5 MLB candidates for comeback player of the year (part 2)

Posted: 03/04/2012 by levcohen in Baseball

Today I will go over 3 more candidates for comeback player of the year:

Carl Crawford:

Last year’s stats: 506 AB’s, 11 HR, 56 RBI, 65 R, .255 AVG, .289 OBP, .405 SLG, .694 OPS, 18 SB

My projections for this year: 573 AB’s, 14 HR, 77 RBI, 87 R, .294 AVG, .332 OBP, .453 SLG, .785 OPS, 42 SB

Before last year, Crawford signed a 7 yrs/$142M deal with Boston. He had been a consistently good to great player with the Tampa Bay Rays, so the Sox locked him up. 1 year later, that deal doesn’t look so good. Crawford struggled with injuries, and stole just 18 bases, his lowest since his rookie year, when he had just 259 AB’s. Crawford is an extremely talented hitter, who plays in a very good lineup. When he arrived at Boston last year, he was supposed to hit 1st or 2nd in the lineup. After last year’s struggles, he might be down to 7th in the lineup. Crawford must have a solid first few months of the season to convince new manager Bobby Valentine to him him higher in the lineup. Let’s take a look at his year last season:

Crawford hit nearly 50 points below his usual .300, and for a player who doesn’t walk very much, that is a killer. Crawford walks about 38 times per year on average, and that number dropped to 23 last year. All of that resulted in  Crawford getting on base only 29% of the time he stepped up to the place. It is nearly impossible to steal your normal 50 bases if you only get on about 155 times in a season. Crawford’s SB numbers dropped to 18 from 46 2 years ago and 60 the year before that. For a player who’s biggest asset is stealing bases, that is a big problem. His extra base power is normally phenomenal, but last year he had only 43 XBH, down from 62 the year before. Looking at some very useful stats, we have learned that he cost the Sox 13 runs last year with his bat. Two years ago, the Rays would have scored about 28 runs fewer without Crawford.

Crawford can rebound because he is still just 30, and because he has great talent. His ISO power has stayed consistent, so he should see a boost in XBH. And with a rise in BABIP, his average should definitely soar to near .300.

Ubaldo Jimenez:

Last year’s stats: 188.1 IP, 10-13 with a 4.68 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. 78 BB against 180 K.

My projections: 211.2 IP, 15-10 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. 85 BB against 197 K.

Most people knew that Jimenez’s great 2010 year was not sustainable. However, not many people projected this. The #3 vote getter in the 2010 CY Young award race went from having a 2.88 ERA to a 4.68. In frustration (and perhaps rebuilding) the Rockies traded him to the Indians midway through the 2011 season. The Indians acquired him thinking that they had their ace, but he responded by posting a 5.10 ERA. The Indians will go into this year thinking (hoping) that they still have an ace. Let’s take a look at his stats last year:

The 28 year old Jimenez went from a consensus ace to a pitcher with a 4.68 ERA. He lost his 2 teams a total of 2 games, a large amount, and cost Cleveland and Colorado a combined 10 runs. In 2010, he won Colorado an astounding 4 games more than they would have had from an average pitcher. Also, they allowed 40 fewer runs than they would have. This is an astounding difference. In 2010, the Rockies were 22-11 in games he started. Last year, Ubaldo’s teams were 13-19 when he started. His quality start % (6 innings and 3 ER or better) went down from over 75% to 50%.

Not all is lost for Jimenez. Despite the inflated HR rate, he hasn’t given up that many more fly balls. He is just getting unlucky- his HR/FB rate went from 4% to 6.8%. His line drive % actually went down, which is a good sign. And last but not least, his strikeouts and walks are consistent with the rates he posted in 2010. Signs point to a big bounce back year. He could easily outdo my projections (remember he got out of an extreme hitters park in Coors Field), as he hasn’t lost much on his tremendous fastball.

Jason Heyward:

Last year’s stats: 396 AB’s, 14 HR, 42 RBI, .227 AVG, .319 OBP, .389 SLG, .708 OPS, 9 SB

My projections: 542 AB’s, 21 HR, 73 RBI, .266 AVG, .361 OBP, .463 SLG, .824 OPS, 12 SB

Heyward had a superb rookie year, and expectations were mile high for him in his second year. However, he had a sophomore slump, and battled injury. He eventually got benched in favor of a RF nobody has ever heard of. His .849 OPS regressed to .708, and he hit for a dreadful .227 average. Let’s look at his in depth stats last year:

Heyward, a 22 year old player who is fast and can hit for power, had such a bad season that he got benched in early September. In 2010, he came in second in the ROY race, was an allstar, and finished 20th in the MVP voting. If the Braves had 9 of him, their winning % would have been under .500%. In 2010, that number was .661%. The Braves obviously need a better season from Heyward next year.

He can definitely turn it around, because of his talent level and age. As for my projections for him, they are still worse than he posted in 2010. I could see him breaking out.

 

 

 

All five players have reasons to be favored for comeback player of the year:

Dunn had one of the worst seasons in MLB history. It is easy to get better for him. Also, he has the most power of anyone on the list.

Ramirez is the most talented player on the list. If he wants to play well, he can.

Crawford is playing in a great lineup, and has consistently done well.

Jimenez has the stats pointing in his favor.

Heyward is the youngest player.

 

I think the award will go to Jimenez, because besides Dunn he has the most room to improve. Dunn looks to be over the hill, so Jimenez will win.

1. Jimenez

2. Ramirez

3. Dunn

4. Crawford

5. Heyward

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