It’s time to start looking ahead to the 2013 fantasy baseball season. With that in mind, this column will hope to shine a light on players who are noticeably affected by OPS:
Mark Teixeira – I’m not trying to pour Boston tea on your wounds, Yankees fans, but Teixeira has been reduced to an afterthought for me in OPS leagues. Speaking of which, is “Boston tea” slang for whatever Manny was taking? What, too soon? Last year I said, “Is it just me, or does his name “Mark Teixeira” sound like the Macarena? It makes sense because he’s been overrated and is quickly becoming forgettable in OPS leagues. Earlier in the year I thought his 2012 season was predicted in the Mayan calendar and an .840 OPS could be on the high end for what to expect.” Since joining the Yankees in 2009, his batting average dropped from a typical .300 to a .250, while his OBP has dropped roughly 10-20 points annually. Choose your own adventure time! For my thoughts on why Tex has evolved (sorry those of you anti-Darwin Barney peeps) and my projection for him this season, see the next paragraph. To see the connection to Granderson, skip down two paragraphs. For those of you who want to comment without reading the article (you know who you are), please see the comment section…
Upon joining the Yankees, Teixeira started hitting a ton more fly balls. Essentially, he was willing to trade off a lower batting average for the potential to continue hitting a high number of home runs (not that there’s anything wrong with that). However, something went wrong last year. Yes, he missed time, but even if he had played a full season his production would have significantly decreased. He became even more aggressive, as indicated by his increased contact with pitches outside the strike zone. One result was that he hit more ground balls and, being speed-challenged, this dropped his line to a career-low .251/.332/.475. Unfortunately, I don’t think it is likely that he will be able to turn things around, so I won’t expect much more than an .800 OPS from him this year. That’s not anywhere near what you’d hope for from your first baseman.
Curtis Granderson – “Who can take an unsustainable HR/FB rate, and sprinkle it with luck? The Grandy Man can.” That best summarizes my view of Granderson’s 2012 season. While he does not have the identical specifics of Teixeira’s disease, he has the overall syndrome: being overly aggressive. Whereas Teixeira had a correlation between making contact with pitches outside the strike zone and a decrease in his fly balls (which are pretty fly), Granderson swung at and missed more pitches outside the strike zone last season. This resulted in him having the highest strikeout rate of his career at 28.5%. If this trend continues, he won’t be making enough contact to hit the necessary amount of home runs to drive his overall numbers. Even if his strikeout rate remains the same, I could easily see a drop in his home runs because his 24.2% HR/FB was easily the highest of his career (his career average since joining the Yankees is roughly 20%). One positive is that he increased his line drives last year, so there is the potential for an increase in batting average. I project a .240/.330/.480 line for 2013.