The last thing the baseballblogosphere needs is another cleverly-named projection system for players. And that's exactly why we at Walkoff Walk decided to add our collective voice to the statistical noise: we're just a bunch of jerks. Introducing the first-ever player projection forecasting system that dispenses with the OBPs and the FIPs, instead deciding to group every single player by age and write something mildly interesting about them. We call it BONILLA, or Based On Nothing Interesting, Let's Look At Age.
Inspired partly by the Nate Silver's PECOTA projection system, Sean Smith's CHONE, Tango Tiger's Marcel, and of course Free Darko's Every Player Preview from 2007, we won't necessarily try to predict how your favorite player will perform, nor will we give you any sort of fantasy baseball insight. Think of these short previews as more of a reflection on the past and a hopeful look towards the future; we're all baseball fans at Walkoff Walk and we want to see everyone shine, baby.
Today, in no particular order, we look at players born in 1984:
B.J. Upton, CF: Probably the breakout star in the 2008 postseason. Give this dude back the hundred points of SLG he lost between 07 and 08 and you got a superstar.
Scott Kazmir, SP: True story: Sufjan Stevens is doing an album titled Florida and the first track will be called "Kazmir Pitches Today".
Jonathan Broxton, RP: Georgia's own Jonathan Broxton is nicknamed "Johnny Double-D" by Dodger fans for his ability to consume twelve Dodger Dogs in a sitting. He's a big boy!
Josh Johnson, SP: Fully recovered now from his Girardi-induced Tommy John surgery, Johnson put together a tidy 7-1 record in the second half of 2008. Possibly third-best athlete named Josh.
Scott Olsen, SP: Born less than 20 days apart from rotation-mate Josh Johnson, they'll likely co-celebrate their birthdays this month at the Bradenton, FL Hooters restaurant with a double-size bucket of oysters.
Jeff Francouer, RF: Can't hit the broad side of the barn with any of Chipper Jones' hunting rifles. Another sub-.300 OBP in 2009 and he might be headed back to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans.
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B: Part of the solution in Warshington or part of the problem? Hasn't improved much since his rookie season.
Jeremy Hermida, RF: Probably expendable and most likely on the trading block. 'Hermida' is from the Greek root 'hermes' meaning 'overpriced leather goods'.
Joel Zumaya, RP: Beat "Through the Flames and Fire" on expert level in Guitar Hero but still can't master the split-finger fastball.
Anibal Sanchez, SP: Can't ride that no-hitter train forever, Anibal. Is every Marlins starting pitcher turning 25 this year? The entire rotation is on the verge of a quarter life crisis.
Matt Kemp, CF: Nicknamed "The Bison", Kemp benefited from Joe Torre's (somewhat late) realization that Juan Pierre should not be paid money to be a starting centerfielder. The Dodgers have a nice group of 25 year olds.
Jon Lester, SP: The Red Sox, on the other hand, skew a little older. Still, Lester might be the best young pitcher in the majors. Beat cancer. Beat Jason Bay in Red Sox shuffleboard tournament.
Troy Tulowitzki, SS: I totally predicted Tulowitzki's sophomore slump, despite the fact that I made a pre-season fantasy baseball trade for him, giving up Scott Kazmir. Oh, and he did NOT win the Rookie of the Year award.
Ubaldo Jimenez, SP: Despite allowing over 100 walks in less than 200 innings pitched, this dude might challenge Aaron Cook for the role of ace in the Rockies rotation next year. Rich Lederer loves the kid.
Alex Gordon, 3B: Along with Billy Butler, he's very popular in Kansas City because he is young and cherubic. Another jump in OBP in 2009 and he'll be Rob Neyer's wet dream.
Joe Smith, RP: Wait, who the heck is Joe Smith? If you followed the Mets in '08, you know him as the most consistent bullpen arm. Only two blown saves!
Brandon Morrow, RP: Some exuberant Mariners fan sponsored Brandon's Baseball Reference page with the simple phrase "Brandon Morrow is super awesome". Keep the faith, AngelicaM!
Joakim Soria, RP: Good news, Royals fans! You have a fastball-wielding shutdown closer! Bad news, Royals fans! His set-up man in '09 is Kyle Farnsworth!
Tim Lincecum, SP: I'm not going out on a limb when I dub him the Most Talented Baseball Player Born in 1984. He's made of magic! And ligaments!
Kevin Slowey, SP: With a name like that, you'd expect him to be the second coming of Steve Trachsel. Not so! Slowey likes to speed the game up so he can get home in time for the 11PM syndicated episode of "Raymond".
Chase Headley, LF: Had a cup of coffee in 2007 but Kris and I witnessed his 2008 debut at Yankee Stadium. He made an error, just like Kris did getting the supersized cheese fries.
Jo-Jo Reyes, SP: Will probably get 20 more chances to start in a slight Atlanta rotation, which means 20 more chances for us to snicker at the fact that a pro player is named Jo-Jo.
Jensen Lewis, RP: Did a fine, fine job closing out games for the Indians towards the end of 2008. Is secretly hoping the Great Kerry Wood Experiment ends exactly how we all expect it to: in flllllllllames.
John Lannan, SP: Is the least popular non-Met pitcher in Philly because his fastball broke Chase Utley's hand in 2007. His own Washington fans at least honor him with apathy.
Ian Kennedy, SP: With a last name like that, you might as well try politics. This whole baseball thing is a tough sport.
Denard Span, RF: Had Lasik surgery prior to the 2008 season; it paid off with a .387 OBP. Now if he could only convince Joe Mauer to get a sideburn-ectomy and the Twins will be ready to challenge the AL Central again.
Max Scherzer, SP: Was hot-hot-hot when he was called up in late April, but went 0-4 because the Diamondbacks had an offense less powerful than nine dead retarded monkeys from May forward. Nice fastball.
Matt Joyce, RF: Should be the first choice in right field for the Rays in '09. He's got power and grace in the field but not much patience at the plate. He's the white Corey Patterson.
Jose Arredondo, RP: Say his name aloud. Go ahead. Roll the R's and linger on the "don" syllable. Now doesn't that sound like the name of the guy you want closing games for the Angels, Senor Moreno?
Max Ramirez, C: He's probably just the second best among Texas' collection of 239 catchers, behind Taylor Teagarden. Was once traded for Bob Wickman, and once traded for Kenny Lofton, and may soon be traded again for another washed-up former Indians player.
Kila Ka'aihue, 1B: Might be the best young hitter in the Kansas City organization, which means he'll either waste away on the bench or break the all-time homer record for another team. Has a younger brother named Kala...really.
Josh Outman, SP: With a name like Josh Outman, you'd expect him to get some outs, man.
Thanks also to Sean Lahman for his invaluable database.