Mike Stanton Versus Jay Bruce

Mike Stanton has a ton of power, and if component hitter aging curves are to be believed, the 22-year-old should be able to improve his strikeout rate — and therefore his batting average. With power down across baseball, he’s a stud.

24-year-old Jay Bruce also has gobs of power. His strikeout rate is better than Stanton’s, and with neutral luck, he should have a better batting average. Last year, he hit two fewer home runs than the Marlin, and he’s entering his prime years in a hitter’s park. He’s a stud.

So why is Mike Stanton going more than a round before Jay Bruce in most snake drafts?

That’s right. Sort for ADP on our projections page, and you’ll see Stanton clock in 16 picks before his Red counterpart. This, despite some similar projections.

PA AVG HR R RBI SB OBP
Mike Stanton Bill James 605 0.273 39 88 103 5 0.366
ZiPs 643 0.267 37 87 97 6 0.361
Jay Bruce Bill James 599 0.270 32 85 88 7 0.349
ZiPs 626 0.260 28 81 90 8 0.340

Okay, so Stanton still comes out on top. But if you compare a more optimistic projection of Bruce to a more pessimistic version of Stanton, you’re looking at a handful of home runs separating the two.

And then you can return to the ages of the respective sluggers. In a keeper league, the two years that Stanton has on Bruce are absolute gold. If they are similar now, and Stanton is two years younger, that means you definitively want the massive Marlin. He’ll give you two more years of production and he’s two years further away from his peak (on the good side). His peak will be much better than Bruce’s peak.

But in a redraft league? Suddenly the age factor reverses course. Stanton is two years away from the peak age for most sluggers, and Bruce is right in the thick of it. If you follow that above link, most components peak around 25 and 26, meaning Bruce — who turns 25 before the season starts — could see the best strikeout rate and ground-ball rate of his career. This year.

Aging curves are not gospel. Each player has his own road to travel. Stanton has more power than Bruce, and it’s unlikely that Bruce will sport a nice enough batting average to equalize the distance between them completely.

But are we sure that Stanton is worth a round and a half on Bruce?

Look at Derek Van Riper‘s LABR mixed draft team — a conversation with Derek about his team actually spawned this post — and you can see the results of deciding to wait for Bruce instead of picking Stanton in the second. Instead of taking Stanton and Michael Bourn in that alternate universe, he took Bruce and Andrew McCutchen in this actual universe. Bourn and Stanton would have gotten him 39 home runs, 62 stolen bases and a batting average under .270 (by ZiPs projections). His actual duo netted him 47 home runs, 36 stolen bases, and a similar batting average by ZiPs. If you were going to bet on one pairing to outdo the other in batting average, however, you’d have to take the players he actually chose.

Obviously the example shows that this is no slam dunk decision. On the other hand, if the ‘true talent’ difference between Stanton and Bruce is actually five or six picks, and the observed difference is 20, then Bruce is the sneaky play in snake drafts this year. Even if Stanton is a gorgeous gigolo.




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36 Responses to “Mike Stanton Versus Jay Bruce”

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  1. cpebbles says:

    Um, taking a little peek at that link:
    BB% steeper upward curve for 22 year olds than 24 year olds.
    GB% steeper downward curve for 22 year olds than 24 year olds.
    ISO upward curve for 22 year olds, downward for 24 year olds.

    The only part that backs up your point is that Bruce should see a slightly bigger decrease in his K%. Bruce may be peaking sooner, but that link indicates that Stanton will still be improving quite a bit more.

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    • Chris says:

      This.

      To put it differently, because Bruce is closer to his typical peak years, it’s far more likely that his 2011 numbers (or at least components) will be the best of his career and he’ll actually see a decline in 2012 than it is that the same will happen to Stanton.

      And this confuses me as well:

      But if you compare a more optimistic projection of Bruce to a more pessimistic version of Stanton, you’re looking at a handful of home runs separating the two.

      So Stanton is still better even if you take Bruce’s best projection and Stanton’s worse, and that’s a point in Bruce’s favor? Huh?

