BaseballHQ Predicts 2012 Cardinals Hitters

BaseballHQ's projections for year-to-year performances of the St. Louis Cardinals position players for 2012 offer a bit of encouragement. Part two, focusing on the club's pitchers, will follow.

An anticipated event during each hot stove season is the day 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, then-VP Jeff Luhnow wanted to pick the brains of some of baseball's best analytic minds.

This year's 273-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 2012 Cardinals. My premise here is very basic. That is, to look at the delta between key player stats from year to year. Also, for the first time, I included last year's predictions as interesting comparison points.

First, 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 is done 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.

2012 Projections vs. 2011 Actuals* and 2011 Projections - St. Louis Cardinals Offense

Counting Proj Act Proj Proj Act Proj Proj Act Proj
stats AB AB AB HR HR HR RBI RBI RBI
Year 11 11 12 11 11 12 11 11 12
Beltran 520 461 22 18 84 69
Berkman 410 488 441 19 31 23 67 94 76
Craig* 392* 241 393 12 12 16 60 44 65
Descalso 326 225 1 2 28 21
Freese 391 333 489 8 10 12 58 55 77
Furcal 333 385 8 8 28 35
Holliday 595 446 559 28 22 27 109 75 97
Jay 359 455 328 5 10 6 35 37 29
Molina 478 475 486 7 14 15 60 65 65
Schumaker 386 367 388 4 2 3 32 38 36
totals 3984 4155 132 130 548 570
Departed
Laird 196 95 130 4 1 2 19 12 15
Pujols 562 579 582 40 37 40 121 99 112
Rasmus 493 471 510 24 14 18 70 53 60
Theriot 548 442 392 3 1 1 35 47 35
Punto 172 181 1 2 21 20
Rate Proj Act Proj Proj Act Proj Proj Act Proj
stats AVG AVG AVG OBP OBP OBP SLG SLG SLG
Year 11 11 12 11 11 12 11 11 12
Beltran 0.300 0.294 0.384 0.380 0.525 0.503
Berkman 0.271 0.301 0.284 0.390 0.412 0.399 0.474 0.547 0.503
Craig 0.258 0.292 0.276 0.307 0.340 0.322 0.409 0.509 0.465
Descalso 0.264 0.256 0.331 0.318 0.353 0.353
Freese 0.269 0.297 0.292 0.320 0.345 0.341 0.388 0.441 0.422
Furcal 0.231 0.260 0.291 0.321 0.348 0.382
Holliday 0.318 0.296 0.305 0.390 0.379 0.383 0.540 0.525 0.531
Jay 0.262 0.297 0.279 0.312 0.337 0.324 0.366 0.424 0.399
Molina 0.278 0.305 0.294 0.337 0.350 0.347 0.363 0.465 0.442
Schumaker 0.282 0.283 0.270 0.341 0.332 0.325 0.364 0.351 0.346
Departed
Laird 0.230 0.232 0.235 0.280 0.298 0.290 0.335 0.358 0.330
Pujols 0.317 0.299 0.312 0.423 0.366 0.398 0.607 0.541 0.582
Rasmus 0.258 0.225 0.244 0.334 0.299 0.312 0.469 0.391 0.415
Theriot 0.270 0.271 0.267 0.328 0.316 0.317 0.329 0.342 0.336
Punto 0.260 0.265 0.364 0.365 0.375 0.369


* Major league equivalent Triple-A and Double-A stats are included, so 2011 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. Good news here at the start. Despite Yadier Molina having his best season to date in 2011, his forecast for the coming season is very similar. His .300 batting average is called "legit" and his second half moved him into the catching "elite." Neither of the inexperienced players competing for the back up job, Tony Cruz and Bryan Anderson, merit a mention in the Forecaster.

Infielders. Despite the usual health warnings about David Freese, he is projected with almost 500 at bats and a resulting bump up in RBI with only a bit less power. Daniel Descalso's forecasted at-bats are down, perhaps as a result. More expected health risks are noted with Rafael Furcal, but there is also guarded optimism about his upside based on low rate for hits per balls in play. Lance Berkman takes a slight hit in at-bats but a major cut in results. (Note this was done when he was still a full-time outfielder.) Skip Schumaker is projected for more of the same, apparently whether an infielder or outfielder.

Outfielders. Matt Holliday is forecasted to pump up his at-bats by 100 to a more typical Holliday season with resultant home run and RBI growth over 2011. Allen Craig is projected to approach 400 at-bats with comparable gain in power and production, with Jon Jay headed in the opposite direction. Carlos Beltran is expected to keep up his slash stats, but decline in home runs and RBI.

The departed. Albert Pujols will have a more Pujolsian season, says the Forecaster. It would be hard to believe Colby Rasmus would have a worse year in 2012 than 2011 and the numbers recognize that. I wonder what club will give Ryan Theriot 400 at-bats?

In closing

From the home run and RBI counts of these players alone, one might look for slightly higher run scoring in 2012 over 2011. Craig, Freese and Holliday on the upside slightly overpower the down year predicted from Berkman and Beltran. With some modest improvement from others, perhaps the 2012 club can improve on their predecessor's 90-win showing.

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. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

© 2012 The Cardinal Nation, thecardinalnation.com and stlcardinals.scout.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


The Cardinal Nation Top Stories