Reader Requests: Hitter Seasons Analyzed, Part Two

Here are the remaining hitters that people requested be analyzed. If there are any more requests, I’ll be happy to add a third part to the series.

Chris Davis

  • What’s not to like about 50 HR? Well, a 30% HR/FB doesn’t seem likely to repeat. However, he did manage to raise his FB% in 2013 to above 45% in both halves; in the three previous seasons it had been under 40%. Even if his HR/FB falls back to 2012 levels (25%), if he maintains the new flyball rate, 40 HR is still a good bet.
  • Three-year rise in BA is tempting to buy, but it’s a bit misleading. He’s simply hitting more HR, which helps his average. He also sports a BABIP well above the MLB average, however it’s been consistent the last two years, so that might be his norm while he’s in his peak years. Even so, it’s safer to bet the under on .280 for his 2014 BA, particularly due to his poor contact rate throughout his career.
  • His tendency to swing at pitches out of the zone dropped in 2013, but I’d bet that’s due to the fact the he got walked more often. That BB% jump likely isn’t all skill, though — his intentional walks doubled from 2012, and even if other walks weren’t outright intentional, I’m sure he saw more pitchers well off the plate as pitchers didn’t want to give him something good to hit, resulting in more “intentional unintentional” walks.
  • For 2014: Buy into the power, especially given that true sluggers are a rarer breed. His BA and K% may hurt in some formats, but I’m betting he can split the difference between 2012 and 2013, which is still a very valuable asset.

Pedro Alvarez

  • Another high-powered slugger. He had a HR/FB spike in the first half (31%), along with a pretty high (for him) FB% (39%), and that’s what prompted his homer binge. In 2012 his FB% was 34%, and his HR/FB was 25%. In the second half of 2013 his FB% was 35%, adn his HR/FB was 22%. Without another hot streak in 2014, you can’t bank on 30+ HR.
  • What’s more, Alvarez has a far worse BA than Davis, and that isn’t going to change. He has an equally bad contact rate, in the mid-60%. However, he hits more ground balls and fewer line drives and fly balls, which negatively affects his BABIP and BA. He has a higher swinging strike rate than Davis, too. The risk of him turning into another Adam Dunn (though with far fewer walks) is high, and I don’t see upside to his average. He’d need a lucky season to post anything near or above .250.
  • For 2014: Take him off 3B and put him at 1B or OF, and what would you have? Jack Cust, but again without the BB%. Some of his similarity scores on B-R include Wily Mo Pena and Ian Stewart — not very promising. He’s a HR/RBI player, and even with power becoming more scarce, he’s not someone I draft unless I’m desperate for HR.

Dan Murphy

  • Speed boost came out of nowhere. Hard to bet on him repeating 20 SB, but he stole 10 the year before, so maybe split the difference.
  • Strong line drive rate, good contact rate, and above-average BABIP for years show that his BA is here to stay.
  • His HR/FB didn’t jump an insane amount. Instead, he simply hit fewer grounders, converting them into fly balls. If he maintains the FB% gains, then 10-15 HR is a sustainable number.
  • Only quibble is that his BB/K is on a three-year decline. He’s not improving his patience to take walks, but given his high contact and his very low swinging strike percentage, a lack of walks is acceptable and won’t hurt his overall value.
  • For 2014: A solid 15/15 year is possible, with a strong BA. However, if I had to choose one over the other, I’d consider 15 SB more a lock than 15 HR. He’s a great MI option, and a pretty good primary 2B, too.

Jed Lowrie

  • More AB than 2012 resulted in one fewer HR. Where’s the power go? For starters, his HR/FB (7%) rate wasn’t as high as 2012 (12%), but it’s in line with some of his other years (5%, 6%). True, he does have one other 11% year, but it’s hard to believe that’s his normal level. Also, he had a much lower FB% in 2013 than any year except his rookie season, so fewer fly balls means fewer homers.
  • Lowrie has a good contact rate, and last season was his best year. He also had his second-best LD%. If he can maintain those levels, he has a better chance of repeating his above-average BABIP in 2013.
  • However, bear in mind that his good BA was propped up by a high BABIP. He’s more likely to decline than to fully maintain that level.
  • For 2014: One year above 600 AB doesn’t mean he’s a healthy, reliable player. I still think he has 20 HR upside, but the BA will fall, and there’s the health risk to consider. Another candidate who makes a good MI, but not your starting 2B/SS.

Alex Gordon

  • Some might be shocked that Gordon’s BA fell after two good years, but those high numbers were due to high BABIP. His 2013 BA/BABIP are in line with his career numbers. Therefore expect an average more in the .265-.275 range; anything more is gravy.
  • Less power in first half was due to a lower FB% (higher GB%) than the second half and his career line. His HR/FB is pretty stable with most of his other seasons. A repeat of 20 HR is possible with a FB% near 40%.
  • Gordon’s running less than his peak year of 17 SB, so don’t expect more than 10 in the future.
  • The dip in BB% could be a bit worrisome. However, his plate skills are stable when it comes to contact rate, K%, and swinging strike rate. I wouldn’t panic about his approach unless some of those start to drop, too.
  • For 2014: Gordon always finds a way to produce, however he doesn’t seem likely to find a new level and break out in any category. Temper your expectations, but know that he’s a solid fantasy OF.

Domonic Brown

  • Brown exploded in the first half with his HR total, but his HR/FB was unsustainable at 25%. His second half rate of 11% was in line with his short stints in 2011-12. Therefore I’m buying into a season total of 18-20 HR instead of 25+.
  • One reason I don’t expect more HR is due to a relatively low fly ball rate of 35%, which is consistent with every year of his career. What’s more, he had his highest LD% in 2013, so if some of that regresses back to grounders, the BABIP and BA could drop again.
  • He has a decent contact rate, and he walked more in the second half, but his plate skills still need improvement. His swinging strike rate and K% were the highest in three years, now that he got a full season of playing time.
  • For 2014: Brown needs to make some adjustments this year in order to come close to last year’s results. There’s quite a bit of risk here. If someone values him at 2013’s first-half prices, let him go.

Brian McCann

  • McCann matched 2012’s HR total with fewer AB. This was due to a career-high HR/FB, which isn’t likely to be repeated at his age. Obviously Yankee Stadium’s boost to lefty HR could help him keep above 20 HR, but I wouldn’t bank on much more.
  • He has two years of pretty low BABIP, and yet 2013’s LD% was one of his best. Given his complete lack of speed, I worry that his peak BA years are behind him. It seems .250 may well be his new norm, instead of the seasons where he reached .270+.
  • For 2014: There’s no doubt McCann is a valuable catcher when he’s healthy. The health is a major issue, though. And without a strong BA being a lock, his power is his best tool, and it’s not enough to project him returning to a top-3 C.
Kevin Jebens

Written by 

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 Two”

  1. Nice analysis here Kevin. Domonic Brown looks like one of the hardest players in MLB to project this year. I think it is possible that he is able to produce at a similar level this year, but there is too much risk to pay that price to acquire him. I am ranking him somewhere near 30 in the OF ranks.

  2. Good stuff; I’ll be stunned if Daniel Murphy steals 20 again. Alex Gordon…maybe a little support from the other guys in the lineup this year?

    1. With a full season of decent stats from Hosmer, Butler, and maybe even Moustakas, Gordon could see some better R and RBI, but I wouldn’t count on an increase in BA or HR because of other hitters.

Comments are closed.