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Jay Bruce: 2015 Fantasy Baseball Undervalued Outfielder

Jay Bruce is a Bounce-Back Candidate for 2015

With the exception of 2014, Cincinnati's Jay Bruce has tallied 20+ HR in each of his 7 MLB seasons. His highest totals came during the 2011, 2012, and 2013 seasons, in which he hit 32, 34, and 30, respectively. In 2013 he also drove in 109 RBI and finished tenth in MVP voting. But in 2014, Bruce's numbers fell off significantly. A player who looked like a sure thing was anything but. He hit just .217 with only 18 HR in what amounted to the worst MLB season of his career. It wasn't pretty.

To be fair, Jay Bruce was bothered by injuries in 2014 -- something that had never been much of an issue for the durable outfielder. Following knee surgery in May, Bruce missed significant time and never really found his groove after the fact. His 3.39 K/BB ratio was the worst of his career. He also hit the ball on the ground 45.2% of the time in 2014, a career high. The result was a less-than-fortunate .269 BABIP, his lowest total since 2010. None of this is particularly uncommon for a player who never fully recovered from his injury. We often see players attempting to overcompensate for their physical limitations, only to see their production decrease. I believe this to be the case for Jay Bruce's 2014 season.

Because Bruce turned in such a pedestrian stat line last season, he's being udervalued in 2015. File him under the "star player coming off a down year" category. Jay Bruce is, after all, a two-time All Star player and Silver Slugger recipient. At only 28 years old, he is in the prime of his career. For that reason, I'm calling Jay Bruce a bounce-back candidate. So let's talk about why.

Perhaps the best news for the Reds and for fantasy owners going into the 2015 MLB season is the fact that Jay Bruce's injury occurred last May, rather than during the offseason. Hitters like Bruce, with 30 HR/100 RBI potential, rely on leg strength to power their swings. It was unlikely that Bruce was ever at 100% strength during the 2014 season. But after a full offseason to recover, Bruce should be back in camp ready to produce at his 2011-2013 levels.

Bruce's track record also speaks volumes. Historically, Bruce gets on base at a pretty solid rate. In his MiLB career, he went over a .350 OBP regularly; he carried those solid numbers into the big leagues, going over .327 in every season prior to 2014. Bruce has also had over a .210 ISO since 2010, which means he's been in the top ~20 power hitters year in and year out. Those skills don't just vanish overnight.

 

In Summary

What I'm saying is this: if you're looking for an outfielder with the ability to hit for power, Bruce is a solid candidate. If you could also use a guy who has the ability to get on base and score runs, Bruce can help you there, too. With an ADP of 100 right now, you'd be silly not to draft Bruce in the seventh to ninth rounds of your upcoming fantasy baseball draft.

 




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