First off, Smoak is headed to free agency.Cron is not. Second, Cron is also playing for an excellent team in the Twins. These are the Twins that broke the regular season home run record after all. Cron was part of that, belting 25 taters of his own. But despite better surface numbers than his StatCast expected wOBA buddy Smoak, he finished with almost identical actual and expected wOBA marks.
The major difference with Cron is his not so elite walk rate. A lot of Smoak's value comes from his elite plate discipline. Cron's is more obvious. Coming off a super good year with the Rays, he was non-tendered by the cost conscious Tampa Bay team and picked up by the shrewd Twins. The move actually paid off for Minnesota, at least from a StatCast perspective. (The Rays replaced Cron with Avisail Garcia, which worked out fine.)
Cron had a career high in average batted ball exit velocity (91 mph) and barrel percentage (15 percent). These marks contributed to an expected .273 batting average and .530 slugging percentage. Even with his average 5.8 percent walk rate, he was a pretty nice hitter with an expected .366 wOBA.
Unfortunately, Cron's actual results fell short of those marks. He had a .253 batting average and a .469 slugging percentage in "real life." Those numbers fall in line with his career averages, which may lead casual observers to say, hey he is what he is. But, we are not casual. It seems that Cron did actually grow as a hitter with Tampa. He actually improved in 2019. It just didn't show on the back of his baseball card.
Going into just his age 30 season, Cron could have yet another career year like he did in 2018. The rolling expected wOBA chart shows he really only had one bad month (July) and a couple of bad stretches in September. In 2018, he had one truly awful stretch in late June through mid July. Seeing the consistency of expected numbers above league average is a good sign going forward.
Of course, it seems the best investment is the BGS 9.5 autos, especially the refractors, which are limited to 500 copies. Note that a graded non-refractor brought only $11.50 in July. But, another copy of that card brought $21 in early August. A refractor, though, brought $23 in late August. Clearly the refractor is a better value.
What prices can we expect for Cron graded refractors autos if he breaks out? It wouldn't be a surprise if his refractors get to be around $35 if he gets hot. If the Twins get back to the playoffs and he's a big factor, then $50 isn't out of the question. If you can get a steal on a refractor graded BGS 9.5 with 10 auto, it may be worth a shot. Just mind the hot streaks and you may have a nice flip.