I’m convinced Grey doesn’t sleep during the offseason as he compiles his rankings for the 2017 season. He’s about halfway there, which makes Bon Jovi proud, but halfway will eventually become full-way as more of his rankings are being churned out as we speak. Being the selfish writer that I am, more rankings means more of Grey’s thoughts to sift through, and more opportunity to unearth a valuable point of view that may be falling through the cracks.

For this first installment of ‘Under the Greydar’, a cloumn executed perfectly in the past by writers like Big Magoo, we turn to the law services of Joc & Cron, LLP for some advice on targets for the coming season. On top of charging me upwards of $500 per hour merely for conversation, they fittingly advised us to take a deeper look at Joc Pederson and C.J. Cron.

 

Joc Pederson (Grey’s 51st Outfielder

Pederson’s two years in the majors have netted him a total of 51 home runs. Whether or not Grey ranked him solely on career HR totals I can’t confirm or deny, but what I do know is that we don’t often get the luxury of looking at a 24 year old outfielder on a top three team in baseball flying under the radar. Grey actually notes a similar sentiment in a sleeper post he wrote back in December, so it’s fair to say Grey isn’t omitting him in the slightest, but I highlight Pederson because I can add more to the story.

Statistically, Pederson’s two seasons are very similar in terms of aggregate fantasy production, but different in terms of what is going on behind the scenes.

It may seem a bit insane, but 30 points in average, 10 RBIs, and 2 stolen bases was the difference between Joc finishing just outside of the top 300 in 2015, and just outside of the top 200 in 2016. Small differences in production can have a big impact on season end rankings.

Why I’m confident Pederson can finish inside the top 200 in 2017 is due to the strides he made in only one year’s time.

Pederson cut his swinging strike rate by 4% and his overall contact rate by almost 10%. I’m mildly surprised that a 4% cut in his swinging strike rate led only to a 1.8% drop in his strikeout rate. For comparison, Kris Bryant from 2015 to 2016 cut his swinging strike rate by 3.5%, yet his strikeout rate fell from 30.6% to 22% (Kris Bryant is really good). Pederson isn’t Bryant in the slightest, but a 4% cut in swinging strikes is very difficult to do, and something I would expect more benefits to show in the coming season.

Pederson also hit the ball harder in 2016, and had 5% more line drives, one of the single most influential factor on a player’s BABIP, as they become base hits three times more often as opposed to ground balls. It’s also a testament to Pederson’s offensive skills that he was able to make contact on pitches about 10% more often, and hit line drives at a 5% better rate. He wasn’t just making more contact last year, he was making better contact, the kind that I often see as a predecessor to even more improvement in years to come.

The one drawback? I’m a little bit concerned with how bad Pederson was versus lefties last year. Although he only had 77 plate appearances in total, a clear attempt by the Dodgers not to let him face lefties, a .125 average and one homer isn’t encouraging. Especially seeing that in 2015, he actually had better discipline and average numbers versus lefties in comparison to 2016. It’s almost as if Pederson convinced himself that he wasn’t actually good against lefties, and the Dodgers reaffirmed that by not letting him see lefties. This year, I hope to see Pederson near the 500-550 at bat mark that he lingered above in 2015, something that surely can happen with the motley that is Toles, Puig, Ethier, and Thompson. The playing time will come down to if we see any improvement in his appraoch against lefties, and how eager the front office is to get Cody Bellinger playing time.

So what’s the culmination of all this?

The 51st outfielder generally goes off the board right past the 200 overall mark, which suggests that Grey might have Pederson slightly ahead of where he finished in roto leagues last season. I would be more inclined to rank him in the 170 area, or inside the top 40 outfielders. I’m expecting something around .265/75R/30HR/75RBI, very similar to what Grey expects, but I have more hope for production in excess of this expectation. While those four categories are relatively stable, the excess value can come with an uptick in steals. 10 total would do wonders for his overall value, especially with the current landscape that steals seem to be.

 

C.J. Cron (Grey’s 28th First Basemen

Let’s be honest, the first name is much more important in law firms than the second. C.J. Cron will unfortunately get a less in-depth overview than Pederson. If Cron is the 28th best first basemen there’s a likely chance Grey would consider him more of a waiver wire option or late round flyer at this point in the offseason.

The landscape of the first base position provides a plateau of expectations outside of the trinity that is Goldschmidt, Rizzo, and Miggy. This includes guys like Greg Bird, Mitch Moreland, Brandon Moss, and Lucas Duda. Currently behind all of those (save Brandon Moss, who just signed with the Royals) is Cron. They’re all 30 HR threats, but with high strikeout rates and susceptibility to platoons. Cron on the other hand is a different animal. He’s a 27 year old .280 hitter, with a plus bat and clear potential in the power department. 22 first base eligible players finished inside the top 200 overall last season. I expect Cron to be right on the verge of this window if he can get 500+ at bats.

My interest in Cron comes from the combination of the heavy power, high strikeout first base blueprint, as well as my mildly insane thought that the Angels may not be a terrible team. I like the additions of Maybin and Espinosa, and although they won’t be near the production of teams like the Cubs and Red Sox offensively, the more Cron hits around Trout, the less I have worry about almost everything Cron does.

Prior to August 21st, Cron only batted above fifth in the Angels lineup, and to finish off the year Cron slotted in fourth or above in the Angels lineup a total of 24 times. As you can imagine, a lot of those at bats were right behind Trout, meaning ample opportunity for Cron to drive in runs. If you average out his 69 RBIs last season in his 116 games, to 150 games, we have ourselves a 92 RBI first basemen. Last year only 39 hitters had more than 92 RBIs and every single one of those players you would’ve be fine starting on your team.

