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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

2016 FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFT SLEEPER: GERARDO PARRA OUTFIELDER COLORADO ROCKIES

The big news of the day on Tuesday were the widespread reports that the Colorado Rockies had come to an agreement on a three-year contract for free agent outfielder Gerardo Parra.  While the Rockies have not said anything yet publicly, the assumption is that Parra will move to the leadoff spot for the Rockies for the 2016 season, displacing Charlie Blackmon to further down the order or maybe out of town as someone has to go since there are now four outfielders for three starting spots on the team.  Be that as it may, let's dig in again on Parra who set himself up for the payday after a terrific 2015 breakout. 

Before we go any further, let's revisit the splendid numbers Parra put up in his 2015 season split between the Milwaukee Brewers and Baltimore Orioles. 

.291
14 HR
51 RBI
83 R
14 SB

Looking at the numbers, Parra was at a top outfielder status in terms of fantasy baseball, moving ever so close to the low-end outfielder 2 realm.  The numbers were by far a career-best for Parra as everything came together for him in terms of playing time and development.  Now at the age of 29 in May, Parra is in his prime and is set to even take another step upwards in his numbers now that he will be calling Coors Field home. 

As far as how we got here, Parra first came up with the Arizona Diamondbacks way back in 2009 as a decent but not top outfield prospect.  And really from then all the way through the 2014 season, Parra performed like a solid but unspectacular player who often served as a fringe starter/fourth outfielder.  As a result, Parra's numbers never jumped off the table as just prior to 2015, Parra's career-best in home runs was only 10, stolen bases just 15, and only one time did he score even more than 60 runs.  Known for his leadoff skills with good speed and a solid batting eye that allowed him to post good batting averages, Parra's trade to the Milwaukee Brewers during the 2014 season did not move the needle much in terms of national attention.

Fast forward through the 2015 season and Parra set himself up in a tremendous way looking at free agency as he took advantage of the Brewers installing him as the everyday leadoff hitter/starting outfielder from the jump.  Parra proceeded to be blistering hot with the bat as he batted .328 with 9 home runs, 9 steals, and 53 runs scored for the Brewers in only 100 games before he was moved in a sell high deal to the Orioles at the July deadline.  While he did cool a bit in Baltimore, Parra still cracked 5 home runs and stole 5 more bases for the Orioles; albeit with a .237 average that could partly be blamed on facing unfamiliar pitchers being in the AL for the first time in his career.

So now what we have here is Parra moving into the best hitting park out there in Coors Field which at the very least will keep him right at the .300 realm in terms of batting average.  For his career Parra is a .277 hitter and the extra outfield space in Coors is perfectly suited for his inside/out swing.  In addition to the average, Parra should set a career-high in runs scored given the monster bats behind him in the order.  90 seems like a lock and maybe even 100 is all breaks right.  Finally, Parra's steals should be an asset, although he has never really been a huge guy in that category.  As we noted earlier, Parra's high in steals is 15 which he did twice but the Rockies are a heavy running team which could boost him up near the 20 mark for the first time.  Just don't count on much more than that number if the guy even gets there in the first place. 

As far as the rest of the numbers are concerned, Parra comes off a career-high in home runs with 14 which bodes well for him there in Coors Field.  As we have seen with Charlie Blackmon who was not previously known for his power before taking off with the Rockies there, Parra would get a nice uptick in that category in 2016, possibly finishing in the 15-20 range instead of his usual 10-15 pace.  Lastly, Parra's worst category is RBI as he doesn't get many of those batting in the leadoff spot.  He should be around 60 or so this season and anything else is just a bonus.

When you put it all together, Gerardo Parra has a very real chance to move into the firm outfielder 2 realm and put up numbers like Carlos Gomez without as many steals.  The move to Colorado figures to drive up the price on Parra but he stands to exceed his previous bests in move than a few categories which makes him a swell investment. 

2016 PROJECTION:  .307 17 HR 65 RBI 98 R 19 SB 

 


 

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