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January 6, 2014 posted by Patrick DiCaprio

What Is A PPOBY? Hitter Edition

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One of the most potent profit-taking tactics is to draft PPOBY’s, or Proven Players Off Bad Years. It is not a new or especially unique idea, but it is overlooked by many fantasy owners because it is not sexy. Who the heck wants to draft Marco Scutaro when they can draft the next Jean Segura and swing for the fences?

The over-reliance on rookies and unproven players is a hallmark of weaker fantasy owners; always has been and always will be. Like the guy wearing a Rolex or drinking Johnnie Walker Blue, the weaker fantasy owner chooses to try to impress the world with his knowledge instead of pursuing victory. Well, Rolexes keep terrible time and Johnnie Walker Blue is overrated swill. The PPOBY is the fantasy version of a Timex or Johnnie Walker Black: better in many ways and a lot cheaper and dependable.

Michael Bourn — Bourn netted a mere 23 SB last year because of a SBO% decline. His hitting skills look fine despite an overall ebb from his peak. He should rebound.

Billy Butler — Butler’s FB% plummeted to 26% last year. He has always had FB& issues, but 26% has to be a fluke, right?

Alexi Casilla – Casilla is cheap speed for sure, but his BABIP will rebound and he is only 29 with plenty of wheels.

Starlin Castro – Before 2013 Castro had three years of $20+ value. Then his BABIP sunk and so did he. This is what regression to the mean is all about; there are no guarantees, but he is a good bet to rebound.

Yoenis Cespedes – In Cuba, Cespedes showed much better strike zone control and 2013’s BABIP dip should correct itself which will lead to profit.

Prince Fielder – This site has touted him as a first round guy and we still think he is. He had off-field issues last year and is now in a more favorable park, so he is a strong buy.

Ryan Howard — To be clear: we are not big fans of his, but he fits the profile. Despite a lot of obvious negatives his HR/FB may rebound from its historically paltry 15%.

Miguel Montero – The once-solid backstop suffered a back injury last year and some poor luck with BABIP in 2013. 

Angel Pagan – Pagan missed most of last season with a bad hammy and his injuries resulted in a lower SBO% when he returned. Everything else looks good, so if the leg is healthy he will net a nice profit.

Jimmy Rollins — Maybe we don’t like the Phillies because as with Howard we are not fans of Rollins. He is old and on the decline, but the only unexpected blip is a HR/FB of 3% last year. Maybe that is a new level or maybe not.

Pablo Sandoval – His weight provides a convenient narrative excuse, but there is really no skill erosion. He  just did not hit the ball as hard. He is only 27 and has shown much better skills and results.

Marco Scutaro – He is 38 years old and faced injuries last year, which is no surprise. On the flip side he has a long track record and no skill erosion at all, so his power numbers should rebound while still hitting .300-ish.

B.J. Upton — What else is there to say? He had a remarkably steady skill going into 2013 and faced injury and a new league. 

Neil Walker – Walker’s BABIP dropped to below average after three years well above average and he has no skill erosion while reaching his hitting prime. 

Rickie Weeks – There aren’t many reasons to recommend him except for the PPOBY theory and an injury return, but three years of 20 HR and $20 before 2013 can’t be ignored.

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