We are in the midst of projection season for the upcoming year. Bill James‘s projections have been out for a while, while ZIPS projections are being released now, and FanGraphs Fan Projections are currently open. In light of this, I thought I would “release” my projections for the Mariners hitters who figure to play a somewhat significant role in the upcoming season.
Fangraphs has the “projector” choose a range for the following categories: Games played, spot in the batting order, position, batting average, 2B+3B/150 games, HR/150 games, K and BB%, stolen bases/150 games, and finally fielding/150 games. It then takes those projections, does some calculations, and gives you a full batting line based on what you projected.
You can always just come up with your own projections for each stat, but their system helps each stat coincide, and prevents someone from projecting two contradictory stats, such as 40 HR, but only a .420 slugging percentage or something like that. Side note, I may tweak some of them if I think they are too off base for what I actually think.
So, here is what the computer put together for each player based on my projections.
Ackley was extremely disappointing last year, hitting a measly .226/.294/.328. He did play the whole year with an injury, but we will see how much of an effect that had. The good news is that his K rate went down from his rookie year, and his contact rates went up. It may be a matter of not “stepping in the bucket” any more, or something else mechanically. But as you can see in my projections, I expect a bounce back season form the former #2 overall pick. The numbers it gave me are pretty much exactly what I would have said myself, which is a good sign. If he puts together a line similar to this, I would call it a successful season.
Seager had a solid breakout year last season, and exceeded most people’s standards. He hit .259/.316/.423, with a surprisingly high 20 home runs. He didn’t show a ton of power in the minors, but was able to hit a solid amount of bombs last year. The projections are pretty much what I expect, although the HR might be 2-3 too high. I don’t think we will see him exceed his 20 HR output last year, but he should be close to that number. He has a solid frame, and a bit of an uppercut which aid in his power. If he can continue to improve his contact and on base numbers, he could be a very good player in the future.
Montero was somewhat disappointing, and didn’t live up to the high expectations put on him. But, he was only 22 years old, and you can’t expect too much out of someone so young. Would I have liked to see something a little better than that? Sure, but I haven’t lost faith. I am not AS confident as I was in him, but I still see a solid or better player in the future. That can be seen in the stats above, as they are all slightly improved over last year. I agree with them for the most part, but I had to bump up the HR and 2B numbers by a couple each. I think with the fences in, and his continued progression, he should be at least in the 20-23 HR range. Bill James is projecting an .803 OPS for next year, while the fans overall are at .781, so I feel pretty safe where I am. I fully expect him to continue to improve, and become a good middle of the order guy in the future.
Morales had a solid year last year coming off a major injury. He posted a .339 wOBA and 118 wRC+ for the Angels last year, and I expect even better this year. He had an all-star caliber year in 2009, and was looking like he was on pace for another in 2010 before suffering an injury during a walk-off celebration against the Mariners. The numbers above look great, and I would be ecstatic if he produced like that. The power numbers look about right, but I am not sure about the .289/.346 part. I don’t see him walking over 40 times, but you never know. To be honest, if he could put up a .275/.330/.475 line, I would be perfectly fine. If Smoak figures it out, we could have an interesting “problem” at 1st base after next year, but that’s for another article.
Morse was only able to play in 102 games last year, and was good, but not great in his limited time. He put up a .791 OPS last year, a big drop off from his .910 OPS in 2011. That’s probably my biggest disagreement with his stats above, I don’t see him getting 584 PA next year, seeing as he has averaged 433 PA/year for the last three years. Other than that, I think its conceivable. Its pretty close to his career numbers, which is about where he should be. The OBP might be a little high too, as his plate discipline has been suspect as well. Its hard to tell what he is going to be, but if he can put up numbers similar to those above, then I would call the trade a win. Anything less, and I may be a little disappointed.
Saunders finally figured it out last year after being written off by most because of his constant struggles. He was able to be the opening day center fielder due to Guti’s injury, and he made the most of it. He started off really well, then slumped, then figured it out, then slumped again, then ended the season on a high note. Consistency is going to be a big factor in his success next year. I think my prediction is attainable if he can limit the months in which he hits a wall, like August when he posted a 72 wRC+. He hit .247/.306/.432 for the season last year, so the numbers above would mean a small improvement in all parts of his offense. It looks very reasonable to me, and I think there’s a decent chance he has an even better year than that.
We all know about how disappointing Smoak has been thus far. He has hit .223/.306/.377 for his career, and didn’t show much improvement last year. That is, until he hit .341/.426/.580 in September. Now, I am not saying that that one month overrides the numerous months where he hit .220. But it does give me a little hope that he still has it in him. Plus, he posted a 111 wRC+ in the second half, so even in bigger periods he showed flashes of improvement. I don’t know why, but I get a feeling this is the year he gets in. He won’t be an All Star all the sudden, but numbers around what I have above, or even better. This really is his make or break year though, because if he doesn’t get it done, the Ms have another option in Kendrys Morales who they could try to extend.
Guti is pretty much an enigma at this point. We don’t know if he will be healthy (although I think he should be), and we don’t know what to expect if he is healthy. He was decent last year in very limited time (.260/.309/.420), and very good in his offseason league (.349/.411/.523). On the other hand, he was well below average in the two seasons before last, so its hard to have too much hope. Hopefully if he can stay healthy we will see the old Guti, or something closer to it. The numbers above would be disappointing, so hopefully he is a little better, but its very hard to tell at this point.
Shoppach will probably serve as the backup catcher for Jesus Montero, so he won’t get a ton of time. I think it might make sense to have him in a platoon type roll, catching against lefties, with Montero DH-ing. Either way, he probably won’t get many more than 300 or so PA. He has been slightly below average for his career (.226/.314/.418), with his only full season being his best year. He has contact and strikeout issues, (33.4 K% for his career), but he is able to make up for it somewhat with solid plate discipline and power. If he plays mainly against lefties the numbers above wold probably look a lot better, seeing as he has a career .374 wOBA and 134 wRC+ against righties for his career. Either way, he probably won’t have too extensive of a role this year.
Its a good thing Ryan plays great defense at shortstop. He hasn’t brought much of anything at the plate for his career (.244/.306/.327), and its been even worse lately. He has his worst offensive year last year, hitting .194/.277/.278 with 61 wRC+. But thanks to being the best defensive shortstop in the league, he was still able to be about league average for a starter. His time as a Mariner may be numbered with Nick Franklin and Brad Miller on the way, but for now, I am perfectly okay with him starting at short for the time being. He is a good clubhouse guy, and plays amazing defense. If he can pull off a .600 OPS or better, he can still be a valuable player.
Well, there you have it. Obviously there will be other guys getting ABs, but the guys above figure to play the biggest roles in the upcoming season. Guys like Raul Ibanez and Casper Wells will be able to earn some time if they hit well in their bench roles, or could step in if there is an injury. The numbers aren’t perfect, but they should give a good idea of what I expect for the upcoming season.
Stay tuned for the Pitchers Projections next week, and if you want to take the time to make your own projections and post them in the comments, feel free.