Last year, I made a post where I used the Minor League Equivalency calcutor to calculate the stats of various rookies who were projected to start last year. Looking at last year's post, you can probably notice that it is certainly not a perfect calculator -- but it is not as if it was completely wrong, especially in the cases of Jason Heyward and Austin Jackson. Also, it doesn't help that I completely overlooked Buster Posey, but such things happen.
Anyway, the point is I thought I would do the same this season, and see what the calculator says certain up and coming rookies will do this season. To remind you, the calculator uses stats from a given level of the minor leagues and projects it out to the Major League level, based on some advanced algorithm. It should be noted that the calculator only works for position players, so I can't gauge potential rookies of the year like Jeremy Hellickson and Aroldis Chapman.
Just like last year, I am going to start with an Atlanta Braves rookie. This time, though, it's going to be Freddie Freeman who is currently slated to start at 1B for the Braves.
Freeman, who had an excellent season last year at AAA Gwinnett, projects out to a .270/.319/.428 line with 14 homers, 29 doubles, and 67 RBIs. His low OBP is mostly a product of his K/BB rate -- freeman strikes out almost twice as often as he walks, even in the minors. The Calculator projects it to get even worse in the majors, but if Freeman can improve on that, he will certainly be in line for a solid rookie season especially for an age 21 season.
Next up is the Phillies' Outfielder Domonic Brown. His name is one of the hotter rookie names heard this offseason. But does he deserve the praise he is getting? It should be noted that it seems likely given a crowded Phillies outfield, that he starts in a platoon role or in Triple A. However, given his reputation as an excellent 5-tool top prospect, I would be shocked to see him work his way into an every day role this season.
Here is how the calculator feels he would do in a full season: .264/.325/.502, 22 homers, 38 Doubles, 20 SB, 66 RBIs. The Calculator seems to feel that Brown has an excellent chance to mash a huge number of extra base hits next season if he plays full time, while also having him just barely obtaining a 20-20 season his rookie year, which would probably make him a lock for the Rookie of the Year if he puts up these numbers. Like Freeman, Brown is plagued by a horrible walk to strikeout rate, resulting in his low average and OBP in the majors. Unlike Freeman, despite those problems, the Calculator indicates that Brown's ability to slug (a .502 SLG for a rookie is huge), likely will make him a heavily contributing player without a high OBP.
Next is much talked about successor to Jorge Posada, Yankees catcher Jesus Montero. It seems likely that he ends up sharing some time with Russel Martin this year, but given his impressive performance in the minors last year, he is fully expected to become the primary catcher for the Yankees by next year if not sooner. Here is the calculator's full-season projection for Montero, based on his impressive season in the minors last year: .250/.304/.429 with 17 homers, 29 doubles, and 59 RBIs. Like the two young hitters discussed above, Montero has a major problem with the strike out that leads to a hamstrung average and OBP. Despite this, for a 21-year-old catcher, even if Montero only does what this projection believes he will do, those are pretty solid numbers. Numbers that the Yankees can only assume will get better.
For this season, those three seem to me to be the most likely position playing rookies to get a fair number of at bats next season. All three of them are projected to have at the very least, a league-average season for a rookie. Domonic Brown, if he is able to get the at-bats and live up to his five-tool hype, certainly looks to be the most dominant of these three players for the 2011 season, and quite possibly in the future.