Who'll Lead The Diamondbacks in Home-Runs?

There goes another one... But will Goldie or J-Up have more home-runs this year?

In an earlier entry, we looked at the Diamondbacks' projected batting average and on-base percentage, and we now follow up with the power categories. Specifically, what the team members are expected to do in terms of slugging percentage. That's a category which is heavily powered by the long-ball, so let's also look and see who might lead Arizona in 2012 there. Health permitting, it promises to be an interesting battle, with several credible contenders on the team.

After the jump, we get out our calculator and crunch the numbers.

We start off with slugging percentage, which deserves a quick explanation. It can be thought of as the average number of bases per at-bat - a single counts as one, a double scores two, a triple three, and a home-run four, then you divide a player's total by his at-bats [walks are excluded here]. As a mark, the league average in 2011 was .391, with the Diamondbacks above that at .413, the third-bast team mark. Anything above .500 is pretty elite: only 16 qualifying batters in the NL reached that mark last year, including Upton - the leader was Ryan Braun's .597. Well, pending a delivery from FedEx, anyway...

The chart below shows the actual 2011 numbers and the average of the predictions for this season. The former reflect the player's entire season, regardless of where they played, and as before the full spreadsheet, with all projections, can be found here, for anyone interested.

2011 SLG.
Justin Upton .529 .517
Paul Goldschmidt .474 .487
Jason Kubel .434 .458
Miguel Montero .469 .448
Chris Young .420 .434
Stephen Drew .396 .424
Gerardo Parra .427 .417
Ryan Roberts .427 .415
Aaron Hill .356 .407
Lyle Overbay .360 .402
Henry Blanco .580 .380
Geoff Blum .408 .366
John McDonald .308 .353
Willie Bloomquist .340 .347

Probably no surprise about who's on top, with four of the five system believing that he will be part of the .500 Club again - MARCEL has him a hair under, at .499. But look who's second? Goldzilla, with Steamer and Bill James both projecting him to sit alongside Upton. However, as you'd expect for a player with no Triple-A record and only 48 games in the majors, there's a wide variation in expectations. MARCEL, in particular, turns its nose up at Paul, sniffing dismissively and coming out at .449, which is 67 points less than the Bill James number. Needless to say, Arizona fans will be drinking the KoolAid on this one.

I also note the significant bouncebacks from the two new(ish) arrivals, in Kubel and Hill, who are projected to have improvements of 24 and 51 points respectively in their slugging percentages. ZIPS is particularly bullish on Kubel, with a number of .487 - however, as before, it's hard to be certain which of the systems have adjusted their numbers to account for him playing 2012 in Chase, rather than Target Field. That would certainly seem to have the potential to affect significantly the numbers, especially power ones. Hill is better than he sounds, considering the NL SLG out of the second-base spot last year was only .380. Even allowing for Chase, .407 seems perfectly acceptable.

[A semi-random aside. Bill James has got a bit of a reputation for being more hitter-friendly than some projection systems. To see if that was the case, I averaged the SLGs predicted for the top 11 players in the chart - that's down to Blum, whom James and Rotochamp didn't cover. Bill James averaged a .443 SLG, which was the highest, but not by as much as I thought. Steamer came in at .440 and ZIPS at .438, with Rotochamp at .435. MARCEL seemed the most pessimistic, with a .425 average.]

2011 HR
Justin Upton 31 28
Paul Goldschmidt 8 25
Chris Young 20 22
Jason Kubel 12 19
Miguel Montero 18 16
Aaron Hill 8 16
Ryan Roberts 19 15
Stephen Drew 5 11
Lyle Overbay 9 9
Gerardo Parra 8 7
Henry Blanco 8 5
John McDonald 2 3
Geoff Blum 2 3
Willie Bloomquist 4 3

I like the depth of our home-run threats. It wouldn't take much for us to have four 20+ home-run hitters, which only one team - the Brewers - managed in the National League last year. Just about as remarkable, would be if we managed the projected eight with ten or more, though that does likely depend on Drew's health, and whether he gets enough playing-time to reach the mark. I don't think Willie Bloomquist, who tied his career high with four HR last season, is quite going to prove an adequate replacement, in this category at least.

As above, and even more so, there's a disparate range of views for Goldschmidt. MARCEL is again incredibly pessimistic, and their projection of ten home-runs in 2012 (or, as Goldie calls it, "a good month"...) drags the overall number down considerably. The other four average at 29 homers, which would put him in a virtual tie with Upton if we used only those systems. I can kinda see where MARCEL is coming from, given the lack of any real track record, but this is a guy who hit 35 homers for 2010 and 38 last year. Over his entire career, Goldschmidt has averaged a shot per less than four games, or 17.2 PAs. Ten seems...unkind, saving an unfortunate accident with a band-saw.

Hill's numbers rebound nicely, and again, you have to take into account his spot on the diamond. There really aren't many second-basemen with that much power: last year, ten hit more than a dozen balls out, though of course, one of those was the guy were traded for Hill, Kelly Johnson. Of course, the major shock is that Henry Blanco is not expected to match last year's total of home-runs. In 2011, his HR/AB ratio among players with 30+ AB was fourth-best in the majors, behind only Jose Bautista, Mike Napoli and Jason Giambi. I'm sure we were all banking on a repeat of this in 2012. :)

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