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April 4, 2001

Fun With Wilton

AL Rookies

by Joe Sheehan

Baseball Prospectus 2001 contains Wilton projections for more than 800 hitters. Last week at ESPN.com, we took a look at what Wilton projected for the major categories, noting that the system projects a Triple Crown for Alex Rodriguez and an RBI record for Todd Helton.

Now that Opening Day rosters have been set, let's take a look at Wilton's book projections for the rookies who made their teams' rosters, starting with the AL. Next week at BP.com, we'll have a look at all the players who missed the cut for BP 2001 and still made Opening Day rosters.

In the American League:

                  Age    TM    AB    BA   OBP   SLG    EqA
David Eckstein     26   ANA   439  .237  .326  .321   .227
Shawn Wooten       28   ANA   391  .238  .289  .363   .219
Jay Gibbons        24   BAL   440  .293  .360  .480   .285
Jay Gibbons is a Rule 5 pick who made the Orioles' roster. He's a hitter without much defensive value, but he's a hell of a hitter. He's a sleeper Rookie of the Year candidate who needs a trade, preferably of Delino DeShields, to get him at-bats.
                  Age    TM    AB    BA   OBP   SLG    EqA
Mike Kinkade       28   BAL   306  .248  .309  .373   .235
Josh Paul          26   CHW   226  .235  .285  .327   .204
Julio Ramirez      23   CHW   412  .235  .286  .350   .216
John McDonald      26   CLE   330  .255  .305  .309   .205
Javier Cardona     25   DET   301  .249  .298  .412   .240
Jermaine Clark     24   DET   431  .262  .351  .350   .252
Brandon Inge       24   DET   370  .227  .278  .357   .215
The loss of Mitch Meluskey sets up an interesting situation in Detroit, where the Tigers open the season using two catchers with a combined 40 major-league at-bats coming into the season. Javier Cardona is the more advanced player, while Brandon Inge is the better long-term prospect. Neither will make Randy Smith feel better about losing Meluskey, not this year, anyway.

The other Tiger rookie is Rule 5 second baseman Jermaine Clark. The Tigers are committed to Damion Easley for the next few years, so getting Clark ABs will be a problem. He could force his way into the third-base picture if Dean Palmer's shoulder continues to restrict him to DH.

                  Age    TM    AB    BA   OBP   SLG    EqA
Dee Brown          23    KC   490  .265  .336  .439   .259
Luis Rivas         21   MIN   497  .266  .314  .374   .229
Brian Buchanan     27   MIN   365  .238  .296  .386   .226
Michael Coleman    25    NY   305  .266  .323  .492   .266 (Cincinnati)
D'Angelo Jimenez   23    NY   276  .268  .346  .280   .253
Scott Seabol       26    NY   428  .238  .290  .390   .230
Jose Ortiz         24   OAK   429  .275  .331  .420   .260
Jose Ortiz is the second-best position-player candidate for Rookie of the Year (to Ichiro Suzuki), because opportunity means as much as ability in that fight. As you can see, he doesn't project as a star this year, although his peak should be quite impressive.
                  Age    TM    AB    BA   OBP   SLG    EqA
Anthony Sanders    27   SEA   389  .231  .383  .353   .220
Ichiro Suzuki      27   SEA   455  .312  .368  .459   .287
That's exactly what the Mariners could use, but just based on early appearances, Suzuki doesn't seem real likely to slug .459. He may have a large first-half/second-half split as he adjusts to baseball on this side of the Pacific.
                  Age    TM    AB    BA   OBP   SLG    EqA
Bo Porter          28   TEX   444  .241  .341  .367   .240
Ryan Freel         25   TOR   285  .256  .331  .393   .250
Prospect turned utility player Ryan Freel is almost certainly the Blue Jays' best option at second base. Incumbent Homer Bush projects to a .235 EqA, and none of the organization's middle-infield prospects is ready to make the jump to the majors yet.

We'll check out the NL's rookie projections later this week.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. Contact him by clicking here.

Joe Sheehan is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see Joe's other articles. You can contact Joe by clicking here

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