Fun with Bill James Projections: Red Sox hitters and their expected 2013 stat lines

Bill James’ projection system has earned a reputation over the years of being a bit optimistic, particularly when it comes to forecasting younger players’ playing time and number of at bats given the potential for injury. But with James’ expanded role in the Boston front office this offseason, perhaps the projections that carry his namesake provide some insight into the way the Red Sox front office is thinking in the days leading up to the post-Thanksgiving signing frenzy.

Via Fangraphs’ individual player pages, a summary of key Red Sox hitters’ 2013 projections, their actual 2012 numbers and the positive/(negative) change.

Dustin!!
The system is bullish on Dustin Pedroia’s chances for a rebound season after a down year that can be blamed partly on injuries. But would that 2013 line be enough for a contract extension in the neighborhood of $20m per year for a 2B?

David Ortiz
Fans would gladly take this kind of cumulative production in 600(!) at bats from Big Papi – even if it meant a fall back to earth in rate stats.

Will Middlebrooks
James’ system projects a continuation of what Middlebrooks showed in his rookie season.

Jacoby Ellsbury
This type of full season from Ellsbury looks eerily similar to Carl Crawford’s averages during his last couple years in Tampa.

Pedro Ciriaco
Ciriaco isn’t an everyday player in any world other than Bobby Valentine’s.

Daniel Nava
Nava slots in somewhere between a fourth outfielder and just another body the team can throw in the outfield.

Jose Iglesias
It may be telling that a projection system known for optimism still expects Iglesias’ weighted on-base average to be around .250. That may just be good enough if he keeps gloving every ball hit in his general vicinity.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Salty can’t possibly strike out as much as he did in 2012 again? James’ system doesn’t think so…

Ryan Lavarnway
We think maybe Ben Cherington hard-coded this very bullish stat line into the output for trade leverage…

Jerry Sands
As mentioned earlier, James’ system takes some liberties in assuming teams will find younger players plenty of big league at bats.

Red Sox Catchers
Speaking of catchers, James’ projections put to rest any potential debate if the Sox go into camp with Salty, Lavarnway and David Ross on the roster. Any combination of two of the three major league catchers on the roster as of this writing would be expected to provide the lineup with above-average power and overall production.

Also, some free agents that are on the team’s radar.

And just for fun – Kevin Youkilis is expected to rebound into a form more recognizable to his peak years in Boston. No true Sox fan can begrudge Youker a few more years of success – even if it’s somewhere else.

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