Monday, December 14, 2015

2016 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
2015: 145 games, .291 BA, .341 OBP, .479 SLG, 18 HR, 77 RBI, 21 SB
2016 projection: 150 games, .309 BA, .375 OBP, .504 SLG, 20 HR, 85 RBI, 28 SB

Though Mookie Betts came in on the low side of most of Bill James' 2015 projections, I don't think many Red Sox fans could find much fault in his first full season in the big leagues. Betts blossomed into a great center fielder who holds his own at the plate, and he won't hit twenty-four until next October.

One of the things that might be overlooked in Betts is his plate discipline. The 2016 Bill James Handbook rates him as Very Patient at the plate, even singling him out in the following tidbit: "In 650 plate appearances, [Kris] Bryant whiffed* 448 times, or 303 more than Mookie Betts in four fewer plate appearances."

That's right, Betts swung and missed just 145 times in 654 plate appearances, striking out 82 times (Bryant struck out 199 times in 2015). Not a bad season when you can be very favorably compared to the Rookie of the Year.

But aside from his prowess at the plate, Betts has seamlessly transitioned from a second baseman into a center fielder. While it's easy to recall one of the several spectacular grabs Betts made in the outfield this season, he put in the work day in and day out, and was in the top 10 in runs saves for center fielders in 2015 with nine.

In a season where a lot of things went wrong, Betts and other young Red Sox players provided the bright spots. I can't wait to see what kind of a show he puts on in 2016.

*"Whiffed" in this context means swinging and missing, not striking out.

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