Recently, I absconded with someone else's Alfonso Soriano projection, sidestepped the pursuing authorities, found a safe-house, and projected Soriano to hit .252/.292/.462. Of course, I didn't really use what one would call a rigorous methodology, being on the lam and all. But I did what I could; Ron Shandler wouldn't return my pleas for aid.
I regarded the projection as a tad low, and I'd hope it is. But it is reasonably close to this Diamond Mind-aided "consensus projection" over at Capitol Punishment: .249/.297/.472. (Both projections---if you want to be gracious and call mine that---took RFK into account.)
As Chris notes, projections are merely, well, projections. Soriano could have a dazzling year, a fluke year, a horrendous year (one simulated season had him .206/.260/.342; may the Almighty have mercy on us there), or an injury year. Who really knows? But, as far as projections go, it's likely we'll see majority of them envision Soriano (after taking RFK into account) to:
- set a target-lock on a .300 OBP; and,
- slug somewhere in the upper-middle class neighborhoods of the .400s.
I guess my next step, as a reflexive Natty blogger, is to weep at this Soriano projection---particularly THE LACK OF OBP!!!!---and call for Jim Bowden to be Buck v. Belled. Sorry to disappoint.
Instead, let us look at how this projection impacts the team going forward, whether Soriano plays second base (his stated desire, to put it mildly) or left field (which he'd prefer not to do, to put it even more mildly.
Last year, the National League averages for second base and left field were:
PO OBP SLG
2B .341 .411
LF .347 .454
And here were the Nats' averages for those positions:
PO OBP SLG
2B .337 .384
LF .321 .404
Keep in mind those figures, as the Nats' positional averages, included half-time at RFK; consequently, they're driven down to a not-insignificant degree. Nevertheless, at least in terms of left field, those are some meager numbers---a fifty point deficit against the league in slugging percentage is not entirely the product of RFK Stadium. (And, yes, I realize it is to an extent a product of Brad Wilkerson's weak year.)
Going forward, no matter where Soriano plays, he'll improve the team's offense from the 2005 rates. I'd caution anyone not to trade one point of OBP for one point of SLG, but I'd also note it's not tremendously likely Soriano will slug under .450 on the season.
Easy, easy. I hear the objections; I don't know how, seeing as we're using teh internets here, but I can hear them just the same. We'll get to those in a second. For this moment, though, let's reflect that, if nothing else, no matter where Alfonso Soriano is placed in '06, he'll do his part to make the Nats a better offensive club than it was in '05. Breathe in . . .
. . . breathe out.
Well, I lied. I'm not going to get to the objections to the reasoning above. You can raise them in the comments to those post, if you wish. Rather, I want to note one thing, and one thing only. I don't praise Jose Guillen much---perhaps I should on a more regular basis---but I'm going to do so here; I want to isolate the praise, so all can see that I don't thoroughly hate the guy. (I only think he's crazy, as well as eccentric, unbalanced, excitable, and prone to wield four bats at the same time.)
Guillen's '05 numbers beat Soriano's '06 projection listed above. (In fact, they whomp Soriano's projection, if only because of OBP, but who cares about that, right?) His numbers were in-line or slightly better than the average NL right fielder last season, even before taking into account RFK Stadium (not that he was helped there!). That's nothing spectacular in itself; a good team, even a .500 time, normally needs more than or two (Nick Johnson) or three (Brian Schneider) above-average offensive players.
But the guy did it for about $4 million last year, and he'll probably do it again this season---again for about $4 million. He has a cannon of an arm, when he feels the inspiration to use it. He struggled mightily at home last season, obviously, but he tried to make up for it by being an utter demon on the road---and that's no fluke. And, again, he provides all of these services for about $4 million.
Jose Guillen may be crazy, and he have played the part of unclutch last season, but on this team . . . he's pretty daggone underappreciated, especially in light of the attention Soriano is now receiving.
Anyway, I'm going to take heart in that, if nothing else, Soriano will improve the team's offense from last season, whether at second or in left. But I'm also going to take heart in that, if things go our way, he might just be a third or fourth or fifth fiddle (after factoring positional considerations) behind:
- Johnson, if he's healthy for at least 140 games or so;
- Vidro, if he's healthy, hitting, and anything better than horrible at second; and,
- Church, if he's still on the team, a regular player, is healthy, and shows his '05 performance on the whole was no fluke.
[editor's note, by Basil] Chris notes in the comments of his post that he hasn't created a "projection" per se; rather, he simulated Soriano's numbers this past season as if they were compiled in RFK, rather than Greedy McRichguy Park. The point is well-taken, but I'll just go ahead and call it a projection for my purposes.