Baseball 2014 Season Recap: Hitters
2014 was a tough year for hitters in the Jockbrokers market, mainly due to sinking post-steroid era offensive production and the emergence of new elite pitchers across the league.
Solid buys were available, however, and those traders willing to do their homework were rewarded with nice payouts at bargain basement prices. But 2014 also had its share of busts and underperforming hitters. Here I break down the biggest winners and losers from the recently concluded season.
Jose Altuve – Altuve began the year trading at just $1.15 but took off in June when he nearly hit the $2 monthly payout qualifiers. He continued to climb the rest of the summer, leading the league in batting average and stealing the second most bases (56) in all of baseball. If he had stolen three more bases by year’s end, he would have earned owners a $3.50 season-ending bonus.
Edwin Encarnacion – The Blue Jays slugger went on a tear in May and earned the only $2 monthly payout for a hitter this season. Though he succumbed to an injury later in the summer, he’s still trading at $7 and looks to earn owners a $.50 end of the year bonus next week, which could have jumped to $.75 had he clubbed in a just a couple more runs.
Josh Donaldson – Donaldson is the prototype player who is discreet in the real world but performs well in the JB market based on his ability to do several things well. He started trading at just a buck in April but shot up to $8 by mid-summer because of his consistent run production, earning two $.50 bonuses along the way. He’s cooled off in the second half but will still earn owners another $.50 or even a $.75 bonus based on his runs scored, RBIs and dWAR.
Giancarlo Stanton – Before he took a pitch to the face earlier this month, Stanton was on pace to produce the best offensive season in the JB market this year. Despite the abrupt end to his season, he finishes the year with 37 HR, 105 RBI and a .950 OPS, which will earn him a $1.50 end of year bonus in addition to the $.75 in monthly bonuses he garnered this season. Traders that picked him up for $5 at the beginning of the year saw his value increase to $20 by the end of July. Not bad.
Chris Carter – Carter is living proof that any player can emerge as a money player in any given month in the JB market. In July, he was trading for just $.45 but put together a monster month to earn a $1 payout. Though his 37 HR puts him among the league leaders for the year, he scores too low in the other categories to give him a shot at a season bonus – the plight of playing for a bad team (just ask Anthony Rizzo).
Chris Davis – Davis’s lousy 2014 performance makes him arguably the biggest ever bust in the history of the Jockbrokers market. After earning $11.75 in bonuses in 2013, he seemed a sure thing to put up killer numbers once more. The result has been the complete opposite, as he was unable to regain his swagger and looked again like the horrendous pre-2013 Chris Davis. Call it regression to the mean or just bad luck, but after peaking at a high of $33 last fall, he can now be had for just $2. Ouch.
Bryce Harper – Harper’s owners kicked off this season anxiously hoping that he would return to September 2012 form, and they will sadly continue waiting until 2015 to see if he can ever get his act together. Another year of nagging injuries and inconsistent play when healthy have led many to question whether or not he has a future in Washington. Perhaps a change in scenery will do him good, and owners should be thirsty for any reason for optimism.
Prince Fielder – After kicking off the year trading at $10 amidst high expectations with his new team, the Texas Rangers, Fielder quickly showed the world why Detroit dumped him in the first place – putting up sluggish numbers early on before a season ending neck injury took him out all together. Fielder entered the season with a solid chance of hitting the HOF tables, but after this year one has to question the likelihood of that ever occurring.
Paul Goldschmidt – Your blogger drank the kool-aid on Goldschmidt early on and ponied up $10 for him in April. I was rewarded was rewarded with $0 in bonuses and a season-ending injury that killed his chances of earning an end of the year payout. Any way you break it down, that’s pretty weak for a hitter who has the potential to crack the tables routinely. He’s listed for just $3 right now – not a bad buy for next year but definitely a rough way to end this one.
Manny Machado – Machado is a unique player because he is one of the few that can qualify for bonuses based on his dWAR. The caveat is that he stay healthy for an entire season, which he didn’t do in 2013 and unfortunately failed to do again this year. He’s listed at just $1, which isn’t bad for a player who just a few years ago was being named as one of the league’s up-and-coming superstars alongside Mike Trout and Bryce Harper. Let’s hope he can get things turned around.