12-23-2010: Sox offense in good shape for 2011

Nobody yet knows what lineup Terry Francona will use next season, but we know that whatever lineup he uses will be pretty good. We also know that should a player go down, whether in the infield or outfield, we’ve got some pretty good contingency players in Jed Lowrie and Mike Cameron, guys who could be starters for some teams out there.

If you plug in our projections into the Baseball Musings lineup analyzer, you get an average of 5.502 runs per game, or about 891 runs on the year. Take away 8% due to the play of substitutes, and we project this squad for 820 runs in 2011. This is actually slightly lower than what we projected for the 2010 squad by 12 runs. But assuming that our regulars play more than they did this year, we are still looking good.

That’s nice to know, but how does our expected offensive production compare with other teams in our division? Here’s a quick look at how each AL East team does in a quick and dirty wOBA comparison:

C 0.321 0.356 0.342 0.331 0.319
1B 0.392 0.400 0.337 0.346 0.355
2B 0.379 0.371 0.362 0.335 0.332
3B 0.407 0.398 0.373 0.392 0.363
SS 0.327 0.352 0.343 0.318 0.337
RF 0.380 0.366 0.380 0.357 0.350
CF 0.356 0.361 0.349 0.354 0.347
LF 0.374 0.344 0.358 0.339 0.337
DH 0.373 0.358 0.369 0.358 0.347
IF 0.336 0.324 0.298 0.310 0.271
OF 0.347 0.318 0.320 0.320 0.320
Avg 0.363 0.359 0.348 0.342 0.334

Looking at this chart, you can see that we project to have the best team offense, if you count one infield and one outfield reserve along with the regulars. With the exception of shortstop, our whole infield looks to be the class of the division; we are right there with the Yankees’ deep and potent offense, and you can see that the loss of Carl Crawford and Carlos Pena has severely crippled the Rays’ offense. There is a chance that Desmond Jennings has a real breakout campaign and Reid Brignac turns in a better year than expected. But they could fall flat on their faces as well. The offensive surprise of 2011 might be the Orioles, who have several blossoming players and are greatly improved by the additions of J.J. Hardy and Mark Reynolds.

You can take issue with some of these projections, naturally, but I think they’re pretty decent indicators of what you might expect. The offseason is still churning along, so you can bet that Tampa Bay will sign a first baseman or DH besides Dan Johnson, who is currently slotted into the role. The Yankees will probably sign some strong bench players as well. Should the Orioles sign a big bat at first base to supplant Jake Fox, they’ll be pretty competitive offensively (pitching and defense are another matter completely).



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