The MLB website said this is John Bowker on the golf course. Guess he swings the sticks from the right side.

Pirates Need To Make Room For John Bowker?

Baseball Prospectus has its’ PECOTA* projections on their website.  Although I am a subscriber I am being blocked from looking at them due to a strange glitch.  When I am able to hack into what should be available to a guy who paid his bill a year ago, we will give you a snapshot of what the smart guys feel the Pittsburgh Pirates look like this season.

Until then we found it interesting that Pittsburgh Pirates OF John Bowker was spit out by the forecasts  to have a seriously solid year ahead of him.  In a new post today by Jason Collette focused on some of the bargain fantasy picks the PECOTA projections came up with for 2011.   Here is what Mr. Collette wrote about Bowker:

John Bowker (OF, PIT): PECOTA has him at a 53 percent improvement rate and projects a slash line of .268/.342/.457 with a .282 TAv. On the surface, that seems like quite an aggressive projection for a guy that owns a .237/.288/.393 slash line in 590 major league plate appearances, but he did have a very strong year in AAA last year between Fresno and Indianapolis. His slash line was .313/.382/.587 in the minor leagues in 2010, which mostly came from the hitting friendly PCL, though he also had 13 extra base hits in just 98 plate appearances while playing with the Pirates’ Triple-A ballclub.

The outfield situation in Pittsburgh is quite crowded with Andrew McCutchen and Jose Tabata all but locking up two of the spots while Garrett Jones, Ryan Doumit, and Matt Diaz fight for playing time. This makes it unlikely Bowker gets a chance to reach the 483 plate appearances PECOTA has him down for in 2011, as most of the former Giants’ prospects time will come from yet another year in Triple-A.

We thought Bowker had a rather large hole in his swing in 2010.  Bowker didn’t get nearly the amount of playing time we thought he should have received, just 15 games, but perhaps the Bucs saw some things Bowker needed to work on and decided against considerable playing time.     

But maybe the computer knows that Bowkers’ hole is fixed because a projection like Bowkers’ is a serious one.  It’s nearly MLB average as the average MLB team got production of .270/.342/.442 in 2010 from RF.    To see Bowker put up numbers in 2011 even close to ML average would be downright cause for celebration in Pittsburgh.

These projections have been overall accurate for Baseball Prospectus.  They are very advanced.  Hell, so advanced they are locked up to my eyes.  But once I get hacked in, we will let you know what the projections on Diaz and Jones are  (can’t imagine them being very solid,) we could make an educated guess on how RF would project for 2011. 

Nonetheless, it’s cool to see Bowker projected to improve.   A crowded outfield overflowing with talent at the big league level and in the minors would be tremendous.  We just have to wonder if the Pirates knew this Bowker improvement was coming through the use of their advanced system. 

Keep an eye on Bowker.   It just might prove that the Pirates computer projection system is working well.  But in the end we have to agree with Collette that the odds of Bowker seeing 400 at bats with the Pirates in 2011 seems to be about as good as the Steelers winning SB45.

*Stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. PECOTA is BP’s proprietary system that projects player performance based on comparison with thousands of historical player-seasons. PECOTA analyzes similarities with past player-seasons based not only on rate statistics, but also height, weight, age, and many other factors

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