For the past week I've been devouring the new Baseball Prospectus volume. I've never used it as a resource before, but it seems as well-researched and analytical as any available fantasy aid, which makes it ideal for projecting 2006 stats. I especially like the idea that it's projections are compiled "scientifically", with many factors mathematically computed to reach the most accurate numbers. It certainly is interesting and now that I understand some of the alternative stats, there's certainly a lot of information to consider.

However, it seems that the projected stats are almost universally low; many, many players (even ones that have a very positive scouting report underneath) seem to have diminished production projected for the upcoming season.

For example, Dan Haren is hailed as "a breakout candidate." However, his ERA is projected to jump from 3.73 to 3.93, his WHIP from 1.22 to 1.26 and his wins to drop from 14 to 12. Sounds more like regression than breakout to me. John Lackey is also touted as "a sleeper Cy Young candidate", but his win, inning, strikeout, and ERA numbers are all projected to be worse than last year. This doesn't seem to make sense to me.

Other major head-scratchers that I've come across include Johnny Damon projected to score just 93 runs atop the Yankees lineup. It seems to me that he would have to score at least 100 with his eyes closed, considering the boppers behind him.

Hideki Matsui is projected to drive in just 92 runs after posting RBI numbers of 106, 108, and 116 in the past three years?

David Wright is projected to see regression in his runs scored, RBI, and batting average numbers. Same with Jhonny Peralta and Mark Teixera (who is expected to lose 30 RBIs from last season). That seems odd, considering these guys are all young, getting better, and playing in terrific lineups.

Victor Martinez:

Last season: 73 runs, 20 HRs, 80 RBIs, and .305 (despite a horrible start)

vs.

BP projections: 66 runs, 17 HRs, 79 RBIS, and .277

Chase Utley:

Last season: 93 runs, 28 HRs, 105 RBIS, and .291 (despite not starting until mid-May)

vs.

BP projections: 82 runs, 24 HRs, 81 RBIs, and .280

Vladimir Guerrero

Last season: 95 runs, 32 HRs, 108 RBIs, and .317 (despite significant health problems)

vs.

BP projections: 84 runs, 29 HRS, 103 RBIs, and .314

I can't think of three players, all of whom had extended struggles for various reasons (slump, platoon status, and injuries respectively), who are more likely to improve on their stats from last year. Yet all of them are projected to go down--in some cases, by a lot. What reason is there to believe that VMart will hit a career low in RBIs this year? Why should Chase Utley lose 24 RBIs, even though--unlike last year--he will be the uncontested starter at 2B from day one?

Players expected to go down in RBIs include:

Teixera (by 30)

Cantu (by 27)

Manny (by 26)

Matsui (by 24)

Kent (by 22)

Floyd (by 21)

Ortiz (by 18)

Crawford (by 16)

Delgado (by 15)

...and these are just some of the more dramatic ones. It should be noted that improvements of 15 to 30 RBIs are nonexistant.

For pitchers, strikeout numbers are expected to drop for everyone from Santana to Pedro to Brad Lidge.

Is it just me, or do these numbers seem screwy and overly conservative? Makes me question all the projections. Some input would be appreciated.