2024 ZiPS projection: 121 G, .270/.362/.380, 8 HR, 49 RBI, 109 wRC+, 1.8 fWAR
2023 final stat line: 95 G, .284/.365/.422, 11 HR, 34 RBI, 118 wRC+. 2.1 fWAR
2022 final stat line: 126 G, .281/.394/.379, 5 HR, 45 RBI, 128 wRC+. 2.6 fWAR
Brendan Donovan's ZiPS projection is just silly to me. If you look at the kind of hitter he's been his first two years at the Major League level, and you take into account the improvements he made over the last 10 weeks of his season before being shut down, they should be projecting an improvement in his numbers, not a major regression.
I wrote about this for the site last week, but I asked Donovan at Winter Warm-Up what led to his major surge in production from late May until being shut down on July 29th, and he said that he got more aggressive earlier in counts, which led to a .314/.398/.485 slash line and 144 wRC+ during those ten weeks. You can check out a more in-depth look at his progression over in that story.
Donovan has posted a 118 and 128 wRC+ in his two big league seasons thus far, and with the way he was hitting last summer, that 118 would have finished a whole lot higher. I don't know how ZiPS can try to convince me that Donovan is going to regress significantly after already being a really good hitter who just unlocked himself even more.
During that 10-week stretch, Donovan hit 8 home runs and slugged 11 in the 95 games he played. Now they think he's going to only hit 8 home runs in 120+ games played?
Player performance is not always linear, so just because a guy is young, doesn't mean they will for sure get better. But I don't think it makes sense to say Donovan will regress significantly. I can see an arguement for him plateauing as a 120-125 wRC+ guy who's elite as an on-base threat with sneaky power, or potentially getting even better.
Donovan is a hard-working leader who continues to make strides as a player each year, and I would not expect anything less than that from him. I anticipate big things from Brendan Donovan in 2024, so this is an easy decision for me to say he'll outperform his projections.