WAR, although that comes mainly from his consistently stellar defense.

The defense

Speaking of defense, new center fielder Kevin Kiermaier projects as the top defender with a Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) rating of 11, just edging out Chapman. George Springer, whose projected defensive rating is five, moving to right field is a significant upgrade over Teoscar Hernandez's 2022 rating of -8.9.

According to ZiPS, the weak spot in the outfield will be Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in left, with a defensive projection of -3. The good news is that at least if he hits that mark, it would be an improvement over his ugly -9.8 rating from last year.

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