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        The point was never that Bruce was better than Stanton. The point was that they are similar enough that they shouldn’t have more than a round of separation.

        The first point is taken. It’s an interesting, different way of looking at the aging curves. What we don’t know is how much the aging curves will be relevant to these two specific players, and if K% or ISO peaking is going to have more of an impact on their lines.

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    • cfg720 says:

      I don’t think you can just look at age when determining the projected increase in %. Stanton is a physical freak and way ahead of the curave already. Most 21/22 year olds don’t get anywhere near the production Stanton had last year. Therefore, his increase in production will be limited.

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  2. Mario Mendoza of posters says:

    Personally, I’m discounting Stanton a bit in redraft because of the new park, supposedly a cavern. I know his old stadium was no band box, and I know he can hit them out of the biggest parks, but new parks have hard on their tenants recently. (Yankee Stadium v1.3 was not a new layout or at all unfamiliar to its players.) Add that to the risk of drafting Stanton.

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  3. Ender says:

    Bruce will also face easier pitching.

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  4. kid says:

    Stanton has had a hard time hitting big-league pitching on the nose. The LD rate is in the 16% range, and the pop-up rate is 14% for his career. Additionally, his contact rate – 68% – doesn’t bode well for bringing that batting average up. Not to say it’s impossible, as guys like Justin Upton and Josh Hamilton can hit in the .280s and .290s despite having contact rates in the low 70s, but it makes the path more difficult. Folks are talking about him as though he’s a complete hitter, and a future .290/40 guy, but he’ll have to shore up his plate discipline, contact rates and batted ball profile to pull that off. It’s best to think of him as Adam Dunn plus 15-20 points in batting average. Also, Stanton has yet to show that he can be an elite run-scorer, which is an underrated fantasy statistic. Again using Upton as a comp, Justin has averaged 99 runs per 162 games in his past three seasons. Stanton has averaged just over 80 runs per 162 games to-date. The argument can be made that Upton’s had the benefit of a better lineup spot, but Nelson Cruz has managed 90 runs per 162 games, despite usually hitting 5th or 6th for the Rangers. The real fantasy stars are the ones who score gobs of runs, in addition to the HR/SB/RBI components.

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    • NBH says:

      The problem I have with both those guys in the round 3 neighborhood is the lack of speed – Bruce has a terrible 50% success rate over his career (20 for 40) while Stanton probably tops out at 5 steals. With AVG down around MLB, it’s tough to take a .260 or .270 hitter with no speed in late round 2 or early round 3. I much prefer a 4 to 5 category player (Pence, Holliday, Wright) or a stud SP (I have ben getting Lincecum in round 3) in round three. And no way do I take Stanton ahead of Pedroia, Kinsler, Hanley or Reyes – I have seen it happen in some mocks.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        This is sorta how I’m thinking it. Not that Bruce should be a second-rounder, but that they should both be third-rounders separated by five-plus picks.

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  5. SteveJobs says:

    Bruce also should swipe a handful more bases than Stanton.

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    • ray says:

      I see Stanton reaching double digits this season.

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      • jcxy says:

        stanton hasn’t stolen more than 6 in a single pro season (minors+majors) and has (moderately) negative value as a baserunner for his career.

        bruce is rated as a positive value baserunner, has some speed pedigree (yes, from 5 years ago) but showed up to camp 15 lbs lighter…

        besides gut instinct or a davy lopes hiring i missed, what makes you think that scenario is likely?

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      • SteveJobs says:

        No.

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      • SteveJobs says:

        Stanton will not be “reaching double digits” this year, lol. Dream on.

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  6. Junker23 says:

    I don’t think you can say Stanton’s peak will be significantly better than Bruce’s at this point. It seems a bit more likely right now, sure. But it doesn’t seem impossible that Bruce hits 40 homers this year and Stanton only hits 25 – what would this article say next year about their peaks?

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  7. Sabermetric Solutions says:

    Eno,

    How do I access FG+?

