2011 Orioles Projections: JJ Hardy

The initial team projections are posted here. A more thorough walkthrough of how I put the individual ones together is in the Matt Wieters post here. The components I’m looking for are playing time (plate appearances), batting line (BA/OBP/SLG), and fielding.

Today we’re looking at the Orioles’ new shortstop; JJ Hardy.

Playing Time:

After two years of ~635 PA, Hardy got to 465 in the majors his last year with the Brewers due largely to poor performance (he added 74 in the minors). Last year for the Twins, Hardy missed time with a wrist injury and only accumulated 375 PA. Hopefully that issue won’t recur, but I wouldn’t feel comfortable expecting more than 525 PA for 2011.

Batting:

Hardy increased his walk rate in this last three years in the NL (6.3%, 8.3%, 9.2%) before seeing that drop off to 7.5% in 2010. His career rate (8.1%) matches up pretty closely with the weighted average of the last three years (8.3%). I’m going with an improvement over 2010 but a tick below his career numbers; 8%.

His strike-out rate has bounced around a little more, with a career rate of 15.8% and a weighted three-year average a couple points higher at 17.8%. Going with 17% might be a little low, but Hardy’s highest mark in a full season outside his disastrous 2009 season was 17.2% in 2008.

Hardy’s been a groundball hitter most years, and his home run per flyball rate has been falling off after being above average for a couple seasons. That’s left his recent average (8.7%) a fair bit below his career rate (10.6%). There’s some reason to think it’ll bounce back moving from Minnesota to Baltimore, and I’m somewhat optimistic about him; projecting 9.5%. That would results in 14 home runs, which is solid for a shortstop but not near the 25 home runs power he displayed a few years ago.

Except for 2008, Hardy has posted a below average BABIP every season, bottoming out in the .260 area. His career BABIP is just .281 – the 13th lowest mark in the majors from 2005 to 2010 for players with at least 2,500 PA – but his expected BABIP has been in the in .290-.300 range most years. I’m looking for 2011 to be, more or less, his career rate regressed half-way to league average; say, .290. I wouldn’t be surprised if it came in a fair bit lower, but that seems like a decent middle ground. That would give Hardy 112 none home run hits, with 26 doubles and 2 triples.

So now we’ve got all the components. 126 hits in 483 at bats is a .261 batting average. Add 42 walks for a .320 on-base percentage. Slugging would be .410.

A .261/.320/.410 line would make Hardy around 6 runs below average with the bat in 2011.

Fielding:

Most metrics see Hardy as a very good defender; he’s hot a career +11 UZR/150, +10 DRS/150, and +7 Total Zone per 150. Fans aren’t quite as sanguine, at closer to +5 runs per 150 over the last two years (which generally have been lower with the other stats as well). As such, I’m going to go with the more conservative +5 for a full season. Hardy should be capable of putting up another Gold Glove caliber season though.

WAR:

Adding it up, Hardy would be at about 2.0 Wins Above Replacement in 2011. Given that Hardy’s set to make less than $6 M, the O’s should be getting some surplus value there (which I part of why I wanted the team to acquire him). If he stays healthy and bounces back better*, there’s a distinct possibility that Hardy could end up being the team’s best player next season – as well as the best shortstop in the AL.

* Say, .275/.340/.440 with +10 defense. That’s about 4 wins in 600 PA.

Let me know how you think JJ Hardy will do next year here.


Stats: BB% & K%, FB%, HR/FB%, BABIP, wRAA, UZR, DRS, Total Zone, Fan Scouting Report, WAR