Buy or Sell: Cruz, Young Power Up in October

You watch baseball, so you are well aware of this already: Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young are absolutely killing the ball of late. In what amounts to about a weeks worth of regular season games, Nelson Cruz has blasted five home runs, all of which have come in his last five games. Young, on the other had, has crushed four long balls (two in Thursday night’s game) while recently dealing with a strained oblique.

The postseason creates excitement in a hurry, but what these two hitters have done over the past seven games should not affect the way you view them on draft day 2012.

Small sample size. Anyone that analyzes stats is likely to use this phrase quite often, especially early in the season. The postseason can make even the most mundane hitters look like superstars from time to time. Yunieski freaking Betancourt is hitting .367 with a home run this postseason for crying out loud! After hitting three home runs during the entire 2010 regular season, Edgar Renteria went on to hit .412 with two home runs in the World Series. That about sums it up.

Nelson Cruz, through the first nine games of the 2011 season, hit .360 with five home runs and 10 RBI. Cruz ended the season with a .269 AVG, 29 home runs and 87 RBI. That means that through nine games, Cruz had already hit 17 percent of his 2011 home runs and driven in 11 percent of his end of season RBI total.

Cruz will start the 2012 season as a 31-year-old and will turn 32 on July 1st. While it’s impossible to ignore his tremendous power, it is also impossible to ignore the fact that he has never played in more than 128 games in any big league season. His injuries have cut down his stolen base totals as well as his stolen base success rate (he was nine for 14 this season, a success rate of 64 percent). Also, his speed score took a major hit this season, dropping from 5.5 in 2010 to 3.8 in 2011.

The bottom line is that Cruz still is the same player he ever was, prodigious postseason power display or not. He’ll likely hit around 30 bombs and steal a few bases (maybe less given his declining speed), but he won’t give you the same counting stats in runs and RBI as other players might simply because he is very unlikely to play more than 120 or so games. He’s also a career .270/.330 hitter with the propensity to swing and miss quite often.

As for Delmon Young, well, he’s quite the enigma isn’t he? A one time top prospect, thee best prospect in baseball in some people’s eyes, Young has now played for three teams in five full major league seasons. He has a .288 career AVG, but only a .321 career OBP, which was exactly the league average OBP in 2011. Young, despite the power potential he showed as a prospect, has only topped out at 21 home runs for his career high. Then again, Young is still only 26 years old, but he has certainly battled consistency and conditioning throughout his career. I viewed Young as a .285-.295, 20 home run outfielder this past preseason and nothing that has changed my opinion based on this postseason. He battled through an oblique injury and an ankle injury during the regular season, so if healthy he could be a decent bounce back value as long as he remains nothing more than a late round pick in 2012.