MLB Handicapping: 10 Hitters to Watch in 2014
by Aaron Smith - 3/31/2014
The Major League Baseball season is here! There's a lot to love about baseball season. Baseball means warmer weather and more sunshine, and it also means plenty of chances to bet on games all through the week. This isn't like football season where the games come around only once a week. The MLB season is a grind, but there are definitely great value opportunities out there for bettors.
Being well prepared for the season is the best way to win in April. In this article, we'll take a look at five hitters that are due for some regression as well as some hitters who underperformed last year and should improve. This is the type of information that can put you ahead of the curve early in the season.
Five Hitters to Expect Improvement From in 2014
1. Starlin Castro, Cubs- Castro had a terrible 2013, but I'm convinced that season was more of an aberration than a trend that will continue moving forward. Castro's past shows us that he is an elite hitter who is capable of hitting just about any pitch, and he is highly unlikely to finish with an on-base-percentage of just .284 again this season.
2. Todd Frazier, Reds- Frazier finished third in the NL Rookie of the Year award voting in 2012, and then he turned around and had a highly-disappointing 2013 campaign. Frazier's batting average on balls in play (BABIP) was just .269 last season. That's a sign of lots of bad luck, and Frazier is a great bounce-back candidate this year.
3. Josh Reddick, Athletics- Reddick is different from the other four on the improvement list. He battled through significant injuries last year, and those injuries took a major toll on his numbers. Reddick had been steadily improving as a hitter in recent years, but last year he took a big turn in the wrong direction. I attribute that largely to his wrist injury. Any good hitter will tell you that a wrist injury is brutally tough to fight through. He's healthy and ready to go in 2014.
4. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays- Bautista is the biggest name on the improvement list in 2014. He had a BABIP of just .259 last year, and he battled injuries off and on all season long. Bautista has become a much better player in recent years largely because he has been much better at swinging at his pitches and not chasing bad balls out of the zone.
5. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs- Rizzo is a breakout candidate in 2014. This is a guy who was hurt quite a bit by last year's managerial staff trying to change the way he played. Rizzo was an up and comer through the minors, and one down year in 2013 doesn't change my thoughts about him. He also had bad luck with a .258 BABIP last year. With a friendlier staff letting him be himself, Rizzo should excel this season.
Five Hitters to Expect Regression From in 2014
1. Michael Cuddyer, Rockies- Cuddyer isn't going to hit .331 again this season. Playing in Coors Field is definitely a big boost, but a .382 BABIP isn't sustainable for a guy with little speed. He played in Colorado in 2012, and his average was just .260 that year. Cuddyer led the NL in batting average last year, and he's a perfect candidate to expect a major drop off from this season.
2. Chris Johnson, Braves- Johnson had an astronomical .394 BABIP last year, which was the single highest mark of any player in baseball. Again, this is a guy that isn't very fast at all. He found a ton of holes on a consistent basis last year. He is young and growing as a hitter, so I don't expect him to be terrible this year. I simply think some regression is in order for Johnson.
3. Robinson Cano, Mariners- As a left-handed hitter, if you leave Yankee Stadium and start playing your home games at Safeco Field in Seattle, you are due for some definite regression when it comes to your offensive numbers. Safeco Field isn't going to give Cano any free homers like Yankee Stadium did. Cano is a good hitter, but his statistics are going to suffer in this move.
4. Jayson Werth, Nationals- The majority of the Nationals lineup underperformed in a big way last year, but Werth was the exception. He hit .318 and had an on-base-percentage of almost .400. His BABIP of .3
Read more articles by Aaron Smith
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