Lastings Milledge and Andy LaRoche are big question marks in Neal Huntington's plan to acquire blue chip talent after losing some luster. They're both talented players that will likely be productive on the big league level, but with a chance to exceed that level and grow into something more. Doing so would give the Pirates a much needed offensive jolt from beyond Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Doumit, and probably Garrett Jones (assuming he doesn't turn into a pumpkin). Most importantly, they're both young enough that if they perform anywhere near the high expectations that other teams had for them in the past, they shore up a position for the Pirates for the long haul.
Now that Baseball Prospectus has released their initial PECOTA projections (they still have some tweaking to do on the team standings and the PECOTA cards aren't out, but I'm fairly sure that the actual player projections aren't going to change much), we've got five major projection systems to build our roadmap for 2010 (please read this FanGraphs post by Dave Cameron before you start yelling at me about how unreliable projections are). The projections are fairly stable for both guys; each has one low outlier (MARCEL for LaRoche, ZiPS for Milledge), but beyond that everything is really pretty close. Here's what we have in terms of triple slash lines:
- PECOTA (beta)- .247/.344/.392
- CHONE- .259/.343/.408
- MARCEL- .245/.328/.380
- Bill James- .254/.338/.402
- ZiPS- .260/.345/.399
- PECOTA (beta)- .272/.343/.412
- CHONE- .284/.343/.423
- MARCEL- .278/.340/.418
- Bill James- .283/.340/.413
- ZiPS- .272/.329/.398
For this week's poll, I wanted to make it a discussion point. Which of these two guys is most likely to exceed these numbers? They both have reasons they might do it; Milledge battled a wrist injury that sapped much of his power last year and LaRoche took a big step forward after an abysmal start to his career in 2007 and 2008 while ending 2009 on a huge tear. Both are young enough (Milledge will be 25 in April, LaRoche turned 26 in September) that there's room for improvement.
So which one is more likely to exceed expectations in 2010? Why? Vote in the left sidebar, explain your vote in the comments.