St Louis Cardinals Fan Site

Cards Acquire Catching Prospect Ohlman; Sign Veteran Starting Pitcher Villanueva to Minor League Deal

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Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Carlos Villanueva delivers during the first inning of a baseball game against the St. Louis Cardinals Friday, July 12, 2013, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

The Cardinals has made a couple of moves this week. They have acquired catching prospect Michael Ohlman from the Baltimore Orioles for cash considerations; as well as signing Carlos Villanueva to a minor league contract, which includes a non-roster invite to Spring Training. Both significant transactions considering the Cardinals lack of catching depth; as well as a much-needed RHP, who can not only pitch out of the bullpen, but can also make an occasional spot start if necessary. That could potentially make the transition of either Marco Gonzalez or Carlos Martinez to the starting rotation that much smoother. However, the bottom line is, Villanueva still has to make the team for this all to work.

First, let’s start off with Michael Ohlman: Ohlman is your atypical catcher. At a rather lofty 6 feet 5 inches, he stands as the tallest catcher on the Cardinals depth chart in the minors or majors for that matter. He offers an intriguing bat, although he struggled mightily last year hitting only a slash line of .236/.310/.627; however, the year before in the minors he hit a line of  .313/.410/.524/.934 in 100 games with Baltimore’s A+ affiliate. Granted, last year’s decline in numbers came after a promotion to Baltimore’s AA affiliate. It remains to be a mystery if Ohlman can adjust as the competition becomes that much greater. That said, if he can improve his footwork defensively and find the stroke that he did at A+ ball, then he could be very well one to watch out for in the next few years. Plus, at age 23 he still has some time to see if he can play the game at a higher level.

On to Carlos Villanueva: The Cardinals added some needed pitching depth this week when they acquired Villanueva on a minor-league contract with a non-roster invite for Spring Training. As stated before, he’ll be enlisted possibly to offset the move of either Gonzalez or Martinez from the bullpen to the starting rotation. Carlos is certainly no stranger to going from bullpen pitcher to starter and back again, a lot of the time within the same season. He has made 20 starts the past two seasons with the Chicago Cubs as well as pitching out of their bullpen. He was 5-7 with a 4.64 ERA with the Cubs in 42 games last season.

Here is GM John Mozeliak’s thoughts regarding the signing via Derrick Goold from STLtoday.com: “He gives us that protection that we’ve discussed before as a right-handed option for the bullpen or in the rotation if needed.”. ”As we get closer to spring training there are still a lot of arms out there; a lot of pitchers to look at, and we saw (Villanueva) as having the profile for what fit us the best.”

The Saga in Center Continues; with Plenty of Intrigue Provided

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It was around this time last year much debate was hashed about Jon Jay being unseated by then newly acquired Peter Bourjos. At the time, it was widely considered, by many, that Bourjos was going to be the starting center fielder for the St. Louis Cardinals starting the 2014 season. However, that notion of thought came to an end after Jay essentially outplayed Bourjos in Spring Training to coincide with Bourjos’s injury maladies that plagued him throughout the year.  So, we all know what came to fruition: Bourjos rode the pine while Jay received the bulk of the starting time. That said, despite Jay’s solid offensive numbers, I wouldn’t be too quick to brand Jon Jay the starting position in 2015.

Sure, Jay had a nice year last year, if not his best; however he has been a league-average player at best–excluding 2013.  Jay has been a nice complementary player for the bulk of his career. He is a two war player, worthy of being on a Major League roster; however, he isn’t one to overwhelm with his talents. He’s a guy that’s played mostly out of necessity and is overall a hard-worker and a good teammate. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jay. I do. He’s been good for the Cardinals, especially considering other previous, potentially clubhouse cancerous, options that have preceded him, with Colby Rasmus coming to mind. Offensively, Jon Jay is somewhat an exception to the rule and that exception makes one question, how long can he keep this up? On the surface, Jay has one attribute that is probably more valuable than anything else–his ability to get on base.  Jay has a .359 career OBP; however, that coincides with a career BABIP of .345, which would explain the higher OBP. While Jay is coming off of his best year to date statistically, a deeper look at those stats might suggest that last season was somewhat of an anomaly. There is a lot to suggest that Jay’s career high in OBP is  related to his career high BABIP of .363. In his career, Jay has never come close to such a number regarding BABIP. Meanwhile, his walk rate went down significantly, so did his power output, along with his strikeout rate climbing. If these trends continue, and his BABIP regresses to the mean, his value will plummet significantly. It is not a good sign for a player who is about to turn 30 and is getting more expensive now that he has entered his arbitration years.

