Forgot Log-in or  Password? |  Help  Not a member, Register Now!
      
Fantasy Football Today
Fantasy Football Today Blog
Gameday Inactives
2014 Draft Prep Guide
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Get Your Draft Board
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Scores
Fantasy Games
Playoff Challenge
Commissioner
Prize Leagues
Free
Office Pool Manager
Game Pick'em
Player Challenge
Fantasy Baseball Today
Fantasy Baseball Today Blog
Downloadable Draft Kit
Mock Drafts
Player News
Stats
Players
Depth Charts
Roster Trends
Columns
Injury Report
Rankings
Projections
Schedules
Probable Pitchers
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injuries
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Message Boards
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
Downloadable Draft Kit
Player News
Stats
Players
Columns
Injury Report
Projections
Rankings
Schedules
Mock Drafts
Scores
Standings
Fantasy Games
Commissioner
Free
Prize Leagues
No Fantasy Teams Found
 
 
 

By the Numbers: Outfield/DH hits and misses

  •  

Our player projections for the 2011 season may be long forgotten by many, as the Fantasy Baseball season fades from our memories. Before we forget about those projections for good, it's time to revisit them and see what lessons they offer heading into 2012.

In crafting the projections over the course of several weeks last fall and winter, I managed to come close on many players' actual output, but I swung and missed on plenty of others. Over the next month, I'll be looking back at some of the more intriguing hits and misses, seeing what they can teach us about the players in question for next year. In this first installment, I will be focusing on players who were primarily eligible at outfield and designated hitter this season.

In the interest of brevity, I won't touch on all of the biggest hits and misses, but rather the ones that were either the most surprising or offer insight as to why a player's perceived value has changed over the past year. That means that we will skip over some out-of-nowhere surprises like Melky Cabrera and Michael Morse, super-sized disappointments like Carl Crawford and Alex Rios, and players who saw unexpected changes in playing time, like Emilio Bonifacio.

Hits

Peter Bourjos, L.A. Angels: I nailed Bourjos' Fantasy point total of 350 exactly, but he didn't quite achieve that total the way I expected. He had 10 fewer steals than projected, as he was successful on 22 of 31 attempts. Angels manager Mike Scioscia likes an aggressive running game, so it's puzzling as to why Bourjos didn't steal more often. Fortunately, for Fantasy owners, he showed more power and and scored more runs than expected. If he can continue to hit for extra-base power while upping his stolen base total, Bourjos could become relevant for owners in shallower leagues.

Seth Smith, Colorado: Smith hit for a little less power than was anticipated, but he made up for it by getting more playing time. Smith was a risky pick for owners in standard mixed leagues, because it wasn't clear how often he would get to play against lefties. While he was not quite an everyday player all season long, he did get more of a chance to face lefties than he had in the past. For the most part, his production held up with the increased exposure, but the Rockies say that they have bailed on the experiment going into next season, wanting to use him as a platoon player going forward. Before owners downgrade Smith on their 2012 draft lists, though, they should be prepared for the possibility of Smith getting traded. If another team wants to make Smith an everyday outfielder, what we learned in 2011 is that he can be counted on for power and run production even if his overall stats get watered down by his splits against lefties.

Dexter Fowler, Colorado: Fowler made the small steps of progress expected of him, but if we discount his slow start, he actually exceeded expectations. After returning from a midseason stint in the minors, Fowler was a different hitter with a new batting stance, making more frequent and harder contact. He was also a greater threat to steal bases. He may never be a big-time home-run hitter, but Fowler flashed the doubles and triples power that he showed as a prospect. Given that his improvement could have been foretold by his prior track record, we can expect even better things from Fowler next season.

Josh Willingham, Oakland: Oakland can be an unwelcome destination for power hitters, but Willingham made the most of his move to the AL by cranking a career-high 29 homers. Most of his numbers took a decided turn upward, as he made more plate appearances than in any season since 2007. Willingham's overall value was only slightly above projections, though, as he struck out at an unusually-high 27 percent rate. Both his power numbers and his strikeout rate could regress towards his norm next year, but what this season proved is that, as long as he can stay healthy, Willingham can produce runs wherever he goes.

