BaseballHQ Predicts 2011 Cardinals Hitters

Using BaseballHQ's projections to consider year-to-year performances of the St. Louis Cardinals position players for 2011 offers a bit of encouragement. Part two, focusing on the club's pitchers, will follow.

A key milestone in each hot stove season is the day when the new version of the Baseball Forecaster arrives in the mail. Now in its 25th year, this guide from Ron Shandler and his team from BaseballHQ is the bible to the upcoming season for thousands of fans, whether fantasy players or just baseball watchers interested in the numbers behind the game.

What could be better to help pass the hours until baseball is played again in the spring than analysis, discussion and debate over the performers from past season and the one upcoming?

Front office personnel across the game of baseball also are regular users of the Forecaster. It wasn't a coincidence that Shandler and his analysts were hired as consultants by the Cardinals back in 2004. As he was getting started, VP Jeff Luhnow wanted to pick the brains of some of baseball's best analytic minds.

This year's 298-page work includes a wealth of historical as well as predictive information for major leaguers and minor leaguers, along with sections on gaming (fantasy) and sabermetric tools.

Our focus here is to again cobble together a small subset of his work to assemble what could be called an overly-simplistic glimpse of what we might expect from the 2011 Cardinals. My premise here is very basic. That is, to look at the delta between key player stats from year to year.

First, we need some disclaimers. This data was generated to analyze individual players, not a team. Nowhere in the Forecaster does BaseballHQ aggregate stats for even partial team views as I do here, nor do they focus on trying to project playing time. Therefore, some of the comments made below could become invalid, especially as roles shake out later on.

I also did not include the entire Cardinals roster, which would be required for a thorough analysis of the team. Finally, these projections were completed prior to the completion of this off-season's free agent signings and trades.

All disclaimers aside, for individual players, these projections are well-founded, based on years of experience in analysis of individual skill sets, rates of growth and decline, resistance and recovery from injury, opportunity and other factors.

You still have to buy the Forecaster to get the full story, as these stats only scratch the surface of the in-depth analysis provided for every player. It is $24.95 well spent, and for that price you also get a downloadable version and a free update in March. Buy the Forecaster here.

2011 Projections vs. 2010 Actuals* - St. Louis Cardinals Offense

Counting AB AB HR HR RBI RBI
stats 2010 2011 2010 2011 2010 2011
Berkman 404 410 14 19 58 67
Craig* 420 392 12 12 73 60
Freese 240 391 4 8 36 58
Holliday 596 595 28 28 103 109
Jay* 452 359 7 5 50 35
Laird 270 196 5 4 25 19
Molina 465 478 6 7 62 60
Pujols 587 562 42 40 118 121
Rasmus 464 493 23 24 56 70
Schumaker 476 386 5 4 42 32
Theriot 586 548 2 3 29 35
totals 4960 4810 148 154 652 666
Departed
Feliz 409 215 5 4 40 26
Lopez 391 347 8 6 37 32
Ludwick 490 424 17 16 69 70
Ryan 439 397 2 2 36 31
Winn 205 123 4 2 25 14

Rate AVG AVG OBP OBP SLG SLG
stats 2010 2011 2010 2011 2010 2011
Berkman 0.248 0.271 0.368 0.390 0.413 0.474
Craig* 0.248 0.258 0.302 0.307 0.403 0.409
Freese 0.296 0.269 0.352 0.320 0.404 0.388
Holliday 0.312 0.318 0.383 0.390 0.532 0.540
Jay* 0.284 0.262 0.336 0.312 0.409 0.366
Laird 0.207 0.230 0.257 0.280 0.304 0.335
Molina 0.262 0.278 0.323 0.337 0.342 0.363
Pujols 0.312 0.317 0.414 0.423 0.596 0.607
Rasmus 0.276 0.258 0.362 0.334 0.498 0.469
Schu 0.265 0.282 0.326 0.341 0.338 0.364
Theriot 0.270 0.270 0.317 0.328 0.312 0.329
Departed
Feliz 0.218 0.237 0.242 0.271 0.293 0.345
Lopez 0.233 0.259 0.310 0.333 0.345 0.369
Ludwick 0.251 0.257 0.318 0.323 0.418 0.429
Ryan 0.223 0.252 0.278 0.301 0.294 0.324
Winn 0.239 0.252 0.310 0.317 0.356 0.366

* Major league equivalent Triple-A and Double-A stats are included, so 2010 numbers for these players are not true actuals.

What suggestions might one try to draw from this? (The following are my comments, gleaned from the Forecaster and augmented by my own thought processes.)

Catchers. Yadier Molina is expected to show improvement in rate stats while remaining constant in home runs and RBI. While a similar statement can be made about newcomer Gerald Laird, it would only be a small improvement over a dreadful 2010.

Infielders. It is a pretty safe bet to assume Pujols will be Pujols. Skip Schumaker looks to rebound in rate stats, but his RBI count is expected to drop by a quarter. At first blush, new shortstop Ryan Theriot's counting stats look similar to traded Brendan Ryan's – that is until you notice his significantly higher at-bats. While Theriot's projected rate stats are higher than Ryan, they aren't by much. Simply by playing more, David Freese's counting stats will improve, but his rate stats are projected downward.

Outfielders. Like Pujols, Matt Holliday is considered to be money in the statistical bank. Colby Rasmus is expected to see an RBI bump, but all his rate stats are projected downward due to plate discipline concerns. Lance Berkman is good news and bad. While his 2011 looks to be up from 2010, his projections are far below his career bests. Former right fielder Ryan Ludwick may deliver comparable home runs and RBI, though with lower rate stats across the board.

Other reserves. Allen Craig is viewed to put up decent stats, but since the arrival of Berkman, seeing 420 at-bats seems far less likely. Jon Jay's numbers are headed down across the board, says these projections. Tyler Greene is not included in this year's Forecaster.

In closing

From the home run and RBI counts of these players alone, one might look for slightly higher run scoring in 2011 over 2010. With more players projected to have modest improvement, perhaps the 2011 club can improve on their predecessor's 86-win showing. On second thought, hold that until seeing the pitching projections.

For graciously sharing their data as they do each year at this time, thank you again to Ron Shandler and BaseballHQ.com. Subscribers should check back for the second installment covering the Cardinals pitchers to be posted soon.



Brian Walton can be reached via email at brian@thecardinalnationblog.com. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Selected TCN content appears at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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