Consistency in fantasy baseball can be hard to find. Players get injured, go through long slumps and flat out not produce for one reason or another. Finding players that consistently produce statistics in certain categories can become an art form, especially when you take all of the factors into account on a yearly basis.
Jay Bruce is not the first player to come to mind when discussing someone who can contribute across the board like Miguel Cabrera or Joey Votto. However, he is one of the most consistent players in the game when it comes to power and run production for the Cincinnati Reds. Case in point.
You know when drafting Bruce that you will get 30+ home run power with the run production to go with it. He had a career high 109 RBI’s last season while hitting 30 homeruns. He hit four fewer homeruns than the previous season. This is attributed to the fact that his fly ball percentage dropped 5% from the previous year.
The number of ground balls he hit compared to fly balls were nearly identical in 2013. Power hitters need to get lift off of the bat when contact is made. An increase in fly balls in 2014 will give him an increase in his homerun numbers. This is another reason his power was down slightly in 2013, and I see him improving upon his 30 home runs from last season.
Remember, Bruce turn 27 years old during the Cincinnati Reds first series in April against the St. Louis Cardinals. He is just beginning to reach his potential as a power hitter.
He has never been mistaken as a great contact hitter. In fact, he struck out a career high 185 times while his walk rate declined to just 9%. Most people would read into this as a hitter that is becoming more of a free swinger and undisciplined. Yet, he had a .262 batting average, which the highest in three seasons. Granted, his batting average benefitted by a .322 BABIP.
You aren’t drafting him for his batting average or his speed. You know what you will get from Jay Bruce. Draft him for his power potential and grab a player with a higher batting average and stolen base potential later to compensate for his shortcomings.
It is possible that he puts everything together in 2014 and becomes the 40 homerun, 120 RBI contributor the Cincinnati Reds have always envisioned him being. At the very least you will be drafting a player that will provide plenty of production for your fantasy team.
He is one of the most unassuming stars in all of baseball. He could be standing next to you on the street and you probably wouldn’t recognize him. If Jay Bruce were a flavor of ice cream without a doubt he would be vanilla. Vanilla can taste really good when you are at the top of your fantasy baseball league standings in late September.
Jay Bruce: Early 2014 Projections
*Despite coming up with pretty strong predictions for Bruce in 2013, we want our 2014 Draft Kit to be even better and more accurate. Because of that goal, we’re partnering with Tanner Bell of Smart Fantasy Baseball to crunch even deeper, so that we might provide the most accurate projections possible for 2014. Look for our full Crackerjack projections in our 2014 Draft Kit coming in February.