Who Will Be The 2017 Statistical Leaders?

March 1, 2017

It feels like spring in Chicago where I live, and, more importantly, it feels like spring in Arizona and Florida where Spring Training is underway. Now that the majority of the offseason moves are behind us and Opening Day is just over a month away, it is time for our annual spring update of the Bill James Projections. The full updates are now available for download, but here’s a sneak peek of projected statistical leaders among hitters and pitchers.

First, here are the projected hitting leaders:

Projected Hitting Stat Leaders, 2017
Stat Player Projected Total
AVG Jose Altuve .319
  Mookie Betts .317
  Miguel Cabrera .316
HR Kris Bryant 42
  Giancarlo Stanton 39
  Chris Davis 39
RBI Nolan Arenado 115
  Miguel Cabrera 114
  Edwin Encarnacion 112
Runs Mike Trout 125
  Kris Bryant 124
  Mookie Betts 121


Mookie Betts’ breakout 2016 season landed him in the top three in projected batting average and runs, but he fell short of a couple of mainstays in those categories: Jose Altuve and Mike Trout. Betts is just 24 years old, and while Trout, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado may seem like established veteran stars, all three are still just 25 years old. Baseball is enjoying an incredible period of young star players.

Next, here are the projected pitching leaders:

Projected Pitching Stat Leaders, 2017
Stat Player Projected Total
Wins Clayton Kershaw 20
  Jake Arrieta 17
  Max Scherzer 17
Saves Mark Melancon 51
  Kenley Jansen 48
  Jeurys Familia 45
ERA Clayton Kershaw 2.15
  Jake Arrieta 2.90
  Max Scherzer 2.99
K Clayton Kershaw 257
  Max Scherzer 249
  Chris Sale 248


I feel like a broken record because, at this time last year, I was telling you the same thing: Clayton Kershaw is projected to lead all of baseball in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Last season, Kershaw threw fewer than 198 innings for the first time in seven seasons because of a herniated disc in his back, but his accomplishments in just 21 starts and 149 innings continued to tell the tale of his greatness. He threw 79 fewer innings than perhaps the closest competitor to him, Max Scherzer, but still beat him (and every other pitcher in baseball) in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 6.5.

The saves leaders are all usual suspects as well, but Mark Melancon is set to ply his trade for a new club in the Giants this season. They will no doubt be happy to have him to stabilize a bullpen that finished 22nd in reliever WAR and whose retained reliever with the most saves from 2016 is Hunter Strickland with only three.


COMMENTS (6 Comments, most recent shown first)

Stanton jumped out at me, but if he can get a full season in, I get it.

Take it as coming from a Mets fan, but Cespedes has looked like a monster, muscled up and 7 for 13 with two titanic home runs, one perhaps the longest ever at Tradition field.
5:18 PM Mar 5th
I can see Kershaw leading the league in ERA, but in wins and strikeouts? He's coming off a back injury that limited him to 149 innings. Back injuries are a serious problem for any athlete, and they tend to get worse over time. If Kershaw does make it through the season without a stint on the disabled list, he will be on the strictest of pitch counts. I wouldn't expect the Dodgers to let him go deep into a game even if he was pitching a perfecto. Fewer innings = fewer wins and fewer strikeouts. I hope he rebounds, but I think projecting Kershaw to be a workhorse with a herniated disk is silly and stupid.
9:09 PM Mar 2nd
Dodger: not crazy at all. A list that showed upside and downside along with the projection might be very interesting (ignoring the fact that every player's downside is that he'll get hit by a truck on the way to the ballpark).
8:40 AM Mar 2nd
I'm a little surprised to see Familia projected with 45 saves with a lengthy suspension likely, but these projections must not have taken that into account.
6:59 AM Mar 2nd
I know projections are 'safe' in that they regress hard to the mean and don't really account for outliers (that I've seen). Sure, an outlier is an unlikely event, but the existence of outliers in a baseball season, given all of these different stats, is likely, no?
Would it make sense for a projection system to maybe put out who is the most likely to be the RBI outlier of the coming season? Like Arenado is the projected leader in RBI with 115, but Encarnacion is the most likely to have 150+ RBI, something like that.
9:58 PM Mar 1st
I'm going to put this out there: Max Scherzer's stress fracture in his throwing hand will adversely affect him, and he won't finish in any of the above top 3 lists. Bold? Yes, I think I'm totally super bold.
5:10 PM Mar 1st
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