As another baseball season winds down, we have a chance to reflect on our own journey in this wonderful game. Perhaps you, the reader, ponder of such things like — What did I do wrong? What did I do right? Why did I listen to Jaywrong? Or, better yet, why didn’t I listen to Jaywrong? Right? RIGHT! Regardless, we’re here to look back on the first year of the Bear or Bull series, and walk that same line of reflection and get an idea of how everything looks as the 2013 pieces fall into place. How did the process work, and did it do a good job? Are there ways to make the analysis better? Was I Jayright? Was I Jaywrong? More importantly, was I Jaysexy? Trick question, I’m always Jaysexy. Maybe we’ll learn something on the way. Or maybe we’ll just go over to the Football side of Razzball. My question is, why not both?
Edwin Encarnacion — Was named B5. B is for Bull. (Post can be found here.) A long, long time ago in a place not really so far away, in fact, right in front of your eyes, the very first Bear or Bull post magically appeared. Encarnacion was the perfect first spotlight, as when the post was released, he was hitting a paltry .143 with just one home run in his first nine games. Now, obviously, small sample size applies, but people were already freaking out, worried that E5 was going to be a one-year wonder. Good thing I was there to caress your soul with my soothing words. Money quote?
“I declare this new and improved E5 is here to stay, at least in the mean time. Last year was not a fluke. And this year will be just as special.”
And so he has been. If you were wondering, I’m still a believer for next season, so draft or acquire accordingly.
Josh Hamilton — Was called a HamBear. (Post can be found here.) I used to love owning Hambone. As fellow Ham owners will agree, there were weeks, even months, when he would carry our teams. 2-for-5 or 3-for-4 nights with a homer and three RBIs was common place. But with the sweet, soon came the sour, and the continual DL stints and games missed became a larger and larger albatross that affected his value across the board. And then came 2012, a very strange year indeed. Power seemed to fog his contact issues, but seemingly, he was headed to an All-Star lineup and expectations were still high.
I was the rational cold shower here. The numbers were just too disturbing, and we’ve seen enough of the season now to label Hamilton as the premier 2013 bust. And the forecast continues to be murky.
“Josh Hamilton is streaky, undisciplined, brittle, and, in his current form, completely unreliable. He’s also one of the best hitters I have ever seen.”
He *could* return to form. But any sign of it hasn’t materialized. So I would continue treating him like Tehol‘s avatar, and avert your eyes until he shows us something. Hamilton that is, not you Tehol. Put your pants back on.
Starling Marte — Slightly Bear, but sorta/maybe not. (Post can be found here.) Well, technically, there were issues giving Marte a final verdict due to lack of data. At this point, we can safely surmise that, at least for this season, Starling Marte has been a very good fantasy producer. Hitting .280 with 11 home runs and 35 SBs, there really hasn’t been a weakness here. True, spats of inconsistency have surfaced, but if this is his median output, I think he’s met expectations quite well.
“Yes, Starling Marte is a special player. He has power and speed. But he also strikes out quite a bit and also depends on the luck dragon. At what point can we determine if he’s the next Alex Rios in even-numbered years, or the next Alex Rios in odd-numbered years? I just don’t know… yet.”
Well, with one year nearly down, the numbers Marte is putting up this year, both the slash, and his BABIP, seem stable. I’m a somewhat tepid believer for next season.
Carlos Gomez — Bull this year, and quite Beary soon-there-after. (Post can be found here.) As just stated, I was quite bullish on Go-Go this year, but not so much over the next couple of seasons. Why is that? At the time, his K% and BB% were in line with his career norms, and the only difference was his BABIP. That is not a recipe for success. Gomez has still put up a great year, almost mirroring the output of one Starling Marte, but as the season comes to an end, you’ll noticed that his K% has risen and the lofty BABIP still remains.
“Yes, Carlos Gomez is having a wonderful year. So enjoy it. Savor it. Love it. But remember, nothing lasts forever.”
Based on the numbers, I think he goes into next year a bit overrated, and I would be wary of drafting him on my team. Regression seems inevitable here.
