As the calendar changes, so to does the theme of the analysis of the Orioles. This post will be the first of many to take a shot at predicting production from the various players on the team in 2013.
The first of this series will focus on one of the newest Orioles, Alexi Casilla. Casilla was signed as an international free agent by the Angels in 2003, and ultimately traded to Minnesota for pitcher J.C. Romero in 2006. Casilla would make his MLB debut later that season. Since that MLB debut though, Casilla has bounced between MLB and the minor leagues, splitting time in four of the seven seasons he spent in Minnesota.
The biggest question when it comes to judging Casilla’s bat is how much he’ll play. The Orioles have a bunch of players who could realistically see playing time at second base this season. They are (in no particular order):
For what it’s worth, the Orioles list their depth chart on their website in the following order: Flaherty, Roberts, Casilla. Additionally Schoop likely won’t see MLB time until late in the summer, if at all in 2013.
That leaves the aforementioned Flaherty, Roberts, Casilla trio to hold down the position next season.
Casilla’s best season with the bat was arguably 2010, where he managed to post a wRC of 99 (100 being average) on the back of a .331 OBP. Casilla generally puts the ball in play fairly well, although one huge concern should be his diverging walk and strikeout rates. Interestingly, Casilla hit for less power last years (when it comes to Isolated power at least) despite hitting more line drives than ever before in his career. Last season Casilla posted a BABIP equal to his career average, so it seems that his ability to square up the ball more did not result in more base hits either.
Much of Casilla’s value has been in his defense and baserunning. While his defense at SS was questionable, he’s clearly a solid defender at second base, and has added value with his baserunning every year since his rookie season. That said, there’s no telling how much he’ll see the field. Ironically, UZR (*small sample size warning) views Flaherty as the superior defender, so even Casilla’s value on defense might not be incredibly useful to the O’s.
As such, the projected stats I have for Casilla in 2013 are below, a result of the competition he has at the position, and his move from the AL Central to the AL East. I’ve included Bill James’ projections for reference.