The Fantasy Baseball Diary: Allen Craig
After a day of writing and talking with my editor, Bill Chuck, I was going to reward myself by watching an episode of White Collar. Instead I’ve decided to show a lot of #want (a baseball scouting term to describe the manifestation of human desire and physical yield) and stay at my computer and begin the process of writing my inaugural article for BaseballAnalytics.org.
As I began typing, a song from the first Zutons record started playing on my winamp player. For some reason I thought of my ex-girlfriend from college who gave me said record. I haven’t thought about her in years. Out of curiosity I looked her up on Facebook. Big mistake. She didn’t look so hot. She looked nice, but not to the degree as I remembered. As for me, I’ve ascended up the food chain of attractiveness. I’m in the best shape of my life, giving me a fit body and thus, affording me the luxury to avoid brands like Gap and wear non-generic clothing cuts. I’m a tertiary consumer. Things are looking up.
Take a look at these heat maps from the 2012. Which one do you think belongs to Albert Pujols?
If you guessed Player B, you guessed incorrectly. If the title of this piece didn’t already give it away, Player B is Allen Craig. The heat maps may look similar, but Craig actually has more plate coverage and a better ability to hit the ball to all fields than Pujols.
During the first two months of the 2012 season, Craig was put on the DL twice for various injuries. The first DL stint, which lasted all of April, was for November 2011 surgery on his knee. The second DL stint was for a left hamstring strain. In 2011, groin and knee injuries cost him almost half of the 2011 season. The past four years, he’s averaged 116.5 games played so there’s a lot of risk for fantasy owners counting on a breakthrough year.
But what if Craig does have a breakthrough year? What can fantasy owners expect?
In the last two seasons he’s only totaled 773 plate appearances. With those appearances he’s been extremely productive. His .532 SLG the past two years ranks him 14th among hitters with at least 700 plate appearances.
The table provides a projection of the production he could provide if he receives 660 plate appearances. His numbers may not look overtly impressive, but in the last ten years only four players have been able to hit at least 30 homers, 98 runs, 119 RBI with a .309 AVG. The four players are: Albert Pujols in 2003, Gary Sheffield in 2003, Matt Kemp in 2011 and Miguel Cabrera in 2012.
Craig enters the 2013 season as the full-time first baseman, which should give him a better opportunity to stay healthy. He qualifies at first base and outfield so if he does go down with an injury, fantasy owners will have a bigger pool of players to find his replacement. Every year there’s always one top ten player who comes off a “down” year, gets drafted around the fifth round and gives their owners a championship. In 2011, it was Matt Kemp. In 2012, it was Josh Hamilton.
According to the latest expert draft at Mock Draft Central, Craig went #52, right after Jimmy Rollins and just before Cole Hamels. If you can get him in the fifth, sixth round, you could have the best bargain on draft day.
I emailed my ex- on Facebook.