Here are the top five fantasy baseball stories facing the Cleveland Indians.
5. Is Jason Kipnis ready for Prime Time? It all depends on how you look at half-by-half splits. Last year was allegedly a breakout, but from a skills perspective it wasn’t even as good as his debut. In his 2011 season he had a higher expected BA, OPS, SLG and BA while hitting more FB. So, one can look at 2012 as a consolidation season, one in which he increased his BB% and CT%. Personally, I am not a believer in half-by-half splits, so his alleged 2H falloff is no big deal; and he increased some of his core skills in the 2H in any event. It looks to us like it is all systems go.
4. Can Carlos Santana take a step up to the next level? Few people realize that Santana has been a .250 hitter for his career, and though he takes a lot of walks he has below average CT% and has yet to have a BABIP above .300. And he is already 27. It is so tempting to believe that he will turn a corner, but it is wishcasting; there is no evidence at all that he will do so. Sometimes wishcasting comes true, but that is no evidence that a process is a valid analytical process, and now we have two seasons of evidence that Santana is what he is- a very good Catcher and nothing more.
3. How far will Drew Stubbs rebound? That his BA will rebound is a given, at least to us. His BABIP last year was almost 60 points below his norm, and in the three years prior his BA was in the .240-.260 range. On the other hand his FB% has dipped to the 33% range, dangerous levels for a player trying to stay in the 15 HR range. SB are a certainty, his BA is going to rebound and he should stay out of the leadoff spot so RBIs should be on the upswing. A 20 HR 50 SB season is not impossible.
2. Come on Ubaldo Jimenez, are you serious? It is all about his BB rate, and there is good reason to be somewhat optimistic that he will improve. The three seasons prior to 2012 resulted in a very consistent BB rate of 3.5-3.7 per nine. In fact, he was remarkably consistent in his overall skill set from 2009-2011, with exactly the same K/BB and xERA trading in a very small range, though you would never know it if you only look at his roto stats. Does he have a lot to prove? He sure does, but the price is right if you want to speculate on a rebound. Matthew Berry is a believer in the “proven player off a bad year” theory and Jimenez fits the bill.
1. Can Chris Perez repeat? Let’s face it; Perez has been all across the board when it comes to closers’ skill sets. Last year was the only season in which he bested the Closer Identifier Algorithm minimums, with a 3.7 K/BB and a 117 BPV. His K rate has wandered back and forth, but his BB rate has been on a steady improvement plane in the last five years, from a 4.8 rate in 2009 to 2.5 in 2012. This appears to be a true skills improvement and not a fluke. And, aside from 2011, his K rate has been in the 9.0/9IP range. It looks to us like Perez has legitimately improved, and he deservedly merits a “hold” status under CIA.