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The Impending Stanton Arrival Guide: Projections

The first part of the Impending Stanton Arrival Guide will be perhaps the most important of them all. The question of “How well will Mike Stanton play?” is probably first and foremost among the minds of Marlins fans, all of who are interested in seeing the Marlins succeed. Most fans are not yet ready to give up on the 2010 season and play for the future of the organization, so a move of Stanton to the majors will have to be beneficial not only to his development but to the team’s success.

So how will Giancarlo Cruz-Michael Stanton perform in the majors? We enlist the help of projection systems and minor league translations to find out.

Preseason Projections

Proj. System PA BA OBP SLG wOBA
CHONE 453 .212 .287 .383 .295
ZiPS 568 .217 .294 .389 .301
PECOTA (Weighted Means) 516 .238 .307 .482 .338

Clearly, one of these does not fit with the others. None of the three systems were high on Stanton’s batting average, each pegging him well below the league average. Similarly, each of the three big systems had Stanton at unacceptable, Emilio Bonifacio-level OBP due in large part to the shrunken BA. Where the systems differ is clearly in the slugging average. While both CHONE and ZiPS have Stanton at an ISO of about .170, PECOTA has his ISO skyrocket close to .250! Since 1901, only 25 players between the age of 20 and 24 in the history of the league have had an ISO of greater than .250 in their first season in the majors (limit 150 PA). Projecting that kind of power, even from a player as ridiculously strong as Stanton, seems very optimistic. Still, that .338 wOBA looks strangely similar to the projected wOBA I found using players with similar strikeout and home-run hitting capabilities.

If we took the straight average of each of those three projections, we get a projected wOBA of .312, with a not-unreasonable slash line of .222/.297/.417. That kind of wOBA over 350 PA would be worth five runs below average. Not impressive, right?

What about this season?

Stanton’s 2010 season in Double-A so far has been transcendent, and leaving it out of a projection for the future would be ridiculous to do. However, taking it as face value and accepting that as his talent level would also be wrong. Let’s find a middle ground.

I took Stanton’s current Davenport Translation statistics found at Baseball Prospectus and applied that to his first 228 PA of the 2010 preseason projection. I weighted those translated numbers as 0.29 out of a total weight of one, with the remaining weight going to the preseason projection. The end result was a .231/.308/.452 slash line, a .221 ISO, and a .330 wOBA. As a sanity check for the DT used, I did the same thing using the MLE provided by Jeff Sackmann of Minor League Splits, which would give me a .226/.301/.436 slash line and a .321 wOBA. In either case, this is a significant improvement over the previous projection, and would fall very closely in line with the crude comp projection linked in the previous section.

Such a performance would be worth from -3 to 0 runs above average, essentially an average major league hitter as a 20-year old. It’s no Jason Heyward, but going into this season I would have been surprised by such a projection.

The Rest

Stanton has always been a good defender in the outfield. In John Herold’s breakdown prior to the start of the season, he had him at +7 runs per 150 games. Let’s make it an even +5 runs so that we remain conservative. In about 80 defensive games in right field and 350 PA, the total Stanton package for the rest of the season could be worth 0.8 WAR. In a full season’s time (600 PA, 150 games), that would be equal to 1.5 WAR. That means that, as of right now, Stanton is likely some five runs worse than average as a player based on the projection of his performance. Note that this did not contain an aging curve, so his offense may have been a bit better. Still, for a 20-year old, would you take a performance on scale with what was projected for Jorge Cantu this season? I think that would be acceptable.

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