If the Giants needed any extra motivation entering the 2022 campaign, all they had to do was take one look at their projections. One year after setting a record for outperforming Baseball Prospectus’ PECOTA, the Giants once again received an unfavorable outlook from the computers, who projected the defending National League West champions to tumble to third place in the division with a 78-84 mark this year.
Of course, modest expectations are nothing new for San Francisco. Forecasted to win a mere 75 games in 2021, the Giants stunned the industry by emerging as a 107-win juggernaut that dethroned the Dodgers in the NL West.
So, why do the projections hate the Giants? President of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi recently offered some insight into why he believes those models might be underestimating his club.
“Having spent a lot of time in the weeds on projections over the course of my time in baseball, the foundation of most projection systems is really just a three-year weighted average,” Zaidi explained. “It’s sort of a testament to the consistency of performance in baseball that it’s really hard to improve on that basic model of projections. But what that doesn’t always capture is when players have breakthroughs in performance.”
Under Zaidi and manager Gabe Kapler, the Giants have embraced player development at the Major League level, continually stressing the idea that no veteran or rookie is a finished product when he arrives in San Francisco. That mindset helps explain why so many players took huge steps forward last year, including Logan Webb, Brandon Crawford, LaMonte Wade Jr. and Darin Ruf.