WTNYNovember 17, 2003
Looking to 2004
By Bryan Smith

What's up, hope y'all had a good weekend. Christian Ruzich has started a transaction blog, and analyzed the A.J. Pierzynski trade just like I did Saturday. Go visit www.all-baseball.com and say hi.

In a recent Peter Gammons column, Peter notes a few projections, in which players have either positive or negative statistical trends. I've always found this to be a good method, so much of this week will deal with that. I have put together OPS numbers of each of the last three seasons, and we'll see which players have three straight seasons with numbers going up or down.

Today, we begin with the NL East...

Atlanta Braves
Javy Lopez- 747, 641, 1065- Had breakout this season; decrease next year
Rob Fick- 815, 764, 753- 3 years down in a row? I wouldn't sign him
Marcus Giles- 768, 714, 916- Probably won't reach .916 next season
Rafeal Furcal- 691, 710, 795- Three straight years up, but can he top .800
Vinny Castilla- 775, 616, 771- Too wishy-washy to spend money on
Chipper Jones- 1032, 971, 919- Down three years in a row, but won't be worse
Andruw Jones- 773, 878, 851- Is an .850-type player
Gary Sheffield- 1000, 916, 1023- Nothing indicative, a .950-1.000 player

Florida Marlins
Ivan Rodriguez- 888, 895, 843- My guess? Will be worse than .843 in 2004
Derrek Lee- 820, 872, 887- Three up in a row, big breakout next season
Luis Castillo- 685, 725, 778- Three up, but can't top .778
Alex Gonzalez- 680, 621, 756- Breakout this season, probably a .700-type
Mike Lowell- 788, 817, 880- Yes, he can top .900 next season
Jeff Conine- 829, 755, 793- Up and down, but he'll be .750-.800
Juan Pierre- 793, 675, 734- OPS doesn't matter to this speedster
Juan Encarnacion- 700, 775, 759- Will be less than .759 but more than .700

Philadelphia Phillies
Mike Lieberthal- 663, 792, 826- Three up, little up for .826 is reasonable
Jim Thome- 1040, 1122, 958- Nothing indicative, maybe up next year?
Placido Polanco- 765, 735, 799- Will always be somewhere in between
Jimmy Rollins- 742, 686, 707- Like Christian Guzman, very overrated
Pat Burrell- 815, 920, 713- I would expect about .800-.850 in 2004
Bob Abreu- 936, 934, 877- Down three straight, but won't go too far down

Montreal Expos
Jose Vidro- 857, 868, 867- Really consistent, no drastic changes foreseen
Orlando Cabrera- 752, 701, 807- Will either really breakout or be .750
Brad Wilkerson- 629, 839, 844- One of my definite 2004 breakout picks
Vladimir Guerrero- 943, 1010, 1012- Three up, maybe big 2004?

New York Mets
Mike Piazza- 957, 903, 860- Three down, maybe age catching up?
Cliff Floyd- 968, 921, 894- Three down, maybe age catching up?
Timo Perez- 643, 768, 665- Closer to latter than .768
Roger Cedeno- 733, 664, 698- Right around .700, terrible

OK, let's recap. Here are the players I listed who have had three straight seasons with OPS numbers going up:

Rafael Furcal- SS- Atlanta
Derrek Lee- 1B- Florida
Luis Castillo- 2B- Free Agent
Mike Lowell- 3B- Florida
Mike Lieberthal- C- Philadelphia
Brad Wilkerson- OF- Montreal
Vladimir Guerrero- OF- Free Agent

OK, and now those with three straight down years?

Robert Fick- 1B- Free Agent
Chipper Jones- OF- Atlanta
Bobby Abreu- OF- Philadelphia
Mike Piazza- C- New York
Cliff Floyd- OF- New York

Wow, some big names. Of that, I think we'll see these numbers run true for Derrek Lee, Mike Lowell, Brad Wilkerson, and maybe Mike Lieberthal. Fick, Piazza, and maybe Floyd should have bad 2004s. I'll be back tomorrow...