As you know, ZiPS projections were released recently. Nobody wants to be karate chopped for simply adding up the WAR totals so I went ahead and did something different. Using the current depth charts which currently uses just Steamers' stats on a rate basis with Fangraphs' writer-maintained depth charts (they will use ZiPS in addition once each teams' ZiPS are available), I was able to pro-rate each of the Cardinals' projections to the same level of Fangraphs' allocated playing time. Here's the result for position players:
On a WAR basis ZiPS likes the Cardinals' position players 2.3 wins more than Steamer. The single biggest positive difference is Stephen Piscotty, with Randal Grichuk, Jhonny Peralta, and Kolten Wong having smaller but still significantly different projections. The biggest negative differences are Matt Adams and Brandon Moss, and if Zips made out the line-up card it looks like it would prefer Piscotty and Grichuk to start somewhere with Tommy Pham and Adams battling it out for the last starting spot.
Let's look at the pitchers:
When allocated playing time based on Fangraphs rather than it's own projection, ZiPs sees Adam Wainwright, Mike Leake and Michael Wacha more favorably than Steamer, though it's mostly from homer rate not shown here and a difference between how the two calculate WAR for pitchers (and possibly, a difference between the two systems in what league average - and thus replacement level - will be). While some are projected less favorably, in terms of WAR there's no big negative differences.
Between the two there's a 5.5 game difference. The current Steamer based system has the Birds projected for 84 wins and while that is based on BaseRuns rather than WAR + replacement level wins, you would expect the numbers to be fairly similar. So once ZiPS is factored in on Fangraphs' depth charts, it could see the Cardinals more like a 86-87 win team.
The projections aren't everything, but it's the best public estimate we have, especially when the two best ones are averaged. Even if you think of the projections as a starting point at best, you have more reason to be optimistic about the Cards than before. A lot of fans (such as myself) like Piscotty but may have been a little subdued by Steamer's opinion, and while that didn't make me think Piscotty would be a 1 WAR player, I definitely feel better now that the other good projection system feels differently.
The opposite is the case for me with Adams. Before, I was little perplexed that Steamer considered Adams a 2 WAR player, and ZiPS seems to feel similarly.
Games aren't played on paper (or on computers) but on the field. They're our best guess, not set in stone. Who do you think is most likely to out-perform ZiPS (and/or Steamer for that matter) in 2016?