2011 Projection Review: Outfielders

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What follows is a review of some of my 2011 projections for Rotoworld.com. I’m highlighting my preseason top five for each position and some other notables.

Catchers
First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Shortstops

Outfielders

Preseason Top 10

Carlos Gonzalez – Rockies – $37 – #1
Projection: .314/.366/.561, 31 HR, 112 R, 103 RBI, 23 SB in 602 AB
2011 stats: .295/.363/.526, 26 HR, 92 R, 92 RBI, 20 SB in 481 AB

Gonzalez’s average was down 40 points from his outstanding 2010 season, but if not for the injuries, he would have been right there with the other elite fantasy outfielders. His stats prorated over 580 at-bats: 31 homers, 111 runs, 111 RBI and 24 steals.

Ryan Braun – Brewers – $35 – #2
Projection: .310/.376/.552, 33 HR, 109 R, 107 RBI, 16 SB in 616 AB
2011 stats: .332/.397/.597, 33 HR, 109 R, 111 RBI, 33 SB in 563 AB

Here’s a prediction: Braun gets 10 times as many intentional walks next year. He finished with just two while hitting ahead of Prince Fielder this season.

Carl Crawford – Red Sox – $33 – #3
Projection: .309/.360/.474, 16 HR, 108 R, 82 RBI, 38 SB in 593 AB
2011 stats: .255/.289/.405, 11 HR, 65 R, 56 RBI, 18 SB in 506 AB

Crawford spent the entire season standing too away from the plate and then flailing away at pitches just off the outside corner. He had a 104/23 K/BB ratio in 506 at-bats for Boston. That’s exactly as many strikeouts and exactly half as many walks as he had in 600 at-bats the year before.

Matt Kemp – Dodgers – $32 – #4
Projection: .290/.349/.512, 31 HR, 96 R, 99 RBI, 27 SB in 607 AB
2011 stats: .324/.399/.586, 39 HR, 115 R, 126 RBI, 40 SB in 602 AB

From .249 to .324. Also huge from a fantasy standpoint, Kemp went from 19-for-34 stealing bases to 40-for-51. Kemp had 602 official at-bats in both 2010 and 2011, but he had 45 more hits and 21 additional walks this year.

Matt Holliday – Cardinals – $30 – #5
Projection: .311/.402/.529, 27 HR, 96 R, 116 RBI, 10 SB in 573 AB
2011 stats: .296/.388/.525, 22 HR, 83 R, 75 RBI, 2 SB in 446 AB

The disappointing OBPs at the top of the Cardinals’ lineup took a toll on Holliday’s RBI numbers. Not only did Cards leadoff hitters get on base at a poor .310 clip, but Albert Pujols came in at .366 instead of his usual .430 or so (and even that is a bit misleading, since home runs made up a bigger part of his OBP than ever before).

Jacoby Ellsbury – Red Sox – $28 – #6
Projection: .294/.351/.418, 11 HR, 96 R, 56 RBI, 51 SB in 574 AB
2011 stats: .321/.376/.552, 32 HR, 119 R, 105 RBI, 39 SB in 660 AB

Ellsbury was even better than Crawford was bad. Despite hitting first all season (well, except for a handful of games batting ninth), he finished fourth among outfielders in RBI.

Nelson Cruz – Rangers – $28 – #7
Projection: .286/.352/.525, 31 HR, 85 R, 102 RBI, 20 SB in 545 AB
2011 stats: .263/.312/.509, 29 HR, 64 R, 87 RBI, 9 SB in 475 AB

That’s more the kind of season I projected Cruz to have in 2010, when he shocked me by batting .318. Throwing in the postseason for fun, Cruz finished with 37 homers and 103 RBI in 537 at-bats.

Shin-Soo Choo – Indians – $27 – #8
Projection: .293/.390/.490, 23 HR, 98 R, 97 RBI, 20 SB in 569 AB
2011 stats: .259/.344/.390, 8 HR, 37 R, 36 RBI, 12 SB in 313 AB

A lost year for the two-time 20 HR/20 SB outfielder. I imagine he’ll rebound next year and that could lead to the best run and RBI numbers of his career now that Cleveland’s lineup is looking stronger.