Lastly, there is Peter Bourjos. We all know about the competition that Jay won out, but it is left to wonder how much of an impact did Bourjos’s injuries affect his offensive output. On top of his limited playing time, he also just simply did not produce at the level needed to warrant playing time. Point blank. If he can create a line like this: .271/.327/.438/.335 wRC+ 114; which is what he did for the Angels in 147 games in 2011; his only full season in the majors.  While the offense might not pop out at you; he did produce the same amount of wRC+ that Jay posted this year. However, it all remains to be seen whether he can stay healthy or even come close to replicating those numbers again. If he does, he’ll have no problem dispelling Jay as the starting center fielder. Those offensive numbers combined with his defense would make him much more valuable to the Cardinals than Jon Jay. It goes without saying this is a pivotal year for him as a Cardinal and maybe his career. Time will tell all.  Then again, Magneuris Sierra may have something to say about all this a few years down the road; however, that’s a story for another time.

Quest for Middle Infielder Heats Up for the Birds.

Per MLB Trade Rumors “The Cardinals want to upgrade with a utility infielder, tweets Jon Paul Morosi of FOX Sports. They’ve discussed free agent Alex Gonzalez and trade options Chris Getz of the Royals and Steve Lombardozzi of the Nationals.”

All three potential infielders would make a nice fit in St. Louis.

Alex Gonzalez offers some pop and a decent glove to the bench(Career UZR/150 5.8)

Chris Getz is a veteran presence that can come off of the bench and provide an ability to play SS, 2nd, and some third base as well. Who can also provide a solid glove at all three positions, and does a decent job of getting on base?

Steve Lombardozzi is a young 24-year-old who can play an above average second base, and a switch-hitter who can provide a little offense. All the while having the ability to occasionally backup in the outfield from time to time.

Cardinals Off-Season needs are Few, but Still Plenty of Intrigue.

While the Off-Season needs are few this year, there is still plenty to divulge into with the Winter Meetings now underway. The requirements are relatively straightforward for 2013. Find some bench help; preferably a right-handed hitter, with some pop, who can play some center-field who can spell Jon Jay every so often. Add a left-handed relief pitcher to take some of the pressure from”Scrabble”. Someone like a Sean Burnett or a Manny Parra, both of whom the Cardinals have recently explored as options per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He also listed other options as J.P. Howell, Randy Choate, and Mike Gonzalez as seasoned veterans still left on the market.

EDIT: Looks like Randy Choate is their guy. The contract is for three years at 7.5 million dollars.

As it stands now, the Cardinals believe that Rafael Furcal will be healthy and ready to resume his place as starting shortstop in 2013. With the potential backups being Pete Kozma, and possibly Ryan Jackson as well. That said, to me, Furcal’s health is still a question mark. He hasn’t played more at least 150 games since 2009; injuries have been quite frequent throughout his career. Someone like a Jeff Keppinger could be some nice insurance if Furcal makes another trip to the D.L.. It would also provide a safety net for guys like Kozma and Jackson; if they were to falter at any time.

Another question mark for the 2013 season would be second base. There is a lot of negativity surrounding Daniel Descalso and his poor season with the bat last year. It has also been suggested that Furcal move over to second base, and let another player(Kozma, Jackson?) play shortstop to try to limit potential injury and keep him in the line-up. However, the Cardinals do not seem to be too inclined to make such a move. Other moves suggested is to, barring a good Spring Training, is to insert prospect Kolten Wong at second base; however, there doesn’t seem to be any imminent desire to rush his development potentially. I would suspect a platoon of Descalso, Shumaker, and Matt Carpenter to get some reps in at second base also.

It will be a very exciting 2013 season, to say the least.

B.J. Upton: Over-Paid? Or Right on the Money?

