In our continuing series on the Sabermetric Indicators that shape our player projections in our 2018 Draft Advisory Program. Today we'll take a look at some of the indicators that are defining our 2018 3rd Baseman projections:
Bryant, Kris Bryant had what many would consider a disappointing 2017 campaign, posting a .295/.537/.946 stat line. Although most MLB players would sell their soul for such a stat line, Bryant is of superstar status w/ high expectations. A hitter that could within reason, drop a 40HR/120RBI/.300BA on us. Of most disappointment was his HR count that dropped from 39 to 29 last season and his RBI count that fell from 102 to 73. The RBI count was a little out of his control, as he saw a lot of his 2nd half in the 2 slot of the batting order. Could it be that he lost some of the aggression which has fueled his success? His Walk Rate increased from 10.7 to 14.3 and his K rate decreased from 22% to 19.2%....signs of a more patient hitter. Which isn't necessarily a great attribute for our fantasy universe. It seems that pitchers where not necessarily pitching around him either, as his Strike Zone Swing % went from 74% to only 68%. Also of note was the decrease in his pull% from 47% to only 41%. All signs of a hitter who's sitting back more...and handing it off to someone else to produce. He's just too talented for this! At only 26, there's plenty of optimism that he'll revert back to the run producer of the past, and forgo the old version of Joey Votto.
Ramirez, Jose Solid 87% contact rate with good 8% Walk rate. Above average 34% hard hit rate and heavy 1:1 GB/FB rate translated to lots of flyballs that left the field in 2017. Lots to like here as he'll only be 25 this season, so there is still some upside with his power numbers. Specifically he appears to have been shorted in the RBI department, there should be a jump there even if the HR totals decline. The .317 BA is going to be difficult to maintain.
Turner, Justin Tends to streak in production more than other hitters, when he's hot he's red hot. Solid 85% contact rate with elite 39% Hard Contact rate, but really doesn't have distance on his swing as evidenced by his 102.5 BBS on his HRs. His RBI count was understated last season by about 10, but his BA was overstated last season by about 25 points. Expect the HR count to climb as he's more than a 11% HR/FB hitter. 03/23/2018: Turner is expected to miss 4-6 weeks after a errand fastball broke his left wrist in a spring training game. He's expected back in late April/Early May.
Arenado, Nolan One of the most secure top 5 selections in fantasy baseball. 3 consecutive seasons of 37+ HRs, and 130+ RBIs. Blew out LHP with a 840 SLG against last season. Continues to dominate at home with a +114 SLG. HR total could increase as his 16% HR/FB rate appears to be under represented based on his 37% Hard Hit rate.
Adrian Beltre Beltre was sidelined for a big portion of the season with leg injuries, but his production rates remained as productive as he was in the 2016 season. At 39, at some point, someone will be holding the bag. The good news is that he's going to come rather cheaply because of the injuries in 2017 and the advancing age. Will come cheaply if you don't have any Ranger fans in your fantasy league.
Bregman, Alex Improved considerably last season, posting a 86% contact rate along with a solid 33% Hard Hit rate. While his HR totals increased to 19 last season, there was a lot left on the table. For starters his 10% HR/FB rate is under represented and then consider what he can do if even half of his very high 17% infield popups go as flyballs in 2018. Then couple in a possible 20+ steals in 2018.
Candelario, Jeimer The C+ prospect posted is slated for semi regular playing time this season. We are all just assuming the obvious here, that the Tigers will give Candelario a long look at third base this spring, but when Nick Castellanos going to the OF. Is he ready? I guess. He's shown some pop in his second tour of AAA this year for both teams. He has a lot of swing and miss in his game and his plate rates have plummeted since the trade (21.8% K rate/ 12.4% BB rate with the Cubs and 27.6%/2.0% since coming to Toledo), so that may be the delay at this point. He was 11- for -41 (.268) with zero HRs, zero walks, and 14 Ks over his last 10 games in AAA. - Lou Blasi
Castellanos, Nicholas 73% contact rate, but improved his K rate considerably last year, dropping it almost 4%. Also improved his 36% hard Hit % to an elite 43%, but that is likely to settle around his 2nd half 37%. If he stays in the middle of the order the RBI count from last season will remain as his 12% XBH rate is legit.
