Tuesday, November 27, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - Jon Lester (with Wil Meyers)

2011 projection: 14-9, 31 starts, 204 IP, 3.53 ERA, 82 BB, 193 SO
2011: 15-9, 31 starts, 191.2 IP, 3.47 ERA, 75 BB, 182 SO
2012 projection: 15-9, 31 starts, 192 IP, 3.61 ERA, 74 BB, 180 SO
2012: 9-14, 33 starts, 205.1 IP, 4.82 ERA, 68 BB, 166 SO
2013 projection: 12-12, 33 starts, 211 IP, 3.71 ERA, 75 BB, 192 SO

It's obvious that 2012 was by far Jon Lester's most disappointing season.  Like most of 2012, Lester's poor performance started at the end of 2011, and though he was one of the only players in the "Beer and Chicken Scandal" to take personal responsibility, that display of moral fiber didn't improve his numbers.

Looking at Bill James' 2012 projections next to Lester's actual performance, and you might see a pitcher who has somewhat lost his way: his ERA was more than a FULL RUN higher than James' projection (and Lester's 2011 performance), and for the first time in his career, Jon Lester lost more games than he won.

There's a lot of talk swirling around about a possible trade that would swap Lester for Kansas City Royals outfield prospect Wil Meyers. Meyers has never played a game in the majors, but the consensus around the league is that he'll be ready in 2013 - and for the first time in his career, he's listed in the Bill James Handbook.

2012 (AA-AAA): 134 games, .314 BA, 387. OBP, .600 SLG, 37 HR, 109 RBI
2013 projection: 147 games, .270 BA, .339 OBP, .486 SLG, 28 HR, 89 RBI

Meyers is undoubtedly a solid offensive player. A cost-controlled power hitting outfielder is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but is it good baseball-sense to accept a relative unknown for an established lefthanded starter like Lester? In my humble opinion, no. Despite the backslide of 2012, Lester is a bona fide workhorse. He's averaged 211 innings pitched every season, has avoided major injury, and has had prolonged periods of brilliance.

This trade is certainly not set in stone - or even particularly likely at this point. It wouldn't be the end of the world to swap Lester for Meyers, but it would be the very definition of selling low. Lester is worth much more than he showed in 2012, and while Meyers is very promising, he's not a franchise defining player.

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