Major League Baseball is a fickle sport. And when it comes down to Fantasy Baseball, things only get that much more capricious. It seems, that while each year we are all afforded the mainstays, there are plenty of players that are either on the rise—or have been for a while—that are approaching first round status.
The first round of your draft will not make your team. It will not dictate whether or not you will win your league, and it will certainly rapidly change every couple of years. But getting to be a first round consideration takes a lot more than one year’s worth of good show.
Being a first rounder takes consistency, a solid environment, quality health, and sound reliability. So while we move throughout any given year, there are a handful of players most of us have stashed away somewhere in a notebook, that requires us to keep a discerning eye on.
Enter in Nelson Cruz of the Texas Rangers.
Most players that are highly regarded as a solid 20/20 or even 30/30 player will be found in the first round, but they most certainly will NOT find their way there after just one solid year.
So does that mean he is not yet ready for elite consideration?
Some say yes, and some say no. But regardless of which owner you are, Nelson Cruz is a player that has all the right tools to rise above the crop, and one day—sooner rather than later—shows himself to be a first round consideration.
But for now, Cruz is not…and that could be a good thing.
I recently debated with one of my colleagues here on Fantasy Knuckleheads, that Cruz could be a consideration for a first round pick, and while I thought my idea was sound, his ideas were better:
- He only has one year under his belt, making him too much of a risk for a first round pick.
- Why take Cruz in the first round, when you could conceivably pick up a player you know is going to produce first, and then grab him in the second or third; killing two birds with one stone.
Obviously, my ideology was flawed, but it still presents a great topic for discussion.
With guys such as Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez, Chase Utley, Matt Kemp, Tim Lincecum, and even Roy Halladay all being certified first rounders, taking Cruz in the first would probably not bode well…or at the very least, rob you of a better opportunity early on.
But, grabbing Cruz as a second round pick, suddenly changes the landscape a bit. Grabbing him for less than 25 bucks in your auction league would be equally fine.
Currently, in ESPN’s Top 300, Nelson Cruz ranks 64th with a 15$ auction price tag in mixed leagues and a 21$ tag in AL Only.
But in most Mock Drafts I have done, Cruz is getting less attention than an elderly woman at a high school dance which, to me, is unbelievable.
Here is his line from a year ago:
If we dig deeper, we find his 9 year Minor League career numbers look like this:
Those numbers average out yearly to: 19 Doubles, 17 Homeruns, 58 RBI, 53 Runs, and 12 Stolen Bases,
But if you prorate to 462 At Bats those numbers actually look a bit like this: 29 Doubles, 27 Home runs, 89 RBI, 82 Runs, and 19 Stolen Bases.
If that’s not enough, in this year’s Spring Training he is already hitting .448 with 3 HR, 10 RBI, and 11 R in only 29 AB!
I’ll give ya a minute.
What this all means is this: No matter what the guy does, he is a historic 20/20 hitter who has the ability to easily be a 30/30 player, while paying huge dividends in AT LEAST 3 major categories.
Enter in a friendly Rangers’ Ball Park, a solid hitting cast around him, and a pitching staff that can provide many opportunities to win, and suddenly you have a bona-certified diamond in the rough.
But alas, no first round consideration for the 2010 season.
But keep in mind that one more year of putting up the kind of numbers he put up in 2009, and you can bet he will be next year’s version of Matt Kemp.