With today being the deadline to submit arbitration figures, baseball featured a flurry of signings in the last 24 hours. The White Sox are notorious for avoiding the arbitration process, so much so that I can't even remember the last player who they took to arbitration. Keith Foulke, maybe?
The Sox and Crede agreed on a 1-year deal worth $2.675M, which was just $125K more than I had predicted. That's a pretty good guess, if I do say so myself. The contract features incentives for plate appearances that can raise the value by an additional $200K.
One theme that has caught on with my SB Nation colleagues is a list of breakout and collapse candidates. I think Lookout Landing was the first to run one, so Jeff deserves some credit for coming up with a good discussion topic.
I loosely put together a list of Sox breakout and collapse candidates, but I wanted to write something a little more in-depth about each palyer than just a paragraph.
Crede clocked in at #2 on my tentative list of breakout candidates. That's not exactly going out on a limb. It would have been like picking Garland to be a breakout candidate last season -- Just pick the guy with years of perceived under achievement -- That's part of the reason Crede is so high, but there are obviously others.
Crede's 2005 BABIP was .253. The BABIP for all of baseball in 2005 was .299. There are factors, such as speed, that make a player's BABIP abnormally high or low, but in general, their BABIP should trend toward .300.
Crede's career BABIP over 1700+ ABs is just .266, which suggests that there is something about the balls he puts in play that makes them more easily turned into outs than the average player. Anyone who has watched Crede the last few seasons knows this intuitively. After all, weak pop-ups are very easy to field, and Crede hits more infield pop-ups than anyone else I've ever seen.
Part of Crede's low BABIP can also be explained away by USCF's small dimensions. The small outfield, and overall solid defense that has patrolled it, has helped USCF to allow the lowest BABIP (.289) in the American League the last three seasons. But Crede only plays half of his games at home, so this shouldn't be counted as a large factor in his low BABIP.
So if Crede has established that he has a lower than average BABIP, why is he a candidate for breakout? That's simple. His new swing. Crede's swing used to be long-and-loopy, where he often dropped his back shoulder far too much. This led directly to all those weak pop-ups.
The new swing, with his hands high and minimal leg kick, keeps his back shoulder from dipping and his back straighter at impact. His swing is more level, and he should make better contact. This means not only should the balls that he puts in play go for hits more often than before, but he should put more balls in play than before also. All of this should lead to a higher average, that would make his poor walk rate bearable.
Hopefully the new swing will lead to more consistency too. Crede had two terrible months (May and August) in 2005. And when I say terrible, I mean brutal -- He batted just .155 in May and .105 in August -- If Crede had raised those brutal months to just a Christian Guzman level of ineptitude, he would have easily surpassed an .800 OPS.
So how about a community projection for Crede?
Let's shoot for AVG/OBP/SLG, HR, RBI