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Community Projections: Nate Schierholtz

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It’s time for the McCovey Chronicles Community Projection series, or as insiders call it, MacChroCommPros. We’ll look back at how right we were last year, and we’ll continue to be right with our new projections for the coming season. We’re all so damned smug and self-satisfied. It’s awesome. Of course, we’re usually wrong. Very wrong. Doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun, though.

The first player up is Nate Schierholtz, who went to Tijuana to get a fake driver’s license in the offseason so the front office would think he’s 31 and in the prime of his career. His new name is "Pierce Scandalous," and he’s probably the starter in right field.

Bully for him. And I guess some credit goes to the Giants’ front office for putting an unproven player in the lineup when they could have totally papered over the lineup with free agent veterans.

So why can’t get rid of these Lance Niekro vibes? Youngish hacker starts because of an organizational need; hearts break around the Bay Area by May. Sounds familiar. One thing that’s in Schierholtz’s favor -- and it’s a huge part of his overall value -- is he can play a fantastic right field. He’s quick, he reads the ball well off the bat, and he can throw Johnny Damon farther than Johnny Damon can throw a baseball. And it isn’t just a strong arm; it’s also freaky accurate.

Another point in Schierholtz’s favor: the projection systems all see something in his minor league statistical profile that hints at a decent-enough bat. Of course, the six-room, DARPA supercomputer that is responsible for ZiPS might be sentient, but I don’t think it’s seen Schierholtz twice swing at a pitch that eventually hits him. That might account for the disparity. But take a look at these:

ZiPS: .289/.325/.459, 11 HR, 425 AB

PECOTA: .291/.329/.473, 11 HR, 371 AB

Bill James: .288/.325/.459, 7 HR, 257 AB

CHONE: .286/.325/.457, 11 HR, 398 AB

It’s not like those are predicting Schierholtz to be an All-Star, but that kind of hitter would have been quite welcome on last year’s team. Combined with his defense, which by accounts anecdotal and statistical is fantastic, it adds up to a very nice right fielder.

Maybe it’s because, as you’ll see, I was far, far, too optimistic about a lot of Giants before last season, but I’m not sure if I can buy into this idea until Schierholtz shows anything resembling a decent approach at the plate. I’ll need to know that Schierholtz knows that he needs to address his flaws.

I've just been over-anxious, over-aggressive. In the minor leagues, you can get away with that. Here, they scout you.

Oh, words. You’ve let me down before, but I’m going to trust you one more time. I’m also assuming that Schierholtz is in the best shape of his life, too. If you can’t trust spring fluff pieces, what can you trust?

Nate Schierholtz:

AB: 489
BA: .278
OBP: .320
SLG: .449
HR: 15
Starter in 2011: Yes

Last year’s projection: N/A (I didn’t make one public. The unreleased one I made had Schierholtz hitting .267/.302/.400 in 308 at-bats, with a wRC+ of 81.)