Wednesday, February 03, 2010

2010 Red Sox Projections - 1B

This is post three in a series of posts previewing the 2010 Red Sox.

2009 vs. 2010 Red Sox - 1B:
2009 - Kevin Youkilis, Casey Kotchman, Adam Laroche, Jeff Bailey, Victor Martinez, Mark Kotsay
2010 - Kevin Youkilis

Over the past two years, Kevin Youkilis has played an outstanding first base for the Red Sox while putting up some of the best offensive numbers in the league. In addition, he's demonstrated the ability to go across the diamond and play a competent 3rd base when necessary, which increases the roster flexibility of the team. In short, he's been one of the best players in the American League, finishing in the top-6 in MVP voting in each of the past two seasons, and at age 31, there's no reason not to expect him to maintain close to that level for a few more years.

While Youkilis played in 63 games at third in 2009, the rest of the first base innings were scattered amongst a host of players, with Victor Martinez, Casey Kotchman and Jeff Bailey all within 10 innings of one-another. Youkilis may play a few innings at third base this season, but the addition of Adrian Beltre is presumably going to limit those innings. Victor Martinez will probably get a few games at first with Youkilis DHing or playing third as Francona will try to keep his players fresh. But, absent injuries, there should be a bit less of a revolving door at that corner than there was last year.

In 2009, Red Sox first basemen hit .293/.386/.482/.868, creating the fifth most runs in the AL with the fourth-best OPS. Red Sox 1B accumulated 597 at-bats last year, so that's my target for the projections. I'm giving 90% of them to Kevin Youkilis and 10% to Victor Martinez. In the absence of someone missing a protracted period, it's not obvious why we'd see anyone else there.

Red Sox 2009 vs. 2010 - 1B
Kevin Youkilis (marcel)53791157372249572412119530510.294.387.511.897104.66.57
Victor Martinez (marcel)6081730210600800001.287.361.452.8139.55.21
Kevin Youkilis (PECOTA)53691154332249475412114430510.287.384.496.880101.76.33
Victor Martinez (PECOTA)5971630210600800001.278.350.448.7989.14.96

2009 1B (actual)597108175342259776717128710519.293.386.482.868108.66.08
2010 1B (marcel)597991754022610679512128530612.293.384.505.889114.16.43
2010 1B (PECOTA)596981703722610481512123430612.286.380.491.872110.86.19
As with the catchers, we see that Marcel is a little more optimistic than PECOTA, but each projection shows improvement over last year's numbers. That seems a bit strange until you think back to how many unproductive at-bats the Sox got from Casey Kotchman and Mark Kotsay and Jeff Bailey.

Bottom Line:

The Red Sox should expect to see performance at first base this year which is as good as, if not slightly better than, the performance at first base which it got last year. The backups last year weren't butchers, so the defense is comparable.

2010 1B projection: Minor Net Improvement

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