by Ray Kuhn
No respect… Whether or not that changes after Jay Bruce signed with the New York Mets remains to be seen, but the outfielder is a nice value selection so far this draft season.
Whether you are looking at ADP from the NFBC (170) or Fantrax (166), Bruce is being under drafted. Even though it feels as if he has been around forever (since 2008), he is still relatively young; he will turn 31 during the season. He is past his true “prime” seasons, but Bruce has shown no signs of slowing down and has shown the ability to stay healthy.
So just because Bruce isn’t the next “big thing” doesn’t mean we should ignore him on draft day. While he does have some warts, he is just 2.5 category contributor, he also isn’t a liability.
Last season, splitting between the Mets and Cleveland, Bruce hit .254 with 36 home runs while driving 101 runs and scoring 84. The batting average is not an asset, but it also isn’t a liability. When it comes to the home runs and RBI, that is where he earned his value but his 82 runs scored aren’t too bad either.
His biggest asset, his power, doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. If anything it is getting better as some of Bruce’s advance metrics have improved over the past three seasons.
Per Baseball HQ we have seen Bruce’s power and expected power rise over the past three years. Last season he had a 143 Power Index, 43% above the league average, but his expected Power Index of 161 shows that there is more where that came from. His Hard Contact Rate was 22% above league average, so there is a lot to like about the quality of his contact from a power and run producing standpoint.
Despite having a career contact rate of 70%, Bruce had a 75% contact rate last season, and over the last three seasons he averaged a 76% contact rate.
Now hereturns to New York, in the middle of the lineup to a team and city with which he is comfortable. Playing with new manager Mickey Calloway, who was a coach with Cleveland last season, will help. Unlike other free agents there won’t be any type of learning curve as far as Bruce is concerned.
If you are drafting for stolen bases, in tandem with power, that makes sense, but let’s take a look at some of the outfielders who are being drafted ahead of Bruce. Everyone isn’t going to agree that all of these options are better or should be ranked above him, but all things considered I rather have New York’s new/old slugger and will likely plan to draft accordingly:
- Ryan Braun – 111
- Ian Desmond – 117
- Adam Jones – 143
- Michael Conforto – 146
- Trey Mancini – 157
- Nomar Mazara – 160
- Adam Duvall – 162
For one reason or another, Bruce appears to me as the better option as I’ll take another 30/100 season after these options come off the board.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings: