I’ve noticed that my projection system, available at baseballprojection.com, has the lowest forecast for the new right fielder in Atlanta. I have him projected to hit a pedestrian 258/324/416. First of all, it doesn’t bother me after having the lowest 2009 projection for Matt Wieters (274/352/439) when other projection systems were filling out his HOF ballot. He wound up hitting 288/340/412. But I must point out that this low projection for his age 20 rookie season does not mean I don’t think he’s destined for greatness. Running the multi-year forecast for him, I have a 299/377/503 projection for his age 23 season, and a peak projection at 27 of 313/400/536. This is just a midpoint, at 6’5 and 240 pounds he could become a great power hitter, maybe the next Ken Griffey Jr., but we don’t know that, he could wind up just another Ruben Sierra.
Even if he isn’t a great player this year, players who can play in the big leagues at age 20 are much more likely to be great players. Here are the age 20 seasons of a few other greats or potential greats:
Hank Aaron 280/322/447
Willie Mays 274/356/472
Justin Upton 250/353/463
Mickey Mantle and Griffey Junior debuted at age 19, their first season against big league pitchers were similar:
The projection says I’m not ready to put him ahead of guys like that. You never know though, Ted Williams, Al Kaline, and Frank Robinson debuted at age 20, and were superstars from day 1.