Friday, February 13, 2015

2015 Bill James Projections: Mookie Betts

2014: 52 games, .291 BA, .368 OBP, .444 SLG, 5 HR, 18 RBI, 7 SB
2015 projection: 154 games, .321 BA, .405 OBP, .493 SLG, 15 HR, 76 RBI, 40 SB

Despite the very crowded Red Sox outfield heading into spring training, Bill James and his team expect Mookie Betts to burst onto the Red Sox scene and never look back. Betts made his major league debut in June of last year, and bounced between Pawtucket and Boston a few times before finishing the season with the Red Sox.

When Betts was in the lower levels of the Red Sox minor league system, he primarily played second base, though he'd also excelled at shortstop and outfield in high school. Though he was blocked at second by Dustin Pedroia, the Red Sox valued his athleticism and prowess with a bat enough to retrain him as an outfielder rather than shipping him off in a trade.

Betts no longer counts as a Red Sox prospect, or he'd be near the top of all the ratings lists floating around the internet this month. If he even approximates the numbers James has laid out, the Red Sox will be thrilled: at only 21, Betts won't be eligible for arbitration until 2018, and he's under team control through 2021.

Betts' success would probably mean one of the older and more expensive outfielders on the Sox roster being shown the door, but the Red Sox have handled their farm system well, and Betts is just one of a number of young players looking to make a name for themselves this coming season.

Given the fact that he barely flinched at the adjustment to facing major league pitching last autumn, Betts seems like the kind of player to establish his star-power early - and woe to anyone who might stand in his way.

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