I've collected a number of projections and Steamer's results in the lowest runs scored per the lineup calculator, so this is not too surprising. Oddly enough, the WAR numbers for the offense don't look too much out of place, so I guess offense is assumed to be very down in the majors per their projections. But I was not happy with the pitching and that is where I went in and dug around on the numbers. First the starters:
- Bumgarner: they had 3.4 but he's easily 3.8
- Cain: they had 1.9, assuming he's declined, but he should be back to prior goodness, I think, so 4.0
- Lincecum: they had 1.9 but I think 2.0 is realistic even given how he was the last two seasons, but a minor quibble, but since I did the work...
- Hudson: they had 1.5, assuming he's declined, but I think he should be back to prior goodness, 2.3
- Romo: 0.7 but looking at past performance, should be 1.1
- Casilla: -0.4 but looking at past performance, should be 0.0
- Affedlt: -0.1 but looking at past performance, should be 0.3
- Lopez: 0.1, and I don't understand how they got that, must be his age, but should be 0.6 based on past
And I think the upside for Sandoval (offense and defense, he was rated great on defense in 2011 when he was fit), Belt, and Crawford should cover any problems with the offense that might pop up, like losing someone to injury or a regression on Pence's part. Plus, Morse is only projected for 0.9 WAR in total, but if he hits like he did before, that should increase. And, Bochy plans on taking him out the last three innings for defensive purposes, which would help Blanco boost his WAR via defense (projected at only 0.5 WAR in LF) and reduce Morse's really bad defensive numbers by a third.
Now will 90 wins get them into the playoffs? Usually, based on the recent past for NL teams, and probably now that there's the extra wildcard team added in. The Reds got in with 90 wins in 2013 and the Cards got in with 88 in 2012. And in 2011, had they had the extra, 89 wins get the next team into the wildcard game.
Of course, just getting in as a wild card makes things harder, as the team has to blow off their ace in that game. But if the pitchers perform the way I expect, the Giants should have at least three aces to chose from for that wildcard game, then can rest him for game 3 of the divisional playoffs.
On top of that, except for LA, none of the NL West was over .500 in 2013, and nobody acquired anybody that huge that I can remember, to boost them up, though Steamer projects the Dodgers at 89.6 wins, Rockies at 86.3 wins, and D-backs at 85.3 wins, which are all above Steamer's projected wins but below my adjusted projected wins.
Of course, their fans might see upside on their rosters too. Looking at their numbers, first off, no way Puig hits that well, he was a roughly .800 for good portions of the season after his hot start, .861 seems way too high. Basically he had one hot month, then from July 3, a good .272/.363/.453/815 but nowhere near .861 OPS projection. And Steamer has A-Gon at .844, something he has not sniffed for two seasons now, I'm amazed that they boosted up his projection to something he has not seen since 2011. And frankly, I don't understand how AJ Ellis is worth 3.3 WAR with a .704 OPS and hardly any defensive value. Makes it seem like they are undervaluing Posey.
For the Rockies, somehow their pitching is rated much better than the Giants. And while they downsized our top relievers, somehow Hawkins himself will produce more WAR than Romo/Affeldt/Lopez/Casilla, and Brothers will produce the same as Hawkins, 1.1 WAR each. And their rotation is supposedly better as well, even though Anderson has pitched barely 150 IP in the last three seasons, but they project him at 91 IP and 1.7 WAR. And somehow their pitchers at low 4's ERA or FIP is worth 2.5 to 2.9 WAR, while the Giants pitchers, projected at mid to high 3's are worth 1.5 to 1.9 WAR.
The D-backs bullpen is also somehow better than the Giants as well as their rotation. Again, not sure how they got their guys in the positive while our bullpen is totally downgraded relative to what they have not only done in 2014, but had done for a number of years now.
Ugh, just found out something odd. The depth chart has Buster at 6.3 WAR but his profile has him at 7.1! But the next players on the Giants list were within 0.1 or 0.2 of their depth chart figure. So be aware of this, and this is probably happening for the other teams too, but the differences seems to be random, so they should balance out for the most part. And I think the 6.3 seems realistic given that he probably playing 1B not as much as listed, I don't expect to see Belt sit that often, maybe 10 games tops. Overall, looking at the other teams, the WAR seemed reasonable except for the ones I pointed out above.
In any case, I think the Giants should win at least 90 games in 2014, and easily. This Steamer projection says that probably they won't reach that, but I pointed out my problems with their projections, and that would bring them up to 90 wins. And no matter how the other NL West teams do, generally, winning 90 games gets you a spot in the playoffs, and with our pitching, that can carry us deep, as shown in 2010 and 2012.
They just need to stay away from injuries, which sunk 2011 (Posey) and 2013 (Pagan, Vogie, Scutaro, Crawford, Sandoval, Affeldt being the main problems). And as they showed in April/May (until Pagan injury) and September 2013, when they were mostly healthy, they can win: they were a collective 43-33 over those periods, a .566 winning percentage, or 91.7 wins in a 162 season.