2013 Miami Marlins Season Preview: Giancarlo Stanton and the Projected Home Run Race

Scott Rovak-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton is an elite power hitter with an excellent chance at hitting 40 home runs. But will he win the home run race in 2013? We ask the projection systems to find out.

Earlier today, we discussed the projection for the Miami Marlins' best player, right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Even if we expect Stanton to miss some playing time, we are still expecting an elite performance from one of the best power hitters in the game. And because Stanton's offensive game is the exciting power hitter type, there is always something for which to watch out in every Marlins game.

But what about the end of the season? Will Stanton have enough of those exciting, #MONSTERDONG home runs in 2013 to match up with the best of the rest of the league? It is worth asking, but how could we find that out? Well, we can handicap some of those odds by taking a look at what the projection systems think. All of the systems have projections for playing time and counting stats, so we can take a look at a preliminary guess about the 2013 home run crown.

ZiPS

Where does Stanton stand in the eyes of ZiPS, the projection system we use most often here on Fish Stripes. Well, ZiPS thinks Stanton can put up very big numbers.

National League HR Major Leagues HR
Giancarlo Stanton 41 Giancarlo Stanton 41
Ryan Braun 33 Miguel Cabrera 35
Jay Bruce 32 Ryan Braun 33
Anthony Rizzo 31 Curtis Granderson 33
Matt Kemp 30 Jay Bruce 32

The National League lead for Stanton is immense, as according to ZiPS, he stands to beat incumbent champion Ryan Braun by more than eight home runs. Last season, Braun had 677 plate appearances and hit eight more home runs than he is projected to hit here in similar playing time, so ZiPS sees regression to the mean in Braun's future. Meanwhile, ZiPS is actually projecting Stanton to almost maintain his insane 44 home runs per 600 plate appearances rate from last year, as they have him hitting 41 in just under 570 appearances.

The system is also expecting a drop-off by reigning American League MVP Miguel Cabrera, who is projected to hit just 35 homers after hitting 44 and leading all of baseball last year. This may be interesting to Marlins fans because Stanton is something of a Marlins spiritual successor to Cabrera, given that they share similar histories with Miami. By now, Cabrera has become perhaps the best hitter in baseball, complete with power and hitting prowess. But Stanton is not projected to be far behind Cabrera; in fact, despite Cabrera's extensive history as an elite hitter, ZiPS is actually projecting a better season from Stanton. Stanton is slated to hit .286/.369/.606 (.407 wOBA) compared to Cabrera's .313/.397/.561 (.399 wOBA).

Would you Marlins fans be so bold as to claim the same thing?

Steamer

National League HR Major Leagues HR
Giancarlo Stanton 42 Giancarlo Stanton 42
Ryan Braun 33 Albert Pujols 36
Jay Bruce 32 Miguel Cabrera 35
Anthony Rizzo 31 Jose Bautista 33
Ike Davis 30 Ryan Braun 33

The list coming from the Steamer projections looks very similar to that of ZiPS's. Once again, Stanton is the man atop the mountain, and on the National League side, he is once again defeating the likes of Braun, Jay Bruce, and, in an interesting twist, Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs. Both ZiPS and Steamer are fans of Rizzo, who is expected to hit a solid .276/.345/.511 (.365 wOBA) for the Cubbies in 2013.

Of course, among National Leaguers, only Joey Votto is expected to be better than Stanton under Steamer's projections, as Stanton's .274/.357/.573 (.390 wOBA) line tops all projected National Leaguers in hitting except Votto's .292/.419/.522 (.400 wOBA) line. But at least in this system, Stanton is expected to yield to the powers of the American League, as three other American Leaguers, including Cabrera, are thought to be better hitters this season. This feels like a much better bet.

Oliver

National League HR Major Leagues HR
Giancarlo Stanton 40 Giancarlo Stanton 40
Ryan Braun 28 Miguel Cabrera 35
Jay Bruce 28 Albert Pujols 32
Anthony Rizzo 28 Prince Fielder 30
Matt Kemp 28 Jose Bautista 29

Oliver had a more tempered projection for almost every player in the home run department. The next National Leaguers behind Stanton each were expected to have 28 home runs, including minor leaguer Ernesto Meijia, a first base prospect with apparently a lot of power and nothing else to his name. We find the usual suspects at the top of the list, including guys like Cabrera, Pujols, and Braun. Prince Fielder is the first to show up at the top of the list, but he is around the periphery in the other two systems. Every player's home run marks are lowered slightly from the other systems.

Well, everyone's except for Giancarlo Stanton. Stanton is still expected to send out 40 home runs under this system, and that is an environment where the rest of players are expected to do two to four home runs worse. Once agian, when it comes to a war of long bombs, you pick Stanton.

How Projections Work

Keep in mind that projections are best served as an indicator not of how well an individual player will play so much as how well the expected group of best players will play. Projection systems often miss who will lead the league in homers, but you can bet that they have a good idea of how many homers the top ten players will hit collectively.

And these systems each have that sort of shared similarity. Oliver projected 166 home runs hit among the top five players in the league, while Steamer projected 179. ZiPS was somewhere in between at 174 homers, but each system was within easy reach of the other. While the order of the names may not end up being right, the systems have a decent chance of getting most players within a few homers of their projections and guessing the total numbers correctly.

But the one consistent thing throughout the lists we have seen is that Stanton remains at the top. Giancarlo Stanton is currently projected as the best power hitter in baseball, at least in terms of home runs. If you looked at the ISO category, I am certain Stanton's name would be atop the list as well. And all of that power is also making him one of the ten best hitters in baseball as well. If you were going to pick one player to lead this race by the end of the year, the projection systems say that the easy winner is Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton.

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