Everybody loves blind resumes. Fans love testing their baseball knowledge and we also love surprises. One of the biggest surprises this year came from the usually deep first base. Normally incredibly deep with power, only five first basemen hit more than 30 home runs in 2012, and none of those five players were taken within the first 15 rounds of most drafts. The following blind resume profiles two first basemen with similar stats, but not-so-similar ADP: (ADPs taken from MockDraftCentral.com)
The stat lines are pretty identical here, despite player B receiving 62 less at-bats. Considered one of those few players who you could get after the big name first basemen were gone, Player A, Nick Swisher, put up pretty solid numbers for an 11th round pick. However owners who took a chance on Player B, Garret Jones, were rewarded with numbers that were just as good off the waiver wire.
Looking ahead to 2013, Swisher has shown that he is a consistent source of power and RBI. 2012 was his 8th straight year recording at least 20 home runs, and playing for a team that scored the second most runs in baseball last year gives him plenty of opportunity to drive in and score runs.
However, unlike most first basemen that cause you to sacrifice batting average for power, (first baseman hit just .257 in 2012), Swisher has shown that he can hit more than just home runs. Swisher’s expected stats, thanks to slash12 over at Beyond the Boxscore, show that his batting average was no fluke; his .269 xAVG and .319 xBABIP were just a hair under his actual numbers of .272 and .324. Swisher has shown not only that he can constantly produce solid power numbers, but a decent batting average at well. We don’t expect him to lose much value no matter where he signs so draft him accordingly.
Jones, on the other hand, doesn’t have the track record that Swisher does. Any time a player puts up career highs in Rs, HRs, RBI, and AVG all in one season, it causes owners to worry that regression is due. However, the increase in HR/FB% (17.1% up from 11.0%) and the decrease in IFFB% (6.3% down from 8.3%) cause me to think that Jones has found his power stroke. Jones’s AB/HR% has been on the rise for the past three years, and he averaged a home run every 18 at- bats in 2012.
The same expected stats that I used with Swisher show that Jones was unlucky in terms of batting average. His xBABIP and xAVG say that he should have really hit .299 with a .327 BABIP, opposed to the .274 AVG and .293 BABIP that he actually put up. Jones spent most of his time batting fourth in the Pirates lineup, so that combined with the increase in batting average should produce an uptick in RBI and runs. At the start of the 2012 season, Jones was splitting time with Casey McGehee; now he has a full-time starting job. As long as he stays healthy, I can definitely see him reaching 30 home runs and being a viable fantasy starter next year.