2012 Projections: Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Seeing how he just signed a one-year deal and avoided arbitration, I thought it would be compelling to look at Jarrod Saltalamacchia‘s projections for the upcoming season courtesy of the whiz, Bill James.
The 2011 season was Salty’s first full year with Boston and even though he and Jason Varitek platooned the catcher’s position, Salty still played in 103 games. He struggled greatly in April and again in September but the in between months, he looked quite comfortable on both sides of the ball. It’s that version of Saltalamacchia that the Red Sox will need in 2012. But according to Bill James, Saltalamacchia will have a similar year to the one he had in 2011.
The James equation has Salty playing in 95 games, batting .245 (up from last year of .235), an OBP of .311 and a SLG of .436. James also has the former Rangers catcher hitting 13 long balls and 45 RBI, both down slightly from last season. Decent numbers for a guy who won’t be relied upon to hit .300 or drive in 80+ RBI.
But Saltalamacchia should produce better numbers than these. He’s coming off his second full off season with the Red Sox organization and as baseball players are known to be creatures of habit, Salty will benefit from this.
His confidence should be high heading into the season. He had a healthy and productive first year in Boston despite a rough start and finish. But he showed flashes of greatness throwing out 25% of attempted base stealers, right around the 28% mark of the rest of the AL. And he can likely expect to see more playing time as both Kelly Shoppach and Ryan Lavarnway will platoon the position with Salty, but he’ll be the main stay and could likely get in between 120 and 130 games. His OBP was kind of, sort of brutal last year but his slugging percentage of .450 was the fourth highest amongst AL catchers.
If he can have a decent April, continue his solid approach at the plate and maintain his standard of hitting through September, then look for Salty’s numbers to be higher than what Bill James projected. Again, he won’t threaten for the team lead in any offensive category but batting .270 with an OBP of .330 and a SLG of .450 is in my mind attainable. To crack off 20 home runs might be a stretch, so I’m fine with leaving his total around the 16-17 mark, similar to last year. I do think however that he can produce more than 45 RBI. The 60 range is within reason and certainly achievable for Salty.
I may be off the wall with my projections, but to me Salty is ready to break out and prove he’s worth keeping around long-term. He’s healthy and he knows he won’t have to compete for a job. It’s his to lose so to speak and confidence can do wonders for a player. If he can get off to a good start in April, look out; a $2.5 million dollar contract might end up being too low heading into next off season.
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