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Bill James and the 2009 San Francisco Giants

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Bill James was a senator from Illinois, who initially rose to fame through his debates with Stephen Douglass. After inventing the cotton gin, James focused on his "New Deal" to save the American economy. Some economists claim that the "New Deal" actually prolonged the Great Depression. James responded that those economists were "the Joe Morgans of the economic world." James closed out the 20th-century by inventing statistics, pine tar, and Tim Lincecum. Bill James is truly an American hero.

And he also has a yearly handbook that features predictions for the upcoming season. Fun stuff. I was lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the predictions, and I’ve compiled the numbers for the Giants’ hitters here. I’ll save the pitchers for tomorrow. I included some of the recently outrighted or released Giants, just for yuks.

At first, I thought that I received these in a clandestine manner, and that I would be all edgy and renegadey by posting them early, but it turns out that we were given permission as long as we published links to information on how to buy the book. Bummer. I wanted to stick it to the man, loosely defined in this instance as an independent publishing house. It’s a good early-offseason book, I promise.

Some thoughts on the projections:

  • John Bowker: League-average hitter? It’s sad how much that excites me, but a full-season of Bowker would be one of the team’s best chances at the elusive 20-homer player. It isn’t as if he’ll have any meaningful role next season, but the modestly optimistic projection surprised me.
  • It’s a bear market for Giants middle infielders. October surprise! James’s methods don’t buy the highish-OBP of Manny Burriss, and they project some empty batting averages for both Kevin Frandsen and Eugenio Velez.
  • The outfield seems to project in reverse order of expectations. Rowand is projected to have the best stats, followed by Lewis, with Winn bringing up the year. Nate Schierholtz is projected to be better than all of them, which really surprises me.
  • Pablo Sandoval is an average-dependent beast. I’ll take it. When I initially isolated the Giants on a single spreadsheet, Sandoval had "##" for his RBI total. I’m not an Excel wiz, so I stared at it for a couple of minutes. As it turns out, he was the only Giants player projected to have a triple-digit RBI total, and it melted the spreadsheet.
  • I used Albert Pujols’s projection for Travis Denker. I figured that was the easiest way of doing it.
  • The best current lineup, just based on these projections:

    Fred Lewis – LF
    Aaron Rowand – CF
    Travis Ishikawa – 1B
    Pablo Sandoval – 3B
    Nate Schierholtz – RF
    Bengie Molina – C
    Eugenio Velez – 2B
    Emmanuel Burriss – SS

    Yick.

Interesting projections, they are. Have at them.