Thursday, November 6, 2014

2015 Bill James Projections: Jackie Bradley Jr.

2013 projection: 148 games, .258 BA, .351 OBP, .419 SLG, 13 HR, 65 RBI, 20 SB
2013: 37 games, .189 BA, .280 OBP, .337 SLG, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 2 SB
2014 projection: 131 games, .248 BA, .329 OBP, .420 SLG, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 13 SB
2014: 127 games, .198 BA, .265 OBP, .266 SLG, 1 HR, 30 RBI, 8 SB
2015 projection: 129 games, .226 BA, .298 OBP, .341 SLG, 6 HR, 36 RBI, 8 SB

It's no secret that Jackie Bradley Jr.'s value doesn't primarily lie in his bat. This season wasn't nearly as much fun overall as 2013, but Bradley's consistently spectacular performance in the outfield was one of the few bright spots.

Bill James is slightly less optimistic for 2015 after Bradley's disappointing offensive performance in 2014, but he's still predicting some improvement, including a nearly 30 point jump in batting average.

Obviously Bradley will never be a power hitter, but post-steroid era, how many elite defensive center fielders can claim that title? Not to mention, runs saved are just as valuable as runs scored, and though Bradley scored only 53, he saved 14. 

The player Bradley was tasked with replacing in the Red Sox outfield, Jacoby Ellsbury, scored 88 runs, but saved -5, meaning his defense (and let's be clear, probably his below-average throwing arm) cost the Yankees five runs. Bradley was worth 67 net runs to the Red Sox, while Ellsbury was worth 83 for the Yankees - not as big a difference as one might expect, given the $20 million difference in their salaries.

Would it be nice to have Ellsbury? Sure, at least until he's owed $63 million dollars for ages 35-37. But if Bradley can improve at the plate as much as James seems to believe, he's an absolute steal - and the highlight reel catches will keep on coming.

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