Reader Requests: Hitter Seasons Analyzed, Part One

It’s time to analyze the hitters that you, the readers, have requested. This run will be at least two parts, if not three, so there’s still time to submit more players you want to see. As a reminder, it doesn’t have to be a player who had obvious half-season splits. Let’s get started!

Yoenis Cespedes

  •  At first glance, his BA has been all over the place. However, look at his half seasons and note that two were at the extremes of BABIP, one high and one low. The two that were near the MLB average resulted in a BA around .260, and that’s what you should expect from him going forward. He won’t hit .290 again without a lot of luck.
  • His HR/FB has held pretty steady in his MLB career, at 14-15%. What makes the difference in his HR total is his FB%, which has dropped in the second half both years. If he finds a way to maintain his first-half FB% all year, he’ll have no problem breaking 30 HR. His power is legit.
  • Depending on what site and measurement you use, his contact has risen, fallen, or stayed the same as 2012. That seems really odd, but there it is. I lean toward the decline due to his other red flags for plate discipline. His BB% fell some from last year, and it was particularly bad in the second half of 2013. His K% rose during the year, and it ended up higher than 2012. What’s more, his swinging strike percentage was higher in 2013 and was well above the league average. The A’s have made tons of pitching moves this offseason, but they haven’t brought in any more lineup protection for Cespedes, so I don’t expect his poor batting eye to improve.
  • For 2014: If he’s healthy, look for 3-category contribution from Cespedes: HR, R, RBI. His BA shouldn’t hurt but won’t help you, and I don’t expect him to run much.

Yasiel Puig

  •  Plenty has been written about his fast start, and everyone knows it was unsustainable. Does he have great talent? Yes, but he also needed luck as well. Remember that for redraft leagues.
  • He saw a higher percentage of strikes in his first month; it seems pitchers were challenging him, perhaps due to his hype or rookie status. In his second month he struck out much more, with many more swing-and-miss strikeouts. He adjusted after that, but that swinging strike rate is still high.
  • He has speed, but there’s no way he retains his .383 BABIP from 2013 over a full season. In his first month he had a BABIP of .500. He didn’t even have a huge LD% to help support it, so it’s not like he was squaring up on the ball perfectly — a lot of those hits were lucky falls. Therefore even with a BABIP above the MLB average next year, he’s more likely to hit .280 than .300.
  • His ground ball rate is far too high to project him to hit 30 HR yet. Last year he hit 50% of his balls into the ground. He needed an insane (and unsustainable) HR/FB rate in July and September to net all those HR. Swinging for the fences may account for his “sure-thing HR or ground ball” results. Could he hit 30 HR one year? It wouldn’t surprise me. But without sustained Chris Davis-esque HR/FB, he needs to square up on the ball better and hit fewer grounders.
  • He bettered his BB% in the second half, but the improvement was smaller than it appears: one-sixth (5/29) of his walks were intentional in the second half, with four IBB coming in August.
  • For 2014: I worry that you’re going to have to pay a first-round price for Puig, and his track record is too small to justify a top-10 pick. Dynasty leagues can drool over his long-term potential, but the hype is going to neutralize any profit potential in redrafts.

Victor Martinez

  •  A healthy year from V-Mart resulted in a fourth straight BA over .300, though barely. One might credit his slow start to knocking off the rust and a low BABIP, but in the second half he had an unsustainable BABIP (.371) despite his tendency for a strong LD%. Another .300 BA isn’t a guarantee, but he should definitely help your team in that category.
  • Positive signs abound in his batting profile. He hasn’t lost anything on his contact rate, K%, and BB%, which were all in line with his career and recent years. He’s a solid hitter with a mature approach.
  • His power was low in the first half, with a 6% HR/FB, but it improved to 9% in the second half, which is in line with many of his other seasons. Especially at his age, I don’t expect further improvement to his peak years of a HR/FB over 10% and 20+ HR. However, it’s nice to know that you can count on 14-18 HR.
  • For 2014: If he were a catcher, he’d be a great value. As a DH/CI, he’s still solid and helps you in four categories.

Kyle Seager

  •  He’s improved his BA every year in the majors — by exactly one point. I’m calling it now: a .261 BA in 2014. He’s had a pretty steady BABIP and contact rate, too, so barring a swing of luck, what you see is what you get.
  • His HR/FB rate fell in the second half. The reason he maintained his HR numbers was due to a spike in FB%. Over a full season, though, it’s in line with 2012. Like his BA, he seems to be exactly what he appears in the power category.
  • He improved his walk rate in 2013, particularly in the second half. He swung at fewer pitches out of the zone, and he improved his swinging strike rate. A more mature approach could possibly help him boost his BA or HR total a little, but there’s no guarantee there.
  • For 2014: A solid and steady repeat of last year is likely, with a little upside. Whether he hits in front of Cano (more R, maybe better BA) or behind him (more RBI) could affect his value in different ways.

Eric Hosmer

  • Obviously his BABIP was horrible in 2012, and when it rebounded in 2013, so did his average. However, he was a bit lucky in the second half, so I wouldn’t call him a lock for .300. Still, .290+ is beneficial to your fantasy team.
  • His HR/FB was steady all season, and it was in line with 2011. I’d say 20-25 HR is attainable in the near future, but it fully depends on the next point…
  • He’s got a very high ground ball rate in his career, and that has to change before he reaches his power potential. The thing to note is that it was markedly better in the second half (49%) compared to the first half (57%). A 50% is still high, but bear in mind that the Royals brought in a new hitting coach during the season, and it seemed to help Hosmer’s game. If he can show marked improvement in converting those grounders into lines or fly balls, then a breakout is very possible.
  • FanGraphs had a nice article on Hosmer’s return to form: it had a lot to do with BABIP (luck) and his ability to avoid pulling the ball so much (therefore lowering his defensive shift outs).
  • For 2014: Wipe 2012 from your memory. Set his floor near 2013 and hope for a breakout. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went .300/90/25/90 in the near future.
Kevin Jebens

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Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.

3 thoughts on “Reader Requests: Hitter Seasons Analyzed, Part One”

  1. It’s funny, Cespedes scare me, but I love Puig. Perhaps I’ve fallen victim to the hype, but I think he is well on his way to Stud City. First rounder? Nope. Second rounder? Hmm…leaning towards no, but could pretty easily change my mind. Third rounder? Absolutely.

    1. Third round is fine for Puig in my book. However, given that I have no doubt he’ll go in the second round, it requires overreaching for him, greatly increasing his risk in redrafts.

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