2014 Projections: First basemen

Over the last few days, I looked at the projected stats for the starting pitchersrelievers, and catchers in camp with the Yankees this spring. In the coming days, I will do the same for all of the players in big league camp this spring. Today’s installment is first basemen.

There are a handful of projection systems out there that attempt to use statistical methods to forecast how players will perform in the future. The major systems out there include Davenport by Clay Davenport, Oliver by Brian Cartwright of Hardball Times; PECOTA by Baseball Prospectus; Steamer by Jared Cross, Dash Davison and Peter Rosenbloom, and ZiPS by Dan Szymborski of ESPN. Projections almost never predict performance with perfect precision, but give at least a general and objective prediction of what to expect out of a player going forward.

Additionally, Fangraphs hosts a crowdsourcing platform where every day fans like you and me can predict players’ performances. The Fans projections are only available for a select few players — namely those players who Fangraphs readers find interesting enough to project. They also tend to be somewhat biased as fans tend to be more optimistic forecasters than heartless computers. For these reasons, I didn’t include the Fans projections in the averages listed in the far right-hand column of the graphic below.

The following chart displays projected wOBA’s for the first basemen in camp with the Yankees.

1B

Mark Teixeira will be the everyday first baseman in 2013 as long as his surgically repaired wrist proves fully functional. Other than Oliver’s pessimistic .332 wOBA projection, the systems generally agree that Teixeira is still capable of a .350 wOBA, which would be his most productive season since 2011. Considering Teixeira is not expecting his wrist to be at 100% until midseason at the earliest, I’d bet on the Oliver projection. I’d love to see Teix prove me wrong, though.

If Teixeira does have to spend time on the DL, the Yankees don’t have much by way of internal replacements. Russ Canzler is really the only first baseman in camp, and after him, Kyle Roller might be the next best first baseman in the organization. Kelly Johnson or Corban Joseph could probably fake it at first, but would be better utilized elsewhere in the infield.

Canzler’s had some success at the triple-A level, but he has just 102 big league plate appearances to his name. The projection systems are divided on Canzler. PECOTA and Davenport see him as a servicible role player, while the balance of the projections see him as replacement level at best. Either way, the Yankees should be on the prowl for an upgrade.

I imagine the Yankees will add some first base depth in the coming weeks in the form of some other team’s cast off — like they did with Lyle Overbay last year. Right now, the Yankees are very thin at first base and aren’t at all prepared for the  possibility that Teixeira isn’t 100% healthy out of the gate.

About Chris

Chris works in economic development by day, but spends most of his nights thinking about baseball. He writes for Pinstripe Pundits, and is an occasional user of the twitter machine: @_chris_mitchell
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