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Duds That Were Studs

Two weeks ago I followed up on Chris Cwik’s look at several busts from the past season with some more names. Now it is time to look at the opposite side of the coin, those supposed duds who turned out to be studs. In the studs to duds article, I explained why you might want to consider trading for each particular player. This time I will dive into why it may be prudent to trade away the player in question. Of course, I will have to ignore the cost to keep the player since every league has different rules. So think of this section as more of a handful of reasons why the player will be overvalued.

Jeff Francoeur

What went right: First off, I am frankly shocked that there has not been one article dedicated to analyzing Francouer’s best offensive season. Anyhow, Frenchy’s season really boiled down to a spike in power, as his ISO reached a career high, and a BABIP rebound that came in at his second best mark. Those improved skills led to his second highest batting average and second highest HR/FB ratio and home run total. Oh, and for fantasy owners, he also suddenly decided he had to speed, and swiped 22 bases.

Why you should sell Francouer: Francouer will only be 28 next season so he is still right smack in the middle of his prime. For that reason alone, it is tempting to chalk up his power jump as legit. Especially considering he posted a 15.3% HR/FB ratio and .189 ISO back in 2006 with the Braves. However, his average speed off bat and distance figures from ESPN Home Run Tracker were almost identical to all his previous seasons. Maybe he was a bit unlucky in previous years and this year better represented his power, but I would say his power hasn’t actually changed much. With all that said, I would lean more toward his past couple of years underrating his actual power. I think Francouer should be able to post another HR/FB ratio around 10%.

His BABIP though, which now averages .302 for his career after the .323 he posted this season, should revert closer to that career mark. He has averaged at least 40% fly balls the last three seasons, which usually hurt a player’s BABIP. As a result, his average will likely drop back into the .270 range. Last, Frenchy is not fast and clearly not a very good basestealer as his 69% success rate this year indicates. He is much more likely to drop back to single digit stolen bases than steal over 20 again. He will clearly be overvalued if any owner in your league has jumped back onto the Francouer train.

Emilio Bonifacio

What went right: He received over 500 at-bats! This was the most playing time he has ever received, which obviously helped his counting stats greatly. He literally played all over the field, garnering time at six (!!) different positions. He nearly doubled his stolen base total from 2009 in only about 26% more plate appearances. He hit line drives galore, leading to a .372 BABIP and .296 average.

Why you should sell Bonifacio: Once again, he may not have a guaranteed full-time job heading into the 2012 season. If so, it is highly unlikely he could receive over 500 at-bats again as a super utility player. This is especially true if his performance declines. Speaking of performance decline, there is little chance he repeats a .372 BABIP. Yes, it may have been somewhat deserved given his 2011 line drive rate, but that line drive rate itself is probably unsustainable. Bonifacio does have a career BABIP of .339, but that mark still has only led to a career batting average of .269. This means that there is a solid chance his batting average does not provides any positive value. The drop in batting average will cause a ripple effect, hurting his OBP, in turn cutting his stolen base opportunities and also making the Marlins think twice about plugging him into the lead-off spot. His 2009 season is the downside and will make him a risk next year.

Coco Crisp

What went right: He stayed healthy! The now 33-year old accumulated his most plate appearances since 2007 and only the third time in nine years that he has received over 500 at-bats. He made the most of the playing time by stealing 49 bases and getting caught just 9 times, while ensuring he was not a complete zero in the homer category by knocking 8 out of the park.

Why you should sell Crisp: This one is pretty obvious. What are the odds Crisp stays healthy enough to record 500+ at-bats again?! At 33, not only do you assume the ability to stay healthy will get more difficult, but at some point his speed is going to wane and you will be left with basically a zero category contributor. The reward here is simply not high enough, but his steals may be attractive enough to another owner.