Tagged: Nelson Cruz

An impossibly hot stove and an embarrassingly long absence

The stove is hot, people. HOT! And as Every Time I Die once said: I been gone a long time. Sorry about that. I finished the first term of my last year of graduate school. It was probably the hardest one, and it should be smooth sailing from here on out.

I’m also pretty proud of a research paper I just completed regarding the probability of future success of minor leagues. The results are robust and I couldn’t be more pleased. It was a school project, so I didn’t have time to make it nearly as complex as I would have hoped, but it’s something I plan to further investigate in the coming days, weeks, months, what-have-you.

Anyway, there is plenty of news flying around as well as plenty of analysis. I’ll do my best to recap, but surely I’ll miss some things:

And I’m ignoring all the prospects involved as well. Marcus Semien, Austin Barnes, Jairo Diaz and others got shipped. I can only imagine a whole lot more action will be happening soon, as there still are teams with surpluses and deficits at all positions and some big-name free agents left on the market, including Max Scherzer and James Shields.

It is clear, however, that the Cubs  and Blue Jays intend to more than simply contend. I would say the Marlins intend to as well, but I don’t even think they know what they’re doing, let alone we do. The White Sox are looking like a trendy sleeper with some key pitching additions (LaRoche is also an addition, but far from what I would call a “key” one), but they are far from a championship team.

But with so much more yet to happen, maybe it’s best to wait and see. There are obviously some ballpark and team-skill implications that will affect all these players’ projections, but I’ll get around to those in 2015.

I’ve finished my preliminary set of pitcher projections. I’ll share them but they’ll see some refining by the time March rolls around.

I’m also looking at how my projections fared last year. That will come in the next couple of days.

Keep your ear to the ground, people. Or to the stove. Never mind. Terrible idea. You’ll burn yourself. Just keep it to the ground.

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2014 Rankings: Outfielders

Rankings based on 10-team standard 5×5 rotisserie format.

Name – R / RBI / HR / SB / BA

  1. Mike Trout – 119 / 91 / 31 / 39 / .320
  2. Ryan Braun – 98 / 103 / 30 / 28 / .308
  3. Andrew McCutchen – 102 / 90 / 23 / 27 / .298
  4. Adam Jones – 97 / 91 / 32 / 15 / .283
  5. Jose Bautista – 101 / 96 / 37 / 6 / .276