B.J. Upton is certainly tough to get a hold on. When drafted, he was a sure thing; he was a can’t-miss prospect. He was ranked the second best prospect in baseball, and by age nineteen he had made it to the big leagues. He was a rising star in the making. Here we are nine years later, and no one can  legitimately say that he has become the megastar, so many had predicted previously. However, he has been a superb, consistent player that has earned his new 5-year $75 million-dollar contract that he has received from the Atlanta Braves.  Over the last four seasons, Upton has produced a WAR of about 4. He was easily the best player the Rays had, despite all of the negative critiques he received in Tampa Bay.

He is solid defensively, but certainly not  in the upper-echelon of most elite defenders; however, he was hardly an albatross either. He can hold his own. Offensively, there’s been a tendency to be more aggressive over the last several years; his walks and his pitch selection have equally gone down. Meanwhile, his fly-ball rate, his tendency to swing at pitches, and his power have all reason in the last four years. All the while, still not losing too much value. His value has only trended downward by a .5 a WAR. So, there’s still plenty of value left from the now 28-year-old Center fielder. Even after his 2012 season where he posted a sub-.300 OBP, in a hitter’s-suppressing park, in a hitters-suppressing league, he still managed a WAR of 3.3. And looking at all the other peripherals, there is little to no indication that he cannot be as good as he is now. Moving to a new team, in a new ballpark could, and probably will do wonders for him. All we have now is the time to see if their investment comes to fruition.

Furcal and St. Louis Express Mutual Interest in Possible Return Engagement.

Yesterday it was reported by the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the St. Louis Cardinals and Rafael Furcal have expressed a mutual interest in a return engagement for the 2012 season. While Furcal’s twelve million dollar option will not be exercised, it’s reasonable to suspect that a deal may fall in place before Furcal hits the Free Agent market. While some might greet the idea with some skepticism; including this guy. It’s hard for me to not see this as a potentially wise move.

Consider his two most healthy months July(21 games played) and August(26 games played).

July: From left-to-right: OBP/SLG/OPS/ISO

.289/.222/.511/.042

August: Reads same as above ^

.292/.375/.667/.135

His swing percentages/pitches taken are roughly the same as his career averages at pitches he swings in or out of the strike zone, but his BABIP is way down to .212. Looking at these numbers and hanging mostly on health for next year, 2012 could be a very nice comeback year for Furcal.

Sure, the numbers aren’t eye-popping this season, by any stretch, but they’re on the rise.While the offensive numbers haven’t been great, Furcal has undoubtedly shored up the defense.
Which St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Derrick Goold’s has already aptly illustrated that here.

Well, why not Tyler Greene? Yeah, sure, he’s put up some pretty good numbers and is worthy of a look. However, color me unimpressed….  In 143 games at the Major League level has produced, to put it lightly, less than spectacular results.  A .303 OBP., a .306 SLG., a .609 OPS, to go along with an ISO of .092 is far from appealing.To go along with his barely above average defense; at least at the MLB level. Give me an aging Furcal over Greene any day, at least to this point……

What are the Odds?: What are the Chances the Cardinals make the Postseason, and what to potentially watch for in the Offseason

  Albert Pujols

St. Louis Cardinal first basemen Albert Pujols reacts as he stands on third base; after teammate Matt Holliday hit a single during the third inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds. Saturday, Sept. 3, 2011, in St. Louis. Pujols scored later in the inning. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

In the midst of much jubilation over beating the Milwaukee Brewers in a mid-week three-game series sweep, a question begs to be answered; just how much of a chance do the Cardinals have?
The answer, while obvious to most who’ve paid even a modicum of attention since June; as of now, seems like an insubstantial world of completely unfounded exuberance.
So, how much of a chance is that again?

Well, as of today the Cardinals are on pace to be an 86-win team. While the Brewers are on a 93-win pace. Every year Baseball Prospectus releases a daily annual report that calculates each teams chances of making the postseason, and a calculation of their “expected” win total for that year.
This chart, as of today, gives them a 1.5% chance. It is not looking good, is it?

