BP sees bouncebacks from Pedroia, Lester

PORT CHARLOTTE, Fla. -- The stat analysts at Baseball Prospectus, who have devised their own system to project future player performance, have identified Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia and pitcher Jon Lester among the 5 position players and pitchers around baseball they expect to make the biggest improvements this season (Insider).

Baseball Prospectus employs a system they call PECOTA, which stands for Player Empirical Comparison and Optimization Test Algorithm. It projects player performance based on comparison with historical player-seasons. To learn more about the system, go to the Prospectus website.

Here’s what Prospectus author Ben Lindbergh says about Pedroia and Lester, and he throws in a positive mention of Clay Buchholz as well.

Dustin Pedroia

2012 WARP (623 PA): 1.7

2013 WARP (667 PA): 4.3

Projected WARP improvement: 2.6

Pedroia had a down year due to injury, but unlike the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, he was able to play through most of his problems, sabotaging his stats in the process. Boston’s second baseman hurt his thumb early in May and played hurt through July 3, when he hit the DL. He batted.250/.319/.363 over that injury-affected span and a combined .313/.365/.501 before and after it, finishing strong down the stretch. PECOTA expects that late-season success to continue into 2013, producing another prime Pedroia season.

Pedroia, who hit his first spring home run Monday, was told of the projection.

"That's nice,'' he said. "Tell them thanks.''

Jon Lester

2012 WARP (205.3 IP): 1.1

Projected 2013 WARP (195.3 IP): 3.5

Projected WARP improvement: 2.4

Lester struck out roughly 10 batters per nine innings in more than 400 innings from 2009-2010, but a lat strain and extended mechanical struggles have caused his strikeout rate to suffer since. PECOTA projects a partial recovery in 2013, including a return to his 2011 strikeout rate. Lester is healthy, by all accounts, and he still throws very hard for a lefty, so it’s plausible that he could round back into form, especially with former pitching coach John Farrell once more keeping a close eye on his delivery (not that PECOTA knows about that). In more good news for the Red Sox rotation, PECOTA projects Clay Buchholz to rebound from a replacement-level 2012 and be worth 2.0 WARP.