Fan Graphs released their annual ZiPS projection on the Washington Nationals back in January, and on Tuesday, Fan Graphs took their ZiPS projections and applied them to projected standings in each division in Baseball. To no one surprise, the Nationals were placed at the bottom of the NL East. Even Dan Szymborski conceded that projecting the season standings right now is a particularly rough go, given how much of the offseason remains unfinished. But the reality of the lockout is such that we have no idea how much longer it’s going to go on, and if people want to see what his ZiPS projection system thinks of the various divisions, he’s just gonna have to bite the bullet and push it out “early.”
Dan Szymborski of Fan Graphs shared how he came up with this projection:
The methodology I’m using here isn’t identical to the one we use in our Projected Standings, so there will naturally be some important differences in the results. So how does ZiPS calculate the season? Stored within ZiPS is the first through 99th percentile projections for each player it projects. I start by making a generalized depth chart, using our Depth Charts as an initial starting point. Since these are my curated projections, I then make changes based on my personal feelings about who will receive playing time, as filtered by arbitrary whimsy my logic and reasoning. ZiPS then generates a million versions of each team in Monte Carlo fashion. The computational algorithms, that is — no one is dressing up in a tuxedo and playing baccarat like James Bond.
ZiPs projected the Nationals to have a record of 75-87 finishing 15 games back of the division winner: Atlanta Braves. The Nationals also have a 3% chance of winning a Wild Card spot, 4.3% of getting to the playoffs, and a 0.2% of winning the 2022 World Series.
Fan Graphs explained their Nationals projection:
The Nationals basically project as an awful team that has the benefit of the services of Juan Soto, who can make nearly any team watchable. And in this case, he puts Washington just on the cusp of playoff relevance if a lot goes right, rather than being a near-lost cause.