The 2012 Phillies Lineup: Reviewing the Bill James Projections (Part II)

This a continuation of post I wrote a few days ago. So, moving forward, let’s take a look at the rest of the lineup. First up:

3B – Placido Polanco

G PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% HR wOBA
131 519 .284 .335 .370 6.4% 8.1% 6 .311

Phillies fans know that Polanco is an old, broken down infielder. Those two things — age and injuries — are clearly the greatest concerns for the 36-year-old third baseman. Looking at these projections, it appears that James is somewhat optimistic about these factors. While 131 games is far from an example of durability, it is a figure that is in line with his last few seasons and is something that most fans would be content with. Relative to last season,  James predicts a slight dip in plate discipline, a slight upgrade in power, and that’s about it. What is not covered here, however, is the superb defensive value that Polanco brings to the Phils. Since 2009, only Evan Longoria has played better defense at the hot corner according to UZR. If he can stay on the field and provide good value with his glove, Polanco could put together a nice season.

LF – John Mayberry Jr.

G PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% HR wOBA
72 159 .257 .313 .439 6.9% 20.1% 6 .327

This is where things get a little silly on James’s part. While the rate statistics that he projects for Mayberry are reasonable enough, the playing time doesn’t make sense. All signs point to Dom Brown spending more time down in AAA, and James’s projections clearly don’t take that into account with Brown forecasted to play in 141 games (hitting .275/.355/.455 — oh how my Brown-apologetic self wishes that could happen). Mayberry is likely to take on a full time role this year after putting up some pretty good numbers out of nowhere last season. The 28-year-old has spent the majority of his career in the minor leagues, so last year’s success is likely somewhat of a fluke. James agrees as he calls for a regression to more reasonable rate statistics, dropping his wOBA from last year’s .369 to .327. Hopefully Mayberry can continue what he started last year, but his history tells us that would be unlikely.

CF – Shane Victorino

G PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% HR wOBA
149 646 .277 .344 .441 8.4% 11.9% 17 .344

Victorino had a career year in 2011, accumulating 5.9 fWAR in just 132 games with a .372 wOBA. Most of his numbers were career bests, and James rightfully doubts that Victorino can repeat his stellar campaign. Above all, his success was driven by a surge in power as he hit for a .212 ISO (SLG minus AVG), and James predicts that number will recede back to career norms. There’s not much else to say here, as Victorino has been very consistent over the years and these projections see him continuing along that path.

RF – Hunter Pence

G PA AVG OBP SLG BB% K% HR wOBA
158 666 .292 .349 .486 8.0% 18.0% 25 .362

Like Victorino, Pence had the best season of his career in 2011. While many argue that much of his success was driven by batted ball luck, BABIP is a tricky thing for hitters–separating luck from skill is difficult. Pence is projected to drop off from the astonishing level  that he performed at with the Phillies last year, but not by too much. James recognizes that Pence is unlikely to reproduce a .361 BABIP, so his batting average suffers a bit. Additionally, last season marked the first time that Pence slugged north of .500 since his rookie season, and James predicts a bit of regression here as well. Regardless, a .362 wOBA is by no means something to scoff at, especially over the course of a projected 158 games. Such a season would make the Phillies right fielder a 4-5 win player in 2012.

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