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Monday, January 4, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT BUST: CARLOS GONZALEZ OUTFIELDER COLORADO ROCKIES

The career of Colorado Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez has certainly been an interesting and also a very maddening one as well.  When CarGo first arrived with the Colorado Rockies, he quickly showed himself to be a dynamic five-tool superstar player who looked to be a prime leader for the next generation of young MLB sluggers.  Things became downright silly in 2010 when Gonzalez slammed 34 home runs, stole 26 bases, and batted .336 as he became the guy we all were desperate to have on our fantasy baseball rosters going forward.  There was nothing Gonzalez couldn't do on the baseball field and he was now firmly a first round pick for 2011 drafts.  While Gonzalez was very good again that season with 26 home runs, 20 steals, and a .295 average, Gonzalez missed a chunk of time with injury which was a precursor of what was to come.  After another solid but still somewhat disappointing 2012 campaign that included a batch of more missed games with injury, Gonzalez was now cementing a reputation as a guy who was a health risk.

Despite the health questions, Gonzalez still was a much-desired fantasy baseball commodity due to his five tool ability and his home ballpark in Colorado.  Unfortunately Gonzalez came down with a whole bunch more injuries both in 2013 and 2014, with the latter serving as a "bottoming out" campaign when he hit only 11 home runs, stole just 3 bases, and saw his average drop to a hideous. 238.  It certainly looked like all those years of injuries were stealing the athleticism from Gonzalez and now the fantasy baseball community was in a full revolt against the guy as 2015 drafts came around.  In fact Gonzalez' draft stock sank so much that he was tabbed on average as an outfielder 3 for 2015 fantasy baseball.  Such the depths of how low the expectations were. 

Fast forward to the end of the 2015 season and Carlos Gonzalez wound up being one of the very best value plays in all of fantasy baseball as he hit a career-high 40 home runs, to go with 97 RBI and 87 runs scored.  In fact things got downright silly in the second half of the season as Gonzalez hit .285 with 27 home runs in just 260 at-bats.  The numbers were almost hard to believe as Gonzalez' previous high in home runs was 34 and that was the only time he even reached 30.  However upon looking deeper, it was pretty clear what was going on here as Gonzalez reinvented himself on the fly in terms of his hitting approach and numbers. 

Specifically speaking, Gonzalez had transitioned into a pure swing for the fences slugger, while leaving his past as a five-tool player behind.  As proof of this, Gonzalez stole just 2 bases in his 608 at-bats last season and his batting average was a just all right .271.  What is very apparent is that Gonzalez is now past his days as a base stealer, as he has stolen a grand total of just 5 bases the last two seasons combined.  With his long history of leg injuries and for the fact he also turned 30 this past October, it is not a shock this took place.  As far as the average is concerned, Gonzalez is slugging like never before as his K/9 rate was 21.9 percent last season and his BB/9 was a shaky 8.0.  Yes an unlucky .284 BABIP did some of the damage but Gonzalez seems like a guy will now bat .280 with all those home runs and no stolen bases as opposed to being a five tool guy. 

Now as far as the bust portion of this story is concerned, we come back to the fact that Gonzalez' home runs last season are now firmly in the outlier territory.  We have said already that Gonzalez only once before even reached 30 home runs and it is tough to bank on him repeating the 40 he smacked in 2015.  In addition, Gonzalez is still an ongoing health risk and that only grows as he continues to age.  2015 was the first season in his career that Gonzalez remained healthy and there is almost no chance of this happening again two seasons in a row.  That alone will help knock down the home runs and RBI.  Finally, we always advise never to buy in on a career year like Gonzalez had in 2015.  The draft value is simply not there as the community dives in on the numbers and ignores the bigger picture which we pointed out.  Thus there is really no good reason to invest in Gonzalez unless you can get him for an outfielder 2 average. 

When you put it all together, there is no denying that Carlos Gonzalez was terrific in 2015 but there are more than a few bad signs which you simply can't ignore.  We have been burned by this guy way too many times in the past and we won't make that mistake again given the issues we already talked about.  Let him be someone else's headache. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .280 28 HR 88 RBI 86 R 4 SB 

 

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