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ZiPS has some thoughts about the 2023 Guardians

Morning news and notes for Tuesday, Dec. 20, 2022

Division Series - New York Yankees v Cleveland Guardians - Game Four Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The age of transactions is over, the time of projections has come.

Cleveland Guardians news

2023 ZiPS Projections: Cleveland Guardians | FanGraphs
Yesterday, FanGraphs released the 2023 ZiPS projections for the Guardians and as always that means there’s a lot to talk about with them. One of my favorite little nuggets? Bo Naylor casually getting a hitter comparison to Jorge Posada. No big deal.

Some other minor interesting things:

  • ZiPS sees Andrés Giménez regressing a bit (obviously) but still a four-win player. I’ll take it.
  • 3.1 fWAR for Steven Kwan? Sign me up.
  • I’ll even take Myles Straw’s 78 OPS+ projection if he keeps playing the best center-field defense in baseball.

The Guardians are “going for it” — Well, Maybe | Everyone Hates Cleveland
Did the Guardians do enough this offseason?

Steven Kwan, Geraldo Perdomo, and the Victor Robles Problem | FanGraphs
Hitting the ball hard is obviously important, but the Guardians have seemingly doubled down on players who do not. Presumably, they have a piece of the puzzle we don’t know publicly. FanGraphs author Davy Andrews only skimmed over it here, but it might very well be the medium-hard hits that helped Kwan outperform his low hard-hit rates. It’s not about always hitting the ball hard, it’s about avoiding hitting the ball lightly as much as possible.

On balls that aren’t hard-hit, Kwan’s EV is much higher, as are his wOBA and xwOBA. Kwan led the league with 99 balls hit between 90 and 95 mph. League-wide, those medium-hit balls have a wOBA of .269, nowhere near the .649 of hard-hit balls, but certainly much better than the .204 of balls hit below 90 mph. It’s definitely better to hit the ball hard, but it’s still helpful to avoid hitting the ball weakly.

Former Guardians catcher Austin Hedges, Pirates agree on one-year $5 million deal | Cleveland
In some obligatory “Guardians adjacent news,” former Cleveland catcher Austin Hedges signed with the Pirates over the weekend. The Pirates’ approach to poaching for Guardians players is truly baffling. They obviously have the same style of evaluation as they frequently land on the same players, but they never go after the great ones. Erik Gonzalez, Yu Chang, and now Austin Hedges are former Guards turned Buccos.

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