Martin Prado is Acceptable

Diamondbacks third baseman Martin Prado continues to be a useful fantasy asset. After emerging as a full-time player at age-25, Prado has a solid, but not spectacular option in the infield. There’s no one skill where Prado is outstanding. He consistently hits for a high enough average, provides moderate power and scores a fair amount of runs. He’s mainly been effective up the middle, where his overall numbers play much better. While Prado should retain second base eligibility in most leagues after playing 32 games at the position, his offensive performance was slightly down after a fine walk year. For a player who doesn’t provide elite statistics in any specific area, Prado could be hit harder than others once he experiences age-related decline.

It’s not entirely fair to look at Prado’s overall numbers and think he’ll continue to decline. Prado had a bit of an issue with his BABIP, especially early in the season. With players like Prado, who are reliant on their average to post a successful fantasy season, BABIP can play a much larger role. His value is severely depressed if he’s hitting .260 as opposed to .300. The second half offered a bit of a rebound here, and Prado wound up posting a solid .282/.333/.417 slash line. There are two areas where Prado did show some signs of fading. After stealing a surprising 17 bases in 2012, that didn’t carry over with his new club. Prado fell back to his normal stolen base total, making him more of a 4X4 player. On top of that, the power was down slightly. This didn’t show up in his home run numbers, where Prado was able to hit 14 long balls in a friendly home park, but his overall slugging percentage was his second lowest since becoming a full-time player.

Are there any indications those numbers will continue to drop? Prado’s been a pretty successful offensive player considering his skill set. Prado doesn’t strike out much, but isn’t an elite walker. Few of those players have posted a .340 wOBA in recent years. Here’s how those players fared once they reached their thirties.

Name PA HR BB% K% AVG OBP SLG Pre-30 wOBA Age-30 wOBA Dif WAR
Buddy Bell 2813 62 7.00% 7.80% 0.299 0.347 0.439 0.348 0.358 0.01 25.3
Thurman Munson 3040 69 7.00% 9.10% 0.293 0.345 0.420 0.345 0.355 0.01 22.5
Martin Prado 3098 63 6.90% 10.30% 0.291 0.340 0.432 0.337 ???   16.1
Julio Franco 3293 37 7.30% 10.20% 0.299 0.351 0.396 0.334 0.376 0.042 12.6
Carney Lansford 2590 67 6.40% 8.50% 0.293 0.340 0.438 0.344 0.355 0.011 11.3
Luis Polonia 2836 8 6.90% 9.80% 0.295 0.344 0.363 0.319 0.356 0.037 1.9
Jerry Morales 2854 58 7.50% 10.40% 0.270 0.324 0.395 0.325 0.277 -0.048 -2.0

The above chart shows the four player who posted a +.340 wOBA with the same skill set as Prado, and three players who were worse, but displayed the closest approach to Prado. The results were remarkably consistent. All but one of the players on the list saw improvement during their age-30 season. And the one player to see a big drop-off was no where near as good as Prado up until age-29. Given this evidence, it’s easy to look at Prado’s 2013 numbers, and expect a BABIP rebound to cause him to have a nice rebound in 2014.

The bigger decline appeared at age-31 for Bell, Munson and Lansford. Bell was able to post three more strong offensive campaigns, but had two tough years at age-31 and age-33. Munson tragically died before his age-33 season, so we don’t know how he would have performed. At age-33 Lansford had his last big year. Franco, as many will know, played for a long time, and was a pretty solid hitter through most of his thirties — his 40s too, but that’s for another day.

With that in mind, it would appear there’s no reason to worry about Prado just yet. He may not have any elite skills, but he should continue to be solid in 2014. There’s even a chance for slight rebound as long as his BABIP jumps back to normal numbers. Fantasy owners should be more concerned in a season or two. Prado should return to normal next year.



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Chris is a blogger for CBSSports.com. He has also contributed to Sports on Earth, the 2013 Hard Ball Times Baseball Annual, ESPN, FanGraphs and RotoGraphs. He tries to be funny on twitter @Chris_Cwik.


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Spud
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Spud

Franco seems like an obvious steroids guy.

The Rajah
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The Rajah

Did you see the power surge in his late 30’s? What a beast!

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