Jay Bruce — More like Jay Bull yo. (Post can be found here.) The moral here is that Jay Bruce is Jay Bruce is Jay Bruce. That’s a repetitive way of saying he is who he is. And that’s a guy with some power and that’s about it. In my post, I made sure not to leave any room for potential, there simply is none. In fact, as his sixth season comes to close, there are actually some signs that his production ability has begun to trickle off.
Aided by an inflated BABIP, his .270 batting average has drawn attention away from his lower BB% and higher K%. His SLG and ISO are also significantly lower than last year.
“Jay Bruce will never be the guy we thought he would be, but chances are pretty good that he’ll end up being the guy he already is, for this year and beyond.”
Despite some disturbing trends, that quote still remains true, at least for now. If you want that 30-home run power, I’m still buying. But my left eyebrow is raised slightly. Rocky roads may lay ahead. Because ice cream bro.
Yasiel Puig — Bull, yes, but with tempered expectations. (Post can be found here.) Well, look. He’s done everything a rookie can. Took the league by storm. Has a star presence in all phases of the game. But attitude is everything, and I guess he has plenty to spare. I have no problem with this. Don Mattingly does. But I ask you, would you really trust a guy that shaves off a strong mustache? I regard him as quite mad now.
I once referred to him as quite possibly Josh Hamilton. Probably a little less power, probably a little less batting average, but the signs are still there. Whether or not his personality gets in the way, I can’t tell you that. Intangibles cannot be measured. But from a purely statistical standpoint, he has the makings of an above-average ceiling, even with eventual regression. The question is, do you buy into that? From a value standpoint, the price just might be still too high.
Chris Davis — Bull. Crush Bull. Shaken AND stirred. (Post can be found here.) He’s certainly come closer to Earth’s orbit post-All Star break, hitting a .253/.358/.527 after a torrid first half slash of .315/.392/.717. Regression was certainly baked in my write-up, and the slash he’s putting up now is definitely not one to take lightly. But I think the real Davis lies somewhere in between the halves. There are still some contact issues, but there’s legitimate improvement in his swing, and I like the higher walk rate. I don’t see any reason to not buy into him next year, but just make sure it’s at Edwin Encarnacion prices.
Chase Headley — Homer Bull. Totally justified. (Post can be found here.) So yeah, obviously I’m a fan. A stubborn, stubborn fan. At this point, I could take back what I said and just admit that Headley is not who we thought he was. But I just can’t do it… yet. The data I looked at still, at the very least, doesn’t make sense. While I’m willing to accept that last season could be an outlier, the numbers are telling me that Headley is closer to what he was last season than what he is this season.
“So his BABIP, batted ball profile, and plate discipline are all trending in the right direction. Granted, I could be wearing an optimist shade of glasses. I could be biased. But I’d like to think I’m not. We have plenty of data here to say that 2012 was fluke, but we also have data to say the same thing about 2011 and the first half of 2013.”
Like I said, I could be biased. Or just very stubborn. But let’s not forget about the injuries either. An intriguing buy-low option for next year is where I’ll make my peace.
Ben Zobrist — Bull, but more for next year. (Post can be found here.) Rounding out my coverage for 2013, Zorilla’s analysis was written for next year’s fantasy player. And there was concrete data pointing to reasons why he’s suffered from a lackluster year.
“…with Zobrist, we only want to care about that one aspect (home runs). We’re here to figure out what happened to the power. And the one stat that can help show us what’s going on is his fly ball BABIP. In 2012, it stood at .118. His career number? .111. What is it this year? .084. I rest my case.”
As you can read, I still believe in the power, and I think he’ll make a great sleeper candidate for next season.
Jaywrong is a 30-year old Korish writer who finds solace using Makers Mark as a vehicle to impress women, and also has an affinity for making Jennifer Lawrence GIFs. You can follow him @jaywrong, read his blog Desultory Thoughts of a Longfellow, or, you can find his GIFs at his tumblr, named Siuijeonseo.