It was interesting that Moneyball and Trouble with the Curve came out so close to one another. I mean, Moneyball was (depending on who you ask) some level of good-to-excellent, while Trouble with the Curve was (depending on who you ask) a billion percent awful. But the interesting thing was their general approaches.
Moneyball (the movie, that is; I'm not talking the book or the general approach here) treated scouts (and scouting), at least traditional ones, as a joke, with the ostensible corollary that a guy's numbers were sufficient. Meanwhile, Trouble with the Curve would have been happy to do away all numbers, relying on Clint Eastwood's ... ears, or something. Sorry, that was a bad movie. Anyway, the real takeaway is that you need a mix of the two, and neither movie did a good job of pointing that out.
That's something of a mixed blessing for Jurickson Profar.
The Moneyball (movie) look at Profar: In 341 plate appearances over two seasons, the almost-21-year-old has hit .231/.301/.343, striking out almost 2.5 times for every walk, stealing only two bases in six attempts. He has a 75 OPS+ in that time and a 74 wRC+.
The Trouble with the Curve look at Profar: Who cares what he did in a handful of big-league appearances? This guy was the top prospect in baseball as a freaking 19-year-old. He has baseball instincts, a toolsy approach, and the potential to put up one heck of a stat line somewhere down the road.
The fantasy verdict: Can we split the difference? Trouble with the Moneyball? He's better than he showed last year, but maybe not (yet?) as good as the scouts have been saying?
Okay, listen, I'm a Rangers fan, and I want nothing more than for Profar to be everything Law and his compatriots forecast for him. (Keith Law is higher on Profar than anyone; in a December chat, he discussed Profar and said "I still think he's a superstar.") If you want to tell me that Profar is a fringe MVP candidate in 2016 or 2017, I can see it.
That said, this is a 21-year-old converted second baseman who certainly looked like he wasn't there yet in 2013. On top of that, this is a toolsy middle infielder, with a lot of his inherent value coming from his defense. That defense is great and all, and I sure like that it'll be there in Texas, but it does less than nothing for his fantasy value.
In a dynasty league, Profar shoots up the rankings. If you can grab him for his career, you're going to have yourself a big old time. But for 2014? We have Profar ranked 15th among second basemen, with individual rankers having him anywhere from ninth to 22nd (my ranking). Guys behind Profar in the consensus ranks - like Howie Kendrick, Jed Lowrie, and Brian Dozier - aren't fancy names, don't have the cachet of a Profar. But for a single-year league, those guys are significantly more reliable.
Those grabbing Profar for 2014 are hoping he reaches some large percentage of his potential this year, with a revamped Rangers lineup giving him plenty of chances to drive in and (mostly) score runs. It doesn't look like he'll ever be much of a base stealer, and even the most optimistic forecasters don't see Profar going much the mid-to-high teens in homers. The main projections on FanGraphs slot Profar's average between .248 and .269; our Rotobanter projection says .256.
Let's say you are a pie-in-the-sky optimist. What's the absolute best fantasy line Profar could put up this year? A .280 average, 75 runs, 70 RBI, 15 homers, 15 steals? That would be a massive success for the 21-year-old. Heck, considering his defensive skills, that makes him an easy All-Star.
But that's pie-in-the-sky. That's as good as it could possibly (reasonably) be. Even then, that's, what, the low half of the top ten among second basemen? A more realistic forecast would drop each of those by 10 percent, easily.
I like Profar, and I'm optimistic about his future. But "future" is a long time. 2014 might just be a building block. You need building blocks on a franchise. You don't need one, though, for your fantasy team.