For the last installment of our three-week look at projections for the Red Sox roster, we’re going to get to the difficult stuff: the prospects.
I narrowed down the Red Sox farm system to players who are the closest to seeing time at the major league level this season, and I left out some players who we’ve seen quite a bit of (here’s looking at you, Lavarnway). As some of these guys haven’t played in the majors yet, I’ve had to leave out some of the usual categories here and there, because career stats don’t really matter when you’ve played in 25 games. Additionally, some of these guys don’t have fan projections on Fangraphs, which sadly deprived us of some incredibly optimistic numbers. Alas.
As one extra note, most of these guys would be looking at very limited roles if they were to make the majors this season, so that makes counting stats (Innings Pitched, Home Runs, etc) a little murky. I tried to pay more attention to rate stats (OBP, K/9, etc) to compensate for that. Steamer in particular was a little weird about innings numbers for pitchers; where the other two seemed to just assume about 100 to 130 innings or so, Steamer seemed to confuse itself. It projected one inning pitched for Matt Barnes, for instance.
With that in mind, let’s get started.
2013: .250/.320/.364, 1 HR, 1 SB, 10.0 BB%, 26.0 K%, .304 wOBA, 0.2 WAR
(Postseason: .296/.412/.481, 17.6 BB%, 26.5 K%, .386 wOBA)
Steamer: .263/.324/.416, 15 HR, 8 SB, 7.7 BB%, 19.8 K%, .325 wOBA, 2.3 WAR
Oliver: .269/.343/.436, 16 HR, 5 SB, 9.8 BB%, 23.5 K%, .341 wOBA, 3.8 WAR
ZiPS: .267/.331/.429, 16 HR, 7 SB, 8.0 BB%, 23.6 K%, .334 wOBA, 2.7 WAR
Fans: .281/.360/.454, 17 HR, 8 SB, 10.0 BB%, 21.0 K%, .357 wOBA, 4.4 WAR
You can’t start any prospect-based Red Sox article and not begin it with Xander Bogaerts. He’s not only the best prospect in the Red Sox system, he’s one of the top two prospects in the entire league, and now the starting shortstop gig seemingly belongs entirely to him.
Each of these projections is about as tame as you’d expect; predicting huge jumps in performance isn’t really in their nature. But before we address that, I’d like to make an interesting note regarding ZiPS: their player comparison for Bogaerts is Troy Tulowitzki.
Setting aside the fact that it’s difficult to keep a level head about a player when they’re being compared to arguably the best player in the game at their position, I dug a little deeper into it and came up with some interesting numbers. Regard the following:
Tulowitzki, age 21: 240/.318/.292, 9.3 BB%, 23.1 K%, .269 wOBA, -0.5 WAR
Bogaerts, age 20: 250/.320/.364, 10.0 BB%, 26.0 K%, .304 wOBA, 0.2 WAR
Tulowitzki is an apt comparison for Bogaerts because they’re similar players; both are big (6’3”) shortstops with above-average power for their position and track records of strong OBPs. I don’t think Bogaerts ever steals 20 bases in a season, a la Tulo in 2009, but the core similarities are there. And the eerie similarities between their first major league action interests me. From there…
Tulowitzki, age 22: .291/.359/.479, 24 HR, 8.4 BB%, 19.1 K%, .364 wOBA, 5.2 WAR
Bogaerts, age 21: ???
Now, this isn’t to say that Bogaerts is going to post a 5+ WAR season (a figure that, in Tulo’s case, was bolstered by big defensive stats, which is a benefit Bogaerts probably won’t get); rather, it’s more to illustrate that his improvement this season could be a lot more significant than most of his projections.
This is all a long way of saying that I’m going with the fans here.
.275/.365/.455, 18 HR, 5 SB, 10.5 BB%, 22.0 K%, .355 wOBA, 3.7 WAR
Jackie Bradley Jr.
2013: .189/.280/.337, 3 HR, 2 SB, 9.3 BB%, 29.0 K%, .279 wOBA, -0.2 WAR
Steamer: .258/.334/.401, 8 HR, 11 SB, 9.1 BB%, 20.0 K%, .325 wOBA, 1.3 WAR
Oliver: .254/.329/.419, 14 HR, 10 SB, 8.7 BB%, 24.7 K%, .329 wOBA, 2.8 WAR
ZiPS: .245/.322/.375, 9 HR, 13 SB, 8.4 BB%, 23.3 K%, .310 wOBA, 1.5 WAR
Fans: .264/.353/.397, 10 HR, 14 SB, 10.2 BB%, 23.1 K%, .334 wOBA, 3.0 WAR
It just felt like he may have been called up too soon, and he never established any kind of rhythm. His plate discipline – one of his most valuable attributes – was very good, but apart from that, very little of his minor league success translated to the big leagues last year. Now, he’s facing open competition with the recently acquired Grady Sizemore for the centerfield spot after the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury, and, win or lose, will likely be in for a lot of at-bats this season.
I think we’ll see some incremental improvement from Bradley this season, but this time, the fans are probably too optimistic. Across a full season, I think we see something close to Steamer’s projection.
