Aug 27, 2012; Bronx, NY, USA; Toronto Blue Jays player Edwin Encarnacion (10) makes the out during the eleventh inning against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium. Blue Jays won 8-7 in eleven innings. Mandatory Credit: Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports

AL East Fan Projection February Part 1: Infield

We’re right at the home stretch; one week until Spring Training. With little to do but wait until the Blue Jays lace up their cleats, don the blue and white and take the field in Dunedin it seemed to be a fun exercise to see the fans’ projections and what they are expecting of their respective teams.

Over at FanGraphs they have asked their fans to make projections for players and their 2013 seasons. This includes the AL East’s Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Tampa Bay Rays, Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees. Some things they ask fans to project include games played, K and BB%, HR/150 and other offensive and defensive stats, as well as similar pitching stats for pitchers. Once 8 fans have made their projections, they will appear on the player’s Fangraph page to show their prediction, right underneath the great Saber Magician Bill James’ projection. While it’s likely that the fans will make favourable projections rather than objective predictions, it’s nice to see how the fans think the Blue Jays will fare in the AL East.

Today we will be looking at the respective infields throughout the division. On Saturday we will take a look at the Outfield + DH positions and next Monday we will be looking at the starting rotations, leading up to Pitchers and Catchers reporting February 12th. Waiting and guessing time is almost over. Baseball season approaches!

Notes: a) Each team’s starting positions are based on position on MLB.com depth charts, as well as estimations by mlbdepthcharts.com. b) “# Fans” declares the amount of fan projections made for that player.

 

Toronto Blue Jays Infield

 

Data provided by fangraphs.com

 

Noteworthy items:

-Fans make the projection that the Blue Jays infield will have almost 9 Basestealing runs above average as a unit, way above 2nd place Red Sox at 0.6.
-J.P. Arencibia has a projection to break both his career BA and OBP, but not by much. I don’t see him getting as much playing time as he is projected to get if he can’t get on base 3 times out of 10.
-Emilio Bonifacio‘s projected SB count is 40 out of 47 attempts, yet last year in 274 PA he stole 30 of 33 bases. If he were to get 450-ish at bats, I would hope to see at least 50 stolen bases.
-The Blue Jays’ infield has by far the most projections in the AL East, with 221 fan projections (as of February 2, 2013).

 

Baltimore Orioles Infield

 

Data provided by fangraphs.com

 

Noteworthy items:

-There’s a .080 OPS dropoff from Bill James’ projection to that of the fans’ projection. Seemingly, the fans think Davis will do worse than in 2012, while James expects him to be as equally better.
-Something about Brian Roberts being at replacement value and expected to play 64 games says a lot about how much he’s valued by the fans. It’s a shame to see the player who got the final out at old Yankee Stadium be almost an afterthought in 2013.
-The Orioles infield has a fan projection of 93 HR’s, one less than the projected 94 of the Red Sox, but 6 more than a Yankees team that has Mark Teixeira, Robinson Cano and Kevin Youkilis.
-The left side of the infield and catcher collectively, between 3 players, are projected to save at least 27 runs, way and above 1st in the AL East.

 

Tampa Bay Rays Infield

 

Data provided by fangraphs.com

 

Noteworthy items:

-With James Loney playing half his games in a park that place 24th in HR factor out of all 30 baseball parks last year, I don’t see how Loney improves to 9 HR’s after last year’s 6.
-The former Blue Jays middle infield in Yunel Escobar and Kelly Johnson both are expected to increase their OPS as they reach their age 31 season in a more pitcher friendly park. Hopefully for the Blue Jays they match their 2012 level of production.
-About half of the team’s infield WAR value comes in from Evan Longoria alone, whose fan-projected WAR of 6.5 is tied for 1st in the AL East infield players. With that in mind, the Rays are projected to have the lowest WAR among AL East infields.
-Jose Molina‘s offensive stats barely matter as long as he can masterfully frame pitches to a tune of almost 50 runs saved.

 

Boston Red Sox Infield

 

Data provided by fangraphs.com

 

Noteworthy items:

-Despite Mike Napoli not playing 115+ games since 2010 (the only time that’s happened in his career), both Bill James and the fans’ projection predict at least 125 games played, although Bill James did not know Napoli had a lingering hip problem at the time.
-Red Sox are the only team to have each infield player have a fan projection of at least 10 HR’s, and because of this are projected to lead the AL East infields with 94 HR’s.
-With the help from two new players in Napoli and Stephen Drew (hopefully better for Boston than their other Drew), the Red Sox infield has the highest WAR projection out of any AL East team.

 

New York Yankees Infield

 

Data provided by fangraphs.com

 

Noteworthy items:

-Despite Mark Teixeira believing he’s overpaid and his best years are behind him, both Bill James and the fans’ projection have the first baseman at 30+ HR’s and at least 3.5 WAR.
-Considering Jeter’s returning from a devastating ankle injury and will be 39 this year, I’m surprised he’s projected to both play 133 games and to be above 2 WAR.
-With two to three catchers set to share time at backstop in Francisco Cervelli, Chris Stewart and Austin Romine it is understandable to see Cervelli at only 251 AB.

On Friday, we will look at the AL East outfields and DH’s, wrapping up the division’s fan projections for offense. You will never guess which outfielder is projected to have a 5.8 WAR, the most out of any AL East outfielder (although guessing in the comments section couldn’t hurt).

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