  6. Carlos Gonzalez – 92 / 86 / 24 / 20 / .299
  7. Matt Holliday – 95 / 97 / 24 / 5 / .300
  8. Carlos Gomez – 95 / 69 / 24 / 39 / .268
  9. Alex Rios – 91 / 82 / 21 / 28 / .284
  10. Hunter Pence – 88 / 99 / 23 / 14 / .275
  11. Jay Bruce – 86 / 101 / 33 / 8 / .253
  12. Jacoby Ellsbury – 84 / 56 / 13 / 45 / .286
  13. Justin Upton – 95 / 77 / 24 / 15 / .270
  14. Josh Hamilton – 79 / 92 / 28 / 8 / .272
  15. Austin Jackson – 105 / 53 / 16 / 13 / .292
  16. Alex Gordon – 90 / 76 / 19 / 12 /.281
  17. Shane Victorino – 91 / 62 / 16 / 26 / .278
  18. Yoenis Cespedes – 78 / 87 / 26 / 12 / .265
  19. Michael Cuddyer – 86 / 84 / 21 / 10 / .271
  20. Giancarlo Stanton – 75 / 85 / 31 / 5 / .259
  21. Bryce Harper – 88 / 60 / 21 / 15 / .273
  22. Yasiel Puig – 91 / 73 / 19 / 16 / .256
  23. Carlos Beltran – 75 / 80 / 22 / 3 / .286
  24. Torii Hunter – 79 / 83 / 17 / 6 / .283
  25. Curtis Granderson – 81 / 63 / 32 / 15 / .250
  26. Jayson Werth – 68 / 62 / 23 / 13 / .298
  27. Starling Marte – 89 / 51 / 14 / 43 / .249
  28. Adam Eaton – 98 / 45 / 10 / 29 / .274
  29. Norichika Aoki – 87 / 47 / 11 / 25 / .289
  30. Matt Kemp – 70 / 68 / 20 / 13 / .294
  31. Jason Heyward – 82 / 65 / 25 / 11 / .263
  32. Melky Cabrera – 77 / 66 / 14 / 11 / .297
  33. Michael Bourn – 94 / 52 / 7 / 31 / .269
  34. Alfonso Soriano – 72 / 99 / 27 / 7 / .241
  35. Carl Crawford – 81 / 62 / 12 / 20 / .284
  36. Shin-Soo Choo – 77 / 66 / 17 / 19 / .272
  37. Nelson Cruz – 66 / 81 / 25 / 10 / .267
  38. Coco Crisp – 84 / 59 / 11 / 29 / .264
  39. Wil Myers – 82 / 86 / 17 / 8 / .258
  40. Nick Markakis – 83 / 75 / 13 / 1 / .281
  41. Khris Davis – 74 / 74 / 23 / 8 / .254
  42. Desmond Jennings – 87 / 51 / 14 / 26 / .255
  43. Rajai Davis – 68 / 44 / 8 / 47 / .267
  44. Billy Hamilton – 77 / 39 / 2 / 68 / .241
  45. Brett Gardner – 92 / 48 / 7 / 27 / .263
  46. Justin Ruggiano – 63 / 63 / 22 / 18 / .253
  47. Angel Pagan – 70 / 51 / 8 / 22 / .285
  48. Domonic Brown – 68 / 79 / 19 / 6 / .251
  49. Michael Brantley – 66 / 59 / 8 / 17 / .285
  50. B.J. Upton – 72 / 60 / 15 / 27 / .224
  51. Christian Yelich – 80 / 53 / 11 / 21 / .246
  52. Josh Reddick – 71 / 66 / 19 / 8 / .240
  53. Will Venable – 61 / 51 / 12 / 24 / .265
  54. Josh Willingham – 67 / 77 / 21 / 3 / .237
  55. Andre Ethier – 60 / 64 / 15 / 3 / .281
  56. Dayan Viciedo – 61 / 68 / 21 / 0 / .264
  57. Colby Rasmus – 75 / 63 / 19 / 4 / .244
  58. Corey Hart – 64 / 61 / 16 / 3 / .272
  59. Kole Calhoun – 61 / 65 / 16 / 5 / .269
  60. Gerardo Parra – 66 / 51 / 10 / 10 / .281

