Tuesday, March 24, 2015

2015 Bill James Projections - Dustin Pedroia

 2011 projection: 158 games, .297 BA, .372 OBP, .462 SLG, 17 HR, 77 RBI
2011: 159 games, .307 BA, .387 OBP, .474 SLG, 21 HR, 91 RBI
2012 projection: 143 games, .299 BA, .378 OBP, .469 SLG, 17 HR, 73 RBI
2012: 141 games, .290 BA, .347 OBP, .449 SLG, 15 HR, 65 RBI
2013 projection: 156 games, .296 BA, .367 OBP, .459 SLG, 17 HR, 76 RBI
2013: 160 games, .301 BA, .372 OBP, .415 SLG, 9 HR, 84 RBI
2014 projection: 157 games, .298 BA, .371 OBP, .443 SLG, 14 HR, 77 RBI
2014: 135 games, .278 BA, .337 OBP, .376 SLG, 7 HR, 53 RBI
2015 projection: 151 games, .290 BA, .361 OBP, .421 SLG, 12 HR, 70 RBI

As a matter of principal, I'm going to go on record as saying that Bill James and his team have underestimated Dustin Pedroia's numbers for 2015. Why? Because people have been underestimating Dustin Pedroia his entire career, and he proves the doubters wrong every time.

Aside from that, Pedroia came into camp this year having had a productive offseason with no limits - the first such offseason in a number of years. As much as I love Pedroia (and I love him a lot), he can be his own worst enemy, thowing himself around the field with no regard to his own safety.

It's amazing to have a man on the field who puts the Red Sox winning over his own body and wellbeing - but Pedroia has a tendency to hurt himself sometimes in situations that didn't require such a balls-to-the-wall approach.

Red Sox fans know that Pedroia won't (can't!) tone things down situationally: his 110% all the time style of play is as much a part of him as trash talking and premature balding. It's a trade that anyone would make to have the tenacity and talent Pedroia possess suiting up for their team every day.

Former Red Sox skipper Terry Francona was known to say "If I had nine Dustins we'd win every game." Despite the inherent risks of a Pedroia-type player, I agree wholeheartedly with Tito, and I expect big things from my favorite Red Sox this season.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

2015 Bill James Projections: Christian Vazquez

2014: 55 games, .240 BA, .308 OBP, .309 SLG, 1 HR, 20 RBI
2015 projection: 110 games, .256 BA, .326 OBP, .343 SLG, 3 HR, 35 RBI

Though Red Sox catchers talk this season has been focused on the possibility that prospect Blake Swihart might get packaged to Philadelphia for Cole Hamels, the Sox have quite a catcher already in Christian Vazquez.

Though Swihart is widely regarded as the best catching prospect in baseball, Vazquez has some serious supporters of his own. Joe Kelly calls Vazquez "Mini-Yadi," a nod to Yadier Molina of the famously talented Molina catching brothers.

The comparison makes some sense, even if it's quite a lot to live up to, as Vazquez spends part of each offseason working out with the Molinas in their native Puerto Rico. For his part, Yadier Molina has confidence in Vazquez's abilities, both behind the plate and with the bat, proclaiming, "He's going to hit."

In 55 games with the Red Sox last season, Vazquez hit a light .240, but his teammates are rooting for him, and he did show improvement near the end of the year. Bill James and his team project only minor improvement for Vazquez this year, but catcher isn't typically a position that's expected to should a huge offensive responsibility.

If Vazquez can hold steady or even improve behind the dish with Kelly singing his praises to the pitching staff, the bridge to Swihart appears to be very solid.

Friday, February 13, 2015

2015 Bill James Projections: Mookie Betts

2014: 52 games, .291 BA, .368 OBP, .444 SLG, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 7 SB
2015 projection: 154 games, .321 BA, .405 OBP, .493 SLG, 15 HR, 76 RBI, 40 SB

Despite the very crowded Red Sox outfield heading into spring training, Bill James and his team expect Mookie Betts to burst onto the Red Sox scene and never look back. Betts made his major league debut in June of last year, and bounced between Pawtucket and Boston a few times before finishing the season with the Red Sox.

When Betts was in the lower levels of the Red Sox minor league system, he primarily played second base, though he'd also excelled at shortstop and outfield in high school. Though he was blocked at second by Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox valued his athleticism and prowess with a bat enough to retrain him as an outfielder rather than shipping him off in a trade.

Betts no longer counts as a Red Sox prospect, or he'd be near the top of all the ratings lists floating around the internet this month. If he even approximates the numbers James has laid out, the Red Sox will be thrilled: at only 21, Betts won't be eligible for arbitration until 2018, and he's under team control through 2021.

Betts' success would probably mean one of the older and more expensive outfielders on the Sox roster being shown the door, but the Red Sox have handled their farm system well, and Betts is just one of a number of young players looking to make a name for themselves this coming season.

Given the fact that he barely flinched at the adjustment to facing major league pitching last autumn, Betts seems like the kind of player to establish his star-power early - and woe to anyone who might stand in his way.