.255/.335/.400, 8 HR, 10 SB, 9.5 BB%, 21.0 K%, .325 wOBA, 1.5 WAR
Steamer: .249/.310/.363, 1 HR, 1 SB, 7.7 BB%, 15.5 K%, .299 wOBA, 0.2 WAR (13
Oliver: .242/.310/.331, 5 HR, 5 SB, 8.5 BB%, 17.5 K%, .288 wOBA, 2.4 WAR
ZiPS: .254/.319/.347, 5 HR, 4 SB, 8.1 BB%, 17.8 K%, .298 wOBA, 1.5 WAR
If everything goes according to plan this season, Christian Vazquez will probably not see the major leagues in 2014. He’s blocked at catcher by A.J. Pierzynski and David Ross, and his bat isn’t good enough to justify playing him at first. Additionally, should either of those two miss time due to injury (which is highly likely, considering their age), he’ll have to compete with fellow catchers Ryan Lavarnway and Daniel Butler to be their replacement.
I’m highlighting Vazquez here over Lavarnway and Butler because I think he’s the most useful of the trio. He’s not as far along developmentally, but his defense is already well ahead of both and probably above-average by major league standards. He won’t hit beyond an okay-ish OBP, but as a spot injury replacement, I think he’d be more than capable.
I’ll Oliver’s right here, although I don’t think he’ll be a 2 WAR player, which Oliver is projecting due to absurdly huge defensive numbers.
.240/.310/.340, 8.5 BB%, 20.0 K%, .290 wOBA, 0.5 WAR
Steamer: 8.17 K/9, 3.87 BB/9, 0.92 HR/9, 4.20 ERA, 3.98 FIP
Oliver: 109 IP, 7.51 K/9, 3.63 BB/9, 1.24 HR/9, 4.71 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 1.0 WAR
ZiPS: 122 IP, 8.41 K/9, 3.54 BB/9, 1.03 HR/9, 4.20 ERA, 4.00 FIP, 1.8 WAR
Barnes is very interesting to me because of that ZiPS line, which is probably higher than my gut would have put him at this point in time. His opportunities to start are going to be limited by the signing of Chris Capuano, as that puts six starters in front of him and the pitchers he’d presumably be competing with, Webster and Workman.
I think he’ll likely be the first option after Capuano this season, though. He was victimized by some bad luck in AA (.357 BABIP), but posted great peripherals (11.25 K/9, 3.41 FIP) and will probably start this season in AAA. We’ll touch on Webster and Workman in a moment, but for now, I’ll split the difference between Oliver and ZiPS’ lines.
8.00 K/9, 3.70 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9, 4.45 ERA, 4.25 FIP, 1.4 WAR
2013: 30.1 IP, 6.82 K/9, 5.34 BB/9, 2.08 HR/9, 8.60 ERA, 6.51 FIP, -0.3
Steamer: 19.0 IP, 7.40 K/9, 4.42 BB/9, 0.94 HR/9, 4.61 ERA, 4.48 FIP, 0.2 WAR
Oliver: 139 IP, 7.11 K/9, 4.26 BB/9, 0.90 HR/9, 5.04 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 1.4 WAR
ZiPS: 128.2 IP, 6.64 K/9, 4.27 BB/9, 0.91 HR/9, 4.55 ERA, 4.54 FIP, 1.2 WAR
2013: 41.2 IP, 10.15 K/9, 3.24 BB/9, 1.08 HR/9, 4.97 ERA, 3.43 FIP, 0.7 WAR
Steamer: 59.0 IP, 8.05 K/9, 2.92 BB/9, 0.93 HR/9, 3.70 ERA, 3.65 FIP, 0.6 WAR
Oliver: 130.0 IP, 7.24 K/9, 2.90 BB/9, 1.52 HR/9, 4.76 ERA, 4.66 FIP, 0.5 WAR
ZiPS: 124.0 IP, 7.40 K/9, 3.12 BB/9, 1.23 HR/9, 4.50 ERA, 4.37 FIP, 0.9 WAR
Last but not least, I’m lumping these two together because I think they’re in very similar situations: halfway between starting and the bullpen, but with other pitchers standing in their way in both directions.
Workman is clearly the more MLB-ready of the two; his major-league stint last season went much more successfully than Webster’s, and he levied that into a spot on the postseason roster. On the flip side, Webster’s stuff is far more electric… when it’s not getting launched into orbit.
I would like to see Workman starting and Webster in the bullpen, but there are too many pitchers ahead of Workman for him to make the rotation, and he’s probably a better option in the ‘pen than Webster at the time being… it’s a conundrum.
For now, it seems to me that Webster starts the year in AAA (where hopefully his control shows some improvement) and Workman in the MLB bullpen.
7.15 K/9, 4.65 BB/9, 1.10 HR/9, 4.60 ERA, 4.60 FIP, 0.3 WAR
8.10 K/9, 2.90 BB/9, 1.05 HR/9, 3.80 ERA, 3.60 FIP, 0.6 WAR
But as always, if you’ve learned anything from these columns, it’s that we don’t actually have any idea what’s going to happen. It sure is fun to guess, though.