Baseball Prospectus has released their PECOTA projection betas for testing and review, just one more step on the way to pitchers and catchers reporting. Now, I'm not going to post all of the Red Sox ones here, but I thought we could take a look at a few of interest for the sake of discussion.
There are a few things to remember: these are betas, with emphasis on the beta part. It's not that they are bad, just that these are not the final, complete version. Also, if you take a look at players in the lower minors, they are going to have awful projections, as they aren't considered major-league ready by the system. Surprise, the teenage Xander Bogaerts would be awful if the Red Sox used him in 2012.
With that, on to a few projections:
Ryan Kalish: Kalish was going to miss the start of the season due to recovery from shoulder surgery anyway, but the Red Sox' decision to not depend entirely on him after dealing Josh Reddick makes even more sense once you get a look at his PECOTA forecast. Kalish is slated to hit just .249/.314/.397 with 11 homers in 450 plate appearances, to go along with 100 strikeouts against 39 walks (22.2 percent against 8.7 percent). This shouldn't be a surprise, given he lost a year of development to injuries, and has just 256 plate appearances in his career in Triple-A. At just 24, there is no long-term reason to worry about him just yet, and a strong 2012 season should make for a much better looking 2013 projection.
Jacoby Ellsbury: Ellsbury broke out more than anyone on the Red Sox in 2011, but that doesn't necessarily mean projection systems are going to automatically love him. As someone who missed all of 2010, and had a career-high of nine homers prior to hitting 32 last year, it should be no surprise PECOTA sees him logging just 526 plate appearances in this beta projection, as well as all of 11 homers. That's a homer every 48 plate appearances or so, compared to last year's 23.
This pessimism isn't just in the realm of PECOTA -- it's a projection system thing, whenever the projection system isn't simply spitting out the previous year, slightly adjusted. ZiPS has just 16 homers for Ellsbury, but with a bit more playing time -- not a whole lot more power expected overall. To be fair, BP's official stance in the book that comes with these projections is more optimistic than this forecast, but that might be due to a certain Red Sox blogger penning it.
Carl Crawford: Crawford was as disappointing for the Sox as Ellsbury was excellent, and PECOTA seems to be weighing his 2011 campaign pretty heavily in his future. At just .279/.327/.425, it's essentially 2011 with 20-ish points of batting average slapped on. I don't agree with the low power figures, for multiple reasons: first off, I was more optimistic about his power increasing after leaving Tropicana Field than this, and this Isolated Power forecast isn't in that mindset. Second, Crawford already hit for more power than this after returning from the disabled list mid-season, when he was starting to hit like Carl Crawford instead of whatever that thing he was doing in April was.
Last year was bad, and we have the post-traumatic Crawford disorder comments here at Over the Monster to prove it. But it's just one season, and Crawford has far more success in his past than in years like 2011. I'm a little disappointed in this particular forecast for that reason. (We should probably hope I'm right about this one.)
Kevin Youkilis: Playing time isn't figured out completely yet for these projections -- those will come later on, when depth charts are put together at Baseball Prospectus -- but even so, the 450 plate appearances for Kevin Youkilis is less than what you would expect to see for a full-time player. Until you remember Youkilis has averaged just 513 a year over the last three seasons, anyway.