2014 Fantasy Baseball Rankings Revisited: Jean Segura and Carlos Gomez Discussed
Major League Baseball’s 2014 regular season is in the books, so it’s time to look back towards Spring Training and reflect upon my preseason fantasy baseball rankings. Many players fell off due to season-ending injuries at some point during the season, unfortunately, but the six below I simply “hit” or “missed” in my initial go-around. Let’s hop to it:
Jean Segura | SS | Brewers | preseason rank: 7; end-of-season rank: #21
Folks fell in love with Segura after he started the 2013 season triple slashing .333/.381./.537 with five homers and eight stolen bases in 134 plate appearances. And rightfully so, the youngster paid significant dividends for fantasy teams in the first month of baseball, but like I noted last season, the 18.5% HR/FB% was a fluke and the power profile faded into the sunset. Even without balls going over the fence, Segura continued to steal bags and finished ‘13 as the top rated shortstop in the Y! game.
Heading into the ‘14 season, I believed most would be shortsighted and recall Segura’s finish as the top shortstop as opposed to the first-half and second-half splits. I was the lowest on Segura among all the rankers here at the Fix and also went bold at FanGraphs by suggesting either Everth Cabrera or J.J. Hardy would be a more valuable shortstop than Segura in ‘14 despite a significant difference in average draft position. Hardy did in fact finish higher than Segura in the Y! game thanks to a .246/.289/.326 slash with just five homers and 20 stolen bases in 146 games from the Brewer. And while Segura walked more (5% BB%) and struck out less (12.5% K%) this season, his BABIP went from .326 in ‘13 to .275 in ‘14, saw a dip in ISO from .129 to .080 and posted just a 67 wRC+. That’s not very good for a guy who finished ‘13 as the top fantasy shortstop.
Although I was low on Segura heading into the season, I wasn’t low enough. He finished ‘14 as the 21st ranked shortstop in the Y! game.
2015 Steamer Projection: .266/.310/.376, 7 HR, 20 SB
Todd Frazier | 3B | Reds | preseason rank: 14; end-of-season rank: #3
For the second consecutive season, Todd Frazier played in 150 or more games and amassed 600 or more plate appearances at first or third base for the Reds. He posted career highs in both the home run (29) and stolen base (20) departments and finished the year with a respectable .273/.336/.459 slash line. A 17.0% HR/FB% (career 14.5% HR/FB%) may be part of what propelled Frazier to the career homer mark so we may not see 25+ again in ‘15, but even if Frazier could post 20/15 with dual eligibility he would be a significant asset to your fantasy baseball squad.
2015 Steamer Projection: .249/.318/.433, 21 HR, 11 SB
Jay Bruce | OF | Reds | preseason rank: #8 outfielder; end-of-season rank: #51
Bruce fell shy of the 600 plate appearance mark for the first time since his 2010 effort. But in 137 games the Reds’ outfielder triple slashed .217/.281/.373 with a 79 wRC+ and a -1.1 WAR. Walk (8.1% BB%, career 9.3%) and strikeout rates (27.3% K%, career 24.5%) weren’t too far off from career norms, but Bruce’s ISO (.156, career .216) and BABIP (.269, career .293) took pretty significant hits. The dip in line drives and fly balls and the spike in ground balls (paired with the low BABIP) seems to be the culprit of his poor batting average. Instead of continuing on the 30 HR, 80 R, 90+ RBI train, Bruce posted arguably the second-worst season of his professional career.
2015 Steamer Projection: .241/.314/.441, 21 HR, 7 SB
Carlos Gomez | OF | Brewers | preseason rank: 6; end-of-season rank: #6
Right on the button. This rarely happens outside of maybe the top two players, but Gomez’s second consecutive 20/30 season made Gomez the sixth overall outfielder in the Y! game at season’s end. He slashed .284/.356/.477 with 23 homers, 95 runs, 73 RBI, 34 SB and a career best 133 wRC+ in 144 games (644 PA). Additionally, Gomez improved on both his walk (7.3% BB%) and strikeout (21.9% K%) rates. With that said, Gomez was swinging more (56.5% Swing%) and swinging-and-missing more (14.1% SwStr%) causing a slight dip in Contact% (74.6%), maybe because he saw fewer pitches in the zone (43% Zone%). Although I think he may steal fewer bases going forward, Gomez will be ranked among my top seven outfielders again in ‘15 and will probably reach the 20/30 mark for the third year in-a-row.
2015 Steamer Projection: .260/.323/.440, 22 HR, 31 SB
Anthony Rizzo | 1B | Cubs | preseason rank: 8; end-of-season rank: #8
Hey! Look at that. Rizzo was my eighth ranked first baseman and sure enough, he finished the season ranked eighth. Rizzo slashed .286/.386/.527 with 32 homers, 89 runs, 78 RBI and five stolen bases in just 140 games (616 PAs). An 18.8% HR/FB% sounds like it could settle and reduce the amount of balls that go over the fence next season, but I still believe if he plays in a few more games next season he could still reach the 30 HR mark. He’ll be one of my top fantasy baseball targets in 2015.
2015 Steamer Projection: .270/.359/.503, 30 HR, 6 SB
Mashahiro Tanaka | SP | Yankees | preseason rank: 19; end-of-season rank: 21
Many loved Tanaka’s fantasy baseball potential as he transitioned to Major League Baseball, but I was somewhat worried about the unknown and history of arm abuse. At any rate, Tanaka failed to disappoint in his 20 starts prior to hitting the disabled list. He finished 13-5 with a 2.77 ERA (3.04 FIP) and a 22.1% K-BB%. He consistently nailed the first strike (62% F-Strike%), missed a ton of bats (13.4% SwStr%) and allowed free passes to just 3.9% of batters he faced. Unfortunately, Tanaka finished the year on the shelf and there is more “unknown” surrounding his 2015 season.
2015 Steamer Projection: 3.43 ERA