A Preliminary Look at the 2010 AL East Offenses - Part 2

Last week's 2010 AL East projections post covered catcher, first base, and second base for the O's and their divisional rivals, so today we'll take a look at shortstop, third base, and designated hitter. In case you missed the last post, the projections being used are those by Bill James that will be contained in his 2010 Handbook. This information was provided to SB Nation with permission to be posted as we see fit.

The projections for the first part were easier to narrow down as they covered two sure things in the lineup (Matt Wieters and Brian Roberts) and one guess made by me based on the players in the Orioles system right now (Luke Scott). This section, however, is trickier. For one thing, the bulk of the 3B projections by Bill James goes to Melvin Mora. Remember that Bill James doesn't make predictions on if a player will play/be on the team but rather how he will do if he IS on the team. And if Melvin Mora were on the team next year the chances are he'd be the starting 3B for the O's in most games. But Mora will not be back, so those projections can be scrapped as far as we're concerned. That leaves at 3B, among the current options, Ty Wigginton and Joshua Bell. The odds are that Wiggy will start the year at 3B and if Bell proves himself at 3B he will make an appearance sometime in the season. But it's the off-season and frankly talking about Ty Wigginton isn't very fun, so instead I'm going to pretend that Josh Bell makes the team out of spring training.

Additionally, I already used last year's main DH in the projection for first base, so I'm going to go completely off base and suggest a brand new DH for the O's in 2010. It's based on nothing more than a little dream I have that you can feel free to make fun of. Of the existing options, it's much more likely that the O's will stick Luke Scott back at DH and start the year with Michael Aubrey or the equivalent at 1B, but that's boring.

And of course, Cesar Izturis plays SS and he is not good at hitting.

On to the projections after the jump!

Shortstop

Let's get Izzy out of the way first. We all know that, while head and shoulders above the shortstops used in 2008, Izzy still isn't great shakes with the bat. On a team with a lot of big hitters Izzy can be a valuable glove as long as his bat stays at the bottom of the order. For some reason Dave Trembley loved using him in the two hole last year, which was possibly the most infuriating thing about his managing, at least to me (I'm sure you all have your own).

Cesar Izturis
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
RC
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
James '09 Projections
138
446
122
19
1
52
34
36.9
28
33
.274
.321
.336
.657
Izturis '09 stats
114
387
99
14
2
34
30
32.7
18
38
.256
.294
.328
.622
James '10 Projections
126
387
100
16
1
40
28
37
22
34
.258
.303
.318
.621


Yeah, that's not very pretty. The only real thing Izzy has to going for him is that he is indisputably a very good defensive shortstop. Even with his abysmal hitting in 2009 (an OBP of under .300? Seriously?), his defense was good enough to warrant him a WAR of 1.3. Not great in comparison to the other AL East shortstops, but not bad considering the offensive numbers he put up. Because of the more glaring holes at other places in the lineup, Izzy's job appears to be safe in 2010 but filling the position with better talent will most certainly be a goal before the 2011 season.

James '10 projections
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
RC
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
Derek Jeter
156
631
200
31
15
103
72
108
64
99
.317
.388
.444
.831
Jed Lowrie
129
384
100
35
9
55
59
59
53
80
.260
.350
.438
.788
Jason Bartlett
146
540
157
31
8
82
54
78
48
89
.291
.355
.407
.763
Marco Scutaro
147
549
145
30
10
79
57
72
68
76
.264
.347
.381
.728


Derek Jeter is Derek Jeter. He's consistent. He's going to get in the neighborhood of 200 hits, his OPS is going to be in the mid .800s, and we're going to dislike him. I'm not really one to play the what if game, but do you know who the Orioles drafted two picks before Jeter? Jeffrey Hammonds. Imagine how things might have been just a little different with Jeter on the team. Hell, imagine how different Derek Jeter's life would have been. I somehow doubt he'd have ended up dating all of those celebrities while spending the summer living in a condo in Canton.

Shortstop is a weird place for the Red Sox. In 2009 no one played more than 81 games there. Jed Lowrie, their young prospect, missed most of the year recovering from wrist surgery. Nick Green filled in for him but then missed much of the later part of the season with a back injury. Alex Gonzalez completed the SS merry go round  when he arrived via trade in mid-August to fill in for Green.

Jason Bartlett hit 14 home runs in 2009. In his 4 big league seasons prior to '09 he hit a total of 11 home runs. Consider me skeptical that he'll hit 8 in 2010. Everything else seems pretty in line with his career, though. Similiarly, Marco Scutaro's 12 HR in 2009 was a career high for him. He usually hits about 7 and has 50 in his career. There isn't a huge difference in 7 and 10, I suppose, but it still strikes me as just a touch high.

Verdict: Izzy's the worst. Sorry Izzy. 

Third Base
:

Third base might be the biggest question mark going into the 2010 season. Will Andy MacPhail sign or trade for someone? Will that someone be a short term fix while the team waits for Joshua Bell, or someone who might stay there long term? Will MacPhail choose to wait patiently for Bell to prove himself in AAA and put Ty Wigginton out there in the meantime? Will he say screw it and throw Bell out there on Opening Day to see if he sinks or swims? I have no idea. One thing we do know is that longtime Oriole Melvin Mora will not be back in 2010. It'll be a little strange not having Melvin out there on Opening Day. Good, don't get me wrong, but strange.

I was a little surprised when I saw Josh Bell's projections from Bill James. It's my observation that his projections tend towards the optimistic side for younger players, so I'm taking this with a few grains of salt. Still, it's hard not to get just a little excited at the prospect of this sort of production from a rookie 3B.

