Greg Bird- Greg Bird's early returns have been fantastic for fantasy owners. Bird has shown a very solid power profile during this first small sample of his major league career. The biggest positive that we have seen from Bird is a combination of a high fly ball percentage (50%) combined with a 23.1% HR/FB rate. These numbers would profile Bird as an elite power presence especially given his presence in the middle of the Yankee lineup. The biggest problem in 2016 will be the clog of players for limited playing time in the Yankee lineup. Bird's value moving forward will be limited until he is given the full time job at first base, which probably isn't happening until 2017.
Ubaldo Jimenez- It's been another year of the Ubaldo Jimenez dice roll. His 21.3% K rate is in line with his 2014, and basically, his career averages. His BB rate is actually down to 8.7%, which is better than his 2014, but he still struggles with walking batters to the detriment of fantasy owners. His saving grace in 2015 has been his 49% ground ball rate, which has allowed him to manage that walk rate. Overall, Ubaldo has been a solid back end fantasy rotation asset with some ups and downs to his game. As long as he is valued properly, which means essentially ignoring his 2013 season, he is a solid player and should be again in 2016.
Daniel Norris- It's not everyday that you get pulled from a perfect game in the big leagues. Daniel Norris was pulled after 5 innings due to a pitch count on Tuesday night. Norris was the gem of the Tigers return on their mid-season trade that sent David Price to Toronto. He is a player worth monitoring for the remainder of the season and into 2016 draft season. Prior to 2014, Norris flashed plus strikeout numbers in each minor league stop. During 2014, he has seen those numbers dip at the higher levels including only a 19% K Rate during a small sample in the major leagues. I wouldn't mind take a shot on Norris late in drafts next season, but be cautious of the "shiny new toy" syndrome as he has not proven an ability to strikeout batters at an elite level in the big leagues yet. Even in Tuesday's excellent performance he only managed 4 strikeouts.
Mike Trout- Mike Trout has entered his power prime and has finally eclipsed the 40 home run mark in his major league career. It is almost impossible not to be impressed by Trout's abilities, but fantasy owners need to notate one blemish on his otherwise sterling record. As Trout's power has increased, he has ceased stealing bases. It is difficult to complain about anything Mike Trout does, but owners need to properly compensate for the fact that it does not seem like Trout will steal more than 10-12 bases per season as he ages. This is a far cry from his 49 steals as a rookie or 33 the following year. The drastic decrease should not greatly alter his valuation as one of the top players, if not the top player, off the board in fantasy drafts, but owners need to properly compensate by acquiring steals in other places.
Xander Bogaerts- In what has otherwise been a forgettable season for the Red Sox Nation, Xander Bogaerts is among the few players to have developed memorably in 2015. Some of Bogaerts growth is sustainable, but I'm preaching caution as owners begin to categorize players for the 2016 draft season. Bogaert's value is tied very closely to his .323 batting average. We can say with little question that this batting average is BABIP induced as he has hit .373 in his single's percentage. The increased BABIP has combined with a decreased K Rate (15.2% in 2015 down from 23.2% in 2014) to improve the batting average. The problem with the decreased strikeout rate is that it is largely attributable to an increased contact rate on pitches outside the zone. I'm concerned that a regression in the BABIP and perhaps a slight decrease in his contact rates on balls outside the zone could cause a substantial decrease in his batting average. He is probably closer to a .280-.290 hitter, which still has value, but be cautious not to overdraft him in 2016 as he still isn't showing enough power to justify a high draft pick.
Today's American League Player Blog is brought to you by Nicholas Rossoletti. You can follow Nicholas on Twitter @NRoss56.
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