Jay Bruce: Elite Power Hitter

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

Ray Guilfoyle takes a look at Reds outfielder Jay Bruce, and thinks fantasy owners should not sleep on him in fantasy drafts this season.

When preparing for drafts, I, like many of you, like to make a mental list of guys I want to target on draft day. It is an important step in your preparation for drafts, along with ranking players by position (or just using our rankings here at Fake Teams). It is important to make a list of 10-12 guys that you want to target because you will not get every player you target. It just won't happen. I usually like to list out 5-6 power hitters to target on draft day, and one guy who I will target, and hopefully draft, in all my drafts this season is Cincinnati Reds outfielder Jay Bruce.

There aren't many power hitters in the game today that have the power that Bruce possesses. He is the owner of two consecutive 30 HR seasons, and 2013 will be his age 26 season. I love power hitters, and sometimes overvalue them in fantasy drafts. But, I have to tell you that I think Bruce is on the verge of a monster season in 2013.

Bruce had a solid season in 2012, hitting .252-.327-.514 with 34 HRs, 89 runs, 99 RBI and 9 stolen bases in 155 games played. The trouble that fantasy owners have with Bruce is his tendency to go into long slumps. Let's take a look at his monthly splits in 2012:

April - .296 BA/ 7 HRs/14 runs/17 RBI

May - .229 BA/4 HRs/13 runs/15 RBI

June - .253 BA/6 HRs/14 runs/22 RBI

July - .213 BA/4 HRs/13 runs/9 RBI

August - .290 BA/7 HRs/21 runs/21 RBI

Sept. - .233 BA/6 HRs/13 runs/15 RBI

So yeah, he is a streaky hitter, as his batting average fluctuates quite a bit, with two months where he hits .290 or better, and three months where he hits .233 or lower. Even so, he never hit less than 4 home runs in any one month, and had only one month where he drove in less than 15 runs, and scored double digit runs in every month.

While his monthly splits are a bit of a rollercoaster, his yearly stats are not. Let's take a look:

2008 - 21 HRs/17 2Bs/ 63 runs/52 RBI

2009 - 22 HRs/15 2Bs/47 runs/58 RBI

2010 - 25 HRs/23 2Bs/80 runs/70 RBI

2011 - 32 HRs/27 2Bs/84 runs/97 RBI

2012 - 34 HRs/35 2Bs/89 runs/99 RBI

You don't need me to tell you that his stats across the board have increased every year since 2009. His power numbers, home runs and doubles, are in a definite uptrend, as is his runs and RBI. He hits plenty of fly balls, as his fly ball rate has ranged from 44% to 48% over the last four seasons, and plays in one of the better ballparks for hitting home runs. Great American Ball Park increased home runs for left handed hitters by 37% last season, and increased home runs for all hitters by an amazing 59% last season. Over the past seven seasons, the park's HR factor has ranged from an increase of 14% to an increase of 59% last season.

When I see a trend like this, I have to buy it. In the stock market, the old saying goes "the trend is your friend". With Bruce, his power trend is your friend, as I think he will set career highs in home runs and RBI in 2013. I see Bruce approaching 40 home runs this season, and with a healthy Joey Votto and new teammate Shin-Soo Choo getting on base at a .380 to .400+ clip, Bruce could easily drive in 100+ runs next season.

His current ADP per Mock Draft Central is 33.64 and I would not be surprised if he provides fantasy owners with first round production in the third round. In NL-Only leagues, he is an early to mid second round pick. How many second round picks will hit 35+ HRs and drive in 100+ runs in 2013?

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