In our continuing series on the Sabermetric analysis that shapes our Player projections in our 2018 Player Projections Software. Today we'll take a look at some of the indicators that are defining our 2018 Shortstop projections:
Anderson, Tim Anderson's BA took a hit last season, and a lot of that had to do with the poor contact hard hit rate of 28%. He's better than that so we should see an increase there. That said he doesn't walk (2%) so his RS totals are going to be sub par. The 14% HR/FB rate is on the high end, so there'll likely be a regression there. The SB% was great 15 for 16, so in theory there should be more attempts in 2018.
Andrus, Elvis Andrus finally found his power stroke in 2017, with 20 HRs and 88 RBIs...oh did we mention 100 RS, 25 SBs and a .297 BA.... but how much of that is sustainable? His HR/FB rate was 12%, which is sustainable if he can maintain the consistency in the Hard Hit rate of 31% and 104.4 BBS on his HRs....but this was a career high...so it's only natural that we might see a pullback in the jump in his ISO from 14 to 18%. Then there is the RBI and RS count, which are both at career high rates.
Arcia, Orlando Contact rate continues to increase (76%) and his hard hit rate finally hit midline at 30%. Still a relatively heavy ground ball oriented hitter (1.81) which keep his BA in the reasonable range. Still needs some seasoning against LHP (308 SLG), but at only 23 he appears ready to turn the corner.
Arroyo, Christian Christian knows his strike zone and makes good contact. He gets to the ball. But he is too eager much of the time and seems unwilling to walk. All of that would be ok, if he were a slugger and he were spinning the wheel for something more productive than a walk. But to this point, save for his first 20 MLB ABs, he hasn't show much in the way of the game power that his 6-1/180 frame should fund. To be fair though, he's just 22, playing a little ahead of his age curve and his AA park last year is less than a launching pad. The PCL should be a bit friendlier and that may be a factor in his early season surge. The big question with Christian is how much game power he will eventually develop. Prospect Grade: B - Lou Blasi
Bogaerts, Xander Bogaerts saw a big regression in production in 2017. His HR/FB rate dropped to only 7% and his batting average took a big hit in the 2nd half, posting only a .235 BA...thanks to an unlucky .225 Singles %. Look for a rebound in the power numbers as his 31% hard hit rate and 103.5 BBS on his HRs supports a rate closer to 11 or 12%.
Cabrera, Asdrubal Heavy flyball hitter that really doesn't typically have homerun power, as evidenced by his 102 batted ball speed and 395 distance on his HRs. He does however have gap power (37% hard hit rate) which will drive in runs. Decent 15% K% keeps his average as a positive. Likely to be moved to middle of order which will mean an increase in RBI opportunities.
Castro, Starlin We'll likely see a regression in the HR rate now that he's in Miami, as his 16% FB/HR rate does not correlate with his 29% Hard Hit rate and 103 BBS. Consider that he Slugged 122 points higher at home last season. Will see more Abs this season as last year was cut short with injury, so overall numbers will be better.
Correa, Carlos At only 24 Correa is set to post a huge season if he can stay healthy. He was well on his way last season with a 24/84/84/.315 line in only 414 Abs. Love the kick up in his Hard Hit rate (40%), but the BA appears to be elevated based on his .352 BABIP. Other than that he's a rare 30/100/90/290 from the middle infield position. A bonafide first rounder.
