Now that the ZiPS forecasts are out for the Mets, it’s time to start our annual projection series. This marks the 11th year of doing individual projections for the top players on the Mets. My hope is that everyone will weigh in on what they think the player will do in 2022. You’ll have more credibility later on about how you “knew” what Player X was going to do this season if you say it before the games start.

At this time a year ago, we were in the midst of the lockout. We also had the specter of Covid outbreaks still hanging over our heads. Because of that, all of the forecasts were limited to ratio stats. This year, we’ll get back to playing time estimates, although it will still be mostly ratio stats. This year we’ll have the following numbers:

Pitchers – IP, ERA, WHIP, Ks, HRs

Like last year, the computer forecasts will be given earlier in the article, with my forecast near the end. Not all of the computer systems are available yet at FanGraphs but we’ll use what’s posted. We’ll display the RotoChamp forecast, too, but that gives AB and not PA in its forecast. To calculate ratios that require PA, we’ll add AB + BB, which will get us in the right ballpark for most players. Also, it does not forecast HR for pitchers, so that will be empty for RC.

We’ll start with the biggest offseason acquisition, Justin Verlander. Here are the forecasts from the computer models:

Marcel – 148 IP, 2.55 ERA, 1.007 WHIP, 145 Ks, 13 HR
Roto Ch – 175 IP, 2.67 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 190 Ks
Steamer – 180 IP, 3.36 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 203 Ks, 24 HR
THE BAT – 168 IP, 3.25 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 193 Ks, 21 HR
ZiPS – 165 IP, 2.84 ERA, .963 WHIP, 177 Ks, 21 HR

This seems like pretty big variance for a veteran pitcher. But, given Verlander’s advanced age, that’s not too big of a surprise. He’ll turn 40 at the end of February and it’s probably not wise to assume he’ll make 32 starts. Perhaps the biggest question is what he’ll give the Mets when he is on the mound. With ERAs ranging from 2.55 to 3.36, there’s a pretty wide difference of opinion. One of the things driving that difference is HR allowed.

Verlander gave up 28 and 36 homers in his last two full seasons before having TJ surgery. Then, last year he allowed just 12 HR in 175 IP. Some of that difference is throwing fewer innings in 2022 than he did in either 2018 or 2019. But if we look at HR/9, we see him with a 1.5 rate in 2019 and a 0.6 rate last year. Marcel doesn’t factor in those results from four and five years ago while it appears that the last three listed above do.

With its shallow distances down the lines, Minute Maid Park in Houston was a good park to hit homers. It is 315 feet down the line in LF – but with a high fence – and 326 feet in RF. Yet Verlander was especially tough in allowing homers there. In home games, he surrendered just 4 HR in 88 IP. He did not have that same success in 2018-19, when he allowed a combined 37 HR in his home park.

But even when he was giving up homers in bunches, Verlander was still putting up terrific ERAs. He had a 2.52 mark in ’18 and a 2.58 ERA in ‘19. But with the homers significantly reduced, Verlander posted an outstanding 1.75 ERA last year.

Lifetime, Verlander has a 3.24 ERA and a 3.36 FIP. But in both 2019 and 2022, he outperformed his FIP by much larger amounts. His ERA was 69 points lower than his FIP in ’19 and 74 points lower last year. Some of that can be explained by allowing fewer homers with men on base. Roughly 60% of home runs are solo shots. Last year 57% of homers hit in the majors came with nobody on base. In 2019, 28 of Verlander’s 36 homers came with no one on base, a remarkable 78%.

When thinking about what Verlander can accomplish for the 2023 Mets, we have to consider first and foremost if he can stay healthy. Then, we have to wonder if he can continue to defy Father Time and pitch at an elite level. Finally, can Verlander continue to keep his HR in check? And if he doesn’t, can he at least limit them to an overwhelming majority of solo shots? And will his good luck in sequencing continue?

Here’s my totally biased forecast for Verlander:

182 IP, 2.65 ERA, 0.975 WHIP, 185 K’s, 18 HR

7 comments on “Mets 2023 projections: Justin Verlander

  • Footballhead

    Something fun to do and think about now that I’m Covid quarantine……

    I think father (mother) time will get to Verlander and keep him at just 26 starts. I think though, that other then 3 or 4 of them, he’ll be elite.
    156 IP, 2.75 ERA, .85 WHIP, 162 K’s, 20 HR.

    Looking at all of the predictions made, doesn’t it seem you’d expect better from a man bringing in a sizable paycheck? I think Scherzer’s numbers will be about the same also. Seems like 90 million dollars doesn’t get you as much as you would like.

  • NYM6986

    I too worry about his age because even if his arm has been rebuilt, the rest of him is original equipment. But what the hell, he’s an exception to the rule in a way that Tom Brady is. Just look what he did last year.
    180 IP 2.46 ERA .80 WHIP 200K 18 HR

    Hard to reconcile the salaries these days or the long term commitments that historically come back to bite you. Very Happy to finally be a have and not a have not when it comes to spending money.

    • ChrisF

      Just a quick note about player salaries. Yeah, they are large and visible. Nonetheless, player payroll is peanuts relative to the value/equity of the team that the owners have. Id just assume that players enjoy more of the benefit of the value of the team. I dont think player salaries have come anywhere near team value. At one time, I recall digging into this and found that team value has grown at 10x the rate of player salary.

  • Steve_S.

    175 IP, 2.35 ERA, 0.900 WHIP, 167 K, 22 HR

  • Metsense

    Ponce de Verlander, because of his age and the recent small sample size the last three years, makes it a more difficult projection. Last year he was spectacular. He should be good but not spectacular in this coming year.

    168 IP, 2.76 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 172 K’s, 231 HR

    • JerseyJack

      Wow ! Lots o home runs !!

    • Metsense

      Thank you JerseyJack. I’ll amend it to 23 HR.

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