Cron has a real chance to put together a .290 70R/25HR/85RBI season if he can both stay healthy and solidify a juicy spot in the Angels lineup. The high floor and sustainable average is one of the reasons why I like him as a safe flyer in drafts, especially if you combo him with a riskier player like Hanley Ramirez.

More to come from me as we dig even further into some draft data and Grey’s rankings. Going to be a great 2017. As always, feel free to comment and ask questions below, more than happy to provide a take on anything you can imagine.

 

 

You can follow Lance on Twitter, @LanceBrozdow, if you prefer to act like a proper millennial.

  1. Chucky says:
    (link)

    Contemplating the following option in a 6×6 OBP. Villar at SS and Bryant at 3B or Bregman at 3B and Bryant DH?

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Chucky:
      Sounds like a straight pick of Villar or Bregman to me, unless I’m missing something a little deeper in your question. I think Villar is a no brainer here for 2017. Positional stuff I tend not to sweat over, gotta go with the better player.

      The floor on Villar’s SBs are enough to propel him ahead of Bregman. Even though I see a bit of regression coming with Villar in the power/avg department, I think he’s a good bet to outperform Breg.

      I assume your DH is kind of like a utility? In which case, you could probably slot Bryant somewhere else in your lineup (OF?) and get somebody into that utility spot.

      Regardless, my point is Villar over Bregman for 2017. Let me know if there’s more to the positional aspect than I’m observing.

      • Chucky says:
        (link)

        Thanks. Yes that was precisely the question, Villar or Bregman. My OF is deep with Betts, Pollock and Stanton , so Bryant is an OF,3B, DH for me. If I slot him at 3b, Villar at SS and I have to cut Bregman who has no SS eligibility. If I opt to keep Bregman over Villar, Bregman would slot at either 3B or DH. Moving Bryant to the other. So yes Villar> Bregman

        • Lance

          Lance says:
          (link)

          @Chucky:
          Awesome, glad I interpreted that correctly.

          If any of the prior years are a predictor, Stanton is a little injury prone, so you never know how Breg could slot into your lineup (Bryant to OF, Breg to 3B if any of those OFs go down).

          Not a bad thing at all to have depth, especially when it’s a talent like Breg.

          Nice combo of Bryant, Betts, Pollock, Stanton too – gorgeous.

  2. westcoastpete says:
    (link)

    Always good to hear a contrarian voice. Are you going to focus on where you differ on rate stats or playing time? IMO projection systems do a great job on the rate stats but a fantasy baseballer can win their leagues by beating them with playing time projections…

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @westcoastpete:
      Love offering different opinions. I find that the key when making decisions. Pick the side of the story you like, understand the opposite side, and see how confident you still are in your side of the story after a little internal debate. Blind faith in a player or blind hate in a player is dangerous.

      At the moment, I would say I’m still trying to find my niche with Razzball overall, I like trying out different analysis and column styles. If there is anything you would like me to look at (style or anaylsis) definitely recommend something.

      With regards to rate stats versus playing time, I have to agree with you on rate stats. These days, the projection systems out there are fantastic. I love aggregating them and seeing where the median is, always throwing in a little of my own subjectivity as well. It’s hard to differ greatly from projections, but when I do, it’s cause I see improvement that will produce results, sooner than a projection system may assume.

      This is probably where I will focus most, noticing improvement and determining expectations at varying levels of confidence (you can think of these as percentile results, say, the 75th percentile of a player’s production is an achievable, but less likely threshold).

      Playing time is much harder to determine, so many ambiguous factors. I tend to be optimistic with ABs/IPs for guys who you can point to extended batches of success (2-3 months) and determine whether you can feasibly see that over a longer span of time. Cron and Pederson fit this build for me.

  3. The Eye of Horus says:
    (link)

    I tend not to be interested in Cron for two reasons:
    1) his name is too short for him to be trusted
    2) ambiguous vowel pronunciation of last name. Cron rhymes with “on” or “own”? How can such a short name be so confusing? It’s madness, I tell you.

    Other than that, you make some valid points.

  4. Packers says:
    (link)

    In weekly lineups it’s even more difficult to make sure you roster guys who are going to play. In my leagues we can reroster guys if they go on the DL during the week, but if a guy strains a hammy on Monday and is day to day you lose that spot all week. That sucks. I don’t like to draft guys who at the beginning of the year are in platoons.
    Thanks for the insight on different players. I will look forward to future c posts.

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Packers:
      No doubt, and thanks.

      I actually think the new CBA will help this style of leagues a bit.

      15 day DL is now a 10 day DL, which I’m sure you know, and I have reason to believe that teams will be more willing to DL guys with smaller injuries that in the past just turn into 10-12 games off (really not a profound opinion, I’m sure 95% of analysts think the same).

      We should see a clear uptick in the amount of DL stints this season, regardless if the overall health of players fluxs up or down. This means more ‘re-rostering’ for you, in this style of league.

  5. Big Odio says:
    (link)

    Nice to see two guys that without even looking at the stats I didnt agree with Grey on their rankings. Contrarians is my jam

    • Lance

      Lance says:
      (link)

      @Big Odio:

      Nice! haha

      To be fair, Grey and I probably aren’t too far off on Pederson, because he is usually so low with SPs, I can see him squeezing in some more OFs into his top 200, but I guess we’ll see. As I said, I like Joc in that 170-180 area.

      Cron Grey and I will definitely be a bit further off on!

      Thanks for the read.

Comments are closed.