Predicting the Biggest Risers and Fallers in MLB in 2013

Robert Knapel@@RobertKnapel_BRCorrespondent IJanuary 23, 2013

Predicting the Biggest Risers and Fallers in MLB in 2013

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    Every season there are a number of players that put up surprise performances. There are unexpected new stars while some established players struggle after a string of good seasons.

    This will once again be the case in 2013 as players work to adjust to new teams and leagues and as they regress towards the mean after seasons that can be considered outliers.

    The 2013 season will be one in which some players take big leaps forward, while others will be trying to figure out what to do after taking steps backwards.

Riser: Ike Davis

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    While the power production was there from Ike Davis in 2012, he still had a rough season and he struggled at the plate. Part of those struggles were simply tied to bad luck.

    Davis posted a .246 BABIP,  the second lowest in the majors amongst qualified hitters (h/t FanGraphs). It would not be surprising to see Davis hit .280 with 30 home runs in 2013, which would make him one of the better first basemen in the majors.

Faller: Ian Desmond

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    The 2012 season was a career year for Ian Desmond. He hit .292 with 25 home runs and 73 RBIs, all career highs.

    Desmond likely cannot sustain this rate of production in the future. In 2012 his HR/FB rate rose to 18.2 percent, which may be difficult for him to sustain (h/t FanGraphs). This means that Desmond's power and run production numbers should fall in 2013 and could go back to his 2011 levels.

Riser: Eric Hosmer

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    Despite showing better discipline at the plate in 2012, Eric Hosmer was unable to avoid the dreaded sophomore slump. If the Royals are going to reach the postseason in 2013, they are going to need him to turn things around.

    A quick look at Hosmer's peripheral statistics seems to demonstrate that the 2012 season was just a bad year. Hosmer has a load of talent and he should be ready to take the next step in 2013.

Faller: Dexter Fowler

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    Dexter Fowler has been a solid player for the Colorado Rockies over the past few seasons, but he took his game to a whole different level in 2012. It will be difficult for him to repeat his success in 2013.

    Fowler had an unsustainable .390 BABIP in 2012 and as that number falls, so will his batting average. Additionally, Fowler's power surge was aided by a HR/FB rate of 12.3 percent, which was more than double his previous career high.

Riser: Michael Young

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    After a long and illustrious career with the Texas Rangers, Michael Young struggled mightily in his last season with the team. The change of scenery after he was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies could be what he needs to help him recharge his career.

    Young should benefit from moving to the National League and could once again be a solid run producer. Eighty RBI would not be out of the question for Young in 2013.

Faller: Wilin Rosario

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    Somewhat lost behind the great rookie years from Mike Trout and Bryce Harper was the performance that Wilin Rosario had. He slugged 28 home runs in just 117 games and also hit .270.

    While playing at Coors Field will certainly help Rosario, he will likely not hit home runs at such a high rate in 2013. Rosario is coming off a season in which more than a quarter of the fly balls that he hit left the park (h/t FanGraphs).

    Even with that being said, Rosario should put up decent numbers in 2013.

Riser: Cameron Maybin

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    Cameron Maybin has always been an intriguing player because of all the skills that he possesses, but he has struggled to put it all together for an extended period of time. He was solid in 2011, but then had a disappointing season in 2012.

    There have been numerous occasions on which Maybin has shown flashes of brilliance. With the fences coming in at PETCO Park, Maybin should be able to take advantage of the new dimensions and take his game to the next level.

Faller: Josh Reddick

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    One of the reasons for the Oakland Athletics' surprise success in 2012 was the performance of Josh Reddick. He emerged as a big bat in the middle of the team's lineup and helped power them to a great year.

    The 2012 season was the first one in which Reddick was given a chance to play the whole season and he took advantage of it with an aggressive approach at the plate. This approach could hurt his performance in the coming season.

Riser: Jesus Montero

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    Jesus Montero struggled to live up to expectations during his first season with the Seattle Mariners and he did not look like a potential elite bat.

    That full year of experience should be helpful for Montero and allow him to take the next step. While he may not turn into an elite catcher in 2013, Montero should be one that surprises a number of people with his performance.

Faller: Jason Kubel

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    Despite the fact that he slugged a career best 30 home runs in 2012, Jason Kubel may not have a full-time role in the Arizona Diamondbacks outfield.