Mike Stanton, Florida: Stanton came into his own in his first full major league season, finishing fifth in the NL in home runs with 34. While there is always some risk in assuming that a prospect will fulfill his promise right away, Stanton made notable improvements to his hitting approach this year as predicted, walking more, striking out less and hitting fewer popups. Since there was no sophomore slump for Stanton, we can feel safe in expecting him to take at least another small step forward next season.

B.J. Upton, Tampa Bay: It's something of an upset that Upton met his projections, as he had been highly inconsistent from year-to-year coming into this season. Aside from notable upticks in home runs and RBI, Upton turned in a very similar season to the one he produced in 2010. With a third straight season with a batting average below .250, Fantasy owners should give up any hopes of him replicating the .300 average he posted in 2007 -- or anything even close to it. What Upton can produce with certainty is 20-plus home runs and 30-plus stolen bases, and that's enough for him to be a No. 2 OF in mixed leagues.

Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh: McCutchen finished the season ranking 10th among outfielders in Fantasy points, exactly as predicted, but he didn't build his value the way I expected. Instead of toying with an average close to .300 and providing 35 steals, McCutchen took a Grandersonian turn and swapped growth in average and steals for more power. The third-year outfielder upped his flyball rate from 37 to 42 percent, which had the dual effect of increasing his home run total and lowering his batting average by 27 points. McCutchen is still just 25, so he may still yet develop his power without having to jack up his flyball rate to do it. Even if he doesn't, he is already a reliable 20-20 threat who should rank among the top outfielders again in 2012.

Misses

Follow us, Like us, Join us
Want more? Join the discussion on our Facebook page and Google+ and follow us on Twitter for additional insight while interacting with a community geared toward Fantasy Baseball.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston: Ellsbury was one of my biggest misses, as I underestimated his Fantasy production by exactly 200 points. I actually overestimated his stolen base total by 10 (49 projected, 39 actual) but his power and run production dwarfed his projected numbers. His 32 homers seemingly came out of nowhere; Ellsbury had never hit more than nine in a season, including his years in the minors. By every indication, his power binge was very much for real. His home run per flyball rate and line drive rate both increased substantially, and the increase in pitches per plate appearance suggests that he may have taken to "waiting for his pitch" rather sacrifice his power with an aggressive slap-hitting approach. Also, according to the ESPN Hit Tracker, only five of his 32 long balls were classified as "lucky" or as having "just enough" distance. That's pretty incredible when you consider that the typical hitter has about one-third of his homers fall into those categories. Oh, and he also ranked third in the majors in doubles with 46. While it's always risky to assume that a player can sustain such a dramatic improvement, all of the signs point to Ellsbury being a legitimate power threat.

Curtis Granderson, N.Y. Yankees: Thanks to an increased flyball rate, Granderson hit a career-high 41 homers, but it was on his run production where he really got cheated by my projections. The former Tiger drove in 119 runs, even though he was usually hitting out of the two-hole, and his 136 runs scored exceeded his previous career best by 14 runs. It helped Granderson's cause that he hit home runs in a higher proportion of his at-bats with men on base than he did with the bases empty (in the AL, homers were hit with empty bases at a slightly higher rate than with men on). His run total was also aided by Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano all hitting better with runners in scoring position than they did overall. The stars may not align as favorably next season, so even with another strong power display, Granderson could see a dip in his RBI and runs scored totals.

Jose Bautista, Toronto: I was skeptical that Bautista could come close to replicating his surprising 2010 numbers, but he had yet another dominant season. Though his Fantasy point total came up a little short compared to '10 (615.5, as compared to 652.0), his Runs Created per 27 Outs (RC/27) actually jumped by more than two runs, from 8.5 to 10.6. Bautista arguably was a more productive player in 2011, thanks to huge spikes in his walk rate and his batting average on balls in play (BABIP). Most impressive was his ability to hit 40-plus homers, even though he shaved eight percentage points off of his flyball rate. Bautista's power is obviously legitimate, and now that he is not as reliant on flyballs to boost his numbers, he can be an asset in the batting average category as well.

