The Diamondbacks pulled the surprise of the offseason last week when they signed outfielder Cody Ross to a three year, $26 million contract to play either left field or right field for them. What made it surprising was the fact that they already had five other outfielders in their outfield: Justin Upton, Jason Kubel, Gerardo Parra, Adam Eaton and A.J. Pollock. It is pretty obvious that they will deal one of Justin Upton or Jason Kubel, it is just a matter of when and to which team.
I wrote about Cody Ross in Wednesday's Fantasy Impact article, and here is what I wrote:
Ross moves from Fenway Park which increased home run production by almost 9% and run scoring by 21% in 2012 to Chase Field which increased home run production by 19% and run scoring by 17%. I see Ross playing right field in a platoon with Parra, and see him hitting between 20-25 home runs in 2013. He is a cheap late round pick in mixed leagues and a mid-round pick in NL only leagues.
Ross had a solid 2012 season in Boston hitting .267-.326-.481 with 22 HRs, 34 doubles, 70 runs and 81 RBI in 130 games. His .214 ISO and .481 SLG was his best power showing since 2008 where he hit 22 HRs and 29 doubles in 145 games with the Florida Marlins. Like many hitters, Ross hit better at home than on the road last season:
Home: .298-.356-.565 with 13 HRs, 25 doubles, 44 runs and 49 RBI
Road: .232-.294-.390 with 9 HRs, 9 doubles, 26 runs and 32 RBI
What makes his home performance slightly amazing is the fact that Fenway Park depressed home runs by 20% for right-handed hitters in 2012. And like I mentioned above, he is moving to Chase Field, which increased right-handed power by 3% last season. His doubles may drop a bit in Chase Field, as Fenway Park increased doubles and triples for right-handed hitters by 35% last season, which Chase Field increased doubles and triples by "only" 26% for right-handed hitters.
While many of Ross' fly balls bounced off the Green Monster last season, I see more of his fly balls flying over the fence in 2013. Ross is a fly ball hitter moving to one of the better hitting environments in the National League, so his power should play well in the dry air of Arizona. Here is a look at his fly ball and HR/FB rates over the last 5 seasons:
2008: 43.3 FB%; 14.6 HR/FB%
2009: 47.6 FB%; 11.5 HR/FB%
2010: 33.7 FB%; 10.2 HR/FB%
2011: 48.4 FB%; 9.3 HR/FB%
2012: 41.9 FB%; 14.9 HR/FB%
While his HR/FB rates have fluctuated in a 5% range, his fly ball rate has stayed above 40% in four of his last five seasons.
I think Ross can outperform his draft round in 2013, providing fantasy owners cheap power in mixed and NL-only leagues. I see him being the Aaron Hill of 2013, surpassing the projections fantasy writers bestow upon him. I would even consider drafting him a round earlier than projected, and could see him approaching 30 home runs in 2013. He may not hit for a high average, say .265 or so, but I could see him hitting 27 HRs with 75 runs and 85-90 RBI next season.