11-4-2010: Offensive projections and the offseason


I think it’s a good move that the Red Sox opted to exercise their option on DH David Ortiz today. Why? Here are my current hitting projections for the Red Sox in 2011 (three-year average from neutralized rates, regressed and park- and age-adjusted). This includes everyone who is projected to have a wOBA of .350 or better:

Name Pos AB HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
Kevin Youkilis 1B 500 23 89 4 0.288 0.392 0.513 0.906 0.407
J.D. Drew RF 452 20 66 5 0.264 0.370 0.474 0.844 0.380
Dustin Pedroia 2B 573 16 71 16 0.297 0.369 0.462 0.831 0.379
David Ortiz* DH 515 27 96 1 0.254 0.351 0.487 0.838 0.373
Victor Martinez* 1B 464 15 76 1 0.289 0.359 0.458 0.817 0.366
Adrian Beltre* 3B 555 20 79 9 0.277 0.331 0.461 0.793 0.356
Jacoby Ellsbury CF 482 8 47 44 0.280 0.341 0.399 0.740 0.356

Notice anything interesting? Had Big Papi become a free agent, that would mean that the 4th, 5th and 6th best bats in our lineup would all be on the free agent market. That’s a lot of production to be trying to replace all at once.

I’ve taken the liberty to project most of the significant free agent hitters, using the same formulas and adjusting their stats for the AL East and Fenway Park:

Name Pos AB HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
Lance Berkman 1B 513 21 82 10 0.262 0.367 0.467 0.834 0.377
Paul Konerko 1B 538 26 86 1 0.270 0.356 0.480 0.836 0.374
Adam Dunn 1B 566 36 96 3 0.235 0.352 0.483 0.835 0.374
Carl Crawford LF 578 13 77 43 0.294 0.349 0.450 0.799 0.373
Carlos Pena 1B 507 30 96 3 0.227 0.352 0.470 0.822 0.370
Jayson Werth RF 556 26 81 16 0.258 0.346 0.467 0.813 0.369
Magglio Ordonez RF 486 14 74 5 0.297 0.362 0.459 0.821 0.368
Johnny Damon LF 560 13 65 19 0.277 0.351 0.431 0.782 0.358
Derrek Lee 1B 598 22 86 6 0.263 0.335 0.451 0.786 0.352

So Ortiz’ bat is essentially expected to be equal (production-wise) to that of the best free agents out there, and you won’t be able to get those guys for 1 year and $12.5M. The other problem is that most of the top free agents are first basemen who are not as good as the first baseman we already have. Not many good matches for us, outside of Carl Crawford or possibly Jayson Werth.

That leaves Victor Martinez and Adrian Beltre’s production, which means you’d have to nab two guys off of this list if you wanted to maintain this year’s offensive potential.

Or you could trade for some of these guys, who are rumored to be on the market (again adjusted for the AL East and Fenway Park):

Name Pos AB HR RBI SB Avg OBP SLG OPS wOBA
Prince Fielder 1B 623 35 108 4 0.261 0.373 0.492 0.864 0.390
Adrian Gonzalez 1B 616 34 106 2 0.277 0.364 0.508 0.873 0.387
Carlos Quentin RF 466 26 83 4 0.250 0.358 0.480 0.838 0.382
Mike Napoli 1B 387 22 63 5 0.251 0.346 0.487 0.833 0.375
Jose Bautista RF 481 26 77 6 0.244 0.349 0.473 0.822 0.370
Luke Scott LF 469 21 70 3 0.256 0.339 0.471 0.811 0.362
David DeJesus LF 510 13 70 7 0.283 0.351 0.442 0.793 0.358
Yonder Alonso 1B 527 19 82 7 0.269 0.341 0.452 0.793 0.357
Josh Willingham LF 419 17 54 6 0.239 0.341 0.431 0.772 0.354

Of course, you’d have to pay in prospects to land these names. And yet again, these are mostly first basemen or corner outfielders. As you can see, it’s not easy to replace the talent of a Martinez or a Beltre. It may be in our best interests to sign a stopgap third baseman and try to trade for Adrian Gonzalez at the deadline.

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3 Responses to 11-4-2010: Offensive projections and the offseason

  1. Pat says:

    I don’t think the offensive situation is as bad as it seems. If Ellsbury is coming back with a wOBA of .356 and average to above average defense is center, that’s a decent upgrade over last year’s outfield mess.

    I wonder what you think of Alex Gordon as a trade target?

    Also, I wonder what the market will be like for Lance Berkman. It might be a decent filler to move Youk to third for a year. If we needed to give Berkman a 2 year contract, he could fill in for Big Papi at DH in ’12.

    • redsoxtalk says:

      Well, I’m not saying that I’m WORRIED about the offense, really. Not yet anyway. But remember that coming into 2010, the offense was a big concern for many people; the Sox performed very well, but that was mainly thanks to a monster year by Beltre and unexpected contributions from the reserves. If we don’t at least make up for the loss of Beltre and Martinez’s expected output, we could be looking at a just-above-average offense this year, and I think we may need to be top 3-4 to win, even with improved run prevention.

      Alex Gordon is an interesting gamble, but only a slightly better bet to rebound than Hermida was last year. If the Sox could get him cheap, they might take a flyer on him and stick him back at 3B. His primary weakness is he can’t hit lefties (career .660 OPS) and though Lowrie is a switch-hitter, he has struggled against righties (career .667 OPS). I could see an interesting platoon-type situation, but going into a season with that as plan A doesn’t sound like the Sox at all.

      Thanks to his less-than-impressive (and probably injured) showing in NY, what people are predicting is a depressed market for Berkman, but probably a two-year deal; something like $6-9M/year might be appropriate. I like his bat, but I’m not sure that we want another big lefty bat or to move Youk over for one year..

    • redsoxtalk says:

      To answer you more specifically, Alex Gordon works out to a .244/.337/.415 slash line, which is good for around a .343 wOBA. That’s above average, and he does have some upside. But he is starting to look like a platoon player at this point.

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