Projecting 2010's total runs leaders

With Opening Day right around the corner, every baseball fan has a common set of questions on their mind: Which team will win the AL East? How good will Jason Heyward and Stephen Strasburg be? Who are the favorites for AL and NL MVP?

In The Fielding Bible – Volume II, we introduced Total Runs as a measure of a player’s overall value as a hitter and fielder. To measure a player’s projected offensive contributions, we use the Bill James Projections Update released on March 1. We add in Baseball Info Solutions’ projection of Runs Saved, which measures eight different components of defensive performance. Lastly, we include a positional adjustment based on the difficulty level of each position and the number of innings we project each to play. (For example, Joe Mauer plays the most difficult position on the field but also takes off days as the team’s designated hitter, so he doesn’t receive the full 42-run Positional Adjustment for catchers).

In no surprise, we project Albert Pujols to be the most valuable player in baseball in 2010, with 194 Projected Total Runs. Chase Utley’s excellent defense at a premium position (2B) will make him one of the top commodities in baseball again in 2010.

Over in the American League, we’re projecting Evan Longoria to reach an elite level this year, pushing past 2009 MVP Joe Mauer as the top player in the junior circuit. His Silver Slugger bat and Gold Glove defense at third base will make him an MVP contender in 2010 and beyond.