Tuesday, January 19, 2016

2016 Bill James Projections: Joe Kelly

2012: 5-7, 16 starts, 107 IP, 3.53 ERA, 36 BB, 75 SO
2013 projection: 4-4, 0 starts, 67 IP, 4.16 ERA, 23 BB, 48 SO
2013: 10-5, 15 starts, 124 IP, 2.69 ERA, 44 BB, 79 SO
2014 projection: 6-7, 14 starts, 118 IP, 4.12 ERA, 41 BB, 81 SO
2014: 6-4, 17 starts, 96.1 IP, 4.20 ERA, 42 BB, 66 SO
2015 projection: 8-11, 28 starts, 172 IP, 4.19 ERA, 70 BB, 117 SO

2015: 10-6, 25 starts, 134.1 IP, 4.82 ERA, 49 BB, 110 SO
2016 projection: 7-9, 25 starts, 144 IP, 4.25 ERA, 56 BB, 104 RBI

Despite his laudable ambitions for 2015, Joe Kelly fell far short of his Cy Young goal last season - and despite a better win-loss record than predicted, he failed to measure up to every other statistical projection.

There were flashes of brilliance, a few hints that Kelly might have a good (or even great) season buried somewhere deep inside. Most notably in August, when Kelly achieved the Holy Grail of Red Sox pitchers: a coveted - and warranted - comparison to Pedro Martinez. With an undefeated August, Kelly became the first Red Sox starter to earn six wins in a calendar month since Martinez did it in 1999.

The early season struggles and demotion to AAA Pawtucket were difficult to watch, but Kelly's late-season resurgence proved that the relatively young righthander has the resilience to stick it out and make the necessary adjustments to be a successful pitcher in the major leagues. 

I hate to lay even more responsibility at the feet of David Price, but his presence at the top of the rotation can only help the younger pitchers on the staff. He's proven in the past that he's a willing and able mentor for any teammates who might come to him for advice, and I have to believe that Kelly is the type of player to take full advantage of that.

If Kelly only manages the slight improvements projected by Bill James and his team for 2016, I'll admit to being a bit disappointed, seeing as he's already shown us he has the potential to be much, much better than that. Kelly will turn 28 this season, and while still on the young side, he should be entering his prime. The ceiling on Joe Kelly's potential is high, but he has a lot of minds to change in the course of reaching it.

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