Who Will Be The 2015 Statistical Leaders?

February 27, 2015

In addition to our projected Defensive Runs Saved leaders, which we highlighted in a Stat of the Week a few weeks ago and will be expounded upon in The Fielding Bible—Volume IV to be released on March 1, we provide a spring update to the Bill James Projections each year to account for players who have changed teams and gained or lost apparent playing time as teams have put together their rosters. That update will also be released on March 1, so let’s look at which hitters and pitchers are projected to lead baseball in various categories.

First, here are the projected hitting leaders:

Projected Hitting Stat Leaders, 2015
Stat Player Projected Total
AVG Miguel Cabrera .321
Yasiel Puig .316
Jose Altuve .316
HR Giancarlo Stanton 40
Jose Abreu 38
George Springer 38
RBI Miguel Cabrera 123
Jose Abreu 121
Paul Goldschmidt 115
Runs Mike Trout 131
Mookie Betts 112
Paul Goldschmidt 107

A few of the usual suspects like Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt make their way back on to the projected leaderboards, but the 2015 leaders also have some new blood. Jose Abreu was a star in his first season in MLB, smashing 36 home runs and knocking in 107 runners despite a DL stint that held him to 145 games. This year, we like Abreu to exceed those numbers in a full, healthy season.

George Springer hit 20 home runs in his first major league action in 2014 in only 345 plate appearances. We think he’ll come close to doubling his playing time and home run total in 2015. And while Mike Trout has a healthy lead in projected runs scored, we expect Mookie Betts to play well and benefit from hitting atop the powerful Red Sox lineup in route to scoring 112 runs.

Projected Pitching Stat Leaders, 2015
Stat Player Projected Total
Wins Clayton Kershaw 21
Adam Wainwright 17
Felix Hernandez 16
Stephen Strasburg 16
Saves Trevor Rosenthal 49
Craig Kimbrel 47
Fernando Rodney 47
Aroldis Chapman 47
ERA Clayton Kershaw 2.37
Michael Pineda 2.74
Matt Harvey 2.84
K Yu Darvish 248
Clayton Kershaw 245
Stephen Strasburg 237

Clayton Kershaw will lead both leagues in wins and ERA but fall three strikeouts short of the MLB triple crown for pitchers based on our projections. He’s amazing. He’s joined by other elite starters including Adam Wainwright, Yu Darvish, and Stephen Strasburg at the heads of those lists.

The ERA leaders are particularly interesting. Behind Kershaw, both Michael Pineda and Matt Harvey are coming back from injuries. Pineda was outstanding in 76.1 innings last season, maintaining a 1.89 ERA and a miniscule 0.8 walks per nine innings. He’s been great whenever he’s been healthy in his career, but unfortunately, the healthy stints have been few and far between. Harvey is coming back from Tommy John surgery that forced him to miss all of the 2014 season.


COMMENTS (9 Comments, most recent shown first)

Correction, it is three keepers out of Cutch, Puig, Cano, Puig.
1:02 PM Mar 2nd
HeyBill, funny you say McCutch, because he is 20 percent of the reason I have been looking closely at Puig. I have to pick four keepers from Cutch, Puig, Bautista, Rizzo and Cano. I'm not really looking long term, I'm more assessing just 2015. You compare Cutch, but he weighs 190, and is built like his last name was McConaughey. Puig caused a stir last year when he came into camp at 251 up from 225 at the end of 2013. In addition to some "old man" injuries like a hammy and a back, he has worn down in the second half of his two seasons, batting just .214 in September '13, and hitting just four HRs while slashing a ho-hum .274 .366 .414 .780 in the second half of '14. In the second half of each season his WAR....well, I'll explain how WAR works to you some other time. A few weeks back, he told the LA Times he had come in weighing "255...maybe 260." I think I'm discarding him of those five, but surely would welcome a dissenting opinion. I just don't see the guy as a .315 hitter ((cough) sound familiar? :-) )
12:57 PM Mar 2nd
Fireball Wenz
Mookie Betts, second in runs scored...glad the Sox didn't pull a Bagwell!
12:27 PM Mar 2nd
I'm I the only one missing Madison Bumgarner?
12:23 PM Mar 2nd
Puig's 2014 season is very similar to the season that Andrew McCutchen had in 2010. McCutchen in 2010 was 23 years old--same as Puig--and had one previous partial season, same as Puig. He hit .286 with 94 runs scored, 16 homers, 56 RBI, 70 walks, .814 OPS, 35 doubles--all similar to Puig, except that Puig's numbers are a little bit better. McCutchen did this in a league with an ERA of 4.02, and in a park with a run index of 98. Puig did it in a league with an ERA of 3.66, and in a park with a run index of 88. And I LOVE Andrew McCutchen.
9:21 AM Mar 2nd
About Yasiel Puig. . .he was 23 years old last year. He was 4th in the National League in OPS, scored 92 runs (among the top 10 in the league) and was among the top 15 in the league in hits and total bases. I have to say. . .if I was his manager, it would take me a little while to get tired of that kind of player. As to his injuries. . .he had 640 plate appearances in 2014, still among the top 25 in the league.
8:51 AM Mar 2nd
Yeah, I have trouble with the Puig optimism. I had him in roto last year, and every time I looked up during his career he had a DTD next to his name in a late game. Thumb, back, hammy, shoulder..."physically uncomfortable" was one....showed up in camp last year overweight, benched for tardiness. At Year 23? Mattingly and the vets are sick of his act, and the Dodgers have a lot of OFers, so his counting stats may suffer. He also had the second highest BaBip in 2014 at .356, and hit a full 60 points below that. Zeile has Puig projected at .294, 21 HRs, 12 SBs, 76 RBIs. Sounds about right, plus a few stupid injuries taking him down to 480 PAs.

Personally, I like Rizzo to be up there in the HR race. In his 24 Year in 2014, 30 HRs in 486 ABs before dinging his back in late August.

In BA....I like Morneau to repeat his batting title in Colorado. Sure, he plays in Colorado, but...here is a bar bet for you....his .309 BA on the road would have won the title in and of itself. Plus, league average was a BA 51 points below BaBIP, team average was 60 poibts.......Morneau's stars only gave him 11.

2:37 PM Feb 28th
I would love to understand the methology that has Yasiel Puig hitting .316 over a whole season.

Don't get me wrong: I hope he does it. I'll be watching a lot of Dodger games, because of Vin Scully, and if Puig realizes his potential they'll be worth watching--or at least he will.
2:54 PM Feb 27th
Rosenthal the saves leader? Hmmm...
12:55 PM Feb 27th
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