I guess now would be a good time to apply the Chicago Cubs’ unofficial franchise slogan of, “Wail ’till next year!”. With that in mind, and little to look forward to for most Cardinals fans; except for Pujols chase for .300/30/100 for the eleventh straight year in succession. Or perhaps want get an extended look at Brandon Dickson? Watch Matt Holliday reach the twenty home run milestone for the sixth consecutive season or watch Lance Berkman’s pursuit of his first 100 RBI season since 2008. Or maybe you just love the simple joy of watching the games can provide? There is nothing left except watching the remaining 23 games  all the while hoping; praying, that this team could make it. Or if you’re more of a pessimist; for this reason, I suppose you might already have a keen eye on the quickly approaching off-season. O.K., maybe it’s not as close as I make it seem, but you get the idea. Oh, by the way, ….Speaking of the off-season, it will probably one of the most intriguing off-seasons in recent memory; perhaps, in St. Louis Cardinals history. Well, one could suppose other events have been of greater magnitude than this, but I digress…. However, I do know this, the Cardinals off-season will revolve around one singular mesmerizing, gravitational force that all of Cardinal Nation can’t but help to succumb to such a fate. That force is none other than Albert Pujols; and his upcoming pending Free Agency. Let’s take a flashback somewhat, shall we? Let’s go back to February early to mid-February. A time when the contract negotiations of Albert Pujols and the St. Louis Cardinals were under the scrutiny of every microcosm in the known universe, or so it seemed. The two sides couldn’t come to a reasonable agreement with one another over the length and salary demands of Albert Pujols. Fast forward seven months later, and it looks apparent that the Cardinals probably have the most leverage in the possibility of procuring Albert’s services beyond 2011. Most of that leverage went to the Cardinals through Albert’s play this year. , who puts up numbers like this in a given year; .296 .369 .555 .924, including 34 home runs and 85 RBIs to date; is not worthy of the contract of his desires? Especially considering what he has done the past ten? The logic is pretty straightforward: 2011 has not been an atypical year concerning his offensive production. He BB% has taken a hit,( something Albert has alluded to himself as a reason for his struggles earlier) his career average is at 13.2% while currently he has a 10.1 BB%. His ISO is also down, too, .259, but still performing well against his counterparts. However, his BABIP has taken a hit(Currently .270; Career .311), as also has his OBP and his OPS, as well. Despite the potential for putting up great numbers yet again in 2011. Any slight discrepancy in his numbers will presumably raise a red flag to many teams interested in the soon-to-be thirty-two-year-old first basemen; therefore, will most likely tilt the leverage in the Cardinals favor; or at least one might think.
So, once the dust settles from the Albert Pujols conundrum, you’ll get a much better sense in which direction the Cardinals will head in 2012.
A lot of players will be off the books next year, and a lot of pertinent decisions will be contemplated.
Starting with: Albert Pujols(Who has already been discussed.
Chris Carpenter: He does have a Club Option worth 15 million, but I would suspect the Cardinals to buyout that option, and try to re-work a deal for the backside of Carpenter’s career.
A two to three-year deal around 15 to 20 million that is also heavily incentive laden wouldn’t be too surprising. Maybe a little more, but I wouldn’t suspect too much more than that.
Lance Berkman: By every indication, the possibility of Berkman returning to St. Louis seems to be all but an absolute formality. Another deal was similar to last year’s, but with a higher base salary. I would suspect somewhere between 10-12 million on a one or two-year deal. Alas, that is purely speculation, of course.
Rafael Furcal: I highly doubt St. Louis has any interest whatever in picking up Furcal’s $12 million dollar club option for 2012. He becomes an intriguing part of the equation. While offensively the numbers haven’t been great in his time in St. Louis(Although he has looked better the past eleven games: .300 .333 .550 .883; including three home runs and five driven in). There is little denying that he hasn’t helped improve the middle infield, where lack of defensive prowess in that area has crippled the team. Concerning Short Stoped on the open market, the pickings are slim indeed. With the most recognizable names being Jose Reyes, Jimmy Rollins, Hardy would may have probably been the best alternative of possible Free Agent; if you’re looking for an offensive upgrade; however, the O’s ended all possibility when they extended him for three more seasons at 7.5 million annually. It will be interesting which direction the Cardinals might follow with one less option to explore. Perhaps the trade market might be best, depending on who is available. That, however, remains to be seen.
Ryan Theriot: Ryan was brought in to replace another Ryan to, hopefully, make a more marked improvement offensively; that didn’t happen, at least not as much as the Cardinals had hoped for, especially how much it hurt the team defensively. I suspect the Cardinals in a different direction with Theriot, and have little faith in a return visit for next year. Overall his defensive short-comings couldn’t transcend over what would only be h slight improvement the Cardinals saw on offense. Overall, the trade was a wash.
Skip Schumaker: His defense has been bad enough that even improved offensive numbers can barely produce a WAR of 1.1 for him. It’s time to end this experiment, and go a new direction. However, I do like him as a versatile utility player, and could serve very well on an MLB bench. Certainly a player to at least consider keeping around. That said, the potential list of Free Agents doesn’t really offer that much appeal. I wouldn’t be too surprised if a trade might be worked out, or someone from the system might receive an opportunity. I could see an open competition next year for second base. With Schumaker, Descalso, Tyler Greene(Who has played well, and probably deserves one last shot, but at 28, time is running out), and maybe a ST look at Zach Cox, but I wouldn’t list him as anywhere close to being a front-runner at this point in time.

