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It's Community Projections Week!

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How this works: I post my projections for the various hitters on the D'backs roster. You then mock them mercilessly. Well, actually, the idea is that you post your own projections, and when everyone is done, we've hopefully got enough opinions to form a consensus, and come up with the AZ Snakepit projections. These will be filed away, to be pulled out at the end of the season, and we can all then look very embarrassed. Except probably, Levski, who will mutter "told you so" under his breath from his lofty penthouse in the Big Apple. :-)

The schedule (approximate, as with all things Snakepit-ish) is: catchers and first base today, rest of the infield tomorrow, outfielders Thursday - Wednesday is a travel day - and bench players Friday. I'm still debating whether to do the pitchers at all, given the flaky nature of predicting a W/L record, and I'm not sure anyone will be really interested in calling WHIPs. I do have some guesses though, so if you want to see them, post a comment, and if there's enough interest I'll expose them to the cold light of day.

So, here we go!

Catchers

                 BA  OBP  SLG  OPS HR RBI
Johnny Estrada .278 .332 .402 .734  7  52
Chris Snyder   .226 .318 .361 .679  6  19

The key question is, which Johnny Estrada we get. Is it the one before the injury, or the pale imitation which returned to find his spot taken by Brian McCann? Relying on the former is a bit of a fragile choice for the player who will get the bulk of the starts, and this could be anywhere between .230 and .310. Estrada will be like a human episode of Wheel of Fortune, and only time will tell whether we land on 'Big Money' or 'Bankrupt'. I expect something of a bounce-back, and even the lower end of expectation will still be an improvement in production over what we got from the position in 2005.

Which brings us elegantly to Chris Snyder, who has been relegated to a backup/platoon role in 2006, after barely reaching the Mendoza line last year. I tend to think he can't be quite as bad again this season - if he is, I'm revoking our sponsorship of his BaseballReference.com page. He is only just turned 25 though, so should still have some improvement in his bat, and his solid defense adds a few intangible points to his value. All told, catcher may be the only position I'd guarantee we will see more from. Which is kinda disturbing when you think about it.

First Base

                 BA  OBP  SLG  OPS HR RBI
Conor Jackson  .278 .360 .427 .787  9  57
Tony Clark     .265 .336 .507 .843 18  50

Jackson arrived last year, not with a bang, but a whimper; this might be a good thing, tempering expectation for the first of the "fourth wave" of Diamondbacks players [after the Expansion, World Champion and Baby Back waves]. Melvin has stated he will be the starter this year, so should have plenty of chance to show his true stuff. Any similarity between the above stats and Chad Tracy's rookie season (plus a few more walks) is no coincidence: I think Jackson will deliver this year, but I'll be interested to see if his defense is major-league level.

Understandably, people were cautious about leaping on the Tony Clark bandwagon...and watched, as it whizzed merrily off into the sunset, with a 1.002 OPS. Surely he can't repeat that level of performance again. Or can he? Most players don't wait until they're 33 before posting a career high for BA, SLG and OPS, so I do expect a fallback in 2006, though he should remain a very credible bench threat. He'll turn up in almost every game, as our most potent pinch-hitter and a late-innings defensive replacement.