Andrew McCutchen – Pirates – $27 – #9
Projection: .293/.372/.472, 18 HR, 92 R, 76 RBI, 34 SB in 563 AB
2011 stats: .259/.364/.456, 23 HR, 87 R, 89 RBI, 23 SB in 572 AB

McCutchen fanned 30 times in 246 at-bats in the second half of 2010, 62 times in 327 at-bats in the first half of 2011 and then 64 times in 245 at-bats in the second half of 2011. I don’t believe that he’ll keep trending in that direction, but it’s worth watching. He can’t be penciled in as a perennial All-Star just yet.

Josh Hamilton – Rangers – $26 – #10
Projection: .307/.374/.557, 30 HR, 91 R, 100 RBI, 7 SB in 521 AB
2011 stats: .298/.346/.536, 25 HR, 80 R, 94 RBI, 8 SB in 487 AB

Others

Jay Bruce – Reds – $20 – #25
Projection: .271/.350/.505, 31 HR, 83 R, 92 RBI, 7 SB in 549 AB
2011 stats: .256/.341/.474, 32 HR, 84 R, 97 RBI, 8 SB in 585 AB

Throw out his huge May and Bruce hit .236 with 20 homers and 64 RBI the remaining five months of the season.

Alex Gordon – Royals – $8 – #66
Projection: .254/.346/.434, 19 HR, 66 R, 65 RBI, 11 SB in 507 AB
2011 stats: .303/.376/.502, 23 HR, 101 R, 87 RBI, 17 SB in 611 AB

I missed pretty big on all three Kansas City outfielders. I hadn’t written off Gordon, but given the Royals’ past handling of him, I kept the projection pretty modest. That said, if I had projected a breakout, it would have been something more like .270-25-90. The .300 average was a big surprise.

Curtis Granderson – Yankees – $23 – #17
Projection: .265/.343/.485, 29 HR, 97 R, 80 RBI, 19 SB in 559 AB
2011 stats: .262/.364/.552, 41 HR, 136 R, 119 RBI, 25 SB in 583 AB

I’m not sure I’ve ever had a projection quite like this, where I’m close on average and at-bats and yet so far away on runs scored and RBI. Of course, the extra 12 homers had something to do with that. Still, even so, 136 runs and 119 RBI were just remarkable totals. Granderson led the majors in runs scored by 15 and the AL in RBI.

Jason Heyward – Braves – $23 – #14
Projection: .287/.395/.519, 27 HR, 87 R, 91 RBI, 14 SB in 540 AB
2011 stats: .227/.319/.389, 14 HR, 50 R, 42 RBI, 9 SB in 396 AB

I’m still a believer, though next year’s projection is going to be a tough call. I’ll probably drop the average to .270 or so but call for 25 homers.

Adam Jones – Orioles – $16 – #39
Projection: .279/.330/.455, 22 HR, 77 R, 80 RBI, 11 SB in 573 AB
2011 stats: .280/.319/.466, 25 HR, 68 R, 83 RBI, 12 SB in 567 AB

Mike Morse – Nationals – $8 – #62
Projection: .273/.332/.441, 19 HR, 66 R, 75 RBI, 2 SB in 531 AB
2011 stats: .303/.360/.550, 31 HR, 73 R, 95 RBI, 2 SB in 522 AB

Hunter Pence – Astros/Phillies – $24 – #12
Projection: .292/.350/.503, 28 HR, 90 R, 87 RBI, 14 SB in 596 AB
2011 stats: .314/.370/.502, 22 HR, 84 R, 97 RBI, 8 SB in 606 AB

Alex Rios – White Sox – $23 – #15
Projection: .282/.335/.462, 22 HR, 78 R, 83 RBI, 26 SB in 571 AB
2011 stats: .227/.265/.348, 13 HR, 64 R, 44 RBI, 11 SB in 537 AB

Mike Stanton – Marlins – $19 – #30
Projection: .251/.326/.516, 37 HR, 85 R, 98 RBI, 5 SB in 570 AB
2011 stats: .262/.356/.537, 34 HR, 79 R, 87 RBI, 5 SB in 516 AB

Stanton didn’t lead the NL in homers in his first full season as I thought he might, but he wasn’t all that far away. He’ll rate as the favorite for 2012 unless Pujols lands in Wrigley Field.

Ichiro Suzuki – Mariners – $24 – #13
Projection: .316/.362/.406, 8 HR, 94 R, 45 RBI, 36 SB in 658 AB
2011 stats: .272/.310/.335, 5 HR, 80 R, 47 RBI, 40 SB in 677 AB

If he maintained that .272 average, it would have taken Ichiro 736 at-bats to get to 200 hits for the 11th season in a row.