Chapman, Matt Chapman's AAA season hitting finished like this: .259/.350/.592 with 16 HRs/5 SBs in 203 ABs. His first MLB season .234/.313/.472 with 14 HRs in 290 ABs. Drafted in the first round of the 2014 Draft out of Fullerton, Matt shows plus raw power, much of which has already been converted to game power, as his 52 high-minors-HRs in 690 ABs indicates. Additionally Matt is a well-rounded player, strong defensively at third (possibly plus), with a good arm. And he runs well. At the plate Matt is really simple to the ball in a good way but he's not always short to the ball. As a result he has a tendency to commit to breaking stuff early and there's a lot of swing and miss in his game as a result. I think that's somewhat fixable. Fortunately the game has come towards Matt's skill set and teams are more willing to ride with a 30% K rate than they have in the past, especially if the player involved will work a walk here and there (as Matt has in the minors) and he can be a defensive plus (which it appears that Matt will be). Matt is here to stay and he should be a good source of power, probably well into the 20s with a full season, possibly a string of upper-20s seasons, and he'll chip in some SBs. He'll be a drain on your batting average but he might be somewhat/almost near-level in OBP. For 2017, given some of the injury issues we are dealing with, if you need some ABs with some pop, this might be the best add to your free agent pool until Moncada and Torres show up later this summer. It appears he has the ABs in front of him unless he hits his way out of the job. Think Jake Lamb. Long-Term Fantasy Grade - B- Lou Blasi
Cooper, Garrett Older prospect (27), who finally mastered AAA last season with a 17HR/72RBI/.362BA in only 278 games last season. Might get some playing time with OF shallow Marlins...as his window is closing. Wildcard as we'll have to see if 2017 was a fluke.
Cozart, Zack HR rate of 16% last year (24 HRs) is not sustainable based on his middle of the road 31% hard hit rate and 102 BBS on his HRs. Also not sustainable is his 312 BABIP which artificially inflated his BA. We do like the increase in his Walk Rate (12.6). Regression expected in new ballpark
Cuthbert, Cheslor Hasn't displayed much power or speed potential during his 600+ MLB PA, and the 73% contact rate and minimal 6% BB rate are not going to add much in fantasy formats.
Devers, Rafael Last season in his 222 ABs, DeVere performed remarkably well with 10 HRs/34 RS/30 RBIs/.284 BA. The 17% HR/FB rate appears bloated based on the 388 Distance and 101.5 BBS on his HRs. That said the 35% Hard hit rate was solid, but the .342 BABIP is not likely to repeat. Rafael is clearly in the Red Sox long-terms plans. Dombrowski has not been shy or stingy about trading off shiny prospects and yet when the White Sox asked for Devers over Moncada in the Sale trade and were turned down. What he did in Portland last year is widely underrated. The emergence of his game power is unusual for his age, especially when you consider the ahead-of-the-age-curve level jump to AA. But his in-game power spike actually started in high-A last year. His first half in high-A last year produced a .233/.300/.335 slash line, which he upped in the second half to .326/.367/.539. Hello. Devers has also installed his game power while polishing his hit tool. Long-Term Fantasy Grade -- A - Lou Blasi
Diaz, Yandy The 25-year-old signed out of Cuba in 2013 (for a very reasonable $300K bonus) and he's moved leisurely through the Indians system showing a strong plate approach, with solid contact skills while posting a string of sub-.100 ISOs. His power game is Yandy's limiter in terms of a major league career, but I think it pays to explore the limits of that aspect of his game. I am wondering if his pro profile of a guy with a solid strike zone and a strong contact-centric approach is based in his skill set or whether it's the result of his deduction of what he needs to do to get to the majors. Yandy is 6-2/185 so while he's not built for power he should be physically able to generate a reasonable amount. What he lacks right now is lift. Diaz sprays the ball and puts it on the ground, at a rate of 53% and up throughout his ML stateside career. Yandy can play a couple of different positions capably. He gets the bat to the ball and controls his strike zone. The addition of a little pop would make him a player who could earn 400+ ABs and contribute a dozen HRs and a reasonable amount of Runs and RBI and be a positive in the AVG column. He will not be a big contributor in SBs (another limiting factor in his value).That's useful with some position qualifications (MI) and borderline in others (3B) and lacking in others OF. For now, he has enough PT to be useful in the short term. His long-term prospects depend on a reduction in his GB rates and the introduction of some lift in his game. Long-Term Fantasy Grade - C - Lou Blasi
Dietrich, Derek Showed some improvement verses LHP, lifting his SLG against to 413. Given that the Marlins will be depleted of talent in 2018, Dietrich will see FT playing status. Only a consideration because of position, but will need to take a big step up to be a fantasy consideration in shallow leagues.
