Cody Ross revived his offensive attack in Boston, but if he doesn't re-sign, should you care about him in 2013?
Cody Ross can officially sign with any team in baseball, now that the exclusive negotiating window for free agency has expired. This is of special importance to fantasy owners, because Ross, outside of Fenway Park, is nowhere near the offensive threat and fantasy contributor that he's capable of within its walls.
Cody Ross, in his nine-year career, is a .262/.324/.460 hitter. His overall line with the Red Sox this year wasn't that far off, at .267/.326/.481, but there's a little more to it than that. His bat has declined a bit since his peak, and his September, when he was stuck in the middle of a punch-less lineup, saw him get very little help from opposing pitchers, who had no reason to give him anything he could hit. Prior to the trade of Adrian Gonzalez to the Dodgers, a move that left Boston's lineup with Gonzalez, David Ortiz, or Will Middlebrooks, Ross hit .274/.339/.525.
Despite the late-season swoon, Ross destroyed the opposition at Fenway, hitting .298/.356/.565, 45 percent better than your average hitter in his home park. On the road, Ross was at .232/.294/.390, seven percent worse than your average hitter in away games. Now, what constitutes average in the majors isn't the same as average in fantasy (unless you're talking AL- or NL-only leagues, where the smaller talent pool means averages are the same or lower, depending on the number of teams involved). So, as a below-average hitter on the road, Ross was useless in mixed leagues. But, during home games at Fenway, he was one of the better outfield options around. Take Fenway away from him, and maybe you're looking at another 2011-esque season, the kind of campaign that resulted in him in Boston for $3 million on a one-year deal to begin with.
Throw in that Ross is average against right-handers, the handedness he's facing more often than not, and his fantasy value as someone other than a Red Sox falls even further into the abyss. That's not to say this is the only park in which he can hit, but Ross knows how to put a ball right over the Monster in left, or hit a double in the stadium that increases that very hit like no other in baseball. It's very likely that, outside of maybe Colorado, where the average hitter slugged over .500 last year, Fenway is the perfect match for Ross.
Of course, if he does re-sign with Boston, and you're in a league with daily changes, then he's a fascinating piece of your outfield puzzle. In AL-only leagues, he can be played every day even without daily changes, but in a mixed format, if you can, try to mess with him in your lineup in order to get his Fenway production -- and nothing else. Should he sign elsewhere, well, we'll just have to see where in order to analyze the context. But if you're hoping for a big year from Ross, hope for him to be back in Boston. Ortiz and Middlebrooks will be back in 2013, and Ross will have to be pitched to again. That's good news for bat flip enthusiasts everywhere.
Assuming he's a Red Sox again, anyway. Patience!