Jeff Francoeur, Kansas City: I actually took bigger whiffs on Francoeur's outfield cohorts, Melky Cabrera and Alex Gordon, but there were signs within the last three seasons that either of them could be ready to take a step forward. Francoeur, on the other hand, had been an absolute dud in every season following his 2007 campaign. Frenchy's 40-double output in '07 looked like a complete anomaly, but he bounced back this year with 47 two-baggers. The increase in doubles was largely due to better hitting on flyballs (his flyball BABIP increased from .112 in '10 to .167 in '11), and his growing tendency to hit to the opposite field may have played a role in that development. Luck may have been a factor as well, and owners can't be encouraged by Francoeur's persistent impatience at the plate. While he could be an extra-base threat again next year, it would be assuming a lot to think that he will be safe to draft as a No. 2 Fantasy OF next season.

Josh Hamilton, Texas: While I came close to getting Hamilton's Isolated Power on the nose (.241 projected, .238 actual), I overestimated his batting average. With his actual .297 average falling 19 points short of his projection, I was also overly optimistic about his run scoring, predicting 97 runs instead of the 80 he actually got. I should have been far more suspicious of last season's .285 BABIP on flyballs, which has been bested only once (Adrian Gonzalez's, .287 in 2011) over the last four years. I also gave Hamilton too much credit for staying healthy, as I gave him 75 plate appearances too many in his projections. While Hamilton still had a fairly productive season this year, going forward, he will probably be closer to being the No. 2 OF option that he was this season than the elite producer he was in 2010.

Vladimir Guerrero, Baltimore: I considered myself to be a skeptic of Guerrero's 2010 "renaissance," when he had 29 homers and 115 RBI for the Rangers, but apparently, I wasn't skeptical enough. While Guerrero continued to hit for a good average (.290), his power and run production took a bigger nosedive than anticipated this season. Even with the move from hitter-friendly Rangers Ballpark to even hitter-friendlier Camden Yards, Guerrero saw his home run per flyball ratio drop from 13 percent to eight percent. Guerrero was actually fine in his new home park, but he was miserable on the road, slugging just .382 in away games. Guerrero wants to continue to play next season, but if someone offers him a deal, Fantasy owners shouldn't be looking for another comeback. Even with a favorable home environment, Guerrero is too much of a liability in pitchers' parks to trust outside of AL-only leagues (assuming he would wind up in the AL as a DH).

Adam Lind, Toronto: The good news is that Lind will begin next year as a Fantasy-eligible 1B, whereas he started this year solely as a DH. The bad news is that it was a second straight year of disappointing power production for Lind, and that's doubly bad for someone who will be eligible at a position that requires power. I had expected that Lind's home run per flyball ratio would rebound after a precipitous drop in 2010, and sure enough, he added five percentage points onto his rate. Unfortunately, he did that by hitting a high proportion of short-distance homers; ESPN's Hit Tracker placed half of his 26 dingers in the "just enough" distance category. Meanwhile, Lind's doubles power dissipated, as he hit just .069 on flyballs in play. Perhaps his doubles and flyball BABIP numbers from 2011 were a bad-luck fluke, but an increasingly impatient approach at the plate suggests there may be some real long-term problems. Owners in standard mixed leagues should not look to Lind as a middle-round option as they did this past spring. He should be a late-rounder in those formats at best.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us via Twitter . You can also follow Al Melchior @almelccbs

Get player news notifications, manage your team and check scores
- all updated in real time. Download the CBS Fantasy App.

  •  
 
CBSSports Facebook Google Plus
COMMENTS
Conversation powered by Livefyre
 
 
Player News
Royals C Salvador Perez homers in Game 1 World Series loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Royals catcher Salvador Perez went 1 for 3 with a solo home run in his team's 7-1 loss to the Giants in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Perez struck the only blow the Royals could manage on offense, finally getting a run off Giants starter Madison Bumgarner after he allowed only two hits through six scoreless innings. By the time of Perez's bomb, the Royals were dug in a hole from which they couldn't escape. It's a rare sign of life from the catcher's bat, as he's hit just .135/.158/.216 in 37 postseason at-bats despite the Royals racking up win after win in the first three rounds.


Giants' Pablo Sandoval drives in two in Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants third baseman Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 5 with a double and two RBI in his team's 7-1 win over the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Sandoval opened and closed the scoring for the Giants in the win, delivering an RBI double in the top of the first inning (and later scoring on a Hunter Pence home run) then adding an RBI single in the seventh to push the lead to 7-0. While he has yet to deliver a home run this October, Sandoval has been hard to conquer at the plate, hitting .333/.396/.438 in 48 postseason at-bats.