B.J. Upton – Rays – $23 – #16
Projection: .266/.349/.459, 21 HR, 79 R, 74 RBI, 36 SB in 538 AB
2011 stats: .243/.331/.429, 23 HR, 82 R, 81 RBI, 36 SB in 560 AB

Upton had a very good year for a guy with a .243 average, but this makes three straight seasons with an average right in that range. I’d still like to think he can take a step forward, but maybe it’s time for me to stop projecting him to hit .270.

Justin Upton – Diamondbacks – $25 – #11
Projection: .281/.362/.524, 29 HR, 84 R, 91 RBI, 20 SB in 540 AB
2011 stats: .289/.369/.529, 31 HR, 105 R, 88 RBI, 21 SB in 592 AB

If not Stanton, then Upton is a realistic candidate to lead the NL in homers. He hit 16 n 244 at-bats after the All-Star break this year, and it was just his age-23 season.

Vernon Wells – Angels – $15 – #40
Projection: .270/.324/.464, 23 HR, 75 R, 90 RBI, 10 SB in 563 AB
2011 stats: .218/.248/.412, 25 HR, 60 R, 66 RBI, 9 SB in 505 AB

I projected Wells’ OPS to fall from .847 to .788. It hardly seemed overly optimistic at the time.

Jayson Werth – Nationals – $21 – #24
Projection: .265/.356/.471, 25 HR, 95 R, 84 RBI, 17 SB in 552 AB
2011 stats: .232/.330/.389, 20 HR, 69 R, 58 RBI, 19 SB in 561 AB

I projected Werth’s OPS to fall from .921 to .827. It hardly seemed overly optimistic at the time.

Watch: Mike Trout ties MLB record with his 25th home run

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It was only a matter of time before Mike Trout courted another all-time record, and on Saturday, he found himself in elite company with his 25th and 26th home runs of the season. He put the Angels on the board with a 429-foot blast in the first inning, depositing an 0-1 fastball from the Orioles’ Kevin Gausman into the left field bleachers:

In the third inning, with the Angels up 2-1, Trout returned to tack on another insurance run. He targeted Gausman’s slider for his second solo shot of the evening and cleared the center field fence with a 418-footer to bring his total to 26 home runs on the year.

Trout has mashed at a staggering .339/.471/.596 clip since his return from the disabled list last month, and Saturday’s totals helped mark his sixth consecutive season with at least 25 home runs. That’s a record few have matched before their age-26 season; in fact, only Hall of Fame sluggers Eddie Mathews and Frank Robinson have ever pulled it off.

Assuming he continues to rake in hits and plate appearances over the last six weeks of the regular season — and there’s nothing to indicate that he won’t — Trout is in line to join elite company of a different kind. The 26-year-old entered Saturday’s game with a 206 OPS+ (park-adjusted on-base plus slugging). According to MLB.com’s Matt Kelly, that means Trout’s hitting at a better clip than the average Major League player by a full 106 percent. Should he finish the year with a 200 OPS+ and 502 plate appearances or better, he’ll be the first player to do so since Barry Bonds obliterated the competition with his 263 OPS+ in 2004.

Blue Jays acquire Tom Koehler from Marlins

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The Blue Jays acquired right-hander Tom Koehler from the Marlins in exchange for minor league right-hander Osman Gutierrez and cash considerations, the clubs announced Saturday. Koehler is in his sixth year with the Marlins and stands to make $5.75 million in 2017. He’ll be arbitration eligible in 2018 and is set to enter free agency by 2019.

The 31-year-old right-hander struggled to a 7.92 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.1 SO/9 over 55 2/3 innings with Miami in 2017. He was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans in late July, where he rebounded with a 1-1 record in seven starts and whittled his ERA down to a 1.67 mark. The Blue Jays have yet to establish Koehler’s role within their organization, but are hoping to see a turnaround from the righty when he breaks back into the big leagues.

Gutierrez, 22, was assigned to Single-A Greensboro on Saturday. He has yet to find his footing in the minors, and exited a 78-inning stint with Single-A Lansing after racking up a career-worst 7.85 ERA and 8.2 SO/9. His lack of control is particularly alarming, with a 6.2 BB/9 that dwarfs the 2.0+ BB/9 of seasons past, but he still has plenty of time to figure out his mechanics before reaching the Show.