Monday, November 24, 2014

2015 Bill James Projections: Hanley Ramirez

2011: 92 games, .243 BA, .333 OBP, .379 SLG, 10 HR, 45 RBI, 20 SB
2012 projection: 136 games, .298 BA, .379 OBP, .489 SLG, 21 HR, 69 RBI, 28 SB
2012: 157 games, .257 BA, .322 OBP, .437 SLG, 24 HR, 92 RBI, 21 SB
2013 projection: 144 games, .281 BA, .356 OBP, .470 SLG, 22 HR, 75 RBI, 23 SB
2013: 86 games, .345 BA, .402 OBP, .638 SLG, 20 HR, 57 RBI, 10 SB
2014 projection: 151 games, .296 BA, .368 OBP, .505 SLG, 27 HR, 86 RBI, 23 SB
2014: 128 games, .283 BA, .369 OBP, .448 SLG, 13 HR, 71 RBI, 14 SB
2015 projection: 151 games, .290 BA, .367 OBP, .476 SLG, 23 HR, 85 RBI, 20 SB

The rumors would crop up almost every year between the time Hanley Ramirez went to Florida and this offseason: the one-time Red Sox prospect was coming back. It now seems there's an actual fire under all that smoke, and Ramirez, now a bona fide star, is on his way back to Boston.

But what can we expect from Ramirez this season? It's unclear where the soon-to-be 31-year-old will even play: the Red Sox seem content with Xander Bogaerts at shortstop (and pulling him from his natural position seemed to have consequences this season), and are reportedly among the finalists to sign free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

There's talk that Ramirez could end up in left field if the Red Sox are the winners of the Sandoval sweepstakes, but he's never played a major league game in the outfield in his ten years of service time. One thing remains clear: no matter what we get from Ramirez defensively, his bat will add some much-needed pop to a Red Sox lineup that in 2014 could be accurately described as "lethargic."

Ramirez's average has hovered around .300 his entire career, and his power numbers are certainly well above what you would expect from a shortstop in the post-steroid era. Over the past few years, Bill James and his team have done a reliable job either underestimating Ramirez slightly, or hitting their projections almost exactly on the nose.

If Ramirez can live up to what James has projected for his 2015 in the midst of trading one big market (LA) for another (the admittedly much more baseball-crazed Boston), we should have an exciting season on our hands.

Welcome back to Boston, Hanley Ramirez: the expectations will be higher here, but the fans will show up before the third inning and stay until the end, and the reward, should you lead us all the way, will be that much sweeter.

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.