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.

Monday, November 19, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - Jacoby Ellsbury

2011 projection: 157 games, .300 BA, .355 OBP, .409 SLG, 8 HR, 58 RBI

2011: 158 games, .321 BA, .376 OBP, .552 SLG, 32 HR, 105 RBI
2012 projection: 158 games, .304 BA, .362 OBP, .476 SLG, 19 HR, 72 RBI
2012: 74 games, .271 BA, .313 OBP, .370 SLG, 4 HR, 26 RBI
2013 projection: 152 games, .294 BA, .346 OBP, .436 SLG, 15 HR, 67 RBI

Looking at Jacoby Ellsbury's "games played" column on baseball-reference.com is like riding a roller coaster.  For the first few full years of his major league career, he played most of the season - and then came the 2010 Parade of Carnage, when broken ribs limited Ellsbury to just 18 games.  This was followed by a career season in 2011: Goldenboy played 158 games, was selected to the All Star Game, came in second in MVP voting, and claimed a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. But then 2012 rolled around, with a meager 74 games played.

This past season was, yet again, marred by injury.  Especially when compared to 2011, 2012 was a HUGE disappointment for Ellsbury.  I sometimes fall into the trap of still thinking about Jacoby Ellsbury as the fresh-faced rookie that stole a base and won America a free taco in the 2007 World Series. But Goldenboy will be thirty years old next season, his seventh in the majors, and we still don't know what to expect from him in any given year.

Jacoby Ellsbury will be a free agent next offseason, and his agent is the infamous Scott Boras.  I think we will probably see a banner year from Ells, since everyone involved knows that the Red Sox will not be interested in paying the Scott Boras Premium when the time comes, and they'll want to showcase his talents to the entire league.  

That being said, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that 2011 was a one-time thing.  I don't think Ellsbury is a "face of the team, build a franchise around him" type player - partly because of the constant threat of injury. I think Bill James and his crew are right on: we'll see a resurgence from Ells, but not quite a return to the godliness of 2011.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

2013 Bill James Projections - David Ortiz

In honor of Big Papi's 37th birthday, I thought I would start off the 2013 Bill James projections series with Red Sox Nation's favorite designated hitter.

2011 projection: 151 games, .261 BA, .366 OBP, .509 SLG, 33 HR, 112 RBI
2011: 146 games, .309 BA, .398 OBP, .554 SLG, 29 HR, 96 RBI
2012 projection: 150 games, .277 BA, .378 OBP, .517 SLG, 30 HR, 104 RBI
2012: 90 games, .318 BA, .415 OBP, .611 SLG, 23 HR, 60 RBI
2013 projection: 147 games, .283 BA, .386 OBP, .533 SLG, 32 HR, 103 RBI

Obviously David Ortiz's season was marred by his achilles injury, and he was only able to take the field for ninety games - sixty fewer times than James projected. One of the things that James and his team are careful to note is that they cannot predict injuries, and I think it's safe to assume that if Ortiz had played out the string, fatigue might have brought his spectacular average, OBP, and SLG numbers down closer to their projection.

As you all know, Big Papi recently signed a two-year, $26 million contract to keep him in Boston through 2014.  If he can live up to the power numbers projected in the 2013 Bill James Handbook, the Red Sox will have gotten their money's worth.  Fans, of course, will just be happy to see the ever-jovial lefty back in a Red Sox uniform, hopefully healthy, for the 2013 campaign.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

2013 projections - coming soon!

This is typically the time of year that I do a series of posts on Bill James' projections for the following season's Red Sox players.  Normally I would do one post each for infielders, outfielders, starters, and relievers, but this year I'm going to go about things a little differently.

As you can see, I received my copy of the Bill James Handbook [2013] in the mail about a week and a half ago, but I've been putting off writing about the contents. Why? A little because I've been a bad, lazy blogger since the World Series wrapped up, but mostly because so much of the 2013 Red Sox roster is still a mystery.

On that note, I've decided to do the projections post player by player, so that I can start them sooner rather than later. There will also be more opportunity for commentary and discussion if each post focuses on a single player.  That said, look for (hopefully) daily posts starting this weekend, and thanks for reading!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Race for Big Papi

Just when it was looking like the re-sign David Ortiz campaign would be almost as long and painful as this year's political campaigns (no matter your ideological leanings, if you live in Massachusetts you NEVER want to see another ad for Scott Brown or Elizabeth Warren again), the Texas Rangers have expressed interest in the lefthanded DH, and the Red Sox are scrambling to get a deal done.

The Red Sox have until midnight today to negotiate exclusively with Ortiz, but only until 5pm to extend him a qualifying $13.3 million dollar offer that would ensure them a draft pick if he were to sign elsewhere. I think we can be confident that the minimum offer will be extended, and also reasonably confident that Big Papi will remain with the Red Sox.

I'm sure Ortiz and his agents are thrilled at the Rangers showing interest - not because he has a burning desire to move to Texas, but because it will give him some leverage to get a multi-year deal done with the Red Sox.

After a decade with the Sox, it's unlikely that the soon-to-be 37-year-old slugger wants to uproot his family and leave such a devoted fanbase, not to mention the fact that he's unlikely to see the kind of money or length that he's looking for from any team, given his age and recent history with injury.

I will be absolutely blown away if the Red Sox and Ortiz don't come to terms, and given the newfound Texan threat, I think it will happen soon.