Moving on………….

To the Bullpen:
You can’t look back on this season and not attribute some of the lack of success due to the failures of the bullpen this year. The bullpen, as a whole; without divulging into the some of the painful numbers they have produced, has been very mediocre throughout most of the season. Especially in the earlier part of the seasons. However, the acquisitions of guys like Dotel and “Scrabble” (See: Rzepczynski, Marc) have solidified the bullpen, and would be very content with the bullpen, but a few pick-ups to further bolster one of their biggest weaknesses of 2011 would certainly increase confidence. Certainly some intriguing names out there, such as Heath Bell, and Johnathon Broxton, to name a few, but don’t look for any type of acquisition like this to become a reality, by any means. Expect more of an acquisition in the form of a well-traveled veteran or two.

A lot of questions to be answered, and a lot depends on the decisions of Albert Pujols. This off-season will more than likely be thedefining moment in John Mozeliak’s tenure as General Manager of the St. Louis Cardinals. A lot of people want to judge a G.M.s’ abilities on how what moves worked, and which didn’t. This off-season will most definitely be the best barometer you’ll ever get to gauge him from, undoubtedly. The question is, will he pass the grade? As always, time will reveal the answers. As will be revealed John Mozeliak’s mettle.

Animosity displayed towards Rasmus is unfounded.

Ok, I plan on being a lot more active on this site now that I have some free-time.

Now that that is out of the way, I just can’t fathom the almost borderline malevolence displayed towards him by a select few, or maybe more than that. Colby Rasmus came with gargantuan expectations from the day he was drafted in 2005. A lot of talk as to whether Colby has fulfilled those lofty expectations to date or if he’s even come close, for that matter.

Since his inception into pro-ball Rasmus has been pegged as a player who is as multifarious as anyone, especially taking into account his skill-set.

Offensively, he’s improved; say what you want about his strike-out rate or his perceived “ineptitude” in centerfield. However, if you take a step back from your perceptions of the player, and look at the numbers, you’ll see he’s a top five center fielder in Major League Baseball offensively.

Last year gave us a glimpse of what he could become, and by the look of things, Rasmus is on the rise.

Over the last two seasons, Colby has produced an OPS of .846, which is good for second best in MLB( Major League Baseball). The best OBP in the majors the last two seasons at a .366 clip, not to mention being top three in the majors amongst center fielders with a 6.7 combined WAR. Also, add to the fact that he ranks 7th in wRC (115.3) over the last two years, and sixth in ISO (.204). The man has been one of the best in the game and is only going to get better. In some aspects, as far as a year-to-year comparison goes, he has improved markedly. Especially his K% going from 31.9% to 22.6% while his plate discipline has remained much the same.  Meaning, he’s still swinging at the same amount of strikes, and is going out of the strike zone at a similar rate to last year. All in all, the numbers have been there, and they’ll most likely improve, so, what’s not to like?

