2012 projection: Montero will out-homer A-Rod

Send your cards and letters to Dan Szymborski, not me. Dan is a regular contributor to ESPN Insider who has been projecting the performance of major league ballplayers for the past decade, with a sometimes astonishing degree of success, and from time to time this off-season I will be examining his projections for the 2012 Yankee season.

If you're the type who must skip ahead to the last page, you can read all of his Yankees projections for 2012 here.

Dan's methodology combines the use of algorithms with comparisons of some 29,000 past and present major leaguers. As he says, "It's a guess, but an educated guess. It actually works similar to how hurricane forecasting works.''

Dan compared Hurricane Jesus -- that's Jesus Montero, by the way -- to former major-league catchers such as Mike Piazza, Javy Lopez, Matt Nokes, Mike Sweeney and Ramon Hernandez, among others, and came up with the following numbers for his 2012 season, assuming, of course, he makes the roster and plays a full year:

--156 games played, 27 home runs, 93 RBI, a .271 BA, .333 OBP and .476 SLG.

By comparison, here is his 2012 projection for Alex Rodriguez: 21-82-.264, .350 OBP, .474 SLG.

But the most telling stat is this one: The system projects A-Rod will play just 108 games next season, evidence of his age (he will be 37 on July 27) and failing health.

"Sadly, Alex appears to be in decline,'' he said.

Dan acknowledges his system is not perfect; last season, he almost hit Derek Jeter's 2011 numbers on the nose -- his system projected Jeter at .280-.347-.393, and the real numbers were .297-.355-.388 -- but came in a bit low on Curtis Granderson (projected: .261-.338-.494, 28 HRs, 75 RBI; real: .262-.364.552, 41-119), probably because no system, no matter how sophisticated, can be expected to predict the effect of drinking snake's blood.

The Montero projection should come as a pleasant surprise to Yankees fans, based as it is on an 18-game sample in which the 22-year-old hit .328 with 4 HRs and 12 RBI, but Szymborski is not alone in his optimism; the Bill James projection for Montero's 2012 calls for 26-83-.289. James also projects A-Rod at 29-86-.277 in 136 games.