February 25, 2013
PECOTA's Projected Risers
BP’s PECOTA projections arrived two weeks ago today, offering answers to two of the most common questions asked each spring: Which players are expected to make major improvements, and which are big risks to head downhill?
We’ll tackle five hitters and five pitchers whom PECOTA projects to make major gains today, then do the same for some of the biggest projected decliners tomorrow. One note: It doesn’t take PECOTA to tell you that a player like Troy Tulowitzki—who missed most of last season after left groin surgery—could be in line for a big bounceback with better health, so this list is restricted to people who played full seasons in 2012.
Fielding stats aren’t very stable from season to season, and PECOTA expects Francoeur’s glove to be only a bit below average, which it has been for the bulk of his career. But even if he does return to replacement level, the Royals might still wish they’d kept Wil Myers: the Rays’ future right fielder is projected to be worth 1.9 WARP as a rookie in roughly the same playing time.
Albert Pujols, Angels
After a disappointing first season in Anaheim, Pujols has been overshadowed by Mike Trout’s rookie success and the Angels’ latest ultra-expensive offseason acquisition, Josh Hamilton. But overlooking Pujols would be premature: the three-time MVP was the best player in baseball as recently as 2010 (and even better before that), and the stats he accrued in his St. Louis seasons still tell us something about what he can do today. Pujols showed he had plenty left after a slow start to last season, and a harder park for hitters made his raw stats look worse than they were. A return to peak Pujols production is too much to ask, but PECOTA foresees a partial return to form in his second AL season.