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Community Projections 2008, Part I: Infield

Here's the first stage of the community projections for the year. This week, we do the infield, next week the outfield, then follow with the starters and relief corps, which will take us down to the last week before Opening Day. There, we have our predictions for the most important figure: how many wins for Arizona in 2008? So, leave your expectations for our players in the comments, as detailed or as vague as you want. I'll be collating them so that we can look back next off-season and see how close - or otherwise! - we came...

C. Chris Snyder
2007: .252/.342/.433 [OPS .775], 13 HR, 47 RBI

Bill James: .253/.344/.429 [.773], 15 HR, 56 RBI
Chone: .250/.345/.417 [.761], 11 HR, 40 RBI
Marcel: .256/.341/.410 [.751], 11 HR, 49 RBI
ZIPS: .244/.328/.403 [.731], 11 HR, 44 RBI

Snyder enters the 2008 season with a more-solid grip on the position than he did going in to 2007, having posted very solid numbers, especially in the second-half of the year: there, he batted .292/.386/.503, for an .889 OPS. I don't think he'll quite reproduce that form over the entire season, but I expect him to surpass the overall line from 2007, which none of the other predictions think he'll do. His counting stats, like RBI and HR, will obviously depend on how Melvin splits playing-time between Snyder and Montero, but it's hard to see him starting less games: he had 103 last season. I think he'll have more RBIs, due to improved OBP from Drew v.2008 and Upton, rather than hitting behind Drew v.2007 and Quentin.
AZ SnakePit: .260/.350/.430 [.780], 13 HR, 55 RBI

1B. Conor Jackson
2007: .284/.368/.467 [OPS .835], 15 HR, 60 RBI

Bill James: .295/.383/.476 [.859], 16 HR, 76 RBI
Chone: .287/.375/.465 [.840], 15 HR, 69 RBI
Marcel: .287/.368/.450 [.818], 14 HR, 64 RBI
ZIPS: .290/.372/.457 [.829], 14 HR, 68 RBI

The predictions are split here, with two thinking Jackson will improve overall, and two expecting him to drop - the average OPS is .836, basically unchanged. I'm optimistic, and think we'll see a full season from Conor, untainted by the dreadful start he had last year, where he was batting .206 on May 3. From that point on, his line was .300/.375/.510 with 15 HR and 55 RBI in 106 games and I hope that's the level of production we'll get throughout 2008. He should certainly see increased playing-time; Tony Clark is gone, while likely backup Chad Tracy could be absent early, and will also be covering Reynolds at third-base. It'll be interesting to see where Melvin uses Jackson: last year he was mostly in the #2 hole or batting clean-up, but I'd like to see him in the third-spot this year.
AZ SnakePit: .300/.385/.495 [.880], 20 HR, 85 RBI

2B. Orlando Hudson
2007: .294/.376/.441 [OPS .817], 10 HR, 63 RBI

Bill James: .282/.357/.426 [.783], 12 HR, 68 RBI
Chone: .281/.361/.431 [.792], 12 HR, 75 RBI
Marcel: .282/.352/.432 [.784], 11 HR, 62 RBI
ZIPS: .295/.368/.452 [.820], 12 HR, 71 RBI

As noted elsewhere, Hudson's defense seems to be slipping, yet his bat has improved as his glove weakens. However, 'Signs Point to No' said our Baseball Magic 8-Ball when asked whether Hudson will be able to reproduce his success of last year, where O-Dawg improved his OPS+ from 102 [already a career high] to 106. Hudson turned 30 during the off-season, so one does wonder whether he can keep improving - his batting average has gone up for four years in a row now. His patience has also increased dramatically: in 2005, he took one walk every 16.7 plate-appearances, but since then, that figure has improved to one per 10.7 in 2006, and one per 8.7 last season. Instincts tell me Hudson may have peaked, yet I don't expect much of a dropoff this season. Perhaps the more important question is, should we be looking to retain him longer-term?
AZ SnakePit: .293/.378/.425 [.803], 11 HR, 63 HR

