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Monday, December 1, 2014

2015 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: NELSON CRUZ OUTFIELDER SEATTLE MARINERS

Now for a bit of a history lesson for you.  Backtrack to this same point in early December as Baltimore Orioles 1B Chris Davis was coming off an MVP-type season in 2013 when he hit 53 home runs and collected a crazy 138 RBI while batting .300.  It was an awe-inspiring performance made even more impressive in this era of pitching dominance.  Despite all the accolades Davis garnered, we were not buying the numbers by any means.  Davis' 2013 statistics screamed "outlier" based on his previous career norms and there were also some "off-the-field" whispers about how he was collecting his numbers.  We found it laughable that Davis was being called a first round pick for 2014 drafts and screamed to the rafters for all of you to avoid him like the plague as he highlighted our 2014 Bust section in our annual draft guide.  Fast forward to the conclusion of the 2014 season and we find Davis suspended 25 games for using greenies, while also showcasing arguably one of the worst hitting seasons of any big-name player in all of fantasy baseball.  Digest on these numbers for a moment:

.196 average
26 home runs
72 RBI
65 runs
2 stolen bases

Ugh.  Just ugly all the way around but something we clearly saw coming which you can go back and check for yourself.  When it came to Davis, his 2013 was a complete fluke obviously fueled by performance enhancers and for possibly other shady reasons.  With Davis and every other player, a career season is always one that has to be looked at with a wary eye due to the volatility of the numbers.  A player's career speaks for itself and 95 percent of the time the career norms once again take hold the following season.  Which brings us to today's bust candidate for 2015 fantasy baseball, newly signed Seattle Mariners outfielder Nelson Cruz.  The similarities of Cruz' 2014 and Davis' 2013 are incredibly similar.  Cruz put up a shockingly good career season last year on a one-year "prove it" deal with the same Baltimore Orioles at the advancing age of 34.  Let's take a look at the numbers before we go any further:

40 HR
108 RBI
87 runs
.271 average
4 stolen bases

Now let's take those numbers apart.  The 40 home runs were 13 more than Cruz hit the season prior and were his most since he swatted 33 all the way back in the 2009 season.  The 108 RBI?  A full 18 more than Cruz' previous career high of 90 back in 2012.  And only twice in his 10-year career has Cruz scored more than 80 runs.  Again all three of those numbers scream "outlier" for Cruz, especially when you consider he was 34 which is getting very close to a player's "cliff" season when their stats tend to go the wrong way.  And of course there was the 50-game Biogenesis steroid suspension that Cruz had at the end of 2013 which will forever call into question the legitimacy of any numbers he puts up. 

Want some more negative arguments?  How about the fact Cruz has lost all of his speed and is a career .268 hitter which are two decent to giant negatives with those other two numbers when you check out his entire possibly value.  Of course there is also the very significant fact Cruz moves from one of the best home run parks in baseball in Baltimore to one of the worst in Seattle.  Cruz will not come anywhere close to the 40 home runs and 108 RBI he collected last season due to his new home ballpark alone and when you throw in the regression issue, things look real nasty.  Remember that Robinson Cano failed to hit 20 home runs in his first season with the Mariners in 2014 after doing it every year as a regular with the New York Yankees before he left town to sign his mammoth free agent contract.  Cruz will fall in line with that trend as well.

When you put it all together, Nelson Cruz and his likely second or third round draft price look potentially disastrous.  This could get real ugly here as Cruz turns 35 and sees his numbers drop precipitously in his new home.  Stay far away here as hopefully those who didn't listen to our advice last season on Chris Davis will heed our words this time around.

2015 PROJECTION:  .265 27 HR 91 RBI 79 R 2 SB

 
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