Joshua Bell
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
2009 AA (LAD & BAL)
127
448
138
35
20
65
76
61
98
.295
.367
.516
.892
James '10 Projections
91
347
100
21
11
51
61
45
71
.288
.370
.455
.825


Bell's numbers are only projected out to 91 games which probably makes sense given the fact that he's never played above AA. But if there is any chance at all he could put up numbers like that, I can't wait to see him. As has been noted, he's a switch hitter who has his troubles hitting lefties. In his minor league career, he's hit .245/.327/.366 against lefties, which is beyond terrible. He was even worse in 2009 when he spent the entire year in AA. If he does make the jump to the big leagues in 2010 it might be a good idea to play Wiggy at 3B against lefties, at least until Bell proves he can do something, anything, against lefties.

But forget about the whole lefties issue for just a second and look at those numbers. Those are pretty great numbers coming from the 3B spot, and would be the best numbers from that position for the O's since Mora's career year in 2004. It'd be a great start to have that position contributing again, especially considering the talent at 3B throughout the division.

James '10 projections
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
Alex Rodriguez
145
544
160
26
37
104
113
84
125
.294
.400
.550
.950
Mike Lowell
138
529
147
35
19
66
84
46
74
.278
.339
.456
.795
Evan Longoria
157
595
171
42
37
106
120
73
134
.287
.370
.548
.918
Edwin Encarnacion
129
452
117
28
21
64
69
50
91
.259
.343
.465
.808


I pine for Evan Longoria. I'm so jealous of the Rays because they have him. When you compare him, Alex Rodriguez, and even Mike Lowell to 2009 Melvin Mora it's no wonder the Orioles did as poorly as they did. It's not even in the same league. But I am cautiously optimistic about Josh Bell. He'll obviously never be A-Rod or Longoria, but he's young and talented. As much as I missed George Sherrill during the great bullpen implosion of '09, I'm thrilled at the idea of what Josh Bell might become.

Verdict: The future is uncertain, but at least it's not Melvin Mora.

Designated Hitter

And here is where I really go off the rails. As mentioned above, I'm going to share with you a little dream I've had about the Orioles designated hitter in 2010. I don't really think it will happen but I am sort of in love with the idea. When I looked at the original projections provided by James I made a lineup in my head where Reimold is the everyday DH with Felix Pie in LF. The more I thought about it however, the more I wanted to put together the most imposing lineup. It's no secret I love Pie, so I felt a little guilty leaving him out, but it was a sacrifice I had to make.

It's been said that the Orioles are going after a bat this year. The lineup is pretty set other than DH, 1B, and 3B, and I don't think they'll do anything long term for 3B given their hopes for Josh Bell. That leaves 1B and DH. What Andy MacPhail is going to do is a mystery to everyone, so allow me to propose a solution at DH: Jim Thome. I know what you may be thinking. Thome is old, he's been hobbling around most of this year, he's not a long term solution. All of those things may be true, but hear me out.

Jim Thome can hit. He hits home runs, and a lot of them. The flag court calls to him, "Hit it here, Jim!" Not to mention how he'd abuse the wind tunnel that is right field in Yankee Stadium. So he's old, it's true. On more than one occasion I've found myself chatting with Brotz13 when the topic turns to Thome and how we'd like him to be the Jake Taylor of the 2010-2011 Baltimore Orioles. By all accounts Jim Thome is just an awesome dude. Not that it matters all that much, but the team could benefit from an older dude who's been in the playoffs, who can mash, who will take a walk with the best of them, and who is awesome.

Jim Thome
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
'09 James Projection
150
530
134
25
38
93
102
107
166
.253
.382
.515
.897
Thome '09 stats
124
362
90
15
23
55
77
69
123q
.249
.366
.481
.847
'10 James projections
132
441
108
20
29
73
84
88
146
.245
.374
.488
.862


Thome's '09 stats are a little weird thanks to the fact that he was traded to the Dodgers on August 31st and therefore had just 17 AB in the entire month of September. As it turns out, Thome isn't a very good pinch hitter. Prior to his move to LA he was hitting .249/.372/.493. Not a huge difference, but an OPS of .865 looks a heck of a lot better than .847.

The designated hitter in the rest of the AL East isn't really so scary, in my opinion. Ortiz is on the downward swing, Matsui is still very good but gets hurt pretty much every other year. Pat Burrell was a huge disappointment in Tampa Bay. Adam Lind of the Blue Jays is the most awesome of the bunch, but considering how sad the Blue Jays are it doesn't really matter. Yes, an Orioles fan is calling the Blue Jays sad. I'm arrogant that way.

James '10 Projections
G
AB
H
2B
HR
R
RBI
BB
K
AVG
OBP
SLG
OPS
Hideki Matsui
139
507
143
27
23
75
88
65
81
.282
.367
.475
.842
David Ortiz
138
484
128
34
29
79
99
77
112
.264
.369
.519
.887
Pat Burrell
119
346
82
17
17
59
54
62
100
.237
.356
.439
.795
Adam Lind
153
590
180
43
31
90
113
52
107
.305
.364
.542
.907


Color me skeptical on that Ortiz projection. He hasn't had numbers like that since 2007 (when they were much better) and his numbers in 2008 and 2009 have gotten progressively worse. Yes he turned it around this year but you can't ignore the massive slump he was in for the first half of this past season.

Verdict: The O's actual DH will probably be much worse than Jim Thome.

And thus ends the fantasy portion of the 2010 projections. Stay tuned for part 3 which will focus on my very favorite part of the lineup: the outfield.

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