Every year, Bill James, ACTA Sports, and Baseball Info Solutions collaborate to
The Bill James Handbook. In addition to providing vital and unique statistics
from the just-completed season, the Handbook attempts to project player
performances for the upcoming year. The projections are mostly based on a
player's age and career history, although some deduction and intuition are
The Arizona Diamondbacks have scored between 712 and 720 runs in each of the
past four seasons. Although you usually like consistency in baseball, this
can only be viewed as as disappointment. The Diamondbacks play in one of
the most hitter-friendly ballparks in all of baseball and have had the same core
of young players on offense since 2007. These prospects were supposed to
steadily develop into perennial All-Stars by now. Instead, every time one
hitter steps forward, another one steps back, and the individual players appear
unable to sustain their success from one season to the next. The
unfortunate result in 2010 was a record-breaking number of strikeouts for an
offense that figured to be among the best in the National League.
2011 finally be the year that several of the hitters have breakout seasons at
the same time? Without further
delay, here are the educated guesses from the Bill James Handbook:
* The D-backs and LaRoche have a $7.5 M mutual option for 2011
+ Indicates an arbitration-eligible player
The first thing that should jump out at you about the projections aren't the
projections at all, but the listed ages for next season. With the
exception of LaRoche and Church - neither of whom is guaranteed to be a part of
the 2011 roster - every position player will still be under 30 years of age.
There is still room for development and improvement for this group, even though
it seems that we've been saying so for years.
James, however, is prognosticating the status quo for most of theses hitters.
Montero's injury-marred season and Young's resurgent season had little effect on
the projections; both of their stat line projections here are similar to what
James predicted for them
last winter. The Mark Reynolds projection is quite close to his
.242/.334/.483 career line; the 2009 and 2010 seasons were both likely flukes
for him. The optimism for Upton has tempered a bit due to the news that he
has been playing with a bad shoulder for years, however, you have to wonder
about the kind of numbers the 23-year-old would put up with a fully healthy
Perhaps the most encouraging prediction here belongs to Kelly Johnson.
James has the second baseman's production slated far closer to his breakout 2010
campaign than his horrendous 2009 performance. If the D-backs trust this
data, it may make sense to wait on trading him to prove that 2010 was no fluke.
That way, they can enjoy several months of production from Johnson while still
getting high trade value for him.
It's interesting to note that the numbers projected for Brandon Allen are
nearly identical to those for Adam LaRoche, except that Allen should have more
steals and fewer strikeouts. With this in mind, it's very difficult to see
the Diamondbacks spending $7.5 million to retain LaRoche. Renegotiating a
new contract could be difficult as well, since the D-backs have little incentive
to offer a multi-year deal to a 31-year-old first baseman with all of the young
first base talent in their farm system right now.
With the encouraging forecast for Allen, it's disappointing that James did
not include a projection for backup catcher John Hester in his Handbook.
Like Allen, Hester put up incredible numbers under very hitter-friendly
conditions in Reno, but struggled to hit in the majors. If we put a lot of
weight in Hester's minor league stats, the Diamondbacks could expect incredible
production out of a catcher platoon this season.
Nevertheless, the Bill James Handbook offers a valuable insight into the next
season for all of Major League Baseball's players and teams. From
Arizona's perspective, they have five hitters slated to hit at least 23 home
runs and another three projected in the 14-19 homer range. If that
happens, this team will score more than 720 runs for the first time since 2006.
Given that most of these players are in the prime of their careers and will be
working with an entirely new coaching staff, it's reasonable to expect even
better production than what is forecast here.
Are you a full member of
FutureBacks.com? If not, then you are missing out on the top
Diamondbacks coverage we provide to our premium members, as well as full
access to over 400 other Scout.com sites.
Join us today!
Follow FutureBacks.com on Twitter