Monday, January 7, 2008

2008 Bill James Hitter Projections

Jacoby Ellsbury - .320/.374/.436, 78 R, 5 HR, 46 RBI, 42 SB
Dustin Pedroia - .300/.369/.436, 77 R, 9 HR, 57 RBI
David Ortiz - .298/.407/.587, 109 R, 40 HR, 130 RBI
Manny Ramirez - .301/.405/.552, 99 R, 33 HR, 113 RBI
Mike Lowell - .282/.349/.459, 64 R, 17 HR, 81 RBI
J.D. Drew - .278/.393/.465, 90 R, 20 HR, 78 RBI, 5 SB
Kevin Youkilis - .290/.399/.454, 89 R, 15 HR, 78 RBI
Jason Varitek - .253/.349/.418, 60 R, 17 HR, 70 RBI
Julio Lugo - .266/.331/.380, 76 R, 9 HR, 57 RBI, 26 SB

The Handbook loves Ellsbury. He's spectacular at hitting for average and he'll be hitting in a very batting average friendly park. In his worst minor league stint in 2006, Ellsbury still hit .295 and got on base at a rate of .375. In case you're wondering why his runs are so low, this assumes that Ellsbury plays 125 games next season.

The Handbook also projects a somewhat severe decline in Lowell's totals (-.071 OPS). I'd have to agree that Lowell is unlikely to put up a season like 2007, as it was a career year. Perhaps Fenway's friendly confines can help his offensive numbers from declining sharply as he ages. The Handbook also projects a minor sophomore slump for Pedroia (-.018 OPS).

On the flip side, the Handbook sees rebound seasons for Manny (+.076 OPS), Drew (+.062 OPS) and Lugo (+.068). I wouldn't be surprised to see Lugo bounce back even more in the 9 hole. Lowell hit .305/.353/.483 in that spot in the order last year. Those numbers are similar to the ones he put up with Tampa Bay in 2005 and 2006.

According to these projections, the average OBP of a Red Sox regular would be .375. That, however, doesn't take into account the fact that different players will get different amounts of at bats. The two members of the Red Sox likely to have the lowest OBP's (Varitek and Lugo) will get the least amount of at bats at the bottom of the order.

Who knows how accurate these specific totals will be. What's more important to me, is how likely it is that the Red Sox offense will improve next year if these overall numbers are at all accurate. Ellsbury will likely make a large difference at the top of the order, both in scoring runs and in providing depth to the lineup. Youkilis, who routinely has OBP's around .385 will be one of the batters furthest down in the order. The Red Sox would no doubt also be helped by a healthy David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez.

Will the Red Sox lead the majors in runs scored? Probably not. But you have to be happy when a championship team's offense is likely to improve.


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