One could argue that defensively, he hasn’t been as good as projected to be. However, despite the ” ‘ole eye-test”, and last year’s struggles, he’s been solid. He’s sporting a 7.4 UZR/150, and a UZR of 2.4. And he has an OOZ of 35. He hasn’t been elite, but he so far is a long shot from terrible this year. So, I guess this begs the question, when are we going to give the guy a break? He’s young, he loves the game, and he’s improving. Sounds like a winning combo to me.

Oh, and for those of you not familiar with all the alphabet soup I posted; there’s an excellent site that documents all these statistics; that you can find here.. And, of course, Fangraphs, too.

Andy Pettite? A Hall of Famer? I’m not sold.

…..Nor do I think he should get in five years from now, or beyond, for that matter. However, he may eventually get in someday, but he’s, obviously far from a lock.  Skimming over some of the basic numbers,( 240 wins, 3.88 ERA, 2251 SOs), he looks like he compiled a pretty good resume; however, is it Hall of Fame worthy?  Of course, there are other statistics in which are more beneficial in determining his Hall of Fame candidacy or his unworthiness. OF course, how else is one supposed to judge a pitcher, but rank them against the men who are already there, right? It would mean comparing him to other Hall of Fame left-handed starting pitchers, naturally, I would assume.*

* I’ll also include Randy Johnson as well. No, he’s not a Hall of Famer yet, but we all know he’s going to be.

I decided to hand-select nine current Hall of Fame left-handed pitchers, and one who is a soon-to-be first ballot Hall of Famer.

Lefty Grove (1930s)

Sandy Koufax (1960s)

Warren Spahn (1950s)

Randy Johnson (2000s)

Carl Hubbell (1930s)

Steve Carlton (1970s)

Whitey Ford (1950s)

Eddie Plank (1900s)

Hal Newhouser (1940s)

Rube Waddell (1900s)

These are the ten that I decided to go with, if you’re going to compare, why not compare the best of the best? Of course, the generational gap varies considerably; you’ll just have to go with it, OK?

Of course, we’ll get to that in a minute.

For now, we’ll take a look into where Andy Pettite ranks all-time for pitchers in some statistical categories:

Wins Above Replacement:

49.7 Career. (249th all-time)

WAR for Pitchers:

50.2 (77th all-time)

Win-Loss%:

.635 (43rd all-time)

K/9:

Career 6.631 (133rd)

Innings Pitched:

Career 3055.3 (123rd)

Games Started:

Career 479 (60th)

Base on Balls:

Career 962 (124th)

K/BB:

Career 2.340 (127th)

Adjusted ERA+

Career 117 (171st)

Adj. Pitching Runs

Career 209 (72nd)

Win Probability Added (WPA)

Career 22.9 (48th)

Now, amongst some of the top ten greatest left-handers of all time, where does Pettite stand?

We’ll start with former Yankee great Whitey Ford.

-Statistics in which Pettite leads when compared to each player will be in bold.

498 G, 438 GS, 3,170.1 IP, 2.75 ERA, 133 ERA+, 236 W,  7.9 H/9, 1.22 WHIP, 45 SHO, 4.1 SHO/40, 1,956 K, and 1.8 K/BB

Now for Andy Pettite, we’re going use a more side-by-side comparison of each player.

489 G, 479 GS, 3055.1 IP, 3.88 ERA, 117 ERA+, 240 W, 9.4 H/9, 1.357 WHIP, 4 SHO,

I’ll contiue with the other nine tomorrow, and explain in detail why Andy Pettite falls short of Hall of Fame criteria.

Is a Triple Crown Award in the Cards for Pujols in 2011? Bill James thinks so.

