This Pre-Season Series will focus on those players who surged in September of the previous season, sometimes under the radar of the typical fantasy manager who had lost interest and already turned their focus towards fantasy football.
For instance, heading into the 2010 Draft, how many savvy managers picked up on Jose Bautista going .257-22-10-21 in the previous September/ October, knowing then he was primed for a stellar 2010? I would venture a guess that most of the fantasy community wrote it off as a fluke, simply because Bautista was a 29-year-old career .238 hitter who never recorded an ISO over .185 or a SLG over .420, and spent most of his days struggling to perform for one of the worst franchises in sports, the Pirates.
But what can we learn from this “Black Swan” to prepare us for future anomalies? Before we dive into our 2011 candidates, let’s examine Bautista a little more closely...
When you look at all of his numbers affected by plate discipline, the one area that screams "change" was his FB percentage, which matter-of-factly exploded.
Below, courtesy of FanGraphs, is Bautista's career GB/FB/LD percentages. Do you see what this guy did from 2009 to 2010? He drastically changed his approach, turning into an extreme flyball hitter. Look at his GB%: a direct inverse. But, did he begin making this change in his approach in September of 2009? Well, if you squint at that final month of 2009 you'll see a huge uptick in his FB percentage.
And what about Spring Training 2010? The guy hit 5HR in 57AB (HR every 11.4 AB).
So leading up to September 2009, Bautista hit 49HR in 1,645 career AB; or a HR every 33.6 AB.
From September 1st, 2009, until the end of the '10 season (not including Spring Training), Bautista hit 64HR in 678AB; or a HR every 10.59 AB.
The MLB career leader in HR per AB is Mark McGwire. Over his career Mark McGwire hit a HR every...drumroll, please...10.61 AB. So yeah, Bautista has been pretty good.
Our first 2011 Nomination coming up: Drew Stubbs.