Donaldson, Josh Donaldson posted a monster 2nd half with 24 HRs/53RBI after an injury laden first half. At 32, he's still within his prime, but the 26% HR/FB rate is not sustainable, despite the superior 105.6 BBS and solid 35^ Hard Hit rate. Expect the HR/FB rate to normalize for him in the 20-21% range. Of bigger concern is whether he'll be batting 2nd or 3rd in the lineup, which could adversely affect his RBI count.
Duffy, Matt Missed last season due to injury and subsequent surgery on his Achilles. Solid 85% Contact Rate and 1.75 GB|FB rate, but Hard Hit 26% rate has been lacking. Should float a 270-280 average, with some improvement in the power numbers.
Escobar, Eduardo Kicked up his Hard Hit rate to 31% last season with a solid 405 distance on his HRs. 13% HR/FB rate is legit, but appears to be on the high end, however heavy Flyball % hurts his BA, and only 6% BB rate hurts RS rate.
Flores, Wilmer Flores ISO jumped to 22% last season, but the 21% HR/FB rate in the 2nd half had a lot to do with that. That said, there is a lot to like here with the 85% Contact rate and 35% Hard Hit rate. RBI count could jump in the middle of the Mets order. Very heavy Flyball rates means that he's going to hit his share of HRs.
Franco, Maikel His K rate of 15% is respectable for a power hitter. There was a considerable drop-off in his BBS (105.4 to 102.8) and distance on HRs (403 to 390), but at only 25, there is little reason to believe that this was just a blip. His HR/FB rate of only 14% is surprising considering the heavy 46% pull rate, but he's just not making consistent contact in hitting the ball with authority (31% Hard Hit Rate). This also affects his depressed 183 Singles rate, which in turn led to a .230 BA. There's more to Franco, so expect a bounce back.
Frazier, Todd AS expected, we saw a regression in Frazier's HR totals last season. On the flip side there is some upward mobility in his BA, as his .179 Singles percentage was a career low. The heavy FB rate does however keep his BA in the danger zone.
Freese, David As expected, Freese's HR/FB rate stabilized last season to a more sustainable 14%, which dropped his XBH% to only 6%. He's going to be 35 this season, so the end of the road is not far off.
Gallo, Joey Gallo entered the Stanton zone with the uber elite 46% hard hit rate and the insane 422 distance and 107.6 BBS on his HRs last season. In his rare case the 30% HR/FB rate is sustainable. What he'll need to continue to improve is the BA (209). Although the positives of a elevated hard hit rate, are offset with a heavy flyball rate and poor 37% K rate which should have amounted to a BA in the .230 range, many teams successfully deployed a shift on him last season. That said, his 14% Walk rate really helps out and his massive run producing potential will keep him in the lineup.
Gyorko, Jedd As expected Gyorko's 24% HR/FB of '16 reverted back to a sustainable 16% last season. That said we saw a huge decline in his underlying power indicators as his Hard Hit rate dropped to 31% and the distance/BBS on his HRs (370/96.2) was baffling for a hitter in his prime. However a lot of that can be explained by groin/hamstring issues. He'll bounce back, but the .312 BABIP will likely regress, as will his BA.
Lamb, Jake Continues to demonstrate superior bat speed of 105 on his HRs last season with a solid 36% Hard Hit % help smooth out his BA. Improved on his contact rate from .72 to .78, but the offset was more flyballs, which tends to be detrimental to hitters with a GB/FB rate of less than 2:1. That said his 20% HR/FB rate is on the high end and will likely drift into the 18% range. Still needs to figure out LHP (.288 SLG) to take it to the next level.
Longoria, Evan HR/FB rate neutralized last season to 11% and with the move to SF, that's not likely to increase for him. As a hitter that tends to put the ball in the air, his BA could be a liability. Gap Power will serve him well in the spacious outfield and he should surpass the () RBI count.
Moustakas, Mike Mike had the breakout season many were expecting from this one time top prospect, posting a solid 38/85/75/.272 line. That said his HR/FB rate of 18% seems to be elevated based on the BBS of 104.2 and 32% hard hit rate posted a season ago. That said the higher 44% pull rate does support a higher HR?FB rate but it probably should be closer to 16%. On the flip side, it appears that he was shorted about 15 RBIs last season.
Nunez, Eduardo His BA will revert as he benefited from a very fortunate .333 BABIP, BA should have been closer to 286. RBI count was under represented based on OBP and 10% XBH%. His SB window is still between 25-35.