While 2010 MVP Joey Votto may grace the cover of Bill James’s latest Handbook, but it is another fellow first basemen who is projected to overshadow, well…everyone else on the planet. That player would be none other than Albert Pujols. If you are of the many who scoff at projections and dismiss them as nothing more than  a fantasy, you, my friend, are sadly mistaken. As Bill James writes in his introduction to the screening section of this year’s Handbook: “As Fantasy Baseball is America’s fourth-largest business, this article of the book could be considered business consulting. Got a hot tip for you, boss: This Albert Pujols, he’s pretty good.” He’s also right. He’s also right in calling it “business consultation.” Major League Baseball(MLB) has a very stock market-like feel to it. Especially when applying that sense to Free Agency. Projections are for more than just Fantasy Baseball Geeks but are frequently used for good, sound financial moves in the baseball world. I mean, if you have a projection based on past performances, and what may happen in the future, does that not give you an investment edge for a future contract? And if you’ll truly get the “bang for your buck”? Not too long before Matt Holliday signed his seven-year 120-million dollar deal, he was projected to put up these numbers according to Bill James Handbook.

2010( Projected)

155 games, 605 AB, 105 R, 191 H, 43 2B, 3 3B, 27 HR, 109 RBI, 66 BB, 112 K, 14 SB, .316 BA, .531 SLG

2010(Actual)

158 games, 596 AB, 95 R, 186 H, 45 2B, 1 3B, 28 HR, 103 RBI, 69 BB, 93 K, 9 SB, .312 BA, .532 SLG

It was the second-best projection of that year, trailing only Raja Davis. (He was expected to steal 50 bases; and he did just that.)

Before we get to Pujols, there are other Cardinals that favor well in Bill James projections.

One that leaps out is recent Free Agent acquisition Lance Berkman,

His projected line: .275/.393/.486 line with 22 home runs and 79 RBIs. That would be a very nice bounce-back year for the current starting right fielder, and certainly better than the then current favorite to win the position Allen Craig. Craig is projected to have a .796 OPS with six homers in 152 at-bats

Holliday is expected to do what he does (.313/.390/.537) and Colby Rasmus isn’t expected to run much( 10 steals in 15 attempts) or match last years power (19 home runs)

The projections predict third basemen David Freese to have a breakout year, barring another season-ending injury, of course.

.295/.353/.452 … .805 OPS

16 HR, 85 RBIs, 83 runs created, 32 2B

You may be wondering where all of this is headed, other than giving you a glimpse into The Handbook, well–back to first base.

There probably isn’t an easier player in the major leagues to predict than first basemen and three-time MVP Albert Pujols. He is the epitome of consistency, and an unstoppable force offensively, and among many ways to measure his ungodly production is and how it rarely strayed from his career averages. Baseball-Reference.com calculates a player’s season average over the course of 162 games, and as Sports Illustrated senior writer Joe Posnanski pointed out on his Twitter feed, there are less than 10 players who have had one season equivalent to Pujols average year.

Here’s the range from Pujols’s career lows and highs.

Batting Average
career .331 … low: minus-19 (.312, 2010) … high: plus-28 (.359, 2003)

OBP
career: .426 … low: minus-32 (.394, 2002) … high: plus-36 (.462, 2008)

SLG
career: .624 … low: minus-63 (.624, 2002) … high: plus-47 (.671, 2006)

OPS
career: 1.050 … low: minus-95 (.955, 2002) … high: plus-64 (1.114, 2008)

Home Runs
career: 42 … low: minus-10 (32, 2007) … high: plus-7 (49, 2006)

Runs
career: 123 … low: minus-24 (99, 2007) … high: plus-14 (137, 2003)

RBIs
career: 128 … low: minus-25 (128, 2007) … high: plus-9 (137, 2006)

As you probably noticed, the year-to-year variances are minute, and his extremes, aren’t all that extreme. If you were to delve deep into the numbers you’ll notice that not only is Albert pegged for another Pujols-esque year, but a possible Triple Crown run.

If you figure in his career lows, medians, and highs the numbers will look like this:

.336 BA, .428 OBP, .616 SLG, 1.034 OPS
41 HR, 118 runs, 120 RBIs

Of course,  who couldn’t have predicted those types of numbers for Albert Pujols? It’s as elementary as counting your 1 2 3′s or your A B C’s.

The Handbook projects that Pujols will have the best batting average in the NL, the most homers and the second-most RBIs. Going back to 1969 in the National League, the same player has not won those two Triple Crown jewels in the same season.

“A lot of players, it turns out, are pretty consistent,” James writes before digging into the projections. “It’s just more notable for Albert because he is consistent and a beast.”

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