Today I continue with my projections and have decided to go with the sophomore Diamondbacks first baseman, Paul Goldschmidt. Although the excitement hasn’t truly begun yet, I could already imagine all the preview magazines hyping him as a sleeper, pushing him up draft boards. He is currently being drafted 137th overall on Mock Draft Central and 11th among first basemen.
At-Bats: 525. Although Goldschmidt is the expected full-time starter at first, the Diamondbacks signed Lyle Overbay as insurance. That scares me just enough to not project a more typical at-bat total for an everyday position player. He is also slated to hit in the bottom half of the order, which will limit his plate appearances. Last, he completely skipped Triple-A, so there remains a reasonable chance that he is simply not ready to succeed over a full season and gets demoted at some point. On the positive side, he bats right-handed, so we don’t have to worry about facing left-handers if he hit from that side.
Contact Rate: 70%. Over his four professional stops, beginning with the Rookie League in 2009, his contact rates were 74%, 69%, 75% and 66%. The 66% came during his short stint with the big league club last year. I would imagine he improves his contact this season, but having skipped Triple-A, it is difficult to project anything higher and closer to his Double-A mark of 75%. This shouldn’t have too much of an effect on his power, as even upping his rate to 75% only yields an additional two home runs.
GB%/LD%/FB%: 42%/19%/39%. Last year, he hit a couple more line drives at the expense of fly balls, but given his minor league track record of fewer liners and the power of regression, I am betting on this distribution. This is good for his home run total, but might hurt his batting average a smidge.
BABIP: .325. The two expected BABIP formulas spit out .339 and .325. He posted a .323 with the D-Backs last season and strong marks at his three minor league stops. With elite power skills, some surprising speed and a ball park that has inflated right-handed batting average by 6% over the past three years, he is a good bet to post an above league average mark.
HR/FB Ratio: 18%. Finally, what you’ve all been waiting for! Last season with the D-Backs, he posted a 21.1% mark and ESPN Home Run Tracker tells us that he demolished the ball when it went over the fence. Using StatCorner.com’s minor league HR/BIA stat, I tried scaling that number to an equivalent HR/FB ratio in MLB and came up with 23.6% at High-A and 24.3% at Double-A. Of course, his High-A home park has a right-handed home run park factor of 130, while his Double-A park was at 125. Chase Field does increase right-handed homers itself though, so his power shouldn’t experience such a dramatic crash.
RBI and Runs: 85 and 80. He finished last season hitting 5th, sandwiched between Miguel Montero and Chris Young. Currently, MLB Depth Charts projects him 7th, behind Young and newly signed Jason Kubel. Montero isn’t your prototypical cleanup hitter, so I think after Upton in the three hole, the order is going to be rather fluid. If Goldschmidt hits to his apparent potential, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him eventually at clean up. To open the season though, 6th or 7th is more likely.
SBs: 8. As alluded to earlier, he has surprising speed for a big man (and when I say big, damn, FanGraphs lists him at 6’3, 245). He stole 4 bases in 4 attempts in just 177 plate appearances with the D-Backs and stole 9 in 12 attempts at Double-A. He also hit a combined 4 triples throughout 2011. These numbers would prorate to a projection higher than 8, but I just cannot get myself to predict double digits for a man of his size.
That sums up all the numbers I manually project myself. They then get thrown into various formulas and spit out batting average and home runs. Overall, I still do worry about his complete lack of Triple-A experience. I could envision a scenario where his strikeouts pile up early on, which causes him to press and hampers his power, and then gets him sent to Triple-A in May. Or, he goes 35-10, while batting .270 and earning nice profits for all his owners.
Here is my final projected batting line, along with Bill James, RotoChamp and Fans projections for comparison.
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