Prado, Martin Prado's contact rate took a big drop last season, but lets consider that his sample size of only 140 Abs was cut short because of an injury (right knee). Look for a rebound in BA, but without power or SB ability there isn't much here for fantasy leaguers...more of a factor in deeper leagues.
Rendon, Anthony Love the 87% contact rate, with 34% Hard Hit rate, along with the above average 403 distance and 104 BBS on HRs. The 301 BA from a season ago is inflated based on the Heavy flyball rates .7 GB|FB. A shift to the 6 slot this season will hurt his RBI totals, so don't pay for the 100 RBIs from a season ago.
Sano, Miguel Sano is one of the best up and coming power hitters in baseball. His 414 distance on HRs/106 BBS/45 Hard Hit Rate are top 5 in baseball. Of course there is the overall contact rate which at only 62% is typically disturbing for the BA category, however with Sano his frequency of hard contact means that more balls find holes. Off the field issues are the bigger concern entering into 2018.
Seager, Kyle Solid 36% Hard Hit rate, with heavy FB rate of .61 GB|FB, along with solid 80% contact rate, makes him elite at his position. His BBS speed and Hard Hit rate of does support a HR/FB rate much of about 13% which should also aid his RBI totals in 2018. Expect an improvement in his BA as well, as the 204 Singles % is abnormally low for him. However to adjust, he's going to need to lower that pull% down from 40%, teams were successful in placing a shift on his last season.
Shaw, Travis Impressive 24% ISO, with excellent 37% Hard Hit rate and 106 BBS on HRs. Lat season we said that there would be considerable upside on his 10% HR/FB rate, and that ballooned up to 21% last season. Expect that to settle closer to 18%. His BA appears bloated, so expect that to back off a little.
Suarez, Eugenio HR count is elevated based on higher than norm 18% HR/FB rate. The 34% Hard Hit rate is encouraging, but regression is expected. Lots to like with the 10% XBH rate and the 13% Walk Rate. That's the indication of a hitter who is willing to wait for his pitch. Production on both sides of the plate has earned him a prominent role in this lineup.
Andujar, Miguel Top 100 Prospect | Hitter Rank- 31 Overall Grade-B Current level-MLB Expected MLB- Now .317/.364/.502 at AA with just a 13.2% K%. Looks to be the leader for 3B job. Miguel is a solid prospect with what projects to be a good hit tool. The time I saw him with Trenton I was impressed by his bat speed and his quick hands. His physicality caught my eye as well. He's listed a 6-0/175 and when I have seen him I'd say that weight might be a wet weight. This brings us to the crux of the matter with Miguel. We know he can make contact (sub-10% SwStr% over his 535 AA ABs over two tours). We know he can field the position well enough. We know he doesn't have much of any speed game ... What we don't know is what his power game looks like in terms of projection. There are two factors at play here ... One is his physicality and what that can produce in raw power as he physically matures (he should be pretty much there) and builds on that maturity with professional training (who knows?). At 6-0/190 for example, if put on correctly, he should be able to produce more than representative raw power. That seems like a reasonable projected outcome. Prospect Grade: B+ - Lou Blasi
Senzel, Nick Top 100 Prospect | Hitter Rank- 10 Overall Grade- A- Current level-AAA Expected MLB- 2018 May not be far from the big leagues. Injury or Suarez to UT could open a spot.
Chavis, Michael Top 100 Prospect | Hitter Rank- 23 Overall Grade-B Current level-AA Expected MLB- 2018 Broke out with 31 HR and had a reasonable 20.4% K% in AA. Blocked for now.
Guerrero, Vladimir Top 100 Prospect | Hitter Rank- 02 Overall Grade-A Current level- A+ Expected MLB- 2019 19 in March, he may be as untouchable as any prospect in the game. Expected to be a fantasy stud when he's ready, but that might not come until 2019. 16% ISO last season (485 SLG) with an excellent 12% strikeout rate and he's walking more often than striking out. Expected to play in AA/AAA this season.
Tatis Jr., Fernando Top 100 Prospect | Hitter Rank- 06 Overall Grade- A- Current level-AA Expected MLB- 2019 22 HR and 32 SB for a guy who could debut as a teenager.
Jones, Nolan Top 100 Prospect | Hitter Rank- 36 Overall Grade-B Current level- A- Expected MLB- 2021 .317/.430/.482 in rookie ball is a nice start. Given he's 6'5", the power should come.
Kieboom, Carter Top 100 Prospect | Hitter Rank- 42 Overall Grade-B Current level- A+ Expected MLB- 2019 .897 OPS in Low-A, so the bat is there. May need to move off SS.
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