Indians 2014 preview and predictions: Ryan Raburn

Ryan Raburn - Jason Miller

The Indians had a lot of pleasant surprises in 2013 but Ryan Raburn might have been the biggest of them all. What can we expect from the 32 year-old slugger this year?

This post is part of a contest in which you could win a free Let's Go Tribe t-shirt. In order to enter, just copy and paste the template at the bottom of this post into the comments, then fill in each category with your own prediction for how this player will do in 2014. Position players and pitchers will be featured as two separate contests. You need not submit predictions for every single player in either contest in order to win, but doing so will increase your chances, as points will be awarded separately for each player.

For position players, you'll be asked to predict each player's plate appearances (PA), home runs (HR), stolen bases (SB), batting average (BA), on-base percentage (OBP), and slugging percentage (SLG).

Find every previous entry in the series here.

The comments on each post in this series will remain open through Saturday, March 29.

Ryan Raburn

2013 Recap

Ryan Raburn was nothing short of a revelation in 2013. After a 2012 campaign that saw him struggle enormously (.171 batting average in 66 games with the Tigers), the Indians took a chance on Raburn and offered him a minor league invitation to spring training. Ryan made the most of the opportunity, transforming himself from a spare part on the bench into a key member of the Tribe offense. Raburn hit 16 home runs last year, the 4th highest total on the team, and did so in half as many at-bats as the three guys above him. He spent nearly the entire year sharing right field duties with Drew Stubbs, and was rarely used in the infield like he was in his Detroit days (he played just 2 games at second base for the Tribe). Versatility comes naturally to Raburn though, highlighted by his superb pitching performance against his old team, setting down the Tigers 1-2-3 in the 9th inning on August 8th. Here it is again for old time's sake:

Recent Stats

Year Age Tm Lg G PA H 2B 3B HR SB BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS OPS+
2011 30 DET AL 121 418 99 22 2 14 1 21 114 .256 .297 .432 .729 96
2012 31 DET AL 66 222 35 14 0 1 1 13 53 .171 .226 .254 .480 29
2013 32 CLE AL 87 277 66 18 0 16 0 29 67 .272 .357 .543 .901 153

Provided by Baseball-Reference.com

2014 Preview and Projections

Raburn is set to perform a similar role for the Tribe as he did last year, providing pop off the bench and platooning in right field, this time with new signing David Murphy instead of Stubbs. Murphy is likely to see the bulk of playing time but Raburn will still get his opportunities. His fine work last year built up a lot of trust between himself and Terry Francona, so the skipper is sure to find some way of getting Raburn's bat in the lineup. The Indians have even more infield depth now than they did a year ago, especially since acquiring Justin Sellers, so Raburn probably won't be using his infielders glove very much this season, just like 2013.

Here are a variety of projections for Raburn's 2014 season, all of which are available on his player page at Fangraphs, where you can find more detail, if you're so inclined:

System PA HR SB BA OBP SLG
Steamer 365 12 2 .239 .302 .407
Oliver 600 21 1 .236 .309 .413
ZiPS 317 11 1 .233 .297 .418

My Two Cents

Oliver seems to project every player at 600 plate appearances so needs to be taken with a pinch of salt, as it's highly unlikely Raburn will get that many at-bats. However, though more realistic, the Steamer and ZiPS projections feel incredibly bearish to me. They both predict Raburn to see a rise in plate appearances from last year but they also expect Raburn's output to drop significantly, especially his OBP and batting average. Though some regression is to be expected (Raburn will be 32 by April 17th and doesn't have a history of consistency) I don't feel like his production will drop off that much. Call me a fanboy but Raburn really endeared himself to me last season and I'll always root for an underdog. Mark me down for 350 plate appearances, a .258/.330/.450 line, 15 home runs and 1 stolen base.

Your Turn

You're welcome just to pull numbers out of thin air, but if you want to commute the rate stats more scientifically, here are some easy to use links that will help you with batting average, with on-base percentage, and with slugging percentage.

To submit your entry, simply copy-and-paste the text below into a new comment, then fill in your predictions:

  • PA:
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  • BA:
  • OBP:
  • SLG:
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