One of my favorite things about FanGraphs is how they display in-season ZiPS projections on player pages during the season. This year's projections, provided by Dan Szymborski of course, went up live on FanGraphs yesterday. And, well, this kind of thing excites me.
We're only a couple weeks into the season, but it's always fun to see how those few games can alter a player's ZiPS projection so much. We always remind you guys about small sample sizes and the lack of predictive value that they provide, but that's not always the point- once you have 15 big games, those numbers are in the books. Even if you regress to a normal level, there's still a good chance that your final numbers are going to see a boost because of those two weeks. And in some cases, quality performance early in the season can lend to some additional optimism in terms of future performance, allowing for an increasingly optimistic projection. I thought we could touch a few guys that have seen their final projections change rapidly over the past two weeks because of extreme performance. Some of these are good; some of them aren't. Sometimes it's easy to forget that all of these games still count in the end.
Matt Kemp - Preseason: .271/.327/.458 with 23 HR, 25 SB - Current: .293/.357/.484 with 23 HR, 35 SB
He's tied for the MLB lead in WAR, and in the process he's managed to boost his projected OBP by 30 points and his projected SLG by 26 points. Toss in a few more steals, and you have a return to stardom for Mr. Kemp.
Alex Rodriguez - Preseason: .277/.369/.527 with 54 XBH - Current: .293/.390/.569 with 61 XBH
An early-season power surge has raised the Yankees slugger's projected wOBA from .383 to .412
Troy Tulowitzki - Preseason: .292/.363/.520 with 27 HR - Current: .301/.383/.569 with 35 HR
The Rockies shortstop has been going ridiculous on everyone lately. With a league-leading 7 homers, he's raised his projected isolated power by 40 points (.228 to .268).
Albert Pujols - Preseason: .314/.419/.592 - Current: .299/.400/.553
Only Pujols can bat .226/.288/.358 in his first 60 plate appearances and still project to finish the year with a .400 wOBA, I guess.
Vernon Wells - Preseason: .260/.313/.432 - Current: .237/.290/.392
So... the Angels went out of their way to take on this guy's contract. Be very scared, Anaheim.