FACTS/FLUKES: Bautista, Escobar, Doubront, Morrow, Carter

Can we expect a rebound from Bautista? ... With 27 first-half home runs, it looked as if Jose Bautista (OF, TOR) was on his way to another monster campaign in 2012. Then a wrist injury sidelined him for the majority of the season's second half, limiting him to just 48 ABs. There's no questioning his power, but after a .302 batting average in 2011, how worried should we be about last season's 1H decline (.241 BA)?

Year  AB    BA   xBA   bb%  ct%  h%   G/L/F    PX   hr/f  HR  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ==  ========  ===  ====  ==  ===  
2010  569  .260  .322   15   80  24  31/14/54  220   22%  54  153
2011  513  .302  .298   20   78  31  37/16/47  192   23%  43  130
2012  332  .241  .280   15   81  22  37/14/49  165   20%  27  107

Bautista's approach never wavered, but poor luck once again factored into his underwhelming BA:

  • Just like in 2010, a low h% crippled Bautista's average. His 1H xBA and a.905 OPS were more accurate measures of his effectiveness, and were in line with the previous two seasons. 
  • The sign of a truly elite batting eye: A 5% bb% drop still left him among the league leaders, and the trade-off resulted in a 50+ HR pace. 
  • He's still lofting the ball at a healthy rate, and the 48 AB he battled through in the second half did some damage to his overall PX. His 173 PX/50% FB% in the first half were vintage Bautista. 

At age 32, Bautista is still in the tail-end of his prime, and assuming his wrist is fully healed by the beginning of the season there's little reason to expect any power regression. In fact, given his h%-hampered BA, he may come at a slight discount in some leagues. Don't be afraid to pounce. 

 

Was Escobar's breakout for real? ... Entering 2012, we thought we knew Alcides Escobar (SS, KC): A wiz with the glove, woeful at the plate. With little in the way of skills growth since 2010, the return-on-investment he provided those who took a flyer on him was far beyond what we could've predicted. So can we expect a repeat?

Year  AB    BA    xBA   OBA  bb%  ct%   Eye  h%  PX  Spd  SBO  HR/SB  
====  ===  ====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ==  ==  ===  ===  =====  
2010  506  .235  .256  .286    7   86  0.51  27  54  184  11%   4/10    
2011  548  .254  .262  .286    4   87  0.34  29  58  162  27%   4/26    
2012  605  .293  .272  .323    4   83  0.27  34  66  134  25%   5/35  

Not only was Escobar's 2012 success more or less an illusion, many of his BPIs actually declined:

  • Red flag No. 1: Escobar's surprising BA spike—which drove most of his value—was heavily aided by h%. While above average ct% and a slight PX bump resulted in a more friendly xBA, he's more likely to revert back to his .250 baseline than grow into a .300 hitter. 
  • Red flag No. 2: A two-year decline in Eye says he's become more impatient, which could wreak havoc on his BA if his h% regresses. 
  • Red flag No. 3: A two-year Spd decline for a supposed speedster with fresh 25-year-old legs is a bit alarming, and increasingly leaves him at the mercy of SBO. He should continue to get the green light if he remains in the No. 2 hole in KC's lineup, however. 

There are some ominous trends in Escobar's plate approach, making it difficult to expect a repeat in the BA department unless h% cooperates again. He should parlay high SBO into another 30-steal season, but 2011 production is more likely than a repeat of 2012.

 

Doubront's wildness hurting his value ... Amidst a sea of trades, injuries and inconsistency that plagued the BOS rotation in 2012, Felix Doubront (LHP, BOS) remained a fairly dependable option in his first full season as a starter before control issues torpedoed his August and September. Can we expect further growth in his sophomore campaign?

