by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It had looked like C.J. Cron was primed for a breakout campaign, but after the Angels acquired Luis Valbuena the narrative changed. Instead the chatter was that Cron could ultimately be traded, with Valbuena operating as the team’s Albert Pujols insurance/DH.
However Valbuena returned to the lineup after nearly two weeks on the sidelines due to sore legs and will now be sidelined for the next 4-6 weeks thanks to a hamstring injury. Cron, on the other hand, has been enjoying a monster spring (stats are through Thursday):
- C.J. Cron – .340 (18-53), 3 HR, 7 RBI, 10 R, 2 SB
- Luis Valbuena – .200 (5-25), 0 HR, 4 RBI, 1 R, 0 SB
Even more impressive may be the fact that Cron has struck out 5 times, though it’s far too early to say that he’s corrected the main concern that he has hovering over him. While his 16.9% strikeout rate last season was solid, his command of the strike zone left a lot to be desired (11.0% SwStr%, 38.0% O-Swing%). A few more strong AB may further help to mask the issue, though we also can’t ignore that he was a bit better in ’15 so an improvement isn’t impossible.
There also is no doubting his power potential, having had 43 extra base hits in just 407 AB a year ago (25 doubles, 2 triples and 16 home runs). He’s had similar success thus far, with 4 doubles and 1 triple. That’s equated to an .623 SLG.
This isn’t a situation of translating a few AB into a definitive conclusion. This is identifying a buying opportunity, with Cron potentially claiming the starting first base job for the entire season. For those who have purchased the 2017 Rotoprofessor Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, you know that he was listed as one of our sleepers (a 4-star sleeper) as we said:
“It’s hard to call someone who hit .278 with 16 HR in 407 AB last season a sleeper, but most appear primed to ignore him. Albert Pujols will have to see significant AB at DH, which should give Cron opportunity. An improvement in his production against changeups (.075 BAA in ’16) would lead to even more success.”
Thus far it doesn’t appear that Cron has been ignored, with an average ADP of 240.98 in NFBC formats. Still, even at that price it’s not a terrible buying opportunity. Cron has the upside to fully blossom and emerge as a borderline Top 10 first baseman by year’s end.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, STATS
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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|