by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We keep waiting for C.J. Cron to emerge as a viable fantasy option. He keeps showing signs, though the warts then present themselves and eliminate the shimmer of hope. The 2017 season was no different, and the base numbers alone show it:
339 At Bats
.248 Batting Average (84 Hits)
16 Home Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.305 On Base Percentage
.437 Slugging Percentage
.296 Batting Average on Balls in Play
One of the problems has always been battling for playing time, with Albert Pujols (among others) helping to eat up the AB. That’s just the tip of the iceberg, and things could quickly get worse.
While Cron has always shown power potential, it now appears that he’s starting to try and swing for the fences. Just look at the trend in his fly ball rate:
- 2015 – 37.1%
- 2016 – 39.2%
- 2017 – 44.7%
For a player without much speed and a consistent HR/FB (14.5% in ’17 compared to 13.9% for his career), that’s a significant red flag. The more balls he puts in the air means the lower the potential is in his BABIP, and therefore it is a drag on his average. A continued inflated popup rate (14.5% in ’17) just further hurts the outlook.
Then you have the strikeout rate, which was at 25.7% in ’17 thanks to terrible plate discipline. Last year he posted a 13.2% SwStr% and 37.7% O-Swing%, and he was particularly bad against breaking balls (22.72% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (20.13% Whiff%). So why would opposing pitchers throw him a fastball? That point gets driven home even further when you look at this:
- Changeup – .158 AVG / .342 SLG
- Slider – .132 AVG / .368 SLG
- Curveball – .196 AVG / .435 SLG
So he’s a fly ball hitter with solid power, though at this point in time he’s hardly elite and has the potential to continue striking out a ton. If he was a 40 HR hitter maybe we could overlook it, but he’s not. If he got full-time AB maybe he’d hit 30, though that isn’t a guarantee and the playing time simply may not be there.
In other words don’t get caught up with the name. At this point Cron is a forgettable option in all formats.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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