With the recent additions to AL East teams in Luke Scott and Travis Hafner to Tampa Bay and New York, respectively, it signals the near end of off-season moves as we get closer to actual baseball activities. While we still have the opportunity, let’s indulge ourselves in overvaluation of what our favourite team’s players will do in the upcoming season of baseball play.
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 outfield and DH positions throughout the AL East division. On Monday we will be finishing off by looking at the starting rotations, leading up to Pitchers and Catchers reporting to Spring Training the following day. 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 Outfield + DH
-For a team that is projected to be the speediest infield in the AL East (by a large margin), the outfield is projected to be the slowest of all 5 teams.
-I would consider it optimism to see both Adam Lind with a higher OPS than Colby Rasmus AND make it to 454 AB. If he goes to the plate that many times, it’ll be because his performance has returned from better days.
-Projecting Melky Cabrera is a very tricky thing considering we don’t quite know when his PED usage started, but right now it seems like the fans project that a PED-less regression and playing in the AL East ballparks more often will balance itself out and will return to 2011 days.
-As with the AL East infield projections from Monday, the Blue Jays have the most fan projections for the outfield out of any other AL East team (data as of February 2, 2013).
Baltimore Orioles Outfield + DH
-In a very zen-like way, the fan projection for fielding runs for the outfield is -21 below average, while the infield is projected at +21, bringing the starting defense overall to league average (minus the pitcher).
-Like the Blue Jays, their team is projected to rely more on power than getting on base, as they are second lowest in projected OBP to the blue birds and second highest in projected slugging percentage.
-With the lowest projected AB out of any AL East outfield+DH unit, they’ll look more to backups like Nate McLouth and Xavier Avery.
Tampa Bay Rays Outfield + DH
-At a +35 defensive runs saved differential among all non-pitching units, the Rays are projected to be the most defensive minded club in the AL East.
-Luke Scott still does not have enough fan projections to reach the crowdsourcing threshold, so I used data combining 2011-2012 data as well as using Bill James, Steamer and Oliver projections.
-While Ben Zobrist has been known to be utilized almost everywhere in the field, RF seems to be where the Rays will be using him the most next year.
-This team’s outfield+DH unit is projected to lead all other units in the AL East in terms of WAR.
Boston Red Sox Outfield + DH
-David Ortiz is the most nightmarish of coin tosses, as a Blue Jays fan. He is coming off of an Achilles injury last year and will be 37 years old playing in 2013, but hit 23 HR’s and had an OPS of 1.026 in 90 games before getting injured.
-The new additions of Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino will address two of Boston’s needs in additional speed and a platoon/placeholder until the fate of Daniel Nava is determined.
-Red Sox nation must see Jacoby Ellsbury and his 32 HR’s from 2010 as an outlier, seeing as he only hit 4 last year in 323 AB. They seem to be splitting the difference.
New York Yankees Outfield + DH
-The Yankees seem to be the only team projected by fans in the AL East to have its outfield+DH unit not crack 0.800, as 0.775 is the worst in the division.
-Brett Gardner, who spent 142 games on the DL last year, is expected to have a higher OBP than slugging percentage for his first time in a 100+ game season.
-The Yankees outfield+DH unit is projected to be the fastest in the AL East.
-Ichiro Suzuki‘s projected performance seems to heavily hinge on how well he turned it around after joining the Yankees. It’ll be interesting to see if his numbers are truly affected by the little league-esque dimensions of Yankee Stadium, or if he just had a hot streak after leaving Seattle.
Total Projected WAR Among Non-Pitchers
Boston Red Sox: 30.9 WAR
Toronto Blue Jays: 28 WAR
New York Yankees: 27.6 WAR
Tampa Bay Rays: 27.5 WAR
Baltimore Orioles: 23.9 WAR