Look! Something not about Justin Upton! Well, not entirely about him, anyway... A little while back, we looked at the CAIRO projections for the Diamondbacks this year. Let's follow up by seeing what the Bill James system has to say about our expected 2013 roster. [Hat-tip to shoewizard, who collated much of the raw data on DBBP.org]
Players in italics are new arrivals on the D-backs for 2013: it's not clear if their projections take into account a move to Chase Field. I'm thinking they probably do not.
As a yardstick, the high wOBA this year was Hill, at .375, so this projection seems significantly down on him. Next were Montero (.364) and Goldschmidt (.363). The former is expected to regress somewhat, while Goldie becomes the most productive hitter on the team this year. I'd drink to that. Upton is expected to rebound - this season, he was at .341, but I'm pretty sure we can bank on better from him, simply because it's an odd-numbered year. The number that stands out is Eaton, whom James projects to be as valuable as Kubel with the bat alone. If our lead-off hitter has a .358 OBP, I'd take that in a heartbeat.
If these numbers come to pass, Cody Ross will be the fifth-best hitter in the Diamondbacks' outfield [albeit with the caveat two paragraphs up]. Neither Chavez nor Hinske are expected to be huge contributors, though I'd expect the numbers could be improved with careful platoon and situational use. And down at the bottom are Willie B and Johnny Mac, which is probably no surprise - but, still, sub .650 OPS for the better of them? Ouch. It's also worth nothing there are 14 names there, and the list doesn't include Wil Nieves, for whom there was no projection. At least two moves will have to be made, sooner or later.
Overall, however, those are not very encouraging - only two players projected with an .800 OPS? We had four qualifying hitters last year (Goldschmift, Hill, Kubel and Montero), tying a franchise high last seen in 2005. That was part of the reason why the 734 runs scored by Arizona was the most from the team in the last six campaigns, despite a severe absence of hitting when we needed it most. And that's from projections which have a bit of a rep for being hitterish - see what they expected from Goldie last year. Though as he ended up one of the top five position players his age, I don't suppose we can complain too much.
However, that reputation may not necessarily be too deserved. Here are the wOBA numbers for our front eight in 2012, both the Bill James expected numbers, and the actual ones posted [Roberts is for the season, not just in Arizona]:
As a "quick and dirty" estimate of bias, the sum of those differences shows the Diamondbacks under-performing the expectations, but only by only a total of seven wOBA points, so hardly evidence of significant bias, at least in this small sample. It looks like the offense might need to step it up in 2013.
Again, projections for players in italics probably do not reflect a move to Chase.
Moving on to the mound, this seems a lot more hopeful. Of course, Hudson won't be present until the second half of the season, and it'd be a real surprise if he returns to top form, right out of the blocks - we may not see that until 2014, realistically. Health is also a concern for McCarthy, but the expectation is that he should be not far behind Kennedy, by the time you move him from Oakland to Arizona. Even if we discount Hudson entirely, that would still be five starting pitchers with a sub-four ERA. If they can last the whole season, that would easily be a record, as we've never had more than three such qualifying starters.
The bullpen, too, looks impressive - if Bell lives up to that projection, he might be worth all the money we will be paying. But he's still a long way back of Putz, with a positively glowing 2.28 ERA. That's perhaps not such a stretch, since Putz has quietly become a fairly elite reliever: one of only seven to throw 50 IP with a sub-three ERA, in each of the past three seasons. As shoe observed at DBBP, Hernandez's projections are likely still influenced somewhat by his failed outings as a starter for the Orioles. For the n00bs, Sipp is expected to outperform his FIP as usual, and Reynolds is perhaps the first pitcher in D-backs history who will be helped by a move to Chase Field!
[Our previous piece on the CAIRO projections]