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Who Will Be The 2017 Statistical Leaders?

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It feels like spring in Chicago where I live, and, more importantly, it feels like spring in Arizona and Florida where Spring Training is underway. Now that the majority of the offseason moves are behind us and Opening Day is just over a month away, it is time for our annual spring update of the Bill James Projections. The full updates are now available for download, but here’s a sneak peek of projected statistical leaders among hitters and pitchers.

First, here are the projected hitting leaders:

Projected Hitting Stat Leaders, 2017
Stat Player Projected Total
AVG Jose Altuve .319

Mookie Betts .317

Miguel Cabrera .316
HR Kris Bryant 42

Giancarlo Stanton 39

Chris Davis 39
RBI Nolan Arenado 115

Miguel Cabrera 114

Edwin Encarnacion 112
Runs Mike Trout 125

Kris Bryant 124

Mookie Betts 121

Mookie Betts’ breakout 2016 season landed him in the top three in projected batting average and runs, but he fell short of a couple of mainstays in those categories: Jose Altuve and Mike Trout. Betts is just 24 years old, and while Trout, Kris Bryant, and Nolan Arenado may seem like established veteran stars, all three are still just 25 years old. Baseball is enjoying an incredible period of young star players.

Next, here are the projected pitching leaders:

Projected Pitching Stat Leaders, 2017
Stat Player Projected Total
Wins Clayton Kershaw 20

Jake Arrieta 17

Max Scherzer 17
Saves Mark Melancon 51

Kenley Jansen 48

Jeurys Familia 45
ERA Clayton Kershaw 2.15

Jake Arrieta 2.90

Max Scherzer 2.99
K Clayton Kershaw 257

Max Scherzer 249

Chris Sale 248

I feel like a broken record because, at this time last year, I was telling you the same thing: Clayton Kershaw is projected to lead all of baseball in wins, ERA, and strikeouts. Last season, Kershaw threw fewer than 198 innings for the first time in seven seasons because of a herniated disc in his back, but his accomplishments in just 21 starts and 149 innings continued to tell the tale of his greatness. He threw 79 fewer innings than perhaps the closest competitor to him, Max Scherzer, but still beat him (and every other pitcher in baseball) in FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 6.5.

The saves leaders are all usual suspects as well, but Mark Melancon is set to ply his trade for a new club in the Giants this season. They will no doubt be happy to have him to stabilize a bullpen that finished 22nd in reliever WAR and whose retained reliever with the most saves from 2016 is Hunter Strickland with only three.

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