In our continuing series on the Sabermetric analysis that shapes our Player projections in our 2019 Player Projections Software. Today we'll take a look at some of the indicators that are defining our 2019 Shortstop projections:
Baez, Javier Baez kicked up his hard hit rate to 36% last season and an additional 3% contact rate (69%), helped Baez post an MVP caliber season: 101RS/34 HR/111RBI/.290BA/21SB. At 25, Baez has finally arrived. At only 26 it might be counter intuitive to knock down his HR rate, but at a 24% HR/FB rate last season, it's a pace that's going to be difficult to maintain when you consider that his batted ball speed on his HRs was slightly below average (103.6). When Baez connects, he indeed hits many deep blasts, but last year there was 12 "just enoughs", and only 8 "no doubters", which points to a some luck and likely regression in his 2019 HR totals. There was the bonus 21 steals that his fantasy owners benefited from last season, that might also be difficult to achieve or exceed based on the 30 attempts. There's a lot to like here, especially from the middle infield slot, but we need to temper our expectations based on the underlying indicators....which makes his current mid 2nd round ADP is slightly rich in our view.
Simmons, Andrelton Simmons Hard Hit rate has increased progressively over the last 2 years, from .23 to .29 to .36 last season. Looking back to last year, his batting average was a little bit bloated (.281 expected vs 292 actual), but there is more room in the HR department. He finished with 11 (7% HR/FB), which based on his 36% hard hit rate and 102.5 BBS on his HRs, should have been closer to 10%. RBI and RS count from 2018 was legit. Oddly struggled at home with a minus 136 SLG. Fantasy owners will continue to capitalize on his positional scarcity.
Machado, Manny At only 26, Machado is now firmly entrenched as one of the top hitters in the game. Looking ahead for 2019, we expect to see an increase in his RS%, last season he was shorted about 20 runs by his teammates behind him in the order. His BA of .297 is likely not sustainable based on his 303 BABIP from last season, this despite an above average 39% hard hit rate. I'm not worried about Manny reaching 30-35 HRs in 2019. His new ballpark (Petco) plays about as neutral as any ballpark in baseball in HR/FB rate. His division is pretty close to neutral with Coors field picking up the slack for Dodgers Stadium and Oracle Park. When you consider that he's a top 20 hitter with overall exit speed of 91.5 MPH, his production is going to be there this season.
Bogaerts, Xander As we projected last season, Bogaerts not only bounced back to his previous production, he exceeded in almost all categories, despite missing significant time due to injury... Xander looked confident at the plate all season as evidenced by his career high 38% Hard hit rate and 406 average distance on his HRs. Not only did his contact rate stay at 80%, he also increased his BB% to 9.5%. That said don't expect the same RBI rate as last season, but do expect an uptick in the runs scored department.
Marte, Ketel Marte has turned the corner, and should no longer be considered a punch type hitter. Last season he kicked up his Hard Hit rate to 36% and averaged 404 distance and 106.8 BBS on his 14 HRs. His XBH% kicked up from 8.1% to 10%. Unlucky BABIP of .282 hurt his BA, so there is some upward mobility there. All this while increasing his contact rate from 84% to an encouraging 86%. Lots to like here for a hitter who will be 25 this season.
Taylor, Chris Last season we said, don't buy into the 21 HRs from a season ago, as his 16% HR/FB rate is not supported by his underlying indicators (102.6 BBS and 32% Hard Hit rare). Additionally his .361 BABIP from a season ago is considered very fortunate. Be wary here. Sure enough his overall production took a pretty big hit last season, and what we saw last season is pretty much a reflection of his underlying indicators. Not sure who is making these roster decisions for the Dodgers, but they are woefully weak in their understanding of sabermetric indicators.
Iglesias, Jose Jose stepped it up a bit in the SB department last season with 15 out of 21. Not much else to see here.
Segura, Jean Segura is now a couple seasons removed from his 20 HR campaign in Arizona. He's shown a declining Hard hit rate the last couple of seasons (30 to 28 to 26), while at the same time increasing his contact rate from 85% to 88%. Favorably there is some upside in his 7% HR/FB rate. He continues to defy his expected batting average calculations, so although he's hit +300 for the last 3 years, it's not bankable. At only 29, he should still be in the peak years of production, so a surge is quite possible.
Polanco, Jorge Heavy Flyball hitter, but is a contact hitter with decent a 18% strikeout rate. 282 Singles% is an anomaly, so BA will drop in 2019. Quality of contact continues to improve, but is still below average at 32% Hard Hit rate. However at only 25 there is lots of upside as his 8.9% XBH rate is likely to improve and batting in the middle of the order should mean lots of RBIs. Opportunities for him.
Gregorius, Didi His 2018 stat line: 89RS/27HR/86RBI/10SB/.268BA, but he's slated to start the season on the bench due to an injury that might not see him come back until mid season. With a +164 SLG at Yankee stadium, he is somewhat a product of his home park, but looking deeper at his production, his 36% hard Hit rate, is slightly above league average, and his .259 BABIP indicates that his BA was lower that it should have been.
Semien, Marcus He's a heavy flyball hitter (1.03 GB/FB rate) with not enough raw power to make him a home run threat. His HR/FB rate the last two seasons has been 9% and 8%.What he does well is hit plenty of gappers, as evidenced by his 35 doubles last season. The As seen content to bat him at the top or middle of the lineup, and as long as they do, he does have value based on the scarcity of his position.
Crawford, Brandon Crawford hit 8, just enough HRs last season, a 0 no doubters....but this about par for right handed hitters who play in San Francisco. More of the same expected for Crawford this season.
Andrus, Elvis Andrus missed a big part of the 2018 season, but as we suggested coming into 2018...the power counting numbers would not be sustainable. That said he's about average with his hard hit rates, and his HR/FB rate will climb from last year's 6% rate closer to 11-12%, which will make him a run producer again if he can remain in the middle of the order. Most importantly for Fantasy folks, is will his SBs return (25 to only 5 last season)....and that really remains to be seen.
Profar, Jurickson We really like how Profar developed in 2018. His K rate dropped from 20% to a solid 14%, his hard hit rate rose 11 points to 37% and the distance and batted ball speeds also increased (405/105.6), which leads us to believe that we're going to see a rise in all his statistical categories in 2019. At age 26, the former top prospect has finally arrived.
Story, Trevor Trevor wrote an unbelievable story last season and excelled as we projected (88RS/37HR/108RBI/27SB/291BA). Lets start with the favorables: 45% Hard Hit rate/ 420 Distance/106.2 BBS...ALL ELITE. Sure he's partially a Coors Field