Consistency meter: Carlos Lee

image
Lee breaks his bat, not his finger, in this game two weeks before the real incident (Icon/SMI)

For the past nine seasons, Carlos Lee has been one of the most productive hitters in baseball, and one of the most consistent. The worst line you could make from his stats are a .264 average, 24 home runs, 80 RBI, 75 runs and one stolen base. The best line possible looks like: .314 average, 37 home runs, 119 RBI, 107 runs and 19 steals.

+------+-----+---------+-----+-------+----+-----+----+----+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM    | AB  | BA    | HR | RBI | R  | SB |
+------+-----+---------+-----+-------+----+-----+----+----+
| 2006 |  29 | Brewers | 388 | 0.286 | 28 |  81 | 60 | 12 |
| 2006 |  29 | Rangers | 236 | 0.322 |  9 |  35 | 42 |  7 |
| 2007 |  30 | Astros  | 627 | 0.303 | 32 | 119 | 93 | 10 |
| 2008 |  31 | Astros  | 436 | 0.314 | 28 | 100 | 61 |  4 |
+------+-----+---------+-----+-------+----+-----+----+----+

For Lee, 2008 was going to be arguably his best season until he was hit on the finger by an up and in heater thrown from the hand of Bronson Arroyo in early August. He was out for the remainder of the season, so Lee’s stats would be frozen after five months of play even though they had the appearance of a full season’s worth. It was the first DL stint of his career.

Entering his 11th MLB season at 32, Lee will look to resume playing at the high level of 2008. Let’s see what we can expect of him for the upcoming season, starting with his home runs.

Power ability

If you’re new to THT Fantasy Focus and are unfamiliar with True Home Runs (tHR) or any of the other stats I’m using, check out our quick reference guide. These stats provide a much clearer picture of a player’s talent, so it’s well worth taking a couple of minutes to learn them.

+------+-----+---------+-----+----+-----+-------+--------+--------+--------+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM    | AB  | HR | tHR | HR/FB | tHR/FB | nHR/FB | OF/FB% |
+------+-----+---------+-----+----+-----+-------+--------+--------+--------+
| 2006 |  29 | Brewers | 388 | 28 |  21 |    21 |     16 |     17 |     37 |
| 2006 |  29 | Rangers | 236 |  9 |   8 |    13 |     11 |     11 |     33 |
| 2007 |  30 | Astros  | 627 | 32 |  32 |    14 |     14 |     13 |     40 |
| 2008 |  31 | Astros  | 436 | 28 |  26 |    18 |     17 |     14 |     40 |
+------+-----+---------+-----+----+-----+-------+--------+--------+--------+

If at first glance you are think you are looking at a slight negative trend in his power totals, remember that 2008 was not a full season. His extrapolated home run total to 600 at bats is 39 home runs and 36 tHR. If anything, we are looking at an upward trend in power ability for Lee.

While not unheard of, it is surprising to see a player hit his peak power year in his 11th MLB season, and usually these surprise years are followed by regression the next season. For this reason, I expect Lee to hit home runs at a rate of 14 percent per outfield flyball. At that rate, Lee projects to hit 28 to 31 home runs in 2009. So even after some expected regression, Lee still figures to maintain good power totals.

Contact ability

+------+-----+---------+-----+-------+-------+-----+-------+--------+-----+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM    | AB  | BA    | tBA   | CT% | BABIP | xBABIP | LD% |
+------+-----+---------+-----+-------+-------+-----+-------+--------+-----+
| 2006 |  29 | MIL/TEX | 388 | 0.300 | 0.288 |  90 | 0.287 |  0.296 |  20 |
| 2007 |  30 | Astros  | 627 | 0.303 | 0.297 |  90 | 0.297 |  0.290 |  16 |
| 2008 |  31 | Astros  | 436 | 0.314 | 0.292 |  89 | 0.304 |  0.282 |  21 |
+------+-----+---------+-----+-------+-------+-----+-------+--------+-----+

Earlier in his career Lee would struggle somewhat with his batting average, sometimes hitting .300 and other times hitting around .270. In the past three years, however, Lee has solidified himself as a plus hitter for average, posting batting averages in the .300s all three years.

Because of the expected drop in home run total, Lee’s batting average is expected to drop as well. I also expect Lee’s actual BABIP to start moving in accordance with his xBABIP, meaning it will go down. With those adjustments made, his expected batting average is around .295.

