Simply put, ISO is the measure of power; ISO measures a hitterâ€™s ability to hit for extra bases. Itâ€™s a stat fantasy GMs should be interested in because power is at an absolute premium in the post-juice era. Exactly ten batters posted a slugging percentage over .550 last year. Compare that to 1999 when 29 batters slugged over .550 including names like Carl Everett, Jay Bell, John Jaha and Fernando Tatis. The days of a random dude randomly slugging a ton are long over.
ISO is essentially batting average subtracted from slugging percentage, but there is a formula thatâ€™s ISO specific. It looks like this:
((2B) + (2*3B) + (3*HR)) / AB.
It boils down to extra bases/AB. Â Anything over .200 can be considered solid to elite (Mark Reynolds level) and anything under .120 is pretty anemic (The Delmon Young Tier). Below .120 is Chone Figgins/Juan Pierre territory.
Some will criticize ISO by saying that anything that Mark Reynolds is among the best at isnâ€™t worthy of attention. The only problem with that argument is that Reynolds has 113 homers over the last three years. Only Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols have more. Reynolds has his warts, and lots of them, but criticizing the one thing he does at an elite level is foolish.
One of the reasons John Mayberry is a super sleeper is because he posted a .240 ISO last year in under 300 PAâ€™s. He has a solid minor league power pedigree and looks like a solid bet to post power numbers over a larger sample size. Mayberry will get a chance at 500+ PAâ€™s between the injury to Ryan Howard and available at-bats in the Phillies outfield. Heâ€™s posted a .200+ ISO at every level and owns a .253 ISO in 369 MLB plate apperances. Mayberry is a mid- to late-round option that could provide a solid return on the investment.
The fact that Brent Morel is gaining steam as a sleeper for 2012 proves the fact that fantasy pundits are willing to look at anyone to get clicks on their website. Morel posted one ridiculous month with a .329 ISO in 85 September at-bats. The problem is that he has zero track record of hitting for power. The closest heâ€™s ever come is a .183 ISO in 2010…in AAA….in a year in which he â€œexplodedâ€ for eight homers in 306 ABs. Anyone thinking Brent Morel is the 2012 version of Michael Morse needs to stop playing fantasy sports, turn off the computer and check in to a baseball re-education center. Â It’s okay to chuckle at GMs taking a late-round flier on Morel. He’ll be on the waiver wire before April ends.Â
One guy that could be poised for a breakout in 2012 is Nolan Reimold. Reimold has the talent and minor league pedigree of a guy who should be better at the major league level than he is. His problem has always been health. Reimold appears healthy and his top competition for the Orioles starting left field job is Endy Chavez and someone named â€œMatt Angle.â€ Thereâ€™s a 80% chance that â€œMatt Angleâ€ is not an actual human being and Reimold really has no competition. Reimold posted a .206 ISO in 267 ABâ€™s in 2011 and has shown similar levels of production at every minor league level heâ€™s played at. Reimold can post competent fantasy numbers and he plays the outfield. Most (real) leagues require GMs to start five outfielders. Reimold has quite a bit more upside than most end of the draft options.
Indians short stop Asdrubal Cabrera is a solid bet to regress from his career high .187 ISO in 2011. Heâ€™s never posted a number near that high at any level in his career. Cabrera also posted a 13.3% HR:FB ratio. That number is almost double his 7.8% career average. Also, 15 of Cabreraâ€™s 25 homers were rated as â€œJust Enoughsâ€ by ESPNâ€™s Home Run Tracker. Cabrera was awfully lucky in 2011 and the high ISO was a function of that luck. Heâ€™s not a solid bet to repeat and is a solid bet to disappoint fantasy GMs in 2012.