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Bruce, Back from the Grave

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Jay Bruce is hitting like it's 2013, and he actually could be in line for a rebound year. He can certainly help some owners looking some power bats.

Bruce's bat is ready to answer his owners
Bruce's bat is ready to answer his owners
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Jay Bruce is back in our lives. Once the most coveted exciting power prospect who heat up the draft board, settled in as a mere reliable HR source for several years, but he didn't just satisfy there. He wanted to disappoint us even more so he went on to annihilate his 27 & 28 year-old seasons. He was never a high average hitter, but his .222 BA along with diminished power (22HR avg) turned him into an unusable asset in Fantasy.

This year, he is showing us a glimpse of hope. He isn't Bryce Harper who we once imagined, but he is turning in his old reliable .265 .320. 500 line in 19 games to start the season. He is still 29 years old, and if he can go back to his 2013 production, he would certainly can contribute for us. But can we trust him after his two miserable seasons?

It's not an easy question to answer only after 19 games, but I'm leaning to the "yes" side.

GB/FB

ISO

BABIP

2010

0.83

0.212

0.334

2011

0.78

0.217

0.297

2012

0.80

0.263

0.283

2013

0.93

0.216

0.322

2014

1.33

0.156

0.269

2015

0.84

0.209

0.251

2016

0.80

0.235

0.286

Career

0.91

0.215

0.287

Jay Bruce has been largely a consistent hitter in every category year to year, but we can see that his 2014 GB/FB and ISO stand out. He suddenly hit more groundball and it not surprisingly led to less power. This is the year he suffered a knee injury and he explained himself to Fangraphs:

"You come up out of your legs and create an around-the-ball plane rather than being able to stay connected to your back side and hit through the baseball to the big part of the field. You try to create more with your upper body, which is more of a twist, and it's up and out and around — that's why I hit a million ground balls last year."

I'm not a doctor or a hitting instructor, so I don't really understand what he said, but I got the "million ground balls" part for sure. That's at least good enough for us to cut him some slacks for his 2014 numbers. He was told to be healthy in 2015, and we can see that he at least brought his fly ball rate and ISO back to normal. If we go ahead and erase his 2014 season, 2015 actually could be treated as nothing more than a bad BABIP year. His BABIP was 30 points lower than his career level, and his BA was 22 points lower. Maybe, just maybe, Jay Bruce somehow had his unluckiest season right after his injury riddled season, so having those two seasons back to back could have tricked us to believe that the former Phenom was done at age 28.

Steamer projects him to hit 21HR and .238 for the rest of the season, and it ranks him at 28th among the RFs (Yahoo! eligible RFs), which makes him hard to be rostered. Those numbers are obviously influenced by his two most recent sluggish years. If we assume that he can actually go back to his normal self that we saw from 2010 to 2013 and extrapolate those numbers onto 494 PA, which is Steamer's rest of the season projection, his line will look like 66-23-72-6-0.262 (R-HR-RBI-SB-AVG), and his rank goes up to 15th among the RFs.

He is not going to "wow" us by any means, but he could be a value play here since not many people are yet to believe his resurgence. There is a good chance that he can outperform names like Miguel Sano, Matt Kemp, Nelson Cruz, or Hunter Pence, but he should be way cheaper to acquire. I just got him for almost free in my league ($15 FAAB) because none of my league mates were willing to trade for him. Go ahead ask for his price before he gets expensive. Remember that he is still only 29 years old, and power is a rare commodity these days.

Steamer Rest of the Season Projection

RF Rank (in Yahoo! Format)

PA

HR

RBI

R

AVG

SB

28th

494

21

75

55

0.238

7