    Even if Kubel is traded, he may not be able to replicate his performance from last season. Kubel saw his HR/FB rate and his ISO rise to the highest levels of his career, so he could be in for a regression.

Riser: Adam Wainwright

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    Believe it or not, the 2012 season was the worst of Adam Wainwright's career. He still won 14 games and had a 3.94 ERA during the year.

    Wainwright was coming back from Tommy John surgery, so these results were not completely unexpected. St. Louis is expecting that Wainwright should return to being an ace in 2013, and if his xFIP from 2012 was any indication, that should be the case.

Faller: Jeremy Hellickson

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    Following the James Shields trade, Jeremy Hellickson will be expected to play a bigger role in the Tampa Bay Rays rotation. That could turn out to be a bit of a problem for the team.

    While Hellickson had a sparkling 3.10 ERA in his rookie season, he significantly outperformed his xFIP, which was 4.44. This means that the Rays could see Hellickson post an ERA right around 4.00 in 2013.

    Another indicator that Hellickson could be in for some struggles is the fact that he was able to strand 82.7 percent of runners that reached base in 2012 (h/t FanGraphs). That number will be very difficult for him to sustain moving forward.

Riser: Jaime Garcia

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    While the St. Louis Cardinals did reach the playoffs in 2012, their starting rotation struggled at times and that hurt them during the year. Jaime Garcia struggled to find consistency.

    Following two fantastic seasons, Garcia posted the worst year of his career in 2012. Garcia was a bit unlucky according to his xFIP and many of his numbers were in line with his career averages.

Faller: Aaron Harang

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    Among all of the players that the Los Angeles Dodgers brought in for 2012, they had to be most surprised by the success that Aaron Harang had. He had a 3.61 ERA during the year.

    That number was a career best for Harang and his xFIP of 4.95 seems to indicate that it was a fluke (h/t FanGraphs). It is very possible that Harang will have a difficult time gaining a spot in the Dodgers' rotation in 2013.

Riser: Tim Lincecum

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    Tim Lincecum did not look like a two-time Cy Young award winner during the 2012 season. He struggled mightily and pitched to a 5.18 ERA.

    While things looked bleak for a while, Lincecum looked more like himself in the second half of the season as he posted a 3.83 ERA. That may not be at the elite level that Lincecum was once at, but he should return to form in 2013 and should have no problems posting a sub-3.75 ERA.

Faller: Kyle Lohse

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    As of now, Kyle Lohse is a man without a team. One of the reasons that teams are weary of signing him even after his strong performances is because of the fact that they will lose a draft pick.

    Another reason is that they are concerned that he will regress. Lohse looked like an elite pitcher in 2012, but his lack of strikeouts, low BABIP and career low walk rate all give some cause for concern that he will regress.

Riser: Ervin Santana

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    Moving out of the difficult American League West could certainly help Ervin Santana improve in 2013. While he does have to face the Detroit Tigers, the offenses in the American League Central are less intimidating.

    Also working in Santana's favor is the fact that he is coming off a season in which he had a HR/FB rate of almost 19 percent. As that number gets closer to his career average of 10.8 percent, his ERA should fall as well.

Faller: Ross Detwiler

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    Behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman in the Washington Nationals' starting rotation in 2012 was Ross Detwiler. His success was a pleasant surprise and he was able to put up outstanding numbers in the back end of the team's rotation.

    With a 3.40 ERA in 2012, Detwiler looked outstanding. He will be hard pressed to repeat that in 2013. Detwiler had a 4.34 xFIP, which seems more in line with what should be expected from him given his talent level (h/t FanGraphs).

Riser: Ricky Romero

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    It seemed as if everything went wrong for Ricky Romero during the 2012 season. He went from being one of the Toronto Blue Jays' top starters to a struggling pitcher that was just thrown out there every fifth day.

    Romero's struggles stemmed from control issues and his tendency to give up home runs. If Romero can get his walk rate back down to his career average, he will be a big piece for the Blue Jays in 2013.

Faller: Jake Peavy

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    After years of struggling with the Chicago White Sox, Jake Peavy was able to finally look similar to how he did during his time with the San Diego Padres. However, that success may not last for Peavy.

    Peavy's strikeout rate was once again under 8.00 K/9 and his xFIP was 4.00 for the year (h/t FanGraphs). One of the major issues with Peavy has been the increase in both fly balls that he has given up as well as the increase in his HR/FB rate.