In the fourth edition of our community projections, we finally arrive at our first position player. After not receiving as many replies as I was hoping, I decided to change things up a bit. Since 90% of our roster is projected to finish with less than 2 WAR, I figure it might be more interesting to ask each of you for an additional prediction on a key stat for each particular player. So for our young thumper, please predict (in the subject line!) his year-end WAR and home run totals.
2016 Composite Projection
Cron had a rough go of things to start 2015, failing to seize the team's wide-open DH spot. Sporadic playing time did not help matters and after a paltry .143/.149/.143 month of May, C.J. was optioned back to AAA to try and get him going. The rarified air of Salt Lake invigorated him and after posting a 1.014 OPS across 98 PA, Cron returned to Anaheim for good, becoming a fixture in the line-up behind Albert Pujols.
C.J. had a blistering hot summer, batting .331/.370/.556 and clubbed 8 home runs across July and August, helping to keep the team afloat while Mike Trout and Pujols fell into their respective late-summer slumps. He fell back to earth in September/October, batting only .232/.275/.438 but continued bringing the thunder, putting six more balls over the fence to finish with a career high 16.
Heading into 2016, Cron figures to be the front-runner for the DH/1B platoon with Pujols, though the presence of Rule 5 find Ji-Man Choi will be pushing him for playing time. The four major systems used for this project (Steamer, ZiPS, PECOTA, Baseball-Reference) all project him to hit between 17-20 home runs as a full time player, with a modest 0.4-0.6 WAR, thanks to his role as either a DH or poor-defensive first baseman.
Cron will be 26 this year, so if there were ever a time for him to take off, it is now. As a comparison, Mark Trumbo, to whom many Halo fans liken Cron, had his best year at 26, batting .268/.317/.491 while belting 32 long balls. That was good enough for 2.5 bWAR, though take that with a grain of salt, as Trumbo was able to contribute (albeit poorly) in the outfield and occasionally providing a decent glove at first base.
Trumbo is very likely Cron's ceiling, as they both have silly raw power but awful pitch recognition. Of course, Trumbo had the luxury of not having to look over his shoulder and was penciled in as an every day player, for better or worse. Cron still has to earn that playing time, as the aforementioned Choi, Daniel Nava, Craig Gentry, Jefry Marte and Rafael Ortega all push him for at bats. Will Cron slug enough to hold those more versatile players at bay, or will he get lost in the shuffle? Let us know how you think Cron will finish the year by guessing his total WAR and HR for the 2016 season in the subject line!