Top Notes From the Arizona Diamondbacks ZiPS Projections for 2024

According to the ZiPS projection system, the NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks are poised for another good year in 2024.

PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA - OCTOBER 24: The Arizona Diamondbacks celebrate after beating the Philadelphia Phillies 4-2 in Game Seven of the Championship Series at Citizens Bank Park on October 24, 2023 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

When it came to the 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks, ZiPS was ahead of everyone.

To turn back the clock for just a minute, here’s how Dan Szymborski of FanGraphs opened his 2023 ZiPS projections write-up on the club:

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: ZiPS really, really likes the Diamondbacks. As I mentioned in the early standing run I did a few weeks ago, I actually went back and re-checked everything that was Arizona-specific to make sure that the optimism was correct, and while I can’t say for sure that the computer’s love for this roster is warranted, I can at least say that it was properly generated!

2023 ZiPS Projections: Arizona Diamondbacks

As a reminder, ZiPS is an MLB projection model, created by Szymborski and housed at FanGraphs. 

While no projection system is perfect, this one works with massive amounts of data, so its conclusions should be taken seriously. ZiPS saw the 2023 D-backs coming when no one else did. 

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All of that brings us to the 2024 team. Is ZiPS as bullish on the Diamondbacks as it was at the same time last year?

In a word, yes. As Szymborski writes, “Naturally, since ZiPS had a sunny view of Arizona then, it’s certainly not going to be less sunny now that a lot of the things the system liked have [come] to pass.”

The model projected an 84 to 88-win team when Szymborski published the projections in early January. That number seems about right given how the D-backs finished 2023 and have improved as they prepare for 2024.

Let’s get into the specifics, starting with the position players and then moving to the pitchers. 

Position Players

According to ZiPS, the D-backs enter 2024 with a strong position-player unit.

  • Corbin Carroll looks to be outstanding again — ZiPS projects he’ll be worth 4.6 fWAR with a 123 OPS+. This is a decline from his 2023 fWAR of 6.0. (ZiPS projected 3.9 fWAR a year ago, so Carroll far exceeded the estimate.) On this one, though, take the over.
  • Ketel Marte stays hot — Although Marte’s career has experienced some odd year/even year variations, ZiPS sees Marte having another strong season (3.6 fWAR/126 OPS+) after producing 4.2 fWAR in 2023 (initially projected for 3.1). 
  • Christian Walker may be one of the best first basemen in MLB — ZiPS really likes Walker (2.47 fWAR/114 OPS+). This is down a bit from his projected 2.8 fWAR entering 2023 (he finished with 3.8 fWAR). Still, if Walker has this kind of year in 2024, he will continue to bring power to the offense.
  • ZiPS forecasts a breakout year for Alek Thomas — While no one doubted Thomas’ defense, his offense never really came together in 2023 (projected 1.9 fWAR; actual 0.3 fWAR). According to ZiPS, those troubles are in the past, with Thomas projected to be worth 2.2 fWAR (97 OPS+) in 2024. If the center fielder can find that part of his game, it will mark an important step in the growth of the D-backs’ offense. 
  • Like Thomas, ZiPS sees Jake McCarthy developing — McCarthy finished last season with 0.1 fWAR (he was projected for 1.7). Still, ZiPS remains positive, projecting 1.8 fWAR (101 OPS+) in 2024. 
  • Geraldo Perdomo was not a ZiPS favorite in 2023, and that hasn’t changed — In 2023, ZiPS projected Perdomo would be worth 0.8 fWAR; he finished the season with 2.7 fWAR. In 2024, according to ZiPS, Perdomo will be worth 1.7 fWAR (89 OPS+). That’s up from his projection last year, but ZiPS isn’t fully convinced he will remain an above-average player.
  • Lourdes Gurriel Jr. projects to have another solid season — The ZiPS model sees him putting up 2.0 fWAR with a 112 OPS+ in the first year of his new contract. Those numbers will play.
  • However, ZiPS is not excited about Eugenio Suárez — Suárez is projected to produce 2.0 fWAR (98 OPS+) in 2024. Those numbers aren’t especially inspiring, but they would mark an improvement over what the Diamondbacks got from their third basemen in 2023. Here’s my bet: Suárez is better than his projection.
  • On the prospect front, ZiPS is excited about Jordan Lawlar — He will, according to the model, be worth 2.4 fWAR (93 OPS+). That’s not Corbin-Carroll-good territory, but if this comes to pass, it would probably put Lawlar in Rookie of the Year conversations. That seems overly optimistic. 

There is no way to see this modeling as anything but positive given the way it projects the D-backs’ position players. If the offense is this effective, the Snakes will absolutely be in the running for a Wild Card.

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Pitching Staff

Starting Pitchers

ZiPS’ enthusiasm for Zac Gallen is long-standing, and it has not abated. This is a solid pitching corps. 

  • Zac Gallen remains the team’s ace — In 2023, Gallen was projected to be worth 3.6 fWAR and he finished the season with 5.2 fWAR, coming third in the NL Cy Young race. ZiPS remains conservative in its projection for 2024 (3.5 fWAR/118 ERA+), but Gallen looks headed for another strong season.
  • ZiPS is less enthusiastic about Merrill Kelly — This one, I think ZiPS gets wrong. In 2023, ZiPS projected 1.9 fWAR, while Kelly finished the season worth 3.2 fWAR. ZiPS forecasts 2.2 fWAR (106 ERA+) in 2024. I’ll take the over.
  • The way ZiPS sees it, Eduardo Rodriguez is a solid addition — The southpaw is projected to be worth 2.5 fWAR (115 ERA+). Those are good numbers and certainly an upgrade over the bullpen games the Snakes were forced to throw in the playoffs last year. 
  • ZiPS likes Brandon Pfaadt, and that hasn’t changed — Entering 2023, Pfaadt was projected to be worth 2.8 fWAR; he finished the year with 0.5 fWAR, largely due to some midseason struggles. By October, however, he’d worked that out and was absolutely nails. ZiPS still believes, projecting he will be worth 2.1 fWAR (106 ERA+) in 2024.

Relief Pitchers

Unsurprisingly, ZiPS sees Paul Sewald and Kevin Ginkel as the team’s top relievers.

  • ZiPS still isn’t confident in Kevin Ginkel — Last season, the long-tenured D-backs reliever was projected to be worth 0.4 fWAR; he finished with 1.3 fWAR. Still, going into 2024, ZiPS projects 0.6 fWAR (117 ERA+). Look for Ginkel to be more experienced and confident this coming season. ZiPS is undervaluing a very fine reliever.
  • When it comes to the closer, ZiPS sees Paul Sewald as above-replacement level — Sewald finished 2023 with -0.2 fWAR. However, according to ZiPS, he’ll be worth 0.7 fWAR (117 ERA+) in 2024. That would be a welcome improvement. 

Overall, this is a solid staff, though the decisions the Diamondbacks make about their fifth starter will matter. Plus, don’t forget that Brent Strom oversees the pitching corps. He’s the special sauce for the Snakes’ pitching staff.

Like the position players, this is a good group. 

Closing Thoughts

ZiPS is a terrific projection model. However, it can’t measure team culture, and in that, the D-backs have been outstanding. Their decisions to add Eduardo Rodriguez and Eugenio Suárez suggest that in addition to looking for skilled players, they want positive clubhouse contributors. 

Can the 2024 Arizona Diamondbacks beat the juggernaut Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West? Who knows? But when it mattered, they did just that in 2023. 

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As Zac Gallen put it during the playoffs:

Look for the D-backs to be good again in 2024.