Jay Bruce is a player that is often mentioned as a player fantasy owners should target. His power is alluring, with 66 HR over the past two seasons. In fact, how many players can we go into the year thinking 40+ HR is a viable possibility? Of course, Bruce also is a .255 career hitter putting him closer to an Adam Dunn than to a perennial Top 20 selection.
Does that mean he doesn’t have the ability to put it all together and produce a high enough average? Absolutely not, and there’s a chance that it all comes together as soon as 2013, though that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t carry his own risk. Before we get there, let’s take a look at his 2012 numbers:
560 At Bats
.252 Batting Average (141 Hits)
34 Home Runs
9 Stolen Bases
.327 On Base Percentage
.514 Slugging Percentage
The power is clearly there, and the potential is there for an even further improvement. Bruce set career highs in home runs, doubles (35) and extra base hits (74). His fly ball rate remained reasonable, at 44.4%, and his HR/FB was 18.7%, reasonably close to his 17.2% career mark.
Granted, he hit for better power at home (21 HR) than on the road (13 HR), though that shouldn’t be the biggest surprise. Great American Ballpark is always going to be favorable to hitters, that is one of the benefits of owning a power hitter who plays there.
While the power is reasonable, his overall struggles on the road are not. Just look at his road line:
.218, 13 HR, 38 RBI, 38 R
He also had just 12 doubles to go along with a higher strikeout rate (26.2%) and with significantly less authority (17.2% line drive rate vs. 23.1% at home). Before we conclude how realistic things are, we need to look at his history.
Let’s look at his career splits:
- Home – .280, 82 HR, 217 RBI over 1,200 AB
- Road – .231, 52 HR, 159 RBI over 1,212 AB
In other words, last year’s struggles were no aberration. While the strikeout rate on the road was (23.0% at home vs. 23.8% on the road), he has posted a 16.2% line drive rate away from Great American Ballpark.
That’s going to be the key for Bruce if he wants to take the next step in his development. If he can get comfortable enough to even hit .260 on the road, we are going to look at a .270 hitter with the potential to reach 40 HR. That’s a Top 10 outfielder, and obviously a player worth owning.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at our 2013 projection:
.266 (153-575), 36 HR, 105 RBI, 90 R, 9 SB, .301 BABIP, .343 OBP, .517 SLG
Even if he continues down his current path, hitting .255 with 35 HR, no one is going to be disappointed. He will turn 26-years old on April 3, though, and there is a good chance that he will continue to mature and develop. With that in mind, he is a player that needs to be targeted in the third round in all formats, given his potential to produce first round numbers.
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Make sure to check out all of our 2013 projections: