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Bill James' 2012 projections: Jays position players

Last week, Fangraphs posted 2012 Bill James Handbook Projections. Here’s a look at James’ projections for the Blue Jays position players:

Jose Bautista: G 157/ .262/.385/.525 /wOBA .383 / 38 HR/ 108 RBI

Lets start with the Jays MVP, who James thinks will have a third straight stellar season. Unfortunately, James believes Bautista’s 2012 will be significantly less productive than his ’11 or his ’10 campaigns. Overall, I think the projected rate stats are way too low. We are talking about MLB’s reigning wOBA leader and I don’t think there is any reason to believe he will drop 58 percentage points in that category. James’ projected SLG% for example, is nearly 100 point lower than his .608 in ’11 and .617 in ’10. BJ’s projected OBP for Bautista is also a whopping 62 points lower than the rate at which he reached base last season.

My guess is that Bautista rate stats fall in between BJ’s projections and his actual ’11 performance.

Yunel Escobar: G 146/ .284/.364/.396/ wOBA .335/ 10 HR/ 51 RBI

Escobar was excellent in 2011, finishing fourth in wOBA and seventh in WAR amongst shortstops according to fangraphs. James expects Escobar to continue to be a near-elite shortstop next year, with numbers that closely resemble his career averages.

The only problem I have with BJ’s projections is the SLG%, which he projects will be just under his career norm (.401). Last year Escobar slugged .413, and his career high in the category is .436 (’09). I don’t see any reason why Escobar’s power shouldn’t continue to develop in ’12. By all accounts Escobar is an extremely strong guy who does have 44 HR in his five year career. I think 15 jacks is more likely in 2012.

Brett Lawrie: G 153/ .284/.337/.495/ wOBA .361/ 22 HR/ 75 RBI

I absolutely love the look of BJ’s projections for BL. A .361 wOBA for a 22 year old would be really special.

What makes me really encouraged by these numbers is the fact that James’ methodology is typically hard on young players. Because it is so rare for 22 year olds to put up such solid stats in the big leagues, a player has to be seriously good to receive those kind of projections from BJ.

Adam Lind: G 144/.268/. 322/ .474/ wOBA .341/ 27 HR/ 94 RBI

I was pleasantly surprised by Adam Lind’s projected stats, as I have become increasingly pessimistic about Lind’s future. I think I have every right to be, after watching the DH/first basemen put up wOBA’s of .309 and .315 over the last two seasons. It just has not been good enough for everyday playing time, let alone the clean up spot.

If James’ is close with the .341 wOBA projection, I will be thrilled. We know he’s capable of it (career wOBA .335/ 09 .394), it’s just a matter of Lind re-figuring out how to lay off of pitches outside of the zone.

Colby Rasmus: G 137/ .255/ .334/ .446/ wOBA .341/ 19 HR/ 56 RBI

A .446 wOBA is solid for a centre fielder with a good glove. But I expect more from Colby Rasmus.

I really don’t get the negativity from so many Jays fans in the blogosphere on Rasmus. The kid was a consensus top 10 prospect in all of baseball just a few years ago, and as a 23-4 year old in 2010 he put up a .276/.361/.498 line with 23 HR. He had a rough season in ’11, particularly during his injury riddled 35 game stint with the Jays, but I expect him to get back to his ’10 form next year.

J.P. Arencibia: G 129/ .231/.281/.457/ wOBA .317/ 24 HR/ 73 RBI

James doesn’t think J.P is going to progress much with the bat next season.He predicts slight raises in each primary rate stat, for a 8 point jump in his wOBA. We’ve all heard of the sophomore slump, but I don’t buy it. I don’t think he’ll ever get on base at a reasonable rate, but he’s got light tower power, and for a catcher, thats really all he needs to be effective.

Edwin Encarnacion: G 115/ .266/. 341/ .462/ wOBA .346/ 16 HR/ 53 RBI

James thinks EE is going to basically match his output from last year. He sees slight raises in both slugging and on base percentage, but he thinks he’ll play in 20 less games. I understand it, as EE has been banged up quite a bit over the course of his career. But I just don’t think there’s really much reason to project it now. EE is slated to be the everyday DH as it stands now, and we know he won’t have to worry about hurting himself while pretending to be a third baseman. I think James is too low on EE’s power, which I believe will culminate in 30+ bombs next year.

Eric Thames: .G 111/ .279/ .333/ .489/ wOBA .353/ 14 HR/ 52 RBI

James thinks Thames’ offense is going to improve significantly in 2012 (’11 wOBA .333/ ’12 .353). The main reason for the spike in production he predicts is power: SLG% ’11 .456, ’12 .489, ISO ’11 .193, ’12 .210. James also expects Thames to raise his OBP by 20 points.

If Eric Thames puts up the rate stats projected by BJ next season I’d be happy. It’s going to hinge on his ability to hit big league lefty’s, as his .209/.242/.395 line isn’t going to cut it. It’ll also depend on whether or not he wins the starting left field job. I’m still pulling for the higher-ceiling of Snider to win out next season, as a wOBA of .353 really isn’t all that productive when you can barely field one of the easiest positions on the diamond to fill.

Travis Snider: G 77/ .271/ .329/ .452/ wOBA .340/ 8 HR/ 33 RBI

Forget the homer and rbi totals- as there’s a huge variable there- the rate stats look… ok. Much better than what Snider put up with the big club last year, anyway. The big question I think, is where is the power? Snider hit really well in the really hitter friendly PCL last year. But he only managed 4 HR in 61 games for an ISO of .153 and a SLG% .480. For a guy with an ISO of .208 in 82 games at age 22 in MLB, it just doesn’t compute. Again, I’m really pulling for “vintage”-(the dream power hitting prospect many of us envisioned) Snider to remerge and snatch the job in left.

Rajai Davis: G 115/ .266/ .313/ .363/ wOBA .303/ 3 HR/ 31 RBI

Well, that would be unfortunate- although James does see him stealing 37 bases.

Barring major injury, Davis’ role is probably going to be very limited (115 games looks high). Although a.303 wOBA really wouldn’t even be good enough for the 4th outfield job.

Mark Teahen: G 69/ .258/ .333/ .384/ wOBA .312/ 3 HR/ 18 RBI

We had to take Teahen’s $5.5 million dollar contract for 2012 in order to bring in Colby Rasmus. I can’t imagine that AA actually wanted him, and I pray that Farrell won’t have to play him.

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Tags: Adam Lind Brett Lawrie Colby Rasmus Edwin Encarnacion Eric Thames J.P. Arencibia Jose Bautista Mark Teahen Rajai Davis Travis Snider Yunel Escobar

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