Saturday, March 26, 2011

2011 Bounceback candidates

As someone who plays fantasy baseball, I was thinking the other day about some potential guys who are bounceback candidates for this year who I could get late in a draft but expect pretty decent production from. Now, I know not everyone plays fantasy baseball, but that doesn't matter. I only include the anecdote to explain why I thought to make such a post. Bounceback candidates are important in a general sense in baseball, especially if you are a fan of the team they are on. And, in a general sense, I think we like to see guys succeed who had a rough year the year before. It's just human nature. Anyway, the point is, I thought I'd take a post to discuss a few players who I feel will have good (or at least average) seasons after having sub-par seasons. I chose two pitchers and two hitters who I feel are the most likely to have bounce back seasons.

Note: Remember "slash lines" such as .300/.400/.500, are, in order Batting Average, On-Base Percentage, and Slugging Percentage.

Bounce Back Candidate: Aaron Hill
What he has to bounce back from: .205/.271/.394, 26 Homers, 68 RBIs.
Why he will bounce back: Aaron Hill was the most unlucky hitter in baseball last year. His BABIP (Batting Average on Balls in Play) was an astronomically low .196 (league average is about .290) The next lowest BABIP in the majors was .236. Despite ihs struggles with his average, Hill still managed to mash 26 Home Runs, showing that the power he showed in 2009 was not a fluke. I don't expect Aaron Hill to have an incredibly high average this season, nor do I expect him to suddenly become a patient hitter, but I expect him to rebound and put up something like a .270/.335/.480 line while he once again approaches 30 Home Runs. That would be a great line for a Second Baseman.

Bounce Back Candidate:
Aaron Harang
What he has to bounce back from:: 6-7, 5.32 ERA, 1.585 WHIP, 6.6 K/9.
Why he will bounce back:: Harang was limited by injuries last season, which I'm sure the Padres (who signed him) are hoping is the reason for his preciptious drop in effectiveness last season. Harang's career numbers are a 4.33 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, and a 7.5 K/9, which are respectable, and it is important to remember that he accrued most of those numbers in the Great American Ball Park, one of the most hitter-friendly parks in the league. A move to the cavernous PETCO park, if Harang can stay healthy, is likely to only lead to an improvement from his average WHIP and ERA. It is also notable that Harang is a notorious flyball pitcher, further benefitting him at PETCO park. If Harang stays healthy, 14 wins, a sub 4.00 ERA, and a 1.3 WHIP all seem very possible.

Bounce Back Candidate: Mark Reynolds
What he has to bounce back from:: .198/.320/.433 with 32 Homers.
Why he will bounce back::Reynolds is in a situation very similar to Aaron Hill's in that he had horrible luck last year (though still not as bad as Hill's). There is reason for caution though in regard to Reynolds that is not present in the discussion of Hill, and that is Reynolds monstrous strike out totals. Reynolds has led the league in strikeouts the last three seasons, and that is partly to blame for his average tanking in 2010. However, there is also a reason for a bit of hope, that being that Reynolds actually increased his walk percentage in 2010, and posted an impressive OBP given how low his average was. Like Hill, Reynolds also showed that the power he possesses is no fluke. A change of scenery for Reynolds (who was traded to the Orioles) may also help him some. He will also be in a better line-up with Orioles, which may produce more hittable pitches for Reynolds. Reynolds posting a .250/.370/.480 line with 30+ homers is what I expect to see this season.

Bounce Back Candidate: Javier Vazquez
What he has to bounce back from: 10-10, 5.32 ERA, 1.398 WHIP, 6.9 K/9.
Why he will bounce back: He's back in the NL. I am kidding in part when I say that, but Javier Vazquez has some serious AL/NL splits. Vazquez's career NL ERA is 4.02. His career AL ERA is 4.65. Now, those numbers should not be considered with utmost importance in why he will have a good 2011, especially because Vazquez's low NL ERA was mostly accrued when he was much younger. However, I still feel it will play a small role. Another reasno Vazquez should succeed this season is that he will be moving from Yankee Stadium to Sun Life Stadium. Like Harang, Vazquez will benefit from this change. There is also no reason at this point to assume that Vazquez's K/9 numbers will not rebound, and that last year was just an anomaly. Vazquez is often lost in the discussion of the great Strikeout pitchers of active players (at least for starters), but the fact is he is one of the best, even when he was in the AL. If his K/9 can rebound back to his career norm, Vazquez should fairly easily put up 15 wins and sub-4.00 ERA.

That's it for now.


Vinnie said...

These guys all do make for intriguing candidates. I ended up with Reynolds on team, and drafted Vazquez but am not so sure if he can rebound (he looked horrible today).

Hill's BABIP was ridiculous and the Jays are a great hitting lineup to be in.

And of course PETCO should be a help to anyone's numbers.

How about Gordon Beckham for a better year?

I also think Matt Kemp will outdo last year, his BABIP was way off too.

Jacob said...

There were guys like Nick Markakis and Matt Kemp who I considered including here, but the truth is both guys, even though they had kind of off years in one stat or another, had great production last year. You are probably right that Kemp will have a better year last year, but I instead opted to go for guys who had horrible production last year, meaning they had to "bounce back" even farther, I guess.

Beckham did not make the list because I was kind of guying for guys who have had a career of success but struggled for a year, which is kind of wussing out on my part, but it's much easier to predict someone bouncing back if they have a track record. Beckham just has not produced yet as people expected at the major league level, though this could certainly be the year.