Year  IP   ERA   xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd    G/L/F   H%/S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===   
2012  161  4.86  3.91  4.0  9.3  2.4  44/23/33  32/70   16%   83   
----------------------------------------------------------------
1H    85   4.54  3.77  3.1  9.2  3.0  41/24/34  33/72   15%  102
2H    76   5.23  4.08  5.0  9.5  1.9  46/22/31  31/68   17%   61

Despite a second half fade, the 25-year-old offers some seeds of profitability:

  • For one, it's a good sign from a durability standpoint that his Dom remained consistent (and elite) even as his control began to wane, given that he'd never pitched above 129 innings prior to 2012. 
  • His Ctl actually began to erode in July (5.5), but a 78%/26% H%/S% kept his ERA in check (3.86). Doubront's always had a tendency for wildness (career 3.1 Ctl in the minors), so it's difficult to expect much improvement in that area going forward.
  • Doubront's not a fly ball pitcher, so we should see some hr/f regression, although Fenway Park does favor RHBs slightly (+6% RHB HR). 

Entering his second full MLB season, Doubront still has a few rough edges to iron out before we can fully endorse his xERA. However, he's worth a flyer based on strikeout potential alone, and if he can manage find the strike zone more often, he could be one of the better bargains in 2013. 

 

Morrow evolving before our eyes ... The highly anticipated Brandon Morrow (RHP, TOR) breakout finally happened last season, at least on the surface—his 2.96 ERA was the lowest of his career. However, an oblique injury wiped out most of his summer, and his typically impressive Dom sat below 6.0 during three separate months. Are these the BPIs of an evolving pitcher, or warning signs for the future? 

Year  IP   ERA   xERA  Ctl  Dom   Cmd    G/L/F   H%/S%  OBA   BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  
2010  149  4.49  3.44  4.1  10.9  2.7  40/18/42  35/68  .248  105   
2011  179  4.72  3.55  3.5  10.2  2.9  36/22/42  32/65  .237  104  
2012  125  2.96  3.94  3.0   7.8  2.6  41/19/40  26/77  .214  79

It does appear Morrow is evolving, but not all signs suggest it's in a positive direction:

  • While the drastic decline in his trademark high Dom may be partially explained by his ailing oblique, the more likely conclusion is that he's harnessing his pitches better rather than overthrowing. The result is a trade-off of Dom for better Ctl.
  • However, his Cmd was virtually unchanged by the metamorphosis, resulting in a higher xERA. Add in the flip of H%/S% luck, and voila, he out-pitches his xERA by nearly one run.  
  • His OBA was driven by a 1H 24% h%, in which he limited hitters to a .194 OBA. Once his h% normalized in the 2H (30%), hitters treated him the same as in years' past (.246 OBA).

The once vastly underrated Morrow now finds himself slightly overrated entering the 2013. He may truly reach ace status if he manages to recapture the Dom of 2010/2011 while maintaining 2012's Ctl, but for now he'll remain a low-end No. 2 starter in most leagues.  

 

Can Carter overcome contact issues? ... Chris Carter (1B, OAK) hit a combined 82 home runs during his three years in OAK's Triple-A Pacific Coast League affiliate, but his all-or-nothing approach saw limited success at the major league level until last season's late June call-up:

Year     ABs   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  Eye   h%   PX    G/L/F   hr/f  HR 
====     ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ==  ===  ========  ====  ==
2010*    535  .201  .213    9   66   --   26   92  32/14/54   --   22
2011*    340  .203  .225    8   64  0.27  28   48  17/38/46   --   11
2012 AAA 276  .279   --     8   73  0.51  --   --  --------   --   18
2012     218  .239  .251   15   62  0.47  30  214  34/20/46   25%  16
*Include MLEs

Carter's game is still filled with warts, which could make it difficult to keep up last season's torrid pace:

  • While he made minor improvements to his ct% in Triple-A last year, it once again failed transfer to the majors. 
  • Unsustainable PX propped up his BA for now, which was the product of a quarter of his fly balls clearing the fence. Once that normalizes, expect his BA and HR total to suffer.
  • His bb% has always been acceptable, so we can't fully discount the spike given the decent sample size. If he can keep it up, he'll have poor-man's Adam Dunn-type upside.   

Assuming Carter begins the season on the active roster, he'll likely be stuck in a timeshare with Brandon Moss (1B/OF, OAK), another free-swinger who had similarly unprecedented success in 2012 (.291 BA, 21 HRs). If Carter can find 350+ ABs, however, the power potential makes him a great value pick in the later rounds. 


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