2015 Booms and Busts

May 30, 2015

Prior to each season Baseball Info Solutions projects player performance, both offensively and defensively. With nearly two months of the baseball season now behind us, it’s a good time to assess which players have so far most overachieved and underachieved our projections for them. To decide which players are the biggest booms and busts, we compared their offensive Runs Created total to their projected Runs Created total from the Bill James Projections. For defense, we compared their Defensive Runs Saved total to their projected DRS total from Baseball Info Solutions’ preseason defensive projections. Finally, to account for the fact that the 2015 season is only partially finished, we prorated the projected totals to the actual number of at-bats and innings players have played so they make for an apples-to-apples comparison.

Based on that method, here are the five biggest booms of 2015:

Five Biggest Booms as of 5/29/2015
  Runs Created Defensive Runs Saved Total
Player Actual Projected Actual Projected Diff
Bryce Harper 48 27 10 0 31
Jason Kipnis 41 28 4 -1 18
Dee Gordon 34 25 9 0 18
Brandon Crawford 29 18 7 1 17
Nelson Cruz 44 23 -5 0 16

 

The biggest boom had to be Bryce Harper, and he is well ahead of the rest of the pack. Harper is tied for the most home runs in baseball with 18. He leads baseball in walks. And he’s eighth in baseball with a .331 average. Harper’s excellence has also extended to defense where he leads all right fielders with 10 Runs Saved.

Jason Kipnis, Dee Gordon, and Nelson Cruz have all produced at various times in their careers, but a lack of consistency and health created more moderate projections for this season. All three are easily exceeding those projected totals. Kipnis is hitting .345 and is one home run shy of matching his total from all of his 2014 season. Gordon leads baseball with a .376 average. And Cruz is tied with Harper for the most home runs in baseball.

Finally, Brandon Crawford seems to be entering his prime at 28 years old. His home run total had increased each of the last three seasons with the Giants, and his six home runs so far this season put him on pace to nearly double his total of 10 from 2014.

Here are the five biggest busts so far this season:

Five Biggest Busts as of 5/29/2015
  Runs Created Defensive Runs Saved Total
Player Actual Projected Actual Projected Diff
Robinson Cano 15 34 -3 1 -23
Danny Santana 12 21 -10 0 -19
Hanley Ramirez 23 32 -10 0 -19
Troy Tulowitzki 16 32 0 3 -19
Brett Lawrie 19 24 -6 5 -16

 

The fact that Hanley Ramirez has hit 11 home runs and is still on pace to fall so far short of his projected Runs Created total is a testament to how productive he has been in his career. His current slump has dropped his on-base percentage to .311 compared to .371 for his career. In addition, Ramirez has not taken to left field. The long-time infielder has cost the Red Sox 10 runs so far this season guarding the Monster, which is tied for the worst total by a player at any position in baseball.

Robinson Cano and Troy Tulowitzki are two more stars on the list who have underperformed so far in 2015. After hitting at least 25 home runs in each of his last five seasons in New York, Cano hit just 14 in 2014 and only has one so far this season. He and Tulowitzki have on-base percentages below .300.

With 43 strikeouts against only two walks, Danny Santana has the worst strikeout-to-walk ratio among qualified hitters. He has also cost the Twins 10 runs defensively at shortstop after playing adequately in center field for the team in 2014. Brett Lawrie has thus far been a major downgrade for the Athletics from MVP candidate Josh Donaldson. Perhaps because of his frequent injuries, Lawrie’s DRS total has declined every year since 2012, with his -6 total so far this season on pace to be his new worst in a season.

 
 

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