OK, as my good bud and collaborator Will notes, CHONE projections tend towards the norm, evening out the breakout seasons with the complete falls from grace. Still, as a team projection, they're OK, assuming that as many guys will perform above the norm as below in any given season.
We thought we'd take a look at them not so much as a prognostication tool, but as a basis for comparison between the starting lineup and what's behind it - how, for example, do Moss, Pearce and Monroe match up, or little LaRoche, Vazquez, Phillips, and Walker, or McCutchen and Morgan? Is there any depth?
Here's what CHONE's Sean Smith figures the lines that the 2009 starting position players should produce based on past performance:
1B: Adam LaRoche (504 at-bats, .264/23/84)
2B: Freddy Sanchez (548 at-bats, .290/8/60)
SS: Jack Wilson (484 at-bats, .273/7/41)
3B: Andy LaRoche (403 at bats, .256/13/59)
CA: Ryan Doumit (384 at bats, .281/14/60)
LF: Nyjer Morgan (442 at bats, .276/2/33)
CF: Nate McLouth (438 at bats, .274/16/53)
RF: Brandon Moss (476 at bats, .267/13/68)
Hmmm...it'll interesting to see what John Russell does for a middle-of-the-order with that collection. If Smith is right, runs will be hard to come by next season, but we saw that over the last two months of 2008, and you don't need a sabermetric system to draw that conclusion. It's a no-brainer.
Of a little more interest, to GW at least, is what CHONE thinks of the troops Neal Huntington and crew brought in to plump out the roster and fill in at Indy.
IF: Garrett Jones (1B - 506 at bats, .259/20/83); Ramon Vazquez (339 at bats, .251/6/35); Andy Phillips (317 at bats, .271/11/43); Luis Cruz (457 at bats, .247/7/47); Brian Bixler (465 at bats, .245/6/42).
C: Jason Jamarillo (429 at bats, .256/7/49); Robinzon Diaz (401 at bats, .279/3/48).
OF: Steve Pearce (481 at bats, .266/17/79); Craig Monroe (438 at bats, .257/17/69); Jeff Salazar (385 at bats, .255/8/46).
Hey, there's a little potential there. Pittsburgh has some alternatives in the OF, Jones and Pearce could be a fairly equivalent platoon at first if big bro LaRoche goes, and Phillips wouldn't be a noticeable downgrade at third if little LaRoche takes a swan dive. But the middle of the infield is weaker without the old heads, Wilson and Sanchez, manning their familiar spots.
People remember that the pitching spots were written in stone during camp last year, but they forget how little competition there was for bench spots. Maybe this year the young guys and the vet fill-ins will have to wage a bit of a battle to earn that seat on the pine. Russell doesn't seem adverse to platooning guys; maybe he'll have a couple more options this season.
And now - what does CHONE project the young guns will do if they get the call to the show?
1B: Jason Delaney (457 at bats, .247/7/55); Jamie Romak (408 at bats, .199/14/54)
2B: Shelby Ford (379 at bats, .253/4/40)
SS: Brian Friday (356 at bats, .247/2/26); Jose De Los Santos (382 at bats, .246/1/29)
3B: Neil Walker (482 at bats, .247/11/64); Jim Negrych (451 at bats, .279/3/57)
C: Steve Lerud (385 at bats, .210/8/48)
OF: Andrew McCutchen (499 at bats, .261/9/52); Jose Tabata (407 at bats, .251/5/49); Anthony Webster (436 at bats, .259/6/43)
A couple of guys jump out - Negrych and McCutchen, for example, should both be fast trackers if the CHONE numbers hold up.
Oh, and for you guys that hold out hope that Dirt Dog Doug pulls on the Pirate jersey one more time: his projected line is 297 at bats, .266/6/37.
(Tomorrow: CHONE and the pitchers *yikes*)