Projections from Bill James: D-backs Hitters

What will Miguel Montero do in his first full season as a starter? Will Justin Upton take another step forward? Can Brandon Allen put up Rookie of the Year numbers? Will Chris Young rebound from a horrid season? Can Conor Jackson recover from Valley Fever? Will Mark Reynolds strike out 200 times for a third straight year? Our sneak peek of the 2010 Bill James Handbook continues.

Every year, Bill James, ACTA Sports, and Baseball Info Solutions collaborate to produce the Bill James Handbook.  In addition to providing vital statistics from the just-completed season, the Handbook attempts to project player performances for the upcoming year.  The projections are mostly based on a player's age and career history, although some deduction and intuition are necessarily involved.

The Arizona Diamondbacks offense was non-existent at the beginning of the 2009 season.  The team hit .231/.308/.394 in April and .247/.323/.405 in the first half.  As the season progressed, an infusion of rookies injected some life into the offense and the team's stars began to heat up.  The club improved to .260/.327/.432 in the second half, including a torrid month of August (.273/.340/.451).

Will the 2010 offense build upon this progression?  Without further delay, here are the educated guesses from the Bill James Handbook: 

Infielders Age AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB K AVG OBP SLG
Miguel Montero+ 26 472 130 30 1 18 63 69 47 82 .275 .344 .458
Chris Snyder 29 225 53 14 0 9 28 34 34 54 .236 .344 .418
Brandon Allen 24 398 108 22 3 19 59 60 40 87 .271 .338 .485
Joshua Whitesell 28 105 28 6 0 4 13 17 15 26 .267 .364 .438
Ryan Roberts 29 411 113 24 3 11 54 47 51 77 .275 .356 .428
Augie Ojeda+ 35 242 57 11 1 1 31 18 27 24 .236 .322 .302
Stephen Drew+ 27 585 161 35 10 17 80 71 52 92 .275 .335 .456
Mark Reynolds 26 559 150 32 3 40 103 107 72 191 .268 .356 .551
Rusty Ryal 27 118 31 8 1 4 15 15 8 26 .263 .315 .449
Chad Tracy* 30 203 56 14 1 6 25 28 17 33 .276 .338 .423

* The D-backs hold a $7 M club option on Tracy that the club intends to buy out for $1M

Outfielders Age AB H 2B 3B HR R RBI BB K AVG OBP SLG
Eric Byrnes 34 205 51 12 1 7 28 25 15 31 .249 .316 .420
Conor Jackson+ 28 463 132 31 2 12 66 69 57 54 .285 .368 .438
Gerardo Parra 23 502 149 24 9 8 70 64 41 79 .297 .351 .428
Alexander Romero 26 135 37 8 1 1 15 15 9 15 .274 .324 .370
Justin Upton 22 564 165 34 9 28 93 90 68 142 .293 .371 .534
Chris Young 26 560 137 39 4 26 84 73 65 142 .245 .326 .463

+ Indicates an arbitration-eligible player who will likely be re-signed

No D-back is projected to have a 20-steal season, although Reynolds, Roberts, Upton, and Young are each in line for double-digit totals.

Basically, this is an offense that figures to be a lot more potent and a lot more consistent than it was last year.  Upton and Reynolds are in line to repeat their production from last year as the primary threats in the lineup, and their supporting cast appears to be much stronger.  James expects rookie Brandon Allen to have the third best slugging percentage on the team.  I think that's a bit optimistic, but there is no doubt that he and Joah Whitesell can improve upon the .228 batting average and .396 slugging provided by Diamondbacks first basemen in 2009.

We also see that Conor Jackson, Stephen Drew, and Chris Young could be primed for bounce-back seasons.  James still isn't expecting much from Eric Byrnes, however.  Perhaps the most surprising prognostication here is Ryan Roberts'.  The 28-year old rookie exceeded all expectations last year, yet James projects him to build upon that effort.  I expect him to encounter a sophomore slump and lose a lot of his projected playing time to Rusty Ryal, Augie Ojeda, and Tony Abreu.

The Baby Backs are slated to be big contributors once again.  Leading the pack will be Gerardo Parra, who will flirt with a.300 batting average according to these estimates.  Ryal, Whitesell, and Alex Romero figure to do a nice job in limited roles.  Not included here are outfielder Cole Gillespie and shortstop Pedro Ciriaco, both of whom are tearing up the Arizona Fall League and could step in to fill an injury next summer.  John Hester might replace Chris Snyder as Montero's backup as the team looks to move the remaining $11 million-plus on  Snyder's contract.

All in all, it looks as though Arizona can put together a pretty deep lineup next year.  Barring injuries to Reynolds and Upton, they could even find themselves among the top five National League teams in runs scored after ranking eighth in 2009.  


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