Monday, November 26, 2012

Is Stubbs on the brink of a breakout season?

Let's be honest, folks. Drew Stubbs did not have a good season in 2012. He batted a measly .213 overall, got on base at a clip of just .277, and whiffed 166 times in only 493 at-bats. That's right. He failed to even put the ball in play in nearly 34% of his official trips to the plate, which equates to about one in three at-bats for all you mathematics majors out there.

His lack of production has forced the Reds to explore other options in center field, but Dave Cameron of FanGraphs seems to think that Stubbs may be on the cusp of a bounce-back year. Cameron tabbed the 28-year old as one of three players to bounce back in 2013, and quite possibly with another team.

Here's exactly what he had to say about Stubbs:

Drew Stubbs, CF

As a first-time arbitration-eligible player, Stubbs isn't likely to be available because the Reds can't afford to give him the $3 million or so he'll likely be awarded. Instead, he's likely to be available because the Reds simply want a better center fielder. He still strikes out far too often for a guy without big-time power, and his .277 OBP last year has the Reds looking for a new leadoff hitter. However, Stubbs is a quality defender and his core stats -- walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated power -- were all basically identical to his 2011 marks, when Stubbs was a productive player for the Reds.

If he bounces back even a little bit offensively, he could be a league-average player, and at 28 years old, he still has a bit of upside left. While there are a lot of free-agent center fielders available, a team looking for a lower-cost option could do a lot worse than Stubbs, who offers enough power, speed and defense to be useful for any team that can get past his problems making contact. The strikeouts aren't going away, but a flawed player is not a useless player, and getting Stubbs out of Cincinnati might just be the second chance he needs.

Cameron could very well be spot on in his prognostications about Stubbs, however, I don't think it's likely to happen, especially not in Cincinnati. The University of Texas product can always be counted on to play great defense and steal a few bases, but his lack of offensive prowess has been crippling the team in the past two seasons. The Reds should look elsewhere for a solution to both center field and leadoff. And if Stubbs turns out to have a resurgence with another club, then so be it.

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