DeJong, Paul Let's start with his plate rates and his 28% K rate and 5% walk rate. How do you sustain a .285 average with those rates? Well, with a .349 BABIP of course. How do you sustain a .349 BABIP with little speed? Well, a 36% Hard% of course. Can he sustain these levels? Maybe. He posted a .336 BABIP in AAA last year before being recalled and his plate rates weren't much better. We've talked a lot about approach changes with hitters this year. The game is responding to the increase in velocity we have seen in recent years with a charge towards power. So has Paul DeJong. Let's start in A-ball in 2015 when he posted plate rates of 9.3% and 17.4%. He hit .288 with a 6.9% HR/FB, a .151 ISO and a 40.0% GB% ... In AA in 2016 his plate rates go to 7.2%/26.1%. He hits .260, but his ISO goes to .200 on 22 HRs, a 14.9% HR/FB and a 37.3% GB rate ... If we were to Player A/ Player B those two years you wouldn't think they were the same hitter. This year, more of everything in Paul. The 23-year-old's plate rates dropped in AAA to 4.7%/24.2% and he posted a .271 ISO in 177 ABs with a 28% GB%. I don't have Hard% for his AAA line this year but it's a fair bet that his saw a huge jump which helped support his .299 average. So he's a free swinger now. That much is clear. As I look over how he handles pitch types so far I see positive pitch values on FB, and cutter and I see negative pitch values on slider (slightly. -0.4), curves and changes. I see a 16% SwStr rate on the FB, 14% on the cutter and 20+% on sliders and curves with 40+% chase rates. The problem right now is that he's hitting those pitches at a .250 and .333 clip respectively. He's hitting fastballs at a .167 pace ... Ya ... I don't know why either, except he has a .176 BABIP on FB and .429 on curves. The 20% HR/FB rate...well that's not sustainable with the 101.4 BBS and 398 distance on his HRs. Right now we know he has really good bat speed and a lot of lift in his swing. - Lou Blasi
Diaz, Aledmys With Tulo in the lineup ahead of him, expect Diaz to see some playing time in 2018. Disappointing 2017 campaign saw his hard hit rate drop from 32 to 24%. Still only 27, so there's a good chance he'll once again rise.
Gregorius, Didi Heavy flyball hitter (.83 GB\FB%) with par 80% contact rate and less than desirable 23% Hard Hit rate/101 BBS on HRs. The 12% HR/FB rate appears slightly bloated as does the BA which was about 20 points higher than it should have been last season.
Hardy, J.J. HR/FB rate has dropped to only 6% over the last 3 years, he's just not hitting the ball with the same authority as he once did. That said there is upside in his power production, but the offset of the BA is going to makes him a low end option if he regains some playing time with a new team.
Iglesias, Jose Improved the frequency of his hard contact rate to 28%, but it came at a price, as his K% increase from 9.5% to 13.3%. Doesn't hit for power and doesn't steal bases. Pass.
Lindor, Francisco Solid contact rate (86%) , became a heavy FB hitter in 2017 with a .92 GB/FB rate, which he coupled with a solid 35% Hard Hit rate and a almost 398 distance on his HRs. His HR/FB rate increased to 14% and that's legit given the batted ball peripherals. What's not likely to stick is his RBI rate from 2017. In the leadoff slot there will be less RBI opportunities. BA has some upward mobility.
Lugo, Dawel Lugo has a strong hit toolbox. He gets the bat to the ball well. You would like to see him take a few more walks at this point and you would like to see some more pop and I'm not sure at this point whether either of those things is going to happen. We'll see what a need organization chooses to emphasize with Lugo but if it were me I would try to get him to leverage counts more and take a walk when it's offered. I would also try to reduce the 48%, 47% and 45% GB rates his posted in his minor league lines since 2015. In other words, I'd try to turn him into a third baseman as a hitter as well. Lugo offers no real speed game and not much power at this point. I am not convinced about his pitch recognition at this point and while he's done well with the quality of contact he's produced so far, I fear his impatience will be an anchor as the pitching gets more sophisticated, and he lives in pitchers counts at the next level. Nothing special. Long-Term Fantasy Grade -- C++ Lou Blasi
Marte, Ketel There is upside in the 8% HR/FB rate, but anything more than 11% is probably a reach. The upside is that he's young (24) and still improving and getting stronger. His ISO increased to 14% last season, and that will likely continue to grow. Solid 84% contact rate with normal GB/FB splits should help move his average upward. We'd like to see him run more in 2018.
Mercer, Jordy Decent production for SS, but will not overwhelm. Mid line 31% Hard Hit rate and 102.7 BBS on HRs. Good contact rate of 85%, with mid line 1.56 GB/FB.
Polanco, Jorge Heavy Flyball hitter, but is a contact hitter with excellent a 14% strikeout rate. 217 Singles% is an anomaly so BA will improve. Quality of contact continues to improve, but is still below average at 28% Hard Hit rate. However at only 24 there is lots of upside as his 9.5% XBH rate is likely to improve and batting in the middle of the order should mean lots of RBIs. Opportunities for him.
