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Community Projection: Ray Durham

Ray Durham has been close to the most predictable player in baseball for about seven years. Maybe there's a +/- of five homers or so, but the averages all hover around the same area every year. This is all referring to the time he's actually in the lineup, though. Right when he put on a Giants hat, he stopped being the 600 at-bat guy he was with the White Sox, and instead started to pull muscles when he'd run, jump, hit, throw, snore, squint, and furrow. He was a productive bat when he was in the lineup, just as he had been for his entire career, and was actually a bit healthier last year than he had been.

For someone as consistent with the rate stats as Durham is, his projections are a little tricky. The injury question is a big one, for sure, and is the difference between 200 at-bats and 450 at-bats. Aside from that is the old second basemen quandary. Second basemen, as a group, tend to age as well as smokers. In the not-so-distant future, Jennifer Aniston and Sarah Jessica Parker without makeup will both resemble Shar-Pei puppies, and you would always have done well trying to make a belt out of Humphrey Bogart's face.

Second basemen seem to hit that same wall -- with performance instead of looks, of course -- and a popular theory includes the wear and tear of double play pivots as a primary reason. The drop-off isn't as drastic as it is for catchers, but there's truth to be found in the conventional wisdom. This also makes a certain mustachioed second basemen even more irritating and deserving of a Pierzynski Special right to the junior mustachio maker, as there are always unlikable exceptions to the rule.

There isn't a magic decline age, and Durham isn't that old. His injury history seems to indicate he could fall apart at any minute, but his overall athleticism bodes well. He isn't Cecil Fielder out there, trying to stretch the comfortable definition of the word "athlete", and that's the reason for my sunny numbers:

Ray Durham

AB: 480
HR: 13
AVG: .278
OBP: .370
SLG: .445

This is the most optimistic of the projections I've seen, and coupled with the Benitez numbers from yesterday it might make me come off as a complete homer. That's just a fluke, though. I promise there will be plenty of doom and gloom to pass around.