SS. Stephen Drew
2007: .238/.313/.370 [OPS .683], 12 HR, 60 RBI

Bill James: .262/.332/.418 [.750], 15 HR, 65 RBI
Chone: .268/.341/.429 [.770], 15 HR, 68 RBI
Marcel: .267/.335/.424 [.759], 12 HR, 56 RBI
ZIPS: .260/.323/.408 [.731], 14 HR, 73 RBI

The question is not whether Stephen Drew will improve in 2008; the question is how much Stephen Drew will improve in 2008. The four wise men all agree on the former; on the latter, they range from 48 to 87 points of OPS, with an overall average boost of seventy points. We certainly need something to stop us yearning for the days of power-hitting AZ shortstops, Craig Counsell. He had a career OPS for us more than twenty points better than Drew last season. A repeat this year would probably consign Drew to the scrapheap of failed D-backs prospects, but I don't see that as likely. shoe made an interesting comparison of Drew to Jay Bell the other day, so I'm lazily going to give Drew the same line as Bell, in his age 25 season:
AZ Snakepit: .270/.330/.428 [.758], 16 HR, 67 RBI

3B. Mark Reynolds
2007: .279/.349/.495 [OPS .844], 17 HR, 62 RBI

Bill James: .294/.369/.537 [.906], 26 HR, 86 RBI
Chone: .263/.336/.461 [.797], 20 HR, 74 RBI
Marcel: .283/.355/.481 [.836], 15 HR, 58 RBI
ZIPS: .274/.339/.481 [.820], 22 HR, 82 RBI

With less than a season's worth of data above Double-A, it's no surprise to see much less common ground here, with a range of 109 OPS points between Chone and Bill James. I really hope James is right, since that projection is basically Chad Tracy in 2005 [.308 with 27 HR], which would be a delight to see. It does depend which Mark Reynolds shows up in 2008, since his batting-average for full months was anywhere from .162 to .342. The good news, he seemed to figure it out, and in August and September, his line was .319/.399/.530, though still struck out almost one-third of the times he came to the plate [61 in 188]. This suggests he doesn't need to reduce his swing to hit well, but his BABIP was .378 - higher than Troy-Boy at Coors - so I am inclined to think a regression is in order, though not as much as Chone expects.
AZ Snakepit: .275/.340/.480 [.820], 20 HR, 70 RBI

1B/3B. Chad Tracy
2007: .264/.346/.454 [OPS .820], 17 HR, 62 RBI - 227 AB's

Bill James: .285/.353/.478 [.831], 18 HR, 68 RBI - 487 AB's
Chone: .278/.350/.466 [.816], 20 HR, 86 RBI - 536 AB's
Marcel: .295/.349/.477 [.826], 13 HR, 50 RBI - 354 AB's
ZIPS: .291/.360/.492 [.852], 17 HR, 69 RBI - 423 AB's

I added an extra column here, the number of at-bats, as this is going to be a key component of Tracy's season. As you see, there's a wide variation there, with Chone's figures based on 182 more at-bats. It's interesting to compare the predictions to Reynolds and Jackson, with whom he'll be competing for playing time. There's absolutely no consistency there: James has Chad below both, Chone above Reynolds but not Jackson; Marcel above Jackson but not Reynolds; and ZIPS above both! I think it's clear that juggling three decent hitters for two positions is going to be among the biggest challenges for Bob Melvin. At least Tracy's being left-handed is helpful. However, he is a situation where his at-bats will depend on other's performances, more than most. This is therefore likely the prediction where I am least confident.
AZ SnakePit: .280/.353/.480 [.833], 17 HR, 65 RBI - 420 AB's


Who'll have the highest BA for AZ?

This poll is closed

  • 12%
    Eric Byrnes
    (15 votes)
  • 6%
    Stephen Drew
    (8 votes)
  • 13%
    Orlando Hudson
    (16 votes)
  • 48%
    Conor Jackson
    (59 votes)
  • 4%
    Mark Reynolds
    (6 votes)
  • 1%
    Chris Snyder
    (2 votes)
  • 4%
    Chad Tracy
    (5 votes)
  • 5%
    Justin Upton
    (7 votes)
  • 3%
    Chris Young
    (4 votes)
122 votes total Vote Now