Yesterday I looked at how the rotation projected for next season; today, I'm going to scope out the starting eight (or thereabouts):
A lot of agreement here. Estrada looks like Damian Miller '05, which is fine production out of the catcher position. One thing worries me: his walks have declined from 39 in 462 ABs for Atlanta in '04 to 13 (!) in 414 for Arizona last year. As long as he stays closer to Damian Miller '05 than Pudge Rodriguez '05, it'll be okay, but keep your eye on that.
All systems project growth for Prince; it's just a matter of how much. I don't think anyone's worried about him, for the next couple of years anyway.
Again, some very nice growth, considering Rickie barely slugged over .400 last year and walked only 30 times in 359 ABs. Both rates improve significantly in each projection. What's keeping them down a bit is the regression of his HBP rate--he was hit, amazingly, 19 times in those 359 at-bats last year. All of the above projections have significantly toned down that rate; however, Rickie has consistently shown an Biggio-like ability to get nailed thus far in his career, so I wouldn't be surprised if he got hit 25+ times in a full season. Of course, getting hit 25 times may very well preclude him from playing a full season.
Doesn't exactly scream "starting third baseman," does it? Hurry up, Ryan.
Not as bad as I'd expected. I'd take .260/.330/.410 from JJ any day of the week and twice on Retro Fridays. I'm optimistic on his power, for whatever completely unscientific reason.
Holy PECOTA, Batman! ZiPS and CHONE have Corey staying the course, but PECOTA projects impressive growth. Were I betting man, I'd go with the former, but I'd be happy to be wrong.
ZiPS and CHONE seem pretty low compared to what I expect Hall to do next year. I think he'll walk quite a bit more than in any of those projections; he's improved his walk rate every year and his line over the last two months of last year was .269/.383/.522 (courtesy of David Pinto's fabulous Day By Day Database).
The Bench Brothers actually project fairly well, because, despite sucking last year, they both have relatively proven track records. The key question for both is: was last year a blip or a new level of performance? I have a lot more confidence in Mench bouncing back than Jenkins, for a couple reasons. Mench is only 29 and 126 ABs isn't much. I find it much more plausible that Jenkins, as he's aged, has lost some of his already-marginal ability to hit lefties. His continued success against righties actually contributes to his damning because it makes it less likely that his problems were injury-related.
Overall, pretty similar story to last year: moderate production with good upside. Graffanino is really the only sure bet to be below-average at his position. If Mench and Jenkins rebound and/or are utilized intelligently, they should provide good production. Estrada will hit well for a catcher. Health is paramount if Hardy and Weeks are going to contribute. Hall and Fielder will be the rocks, with Hart hopefully playing a strong third banana. Corey Koskie and Ryan Braun are the wildcards, but we'll look more at the bench tomorrow, with the bullpen and the dearly departed to follow.