The 2010 season is going to be an interesting one for Jason Bartlett. He’s coming off a season in which he posted a .389 wOBA despite a previous career high of .335 – that coming in a half-season. Bartlett also hit more home runs (14) in 567 plate appearances than he had in the 1,700 prior (11). It’s no surprise that his ISO nearly doubled from the previous high and that his walk rate increased (as did his strikeout rate).
Part of the success derived from a high average on balls in play. Previous research has shown that BABIP is pretty good at predicting itself – more so than line drive rate and nearly double Dave Studeman’s LD% + .120 trick of the olden days. Bartlett is 30 years old now and while it’s not unheard of, he’s beyond the age where you start thinking about guys hitting their prime. Oh, and you know how hitting more groundballs can be productive for a hitter’s BABIP? Yeah, well Bartlett hit a career low amount of balls on the ground last year. And people wonder why I’m not completely sold on Bartlett the Conqueror?
So, imagine my interest upon seeing the most beautiful sight on our player pages nowadays – the blue highlighted row consisting of the Fan Projections. With a brisk click I was a bit surprised at what I saw: Rays fans are projecting Bartlett to have a .345 wOBA and the other fans are projecting a .349 wOBA. That would rank as Bartlett’s second best offensive season, but still, it’s .040 points lower than last year. More telling is that the BABIP projections are right around what you would expect from Bartlett. To surmise the forecasts to date: “Yes, Bartlett will retain some of his new found offensive prowess; no, he won’t be second best hitting shortstop in the American League again anytime soon.”
Obviously I have no idea to what extent people are doing calculations when filling these things out, but if you run a quick 5-4-3 weighting of Bartlett’s previous three seasons and don’t adjust or regress, you get .346. Add in the 2 for an average American League shortstop and you get .342. Pretty close to the projections thus far either way; although I’m sure that will change now that I’ve pointed it out.