Ronny Cedeno (SS – Pirates)
It is looking very likely that Ronny Cedeno will not return this season due to a pair of pulled hammies. About a month ago, I made the case advocating that teams have been too quick to dismiss Ronny Cedeno. In support of this argument, I cited his absurd Triple-A numbers (.357 / .413 / .528 with 18 HR and 17 SB over 140 games), along with his lone full season in the majors being at age 23 in a pressure-packed Chicago environment (he flopped). Granted, these 2 seasons at Triple-A were by far the best seasons of his minor league career; but, hitting at this kind of rate at the Triple-A level over a 140 game sample is far too compelling to ignore. Although not a whole lot of encouraging data can be taken from Cedeno’s ’09 season, I still see the glimmer of hope in his August line (.299 / .357 / .506 with 4 HR in 24 games). The Pirates have virtually zero competition at the SS position, and Cedeno will be 27 years old next season. I think we could be looking at one of the surprise performers of the 2010 season in Ronny Cedeno, and he will come mighty cheap to boot.
Homer Bailey (SP – Reds)
Homer Bailey looked terrific again last night, and has now strung together 8 consecutive starts of not allowing more than 3 ER. Over these 8 starts, Bailey has a 1.90 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.96 K/9, 3.63 BB/9. After what has seemed like years, the Homer Bailey breakout we have been waiting for finally looks to be upon us (I am using words like “years” and “finally” in a partially sarcastic fashion since he is all of 23 years old). Bailey’s potential has always exceeded his results; however, in ’09 he showed a very substantial improvement in command (BB/9 of 2.7 in ‘09 Triple-A vs. 3.8 minor league career). It is evident that Bailey has been lucky to an extent over these 8 starts (can be seen with the non-correlation between his ERA and WHIP), so he still has a ways to improve yet. The hype seems to have died down on Bailey, but for the first time, he looks to be ready to make good on some of his immense promise in 2010. He makes for a great potential break-out player next year.
Chris Dickerson (OF – Reds)
Chris Dickerson is making a push to return to the Reds lineup before the season ends, but the club has not shown much desire to allow that to happen. Dickerson found himself on many sleeper lists heading into the ’09 season, but was not able to make good on these predictions with a .277 / .373 / .375 line in 253 AB. Although this season was a disappointment, I see some very important improvements made by Dickerson in this ’09 season. Firstly, his EYE increased from 0.49 to 0.60, which is largely attributable to an 8.6% decrease in his K rate. Secondly, this improved plate discipline can be seen in his percentage of swings on pitches outside of the strike zone decreasing by 4.4%, and his contact rate increasing by 6.6%. Dickerson has always been a toolsy player who has yet to make good on his potential. Although his ’09 will be qualified as a bust, I believe that Dickerson has made some very encouraging improvements that have his game pointed in the right direction for 2010.
Cameron Maybin (OF – Marlins)
In the month of September, Cameron Maybin has started to show the precocious on-base skills that his minor league track record suggests he has in his repertoire (.391 OBP in minor league career). This month, Maybin has flashed a 12.2% extra-base hit rate, along with a 0.53 EYE. This late season flourish by Maybin has me quite excited, since it is likely that not many people are paying attention to it. We all know about the incredible tools Maybin possesses; and, if he can carry over his 13% walk rate this month into next year, we could very well be looking at an Andrew McCutchen-like splash next season. In the pre-season I stated that ’09 wasn’t the year that I wanted to own Maybin, rather I wanted him on my roster in 2010. I stand by this prediction, and next year will be the latest that he is chosen in drafts for the next 10 years.
Chad Billingsley (SP – Dodgers)
Roughly two weeks ago, I made a case supporting the fact that Billingsley’s late-season struggles were a function of bad luck. Richard then made an equally compelling case that his struggles were also a function of a dead arm from overuse. Yesterday, the Dodgers’ pitching coach posited the theory that beginning with his start on July 10th, Billingsley’s arm slot was misaligned. Many people may dismiss this final theory as subterfuge, and wonder why something wasn’t done about it before 2.5 months passed. In Billingsley’s defense, it can be very difficult to cure issues of mechanics in mid-season due to the limited amount of throwing in between starts. Regardless of which of these three theories you may favor, the end result is the same. Billingsley will be better in 2010 than he was in 2009.