Wednesday, November 12, 2014

2015 Bill James Projections: Mike Napoli

2011: 113 games, .320 BA, .414 OBP, .631 SLG, 30 HR, 75 RBI
2012 projection: 131 games, .271 BA, .364 OBP, .537 SLG, 31 HR, 83 RBI
2012: 108 games, .227 BA, .343 OBP, .469 SLG, 24 HR, 56 RBI
2013 projection: 127 games, .248 BA, .350 OBP, .498 SLG, 29 HR, 75 RBI
2013: 139 games, .259 BA, .360 OBP, .482 SLG, 23 HR, 92 RBI
2014 projection: 137 games, .246 BA, .348 OBP, .471 SLG, 26 HR, 79 RBI
2014: 119 games, .248 BA, .370 OBP, .419 SLG, 17 HR, 55 RBI
2015 projection: 135 games, .246 BA, .355 OBP, .453 SLG, 23 HR, 72 RBI

The biggest discrepancy between Mike Napoli's 2013 season and his 2014 season is in the power numbers, primarily home runs and RBIs. Of course, there were fewer Red Sox on base for Nap to drive in this season than last, and he played twenty fewer games this season than last, all well dealing with assorted injuries.

Napoli is currently recovering from surgery to relieve his sleep apnea, a condition that restricts airways during sleep, causing loud snoring and a disruption in breathing. Sleep apnea sufferers often feel tired even after a full night's sleep, so if the surgery was successful it stands to reason Napoli will be better rested in 2015.

After last year's World Series, the Red Sox extended Nap to the tune of two years, and $32 million, so he's due $16 million in 2015, and will be a free agent at the conclusion of next season. If Napoli can perform up to Bill James' projections for him next season, it will be money well spent.

Mike Napoli has embraced the Red Sox and Boston in a way that few players can, and his current contract is exactly the kind of thing the team should pursue in the future: short in years, and perhaps a bit generous in annual value. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2015 Bill James Projections: Xander Bogaerts

2013: 18 games, .250 BA, .320 OBP, .364 SLG, 1 HR, 5 RBI
2014 projection: 156 games, .283 BA, .357 OBP, .450 SLG, 19 HR, 84 RBI
2014: 144 games, .240 BA, .297 OBP, .362 SLG, 12 HR, 46 RBI
2015 projection: 156 games, .264 BA, .328 OBP, .407 SLG, 16 HR, 66 RBI

Xander Bogaerts didn't quite live up to his 2014 projections, but it was well within the margin of error, and well within an acceptable range for a major league shortstop.

Not to mention, Bogaerts is still just 22 - there's plenty of time for him to develop into the offensive and defensive wunderkind we're all hoping for - unlike some people I can think of (ahem, Clay Buchholz).

Once again in 2014, Bogaerts was asked to shift around the infield in deference to Stephen Drew, though he was allowed to return to his natural position at shortstop when Drew headed south at the trade deadline. 

The best two months of Bogaerts' 2014? May, before Drew came to town, and September, once Bogaerts readjusted to being a full time shortstop. Those also happen to be the two months in which he had the most plate appearances.

As a guy who seemingly performs best when he's playing in the field regularly, Xander Bogaerts will probably never be able to make a career transition to DH. But as the shortstop position should be his alone for 2015, it should be safe to expect improvement.

Monday, November 10, 2014

2015 Bill James Projections: Will Middlebrooks

2012: 75 games, .288 BA, .325 OBP, .509 SLG, 15 HR, 54 RBI
2013 projection: 153 games, .277 BA, .316 OBP, .490 SLG, 29 HR, 99 RBI
2013: 94 games, .227 BA, .271 OBP, .425 SLG, 17 HR, 49 RBI
2014 projection: 145 games, .266 BA, .310 OBP, .490 SLG, 32 HR, 102 RBI
2014: 63 games, .191 BA, .256 OBP, .265 SLG, 2 HR, 19 RBI
2015 projection: 127 games, .244 BA, .292 OBP, .418 SLG, 19 HR, 70 RBI

Will Middlebrooks has had his fair share of setbacks in his first few years. He's been shuttled back and forth to Pawtucket for seasoning and rehab, and this year he played his fewest games in Boston since his debut in 2012.

Middlebrook's calf strain in April, followed shortly by a broken finger, were probably among the first signs that 2014 would be a disappointing year. In the games he actually managed to stay on the field, his numbers were underwhelming.

Bill James' projections for Middlebrooks represent a huge jump in productivity over his injury-shortened 2014, but if we're being honest with ourselves they're really not up to snuff for a corner infielder in the American League.

Doubtless the Red Sox front office has been aware of this for quite some time, and I trust Ben Cherington to have some ideas up his sleeves if Middlebrooks become yet another prospect who can't live up to the hype.

As with most home-grown prospects, Middlebrooks is a fan favorite. But all the fans in the world rooting for him won't force him to make the adjustments necessary to be the lineup-anchoring force the Red Sox need him to be. That's up to him.