Breakout or Bust: Is The Angels’ C.J. Cron In Position To Emerge In 2015?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The absence of Josh Hamilton has presented an opportunity for the Angels’ C.J. Cron, who is now expected to see significant time at DH.  He has certainly enjoyed his time in Spring Training, hitting .415 with 3 HR and 14 RBI over 65 AB.  Throw in 10 doubles and 2 triples and it’s hard not to get excited…

Should we temper expectations, though?

Obviously we aren’t going to expect him to maintain a .769 SLG over any extended period of time, but he has shown power before:

  • 2012 (Double-A) – 27 HR (as well as 32 doubles and 2 triples) in 557 PA
  • 2013 (Triple-A) – 14 HR (as well as 36 doubles and 1 triple) in 565 PA

Throw in a 15.3% HR/FB in the Majors last season and there’s obviously power.  Just to really hammer it home, though, here’s what Rich Wilson of Prospect 361 said prior to the 2014 campaign:

“The raw power is also impressive.  It’s a combination of strength and leverage that when he squares a pitch can deliver tape measured shots.  This was evident during batting practice of the Futures Game as Cron pulled many moon shots to the left field seats.”

He did have issues in the Majors last season, however:

  • Strikeouts – 24.1%
  • Walks – 4.0%
  • Popups – 16.7%

The strikeouts were not an issue in the minors, with a 15.3% strikeout rate.  This spring he’s at 13.04% and, while we don’t want to put too much stock in it, it certainly helps bring some hope.  He is aggressive, with a 40.7% O-Swing% in the Majors (league average was 31.3%) in 2014, so we will have to see if the improved rate can translate.

The other two things, unfortunately, we can’t say the same about.  He owned a minor league walk rate of 4.5% and is at 5.8% this spring.  It’s not a killer number, especially for a power hitter, but something to monitor.

He did struggle with popups in the minors the past two season.  In 2013 he owned an IFB% of 10.1% and was at 13.2% at Triple-A prior to his recall (10.0% for his career).  It’s a number that could help limit his average potential, though the improved strikeouts and ability to post an elevated line drive rate (25.4% in the Majors last season) should keep it from being crippling.  That said, if he could reduce it as well the sky could be the limit.

Is he going to be a .300+ hitter?  Not likely (his spring numbers are buoyed by a .453 BABIP), but he could hit .260+ with power.  As long as he’s playing every day, he’s going to be worth owning in most formats.

Waiver Wire Guidelines:

  • Redraft Leagues (10 teams) – Maybe a little too shallow
  • Redraft Leagues (12 teams) – Worth owning as CI/Bench option
  • Redraft Leagues (14+ teams) – Must own
  • AL-Only – Must Own
  • Keeper Leagues – Must own
  • Dynasty Leagues – Must own

Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Prospect 361, MLB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2015 rankings:

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