Giants OF Hunter Pence homers in Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants outfielder Hunter Pence went 2 for 3 with two walks and a two-run home run in his team's 7-1 win over the Royals in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday.

Pence delivered a monster blast to center field in the first inning to put his team up 3-0, and the Royals would have little answer for another excellent performance by Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner. It was the first home run of October for Pence, who has hit .286/.388/.452 in 42 postseason at-bats.


Madison Bumgarner allows one run in Giants' Game 1 World Series win
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner earned a win in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, allowing just one earned run on three hits and one walk in seven innings while striking out five in his team's 7-1 victory over the Royals.

Bumgarner (3-1) continued to look excellent fresh off winning the NLCS MVP award. He fired six scoreless innings and was up 7-0 before surrendering a solo home run in the bottom of the seventh. Bumgarner has delivered a 1.40 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 33:6 K:BB ratio in 38 2/3 postseason innings spanning five starts. He'll get the ball in Game 5 Sunday if the Royals can avoid a sweep. Game 2 is set for Wednesday in Kansas City.


James Shields comes up short in Royals' Game 1 World Series loss
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Royals pitcher James Shields was roughed up in Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday, taking a loss after surrendering five earned runs on seven hits and one walk in three-plus innings while striking out one in his team's 7-1 defeat against the Giants.

Shields (1-1) hadn't been having a great postseason despite the Royals' impressive run of wins, giving up 10 earned runs in 16 innings heading into his Game 1 start. His night turned south immediately Tuesday, as the Giants followed up a one-out, RBI double with a two-run home run to take a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Shields retired seven straight heading into the fourth, where he opened the inning with a double, walk and RBI single to get the hook. The loss, which was the first of the postseason for the Royals, puts the AL pennant winner in a 1-0 hole going into Game 2 Wednesday in Kansas City.


Yankees SP CC Sabathia nearly '100 percent'
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Yankees starting pitcher CC Sabathia said Tuesday that he feels "pretty much back to 100 percent" and expects a full 200-inning workload in 2015, MLB.com reports.

"It's definitely a huge relief," Sabathia said. "I feel good enough to do all my workouts, to play catch and kind of have a normal offseason."

Sabathia, who underwent season-ending knee surgery in July, starting throwing off flat ground in late September and plans to report to spring training early.


Nationals' Ryan Zimmerman likely to play first base in 2015
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Nationals third baseman/outfielder Ryan Zimmerman will likely shift over to first base in 2015, MLB.com reports. He's currently resting his right hamstring after suffering a Grade 3 strain in July.

"I'm sure I'll talk to them soon or they will talk [to the media]," Zimmerman said. "I think Anthony [Rendon] is the future third baseman. Obviously, he played great there. He played some second and some third. If he goes into Spring Training knowing that he is playing third base, he has a chance to be a very good third baseman.

"Obviously, I love playing third base. But some of the injuries over the last two or three years made it tougher for me to be an above average third baseman. It's hard to accept that, but I think that's the truth. Sometimes, the truth hurts sometimes. But Anthony has a great chance to be very good over there. I could be an above average first baseman if I work at it during Spring Training and the rest of this offseason. But that's not just my decision. Obviously, I'll talk with [general manager] Mike [Rizzo] and Matt and see what their plans are. I'm sure we'll find out in the next week or two."

The Nationals have first base open due to the impending free agency of 2014 starter Adam LaRoche.


Diamondbacks add Enrique Burgos to 40-man roster
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) The Diamondbacks have added pitcher Enrique Burgos to their 40-man roster, the Arizona Republic reports. He's now protected from the upcoming Rule 5 draft.

Red Sox OF Rusney Castillo day-to-day with hand/thumb injury
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Red Sox outfielder Rusney Castillo is day-to-day after suffering a bruised hand/thumb during Arizona Fall League play Monday, WEEI.com reports.

Castillo suffered the injury while getting jammed during an at-bat. He signed a $72.5-million deal in August that runs through 2020.


Report: Mike Zagurski joins Hiroshima Carp
by R.J. White | CBSSports.com
(10/21/2014) Pitcher Mike Zagurski has agreed to a deal with the Hiroshima Carp of Nippon Professional Baseball, SportsNet reports. He delivered a 2.08 ERA and 83:29 K:BB ratio in 60 2/3 innings at the Triple-A level in 2014.

 
 
 
Rankings