If you’re one of the people that owns Chase Headley in your fantasy league, or you’re lacking at 3B and searching through the free agent pool, take note.
According to Jon Morosi of Fox Sports, Headley may be on the move to Toronto sometime in the near future.
Talks between Padres, Blue Jays on Chase Headley remain ongoing, source says. Toronto's need increased in light of Encarnacion injury.
— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) July 7, 2014
Assuming this happens, does it make Headley a fantasy relevant player?
This is definitely a tricky question, but let’s start by having a look at what Headley has done since becoming a full-time guy in 2009.
Chase Headley, 2009-Present
Projecting how much a trade will impact someone’s stats is a little tough. We don’t know where Chase Headley would fit into that lineup, we don’t know how much time Edwin Encarnacion will miss, we don’t know who would go back to San Diego, we don’t know how quickly Headley would adjust to the change of scenery. After all, San Diego and Toronto are much different places.
But we can look at the numbers, which is what fantasy baseball is all about. I’m pretty sure we all know that there’s a gap between Toronto’s offense and San Diego’s, but how big is that gap?
Blue Jays vs. Padres: 2014
|Blue Jays||405 (4)||113 (1)||.257 (10)||.326 (7)||.429 (3)|
|Padres||259 (30)||58 (28)||.214 (30)||.273 (30)||.334 (30)|
It’s safe to say that the Blue Jays are a Top-10 or even Top-5 offense. Now, Edwin Encarnacion has contributed to that and as Morosi noted, he might miss some substantial time. But the Padres have the worst offense in baseball and really, at the risk of piling on, those numbers don’t even tell the full story.
- The 259 runs scored is 65 runs below the St. Louis Cardinals, the next worst team. To put that in perspective, if the Cardinals don’t score a run in their next 13 games, the Padres will need to average five per game just to tie them.
- The .214 average is 21 points below the Cubs and Astros, who each check in at .235. If either of those teams adds 20 points to their batting average and the rest of the league holds serve, they’ll be in a tie for eleventh place. If the Padres add 20 points, they’ll still be in dead last.
- The Cubs also have the second worst OBP, coming in at .295. Adding 21 points would put the Cubs in a tie for 16th in OBP. Adding 21 points still leaves the Padres in last place.
- The Mets have the second worst SLG at .360. If they add 25 points, they are in a tie for 15th. If the Padres add 25 points, they remain in last place.
The fact that the Padres are in third place in the NL West speaks to how good their pitching has been, and how bad the Rockies and Diamondbacks are. San Diego’s offense is not only the worst in the league, but are on pace to be one of the worst the game has ever seen.
Even without Encarnacion, a trade would still put Headley in a lineup with guys like Jose Bautista, Jose Reyes, and Melky Cabrera, but that’s not all. I don’t think it’s a secret that Rogers Centre is a great place for hitters, while Petco Park is a great place for pitchers. Thanks to ESPN’s Park Factors, we can put those gaps into some perspective.
Rogers Centre vs. Petco Park Factors
|2013 Runs (Rank)||2014 Runs (Rank)|
|Rogers Centre||1.118 (4)||1.119 (3)|
|Petco Park||0.831 (30)||0.863 (27)|
|2013 HR (Rank)||2014 HR (Rank)|
|Rogers Centre||1.289 (3)||1.427 (3)|
|Petco Park||0.936 (17)||0.813 (25)|
|2013 Hits (Rank)||2014 Hits (Rank)|
|Rogers Centre||1.026 (9)||1.074 (3)|
|Petco Park||0.901 (29)||0.915 (27)|
If you’re unfamiliar with Park Factors, go in with this assumption. A completely neutral park will rank at 1.00. Anything above 1.00 favors the hitter, while anything below it favors the pitcher. I only went back to 2013, because that’s when the fences were moved in at Petco Park. Still, the numbers are overwhelming. Every rating benefits the hitters in Toronto, while every rating benefits the pitchers in San Diego.
If Chase Headley is moved anywhere, he’ll be given a better chance to succeed. If he’s moved to Toronto, he’ll be given a much better chance to succeed.
So now we go back to the question above: Assuming this happens, does it make Headley a fantasy relevant player? I’m not quite there yet.
When I look at his numbers, the first thing that jumps out to me is that whether we’re talking teammate dependent stats (runs, RBI) or more individual ones (home runs, steals, AVG/OBP/SLG), 2012 is a tremendous outlier. But how much of that is because of the poor hitting situation in San Diego? That’s what makes projecting any numbers off of this rumor so difficult.
I’m certainly not saying that his situation hasn’t contributed to that. Heck, his career splits indicate that a change of scenery could help.
Chase Headley, Career Home/Road Splits
Still, Chase Headley has had one great statistical season. Otherwise, he’s been a fine player, but has had little, if any, fantasy relevance. It’s hard for me to think that at 31, a trade alone will make him a fantasy must have.
I do think that if Chase Headley is to become fantasy relevant, then he needs to be moved. But even if he is moved and moved to Toronto, I wouldn’t go racing to add him to your fantasy teams. If someone gets hurt, then it’s worth thinking about. Otherwise, you have to wait for him to show more consistency.
I understand that’s a risk, as if he heats up, someone may have nabbed him first. As is the case with any risk, you have to ask yourself if it’s worth taking. In this case, I say that it is.
Note: All 2014 Numbers and Paces seen here are accurate through play on Sunday, July 6.