Can Chris Denorfia build on his career year?
Heading into the 2012 season, we slotted San Diego Padres outfielder Chris Denorfia 136th in our Outfield Rankings.
Okay, we admit it — we sold the dude a bit short.
Based on a career best campaign, Denorfia was probably a top 70 flyhawk in 2012.
Let’s review his career year and explore what we can expect for 2013 from the 32-year-old.
Denorfia, originally a 19th rounder in 2002 by Cincinnati, saw more action than ever before last year and he responded with decent numbers across the board. As usual, hee provided a bit of speed and improved his success rate to the point where he’s actually helping instead of hurting his team on the basepaths.
Denorfia’s walk rate dipped — which is not what you want to see out of a top of the order man with speed, but a career best BA helped his OBP improve. His groundball rate continues to rise, which could cap the modest power he has, but that approach is best suited for a fast man.
Denorfia showed more life against righties last year, holding his own (in a large enough sample size) to the point where you’d have to think should opportunity present itself, he could be able to secure full-time job.
Take away a crappy May and Denorfia would have wound up with a .311 BA — he was consistently solid the rest of the season and his hot start (.326 in April) earned him more PT from that point on.
Like most Padres, he was better on the road (831 OPS vs. 760 at Petco), but let’s hope he can fare better in the two-hole this year than he did in 2012. In 70 at-bats batting second last year, Denorfia hit just .214 with an ugly 595 OPS.
His best work came when leading off an inning as he hit .325 with a 931 OPS in those situations, but when Denorfia had a chance to drive in runners in scoring position, he didn’t fare nearly as well (.266 BA).
Denorfia had definite value in NL-only leagues. No, there’s nothing exciting about him, but he made for a nice spot starter — especially when the Padres faced a lot of southpaws.
His chief weapon remains speed and he really has no one glaring weakness, although power is his least attractive quality. Denorfia is a gamer — the type of player winning teams need and the kind of dude you can’t help but cheer for. But expecting him to repeat his 2012 is a mistake.
This year, Denorfia will platoon in right field with Will Venable (who does not dominate righties the way Denorfia does against lefties) and likely hit second after spending much of last year hitting leadoff.
Assuming he gets more PT — which is reasonable considering his recent trends, we’re expecting Denorfia to flirt with or perhaps even achieve his first double-digit home run season. He’s also a lock to again reach double digits in steals, although expecting him to threaten .300 again isn’t wise.
That sweet .345 wOBA he had last year? We woundn’t be shocked if it dropped by as much as 30 points.
As a dude that owns lefties (890 OPS with four homers last year), Denorfia is going to be a solid NL-only option, but isn’t likely to be a mixed league candidate. His ADP is around 535, so we’re only talking about massive leagues here; Tim McLeod reports that Denorfia is not showing up in any of his Sunday night mock drafts.
But as an in-season pickup that can be deployed in spot starting situations, Denorfia has definite value.
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