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    • Sabermetric Solutions says:

      I’m pretty sure theeiffeltower who won the day before has had the same issue.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        but you asked me this ON a FG+ article last time. So, you have access to FG+. If you click FG+ in the toolbar and see articles — about xK% from Michael Barr or playing through injuries by Zimmerman, or my article on prospects (which you commented on), then you are IN FG+.

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      • Sabermetric Solutions says:

        When I go to FG+, all I can see is the first sentence or two of an article. I thought that if I commented I would be able to see the article but that didn’t work.

        For example, when I go to Dave Cameron’s article “A Few Cases Where Spring Training Stats Might Matter”, all I can see is “When it comes to spring training statistics, the… “

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        ah I see. my bad. hit me up at my name at hotmail and I’ll get to work on your sub. if you can tell me your log-in name, log-in email and browser, I’ll try to figure it out.

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      • Eno Sarris says:

        hey dude, sorry about this. You should be good to go now. This was my fault. Hope you enjoy.

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  8. Matt H says:

    The pessimistic projections for Stanton and the optimistic ones for Bruce have them at 5 HRs apart. I would call that very close. ZiPS, one of the best projections systems for hitters, has them at 9 HRs apart AND has Stanton with a better BA. I really don’t think they’re that close.

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  9. honk-e says:

    career .256 hitter bruce… last year he batted .256… dont expect a .270 clip. trust me

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  10. cfg720 says:

    I’ve noticed this and would be happy taking Bruce either 20 spots latter or for $9 less in an auction. I’ve seen experts rank Stanton as much as 30 spots over Bruce. I don’t see a regression from Bruce this year and even if he produces what he did last year, he’s a bargin.

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  11. jimbo says:

    Having owned Stanton last year, I don’t put as much stock in his full season peripherals. He had two injuries, one to start the year and one middle of the season I think, both of which I believe he came back too early from.

    Both times he struggled for a few weeks and then hit his stride. Look over his daily trends in Slugging% and you’ll see the distinct plateaus. I’m perfeclty fine projecting him closer to .580 (what Team Fans think) than .550 (what most others think) up from his .537 last year. He was in the near-.600 range last year when healthy.

    He’s one of the few guys I can remember where EVERY time he comes up to the plate you wonder if he’ll hit a home run. Bonds was like that. Bautista when he’s getting pitched to. Bruce doesn’t strike me as the same eschelon of power.

    Wouldn’t shock me at all if Stanton hits 45 hr…or 50.

    Also, I like the lineup around Stanton better than Bruce’s. So RBI/Runs may not be close either.

    In my league Bruce is a 3rd rounder. I don’t have any problem saying Stanton is a round better. (Although I do understand if people don’t want a high risk/reward type with their second pick.)

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    • grassyjones says:

      “Also, I like the lineup around Stanton better than Bruce’s. So RBI/Runs may not be close either. ”

      Name 5 other guys in that Marlins lineup…

      Then I’ll let you know how all five combined won’t equal J.Votto.

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  12. Josh says:

    This article was well-written, but it actually convinced me that the gap between the two is greater than I previously thought.

    with that said, I would not mind ending up with both players.

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  13. randall says:

    Currently debating a Matt Moore and Stanton for James Shields and Bruce trade. I actually feel 40 HRs for Stanton is very possible this year, and I expect regression from Shields so it’s tough.

    I do think Stanton is worth a pick a round earlier than Bruce based on potential though.

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  14. AJ says:

    Have both guys locked in cheap in my keeper league. Love it.

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  15. Curtis says:

    Bruce is going to surprise people this year. The problem Bruce has had has nothing to do with talent and everything to do with consistency. There have been many cases of players putting it all together 25+ and Bruce has the most HRs in the league 25 and under right now.

    Ultimately, and what you can see from Bruce’s spring training, Jay has come into camp in legitimately amazing shape. He slimmed down, and he’s taking everything more seriously. If he finds consistency he can be one of the best hitters in the NL. Look for him to have a breakout year with 35+ HRs and he’ll be more valuable than Stanton in fantasy for sure.

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