Thoughts, lots of ’em:

  • Full disclosure: I have NO IDEA what to do for Billy Hamilton. I did a brief bit of research to see how a player’s stolen base trend changed throughout the minorsand  into the majors, and for the most part, a player still attempts to steal at about the same frequency in the majors as he did in Triple-A. As for Hamilton’s on-base percentage, that’s the million-dollar question. He’s a game-changer, but I don’t know if he’s worth taking in the first five or six rounds, as I’ve clearly shown above.
  • Ryan Braun, folks. He’s being drafted 17th on average in ESPN mock drafts right now, but I don’t see how he won’t be a top-10 or possibly top-5 fantasy player by year’s end. On their Fantasy Focus podcast, Eric Karabell and Tristan Cockcroft argued about how many bases Braun will steal. My projection is lofty; Karabell is pretty negative about it, thinking closer to 15 swipes. Still, give him a mere 10 stolen bases and he’s still the game’s second-best outfielder. He’s a rich man’s Andrew McCutchen formerly on PEDs. So… not quite McCutchen, but you know.
  • Speaking of PEDs, it’s weird to see Melky Cabrera’s name on that list, yeah? A look at his peripherals last year shows he may have suffered some bad luck beyond any PED regression (if such a thing exists), including a horrid AB/RBI rate that’s all but out of Melky’s hands. I’ll give it another season before writing him off completely; we tend to have too short of memories when it comes to players in fantasy. He was solid for two years, and I’ll take a two-year trend over one. Considering he’s being drafted 52nd overall, I guess this officially makes him a sleeper.
  • CarGo is ranked uncharacteristically low, but my projection took the under on his games player. I maintain if he can play a full year, he’s actually a smidge better than Braun. If you’re cool with risk and can build a roster around the possibility that CarGo will be sidelined at any given moment, he’s worth the massive upside of staying healthy just once. Please, CarGo. For us.
  • Speaking of guys with built-in injury risks: Ellsbury, Stanton, Harper, Granderson, Werth. If you want to construct a risky, huge-upside team, make these guys your five outfielders. Don’t forget the Grandy Man hit more than 40 home runs in 2012 and 2013, and Stanton can hit 40 home runs with his eyes closed. He’s, what, 24 years old? That’s insane.
  • Touching on Harper again, I know he’s pretty low here. If he can play a full 162 or a close to it, he’s a 30/20 guy who will crack the top 10. I think the MVP talk can be put to rest before the season starts, though.
  • Wait, guys — WHAT? Jose Bautista? Yeah, dude. He’s a monster and, like Granderson, he still has huge power. It never left, and he was on pace for big things last year before it got derailed. Take a leap of faith. One of these guys has to stay healthy this year, right?
  • Puig will naturally be a topic of discussion all year. I paid careful attention to Puig’s projection; let me be very clear that I think this is his absolute floor. This is looking at huge regression in BAbip (batting average on balls in play) and HR/FB (home runs per fly ball). Honestly, he’s probably better than a .300-BAbip batter, and if the power and speed is real, this is a huge undervalue. I’m well aware that every other projection has him snugly in the top 30 or so players, so this is likely falling on deaf ears.
  • I wrote about Cruz’s immense power potential that is perpetually muted by his inability to stay on the field. You know what’s super interesting? He’ll likely be used in some weird rotation with Nolan Reimold and Henry Urrutia all at left field and the designated hitter, with him seeing the lion’s share of at-bats at DH — all but removing his injury risk. Give him another 150 at-bats and he’ll gladly reward you with eight to 10 bombs. Now, to remove that PED risk, too.
  • Khris “Krush” Davis is interesting because it’s hard to tell if his power is super-for-real or just regular for-real. Like Puig, I think this is more of a floor projection — and that’s saying a lot. The strikeouts might be a problem, but if you’re drafting him for his batting average, you’re not doing it right.
  • Yelich at No. 51 was really interesting to me. He’s a sneaky speed guy with something like a 15-homer, 25-steal upside and a solid batting average, making him a must-draft outfielder. If only there were Marlins on base for him to knock in…
  • Honorable mentions for cheap power Raul Ibanez and Mike Morse
    Honorable mentions for cheap speed: Leonys Martin and Ben Revere. I actually like Martin a lot more than his lack of projection here indicates. He’s got pop, and a full season in the Texas Rangers’ outfield makes him 100-percent draftworthy.
  • P.S. I don’t have much faith in Marlon Byrd. But take a chance on him if you want.

Nelson Cruz’s fantasy value, regardless of his team

Rarely do you hear the term “upside” used for players entering their age-33 seasons, but hear me out: Nelson Cruz has upside.

Reason #1: He’ll likely come at a PEDs discount. Is this reasonable? Sure. Rational? Not entirely. It’s hard to say how much performance enhancing drugs has affected Cruz’s performance as a hitter, but there’s no denying he’s a monster. I think people run for the hills when they hear “PEDs,” but it’s simply too difficult to prove how much PEDs affects players. Feel free to disagree; the point of the matter is Cruz could fall in drafts because of Biogenesis.

Reason #2: If he makes it through a full season, he is capable of hitting 35 to 40 home runs. Of course, there’s a lot riding on the “if” portion of that claim, and detractors will be quick to note that Cruz hit only 24 home runs in his only full, healthy season as a Ranger. In that season, however, he posted his lowest HR/FB of his career. In every other almost-full season, he has hit home runs at full-season paces of 33, 37, 40 and 42. That’s an average of 38 home runs per year. So: imagine if he stays healthy.

ESPN projects Cruz to hit 26 home runs (they have him ranked No. 41) — and that’s reasonable, because the dude always get injured (or suspended). Still, injury woes can’t hold back the love for Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez and Cruz are in completely different leagues in regard to talent, but the point still stands: If CarGo can make it through a full season uninjured, he is the second-best player in baseball behind Mike Trout. The same goes for Cruz. People only expect him to play 110 games, but if he can play a full 162 (or close to it), he could threaten 40.

I think that’s worthy of a bit of a premium, especially if guys like Alfonso Soriano (ESPN No. 38 OF) and Curtis Granderson (ESPN No. 40 OF) are expected to go off the board before Cruz but essentially put up the same stats as him in a full season.

Not everyone needs a player like Cruz, but if you’re looking for consistent power with upside at a possible discount, Cruz is your man. I hadn’t considered targeting him until now, but after signing a very disappointing contract with the Baltimore Orioles, he may have something to prove this year. I’ll gladly be the owner to benefit from that.