FACTS/ FLUKES: Cruz, McCann, Yarbrough, Canha, Colome

Cruz eluding Father Time ... Nelson Cruz reversed declines in HRs and batting average and posted a .311-41-108 season despite playing just 120 games because of a torn wrist tendon. Over the past six years, Cruz has been one of the steadiest power bats in the AL, averaging more than 40 HRs and 100 RBIs. But as he turns 40 in July, when does the music stop?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ====  ====   ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2016  589  43  .287  .274     9   73  44/18/38  33   108  160  134   26%
2017  556  39  .288  .268    11   75  40/18/42  32   123  146  150   22%
2018  519  37  .256  .266     9   76  44/18/39  27   119  139  123   24%
2019  454  41  .311  .281    11   71  40/20/40  35   129  177  156   31%

Cruz's BPIs back up his production last year:

  • Cruz's ct% slipped and he benefited from a big bounceback in h%. He won't repeat last year's .311 BA, but somewhere in the middle of the past two seasons is realistic.
  • Even with the wrist injury, which can sap power, xPX and HctX were the best of his career and didn't waver between the 1H and 2H.
  • Even with juiced balls, Cruz's 31% hr/f is hard to repeat, so expect a little regression there.

The scariest things are those we can't see, and that axiom applies to aging sluggers in fantasy baseball, too. Cruz's skills suggest he's a good bet for another 40-100 season with a respectable BA; a skill set that deserves better than an early season NFBC ADP of 98. There's a risk premium related to age, for sure, but also a potential bargain to be had even if there is some skills erosion.

 

Dim chances for McCann repeat  ... The seesaw career of James McCann (C, CHW) continued with a breakout .273-18-60 season an All-Star selection. It was, however, a lopsided year with McCann surging to start the season, then struggling to maintain replacement level in the 2H. What can we expect moving forward?

Year   AB  HR  BA   xBA  bb%  ct%   Eye   HctX  h%   G/L/F     PX  xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ===  ===  ===  ===   ====  ====  ==  ========  ===  ===  ====
2016  344  12  221  207   6    68   0.21    94  29  41/18/41   88  112   13%
2017  352  13  253  260   7    75   0.29   116  30  38/28/34   93  101   14%
2018  427   8  220  211   6    73   0.22    98  28  38/22/39   63   90    7%
2019  439  18  273  248   6    69   0.22    95  36  44/24/32  113   89   19%

Nothing in McCann's skill set really inspires confidence he can repeat his 1H excellence:

  • McCann's ct% dipped below 70%.
  • The BA surge owes itself to a lucky h%, which again was juiced by an unsustainable 1H (41%). He hit a more typical .231 with a 31% hit rate in the 2H.
  • McCann's career-best HR total was a product of not more fly balls as his 10.7 launch angle was worst of the past four years. Rather, it was a career-best 19% hr/f.

McCann's skills show he's unlikely to repeat last year's production and the White Sox apparently thought so, too, spending heavily on free agent and switch-hitting Yasmani Grandal. McCann's BA is almost certain to tumble and the decrease in ABs and likely dip in hr/f will eat into his HR total. The best bet for a boost to McCann's value is a change of scenery, but the White Sox have so far indicated they want to hold onto the 30-year-old for depth.

 

Yarbrough a hidden gem? ... Ryan Yarbrough's role (LHP, TAM) evolved from being Tampa's chief "bulk" guy in their starter scheme to full-time starter in the final two months. His surface numbers weren't all that different from the prior season. What do the underlying skills tell us?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===
2016# 128  3.99   N/A  2.3  5.9  2.5     N/A    32/70   N/A  N/A  N/A   71
2017+ 157  4.87   N/A  2.6  7.5  2.9     N/A    34/71   N/A  N/A  N/A   60
2018  147  3.91  4.41  2.2  7.6  3.5  39/22/39  30/73   11%  59%  10%   74
2019  142  4.13  4.06  1.3  7.4  5.9  44/20/36  27/60   10%  65%  11%  121
#Double-A MLEs
+Triple-A MLEs

Yarbrough's BPIs are quite encouraging:

  • Yarbrough's Ctl improved from merely good to pinpoint and is the basis for his elite Cmd.
  • His SwK and FpK both improved, suggesting the Ctl gains are real and suggesting Dom upside.
  • Yarbrough showed sharp improvement vRHB with a 7.9 Cmd and .631 OPS against.

While Yarbrough's BPIs show the emergence of a young pitcher, the improvement really isn't evident in his surface numbers last year. The 28-year-old should get opportunity to work as a starter for the Rays, which means an increased workload, more IP and more Ks. There's always risk his role could change or Cmd could regress, but even then a down season probably doesn't look all that different from last year.

 

Canha carves out a role ... Mark Canha (OF, OAK) made the most of the opportunity created when teammates went on the IL last year, delivering a career best 26 HRs to go with a .273 average and 58 RBIs. What drove his success—and can we count on a repeat?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA   vL    bb%  ct%   G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2016   41   3  .122  .190  .158    0   51  36/18/45  11    81  167  157   30%
2017  173   5  .208  .227  .203    4   68  33/20/47  28    77  123   75    9%
2018  365  17  .249  .259  .282    8   76  38/22/40  28   104  123  114   15%
2019  410  26  .273  .256  .221   11   74  41/18/41  31   101  124  100   21%

More than anything, more playing time and good luck fueled Canha's breakout:

  • Canha gave up a little ct% but showed improved strike zone judgment.
  • His BA increase was primarily a product of an improved h%. HctX, meanwhile, was static and remains about league average.
  • Canha also reaped the benefit of a boost in hr/f, which along with more opportunities, bumped his HR total.

Canha was a jack-of-all-trades for the A's last year, filling in for injured starters at all three OF spots and at first base. He more than held his own along the way and earned more ABs as the season progressed. He enters spring as Oakland's best option in LF vs. RHP but if he wants to do more than platoon, he needs to provide better output (.221 BA, .450 Slg.) vs. southpaws. Look at his 2018 and '19 numbers as bookends for what to expect.

 

Trouble ahead for Colome? ... Fewer than a dozen relievers in baseball notched 30 or more saves, including Alexander Colome (RHP, CHW), who also posted a superb 2.80 ERA and 1.07 WHIP.  Those numbers suggest Colome belongs in the top tier of AL closers? Do his underlying skills back it up?

Year    IP  SV    ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK  H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====   ===  ==   ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ==  ==  ====  ===
2016    57  37   1.91  2.86  2.4  11.3  4.7   63   16  29  88  15%   164
2017    67  47   3.24  4.25  3.1   7.8  2.5   60   12  29  74   6%    84
2018    68  12   3.04  3.49  2.8   9.5  3.4   63   14  30  78  13%   120                                              
2019    61  30   2.80  4.53  3.4   8.1  2.4   57   14  23  79  11%    77 
------------------------------------------------------------------------
'19-2H  28  12   3.58  4.55  4.2   9.4  2.2   54   14  36  80  13%    83

Colome's BPIs suggest he'll struggle to repeat his success:

  • Colome's Dom rate picked up in the 2H, but the drop in Ctl and FpK is unacceptable and a concern moving forward.
  • He's consistently outpitched his xERA thanks to S%, but last year's gap will be hard to repeat.
  • The drop to a career low BPV at age 31 is a red flag.

Colome's surface numbers glossed over his deficiencies last year and will likely command a premium at draft tables. While the White Sox bullpen isn't loaded with talent, be aware that expectations are rising on the South Side and there are other arms that have some level of experience closing games. 


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.