Speed ability

+------+-----+-----------+-----+----+-----+-------+------+-----+-----------+-------------+
| YEAR | AGE | TEAM      | AB  | SB | SBA | SBO%  | SBA% | SB% | FAN SPEED | FAN_BALLOTS |
+------+-----+-----------+-----+----+-----+-------+------+-----+-----------+-------------+
| 2004 |  27 | White Sox | 591 | 11 |  16 | 0.258 |    9 |  69 |        61 |          18 |
| 2005 |  28 | Brewers   | 618 | 13 |  17 | 0.208 |   12 |  76 |         0 |           0 |
| 2006 |  29 | Brewers   | 388 | 12 |  14 | 0.232 |   14 |  86 |        26 |          35 |
| 2006 |  29 | Rangers   | 236 |  7 |   7 | 0.250 |   11 | 100 |        26 |          35 |
| 2007 |  30 | Astros    | 627 | 10 |  15 | 0.231 |    9 |  67 |        24 |          19 |
| 2008 |  31 | Astros    | 436 |  4 |   5 | 0.239 |    4 |  80 |        16 |          18 |
+------+-----+-----------+-----+----+-----+-------+------+-----+-----------+-------------+

A couple of years ago Lee would add some bonus value with 10 to 15 steals, but it appears those days are over. Whether it is because he has actually lost foot speed as his Fan Speed Score suggests or because the Astros are protecting their $100 million man from possible injury, Lee is simply not attempting to steal much (SBA%). Expect about five steals from Lee again in 2009, although he could plausibly get close to 10.

Final thoughts

Based on his current market value, Lee gets selected anywhere from early in the second round to late in the third, but on average toward the middle of the third, at 26th overall. This places him at the end of the top tier of outfielders, right around guys like Ichiro, Carl Crawford, Manny Ramirez and Carlos Beltran.

In most drafts, my preference is to avoid these outfielders in the third round, opting to wait to see who falls to me in the fourth. If none do, then I typically select my first outfielder in the fifth round, taking someone like Adam Dunn, Curtis Granderson, Corey Hart or Nate McLouth.

So, unless Carlos Lee falls to me in the fourth round of drafts, he probably will not be on my team; but he figures to provide good stats to whoever does select him.

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Comments

  1. Clark Kent said...

    Who are you taking in the first three rounds?  Infielders and a pitcher?  Why would you avoid 5 tool players like Beltran or Braun?

  2. Phil said...

    Not sure what’s wrong with Beltran or C.Lee in the 3rd? Crawford is way overrated, and Manny prolly won’t do as well.  Also what about Carlos Quentin in the 3rd?

  3. Paul Singman said...

    Depending on what pick I have, I certainly would take Braun or Beltran or Sizemore in the first couple of rounds. But, yes, I do prefer taking infielders early.

    It also depends if the league has 3 or 5 outfield spots, so I guess I should refrain from sounding so definite next time. In leagues with only 3 OF spots, I’ll wait as long as I can to take outfielders because I feel there are a lot of good outfielders that can be had late. Fred Lewis, Adam Lind, Nelson Cruz (although he is getting taken earlier and earlier), Jason Werth and Andre Ethier are some examples. 

    As for taking pitchers, I am generally averse to taking them early, unless I find a fault in the league rules that can be exploited with star pitchers.

  4. sean said...

    Paul,

    More specifically, who are you targeting in the third round if not top-tier OF like CLee? Utley, Rollins, Kinsler, Utley are already taken in the IF. Are you looking solely at the corners then? If so, who is left in the third round? Adrian Gonzalez? Prince? A-Ram?

  5. Paul Singman said...

    Sean, if I miss out on Wright, A-Rod, and Cabrera, then I would strongly consider taking Youkilis in the third. I’ll pass over on Longoria in the second and I like Youk better than Aramis in ‘09.

    If everything goes “to plan” and I get, lets say, Kinsler and Cabrera with my first two picks, then I would probably take C Lee or, if I’m lucky Beltran, in the third.

    I’m still in the process of creating my 2009 rankings, so this plan is not definite but it is looking like third base and second base are two positions I’ll be looking to draft elite. Outfielders are generally my fall back option if I don’t get the players I want at the right time.

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