Now that football is over, we can finally focus on baseball! This week marks my one-year anniversary at RotoWire so I would like to personally thank Jeff, Peter and Derek for the opportunity and each one of you for continuing to read my pieces on a weekly basis as well as the feedback you provide.
This week also marks another happy annual event as Baseball Prospectus releases its PECOTA projections for the coming season. As someone who also writes there, I am required to say it is the best projection system out there but I will also tell you that it is still best practice to review multiple projection systems (RotoWire, Marcel, Bill James, ZiPS) to help guide your opinion on a player. No projection system is perfect and the projections are not projecting 100 percent performance, rather, more of what should happen. It could be better, it could be worse, but if a projection system is in the ballpark on 70 percent of the players it projects, that is a damn good year. Anyhow, go check out Colin Wyers' explanation of how PECOTA is optimized and maintained.
The fun part about getting the PECOTAs is to open up the spreadsheet, filter to your favorite team, and see what the system has to say about what your team will do this coming season. The other fun part is to look at how the system looks at the youngsters and what players PECOTA thinks they are similar to at that age.
For someone like Bryce Harper, playing a full season in the major leagues leaves very few comparisons – something I talked about last week. Robin Yount is the most recent example that comes to mind as a 19-year-old to do what Davey Johnson has proposed for Harper this season. PECOTA has a line of .239/.303/.382 for Harper if he make the jump from Double-A to the majors and even if he exceeded those numbers by 25 percent, it would still not justify him being taken anywhere before the end rounds in a mixed reset draft. Yet, I've seen him go in the 15th round and his current ADP of 211 is ahead of proven quantities such as Carlos Quentin, Brennan Boesch, and Alfonso Soriano. Harper has gone as high as 92 in a draft at MockDraftCentral! Any 19-year-old in the system is going to draw a player comp of Robin Yount and Ed Kranepool because they represent the few players to play in the majors at such a young age, but let's see how some of the guys who should see good amounts of time in 2012 stack up.
Mike Trout: .260/.320/.383. We all know the kind of logjam the Angels have in their system right now in the outfield/designated hitter/first base situation. Trout is the most logical guy to return to Triple-A as the roster stands now which makes the risk/reward with him quite frustrating. Looking at player comps of Cesar Cedeno, Justin Upton and Ken Griffey Jr. does not help.
Nolan Arenado: .249/.275/.392. The darling of the AFL should do very well eventually with Denver, just not a lot this season. Casey Blake's signing is a nice placeholder to give Arenado a little more time in the minors and his top player comp? Brooks Robinson
Joe Panik: .227/.271/.319. I'm a Panik guy, especially after seeing him play in the AFL in November. Not projecting superstardom, but I like what I see from him and will be targeting him in NL-only dynasty leagues this season. Player comps of Alan Trammell, Edgar Renteria, and Robin Yount are nice company to keep.
Jesus Montero: .276/.327/.459. Um, wow. That includes 56 extra-base hits (24 HR) but also assumes 633 plate appearances in Seattle which may be a tad aggressive. Hitters hit and Montero is a special bat. It would have been nice to see how his numbers would have looked in the Yankees' lineup, but he should get more guaranteed playing time in Seattle given what the Mariners gave up to acquire him. Player comps are all over the place: Eddie Murray, Johnny Bench…and Orlando Mercado.
Tyler Pastornicky: .249/.288/.334. If Pastornicky is going to open the season as the starting shortstop for Atlanta, he would most likely hit eighth and pitchers are going to challenge his ability to control the strike zone. I have him as a rookie keeper in my own NL-only league hoping to draft a replacement level player at the draft to swap Pastornicky in for once he shows an ability to handle the stick at a major league level but this projection is less than glowing. Player comps include Edgar Renteria and Alfredo Griffith.
Brett Jackson: .239/.318/.397. Consistent contact will always be the issue for him, so it is fitting that B.J. Upton is one of his top player comps.
Travis d'Arnaud: .245/.298/.409. As a second catcher, I would take that line in a heartbeat and Toronto is lucky to have both he and Arencibia for their offensive output but eventually one of them will have to be moved because both deserve to be starters. Jarrod Saltalamacchia and Bill Freehan player comps cover the complete spectrum and he is another guy I am very much in the camp of.
Wilin Rosario: .248/.275/.439. Another line I would take from a second catcher in an NL-only league. He too has Salty as a comp, along with Johnny Bench. I'm a big believer in Rosario's power potential.
Ryan Lavarnway: .254/.329/.465. Matt Wieters is the top player comp, which won't quell any hype Lavarnway may have surrounding him. In 2011, he was much more effective against lefties and at home, whether in Portland or Pawtucket. It is rather amazing he had a 26:24 walk to strikeout ratio versus lefties last season but a 27:83 ratio against righties.
Devin Mesoraco: .254/.317/.445 in 319 plate appearances. I just used my 20th round pick in a 13-team mixed expert league draft to take him, with the understanding that Dusty Baker loves his veterans and Ryan Hanigan could get a majority of the playing time behind the plate. If Mesoraco can produce that line, you should be happy with the results as it includes 12 home runs and 41 runs driven in. Matt Wieters and Gary Carter are in his player comps.
Leonys Martin: .266/.314/.382. The limited data on him hampers projections with him and Amos Otis is his most recognizable player comp.
Brad Peacock: 5.09 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 94 strikeouts. Even with the move to a friendly pitchers' park, PECOTA doesn't think much of Peacock's ability to throw strikes or maintain his punchout abilities from the minors. Richard Dotson is his most notable player comp.
Matt Moore: 3.56 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 160 strikeouts. Player comps are Cole Hamels, Herb Score, and Scott Kazmir. As a colleague put it to me this morning, "Remember how you felt watching Kazmir pitch when he came up? Now add a third pitch and control of all three of them."
Tom Milone: 4.24 ERA, 1.37 WHIP. PECOTA likes Milone better than his former Nationals teammate Peacock and his ability to throw strikes is certainly a factor in that. The fact that Randy Tomlin and Andy Sonnanstine are two of his top player comps should help frame expectations.
Drew Pomeranz: 4.71 ERA, 1.49 WHIP. Colorado has a healthy amount of starting pitchers in camp this season so Pomeranz could end up in Colorado Springs to start the season, but this is a decent line for a rookie in a hostile environment.
Addison Reed: 3.18 ERA, 1.20 WHIP with 83 strikeouts in 72 innings. Now, if the White Sox could only move Matt Thornton and let Reed have the closer role to enhance his mixed league value.
Eric Surkamp: 4.19 ERA, 1.43 WHIP. His player comps are James McDonald, Jake McGee, and Marc Rzepczynski - and I'd roster the first two before taking Surkamp. I don't see a high ceiling for him but he is useful in NL-only leagues but his ability to miss more bats will determine just how useful he will be.