Rosario, Amed Impressive is Amed's raw athleticism, especially now that his body is starting to grow into his 6-2 frame. Amed is going to be a quality major league player. He's going to have a very good hit tool. The last question to answer is how much game power his physical maturity will produce. I think there's some ceiling there. Maybe a lot of ceiling. But only time will tell. He hit .324 in his first go around in AAA while maintaining improved plate rates compared to his 214 AA ABs in 2015. He's picked up his ISO pace from late April but he's, in effect, just repeated his .140 ISO from AA, so no real progress this year so far. Still, lets' keep in mind he has just 596 ABs in the high minors and he's still just 21. Amed has cut his K's in his second tour in the high minors and first in AAA. He'll be useful immediately I think, especially with his speed contribution, but even if he isn't, he's a must own. Long-Term Fantasy Grade - A+ Lou Blasi
Russell, Addison Russell stepped it up in 2016 with 21 home runs and 95 RBIs, but as we expected those production rates dropped off considerably last season before a right foot strain sidelined him in the 2nd half. Don't get fixated on the drop in his BA, as he should have been closer to .270 based on his underlyers. His 13% HR/FB rate is about where he should be. What hurts his potential is his placement in the lineup, which appears to be situated near the bottom, which will of course limit his ABs and counting stats.
Seager, Corey One of the young rising fantasy studs in the game. The indicators that jump off the page with Seager are his elite 40% Hard hit rate, 411 distance and 104 BBS on his HRs. All of his rates are repeatable, and his 16% HR/FB rate could climb into the 18-20% range with relative ease. Only concern is the balky right elbow that could mean extra days off.
Segura, Jean Significant drop-off in his HR/FB rate (14% to 10%), and RBI count was much lower than expected. He also didn't hit RHP as well as he did in 2016. Expect a drop in BA as his .339 BABIP is not supported, but expect a rise in HRs and RBIs.
Semien, Marcus As expected we saw a big decline in Semien's power numbers last season, as the 15% HR/FB rate was not sustainable based on his underlying indicators. He's a heavy flyball hitter (.89 GB/FB rate) with a subpar 77% contact rate. It's all or nothing production based on the HRs....which is very dicey at best.
Simmons, Andrelton We saw a nice increase in Simmons' Hard Hit rate in 2017, as it increased from 23% to 29%, which lead to an increase in his XBH rate (9.2) and HR rate to 8% HR/FB. On top of that he stole 19 bases in 25 attempts, all career highs. He's moved himself into fantasy contention as he enters his prime.
Story, Trevor Trevor's Hard Hit rate dropped last season from 45% in his rookie campaign to 40% last season, which is still elite. His 16% HR/FB rate is sustainable, based on his 407 Average HR distance and 104.3 Batted Ball Speed, in fact that rate could easily climb to 18-20% considering he plays half his games in Coors. Then there is the heavy flyball rates (.70 GB/FB), which hurt his BA (along with the 35% K rate). The 22% ISO from a season ago appears to be depressed, so there is some upside in the RBI count. Let's also consider that he's only 25 YO, so his ceiling hasn't been established yet, making him an intriguing buy at his early 8th round ADP.
Swanson, Dansby The former #1 overall pick struggled somewhat in his 2nd season with a subpar 29% hard hit rate, and only 6% HR/FB rate. Look for that rate to go up, but he's going to need to increase that contact rate above 78% to be maintain a +270 BA. While the B+ prospect doesn't possess elite secondary skills, he's just 24 and still improving.
Tulowitzki, Troy The injury bug once again found the fragile Tulo in 2017, but even before that happened he was struggling seeing his HR/FB rate drop to only 10% and his hard hit rate drop to a meager 30%. At a still relatively young 33, we should see a comeback, or it could be that Tulo's body is that of a much older man,
Turner, Trea Turner is part of the next wave of middle infielders that are redrawing the fantasy landscape. Turner has the ability to become a power hitter, but last season we saw a drop in his quality of contact. His Hard Hit rate dropped from 35% to only 27% and his Distance on his HRs dropped from 407 to 399 with a still above average 104.2 BBS. At only 25 he's well within reason to not only revert back to the quality of contact that we saw in 2016, but exceed. Of course there is the 46 SBs in 54 attempts. Lots to be excited about, but don't assume that he'll make a huge progression in the power categories all in one year.
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