Lance Berkman was a renaissance man. Last year he reached 30 home runs for the first time since 2007 and his .959 OPS was his highest since 2008. I credit this turnaround to him staying healthy, and, despite his age, remaining incredibly talented. His 2011 season was not a fluke because his plate discipline and batted ball statistics were generally in line with his career rates. The only factor potentially benefiting him was his HR/FB, which was near his career average, but a higher rate than he had achieved in recent years. Unfortunately his injury will limit his playing time this season, although I expect him to be a solid player in OPS leagues when he returns. He’s had a 1.000 OPS so far in 2012, with many differences in his underlying numbers, but I’m going to dismiss these as small sample size noise. For the rest of the season, I see a line of .390/.490/.880.
Kevin Youkilis is technically not injured, but that’s not going to stop me from mentioning him in a post about injured players. After all, the Greek God of Injuries already missed time this season and has not played in over 140 games since 2008. He’s currently saddled with a .722 OPS, well below his career .878 OPS. This decrease is mainly due to an increased strikeout rate and a decreased walk rate. Yes, he will improve, but he’s past his peak years and, in addition to a declining skill set, his numerous injuries are likely to have a cumulative effect on his body. I’m hesitant to expect more than last year’s line of .370/.460/.830 for the rest of 2012, with the possibility of downside. That’s still solid for a third baseman, but he’s no longer the elite option he once was.
Carlos Santana might need some of Ozzie Guillen’s black magic to reclaim his smooth hitting. The Supernatural has a .747 OPS in 2012, which is decent for a catcher, but less than what you would hope to see from Santana. His .360 OBP is in line with his career average, and his decrease in OPS can be fully attributed to a decrease in slugging. The good news is that this is mainly the result of a HR/FB below his career norm, and it should rebound over the rest of the season. Expecting a .360/.450/.810 line is reasonable and Carlos has upside for more, as evidenced by his minor league stats. However, his stats do not indicate an imminent breakout, unless he realizes a substantial increase in his HR/FB.
Mike Morse is tough to decipher. He seemed marked as a dreaded Quad A Player with the Mariners, receiving sporadic playing time in the majors across several seasons, but spending the majority of his time in the minors. Upon joining the Nationals, he’s increased his OPS each season: .772 in 2009, .870 in 2010, and .910 in 2011. When he finally takes the field in 2012, I think he’ll be able to approach his career average of .350/.500/.850, with upside for more slugging. Despite his over .900 OPS season last year, I’m not ready to count on him near that level because it appeared to be a combination of a BABIP and HR/FB on the high end for what to expect from Morse. Still, having an .850 is a fantastic baseline.
Chase Utley is gonna have it his way or nothing at all. Last year, for the first time since 2004, he posted an OPS below .800. Even more remarkable is that he maintained an OPS above .900 from 2005-2009. With the injuries piling up last year, Chase willed his way to a .769 OPS, which is very respectable for a second baseman. Despite the injuries continuing this year, I believe that he will have a slight improvement relative to last year’s numbers. A line of .360/.440/.800 is within the realm of possibility for 2012, as it largely reflects his performance over the past two seasons. At middle infield, that’s still great, which speaks to how amazing Utley is and how awful middle infield has been. As Ramona would say, “You’re not the only one, but you’re the best Utley.”
Allen Craig has a 1.188 OPS, the highest in the majors for players with at least fifty plate appearances. He’s always displayed that he was capable of hitting for power, supported by his minor league numbers and his .540 OPS across his career 132 games in the majors. His problem has been injuries, but he’s been fantastic when healthy. This year he’s benefiting from an insane BABIP and HR/FB, but he will still be productive when these factors regress. His line for the rest of the season should be near .350/.500/.850.
Carl Crawford is still Carl Crawford. Or at least that’s what I thought all of last year, while waiting for a rebound that never happened. Not that I’m bitter or anything. I don’t think you can simply ignore last year’s stats, despite them being a glaring anomaly. This year’s injury won’t help either, especially with his slugging. I think this year he’ll be close to his career average line of .330/.440/.770. Somewhere, Mike Trout yawns. Assuming Crawford runs with more frequency, he won’t hurt you overall, but a .770 OPS isn’t spectacular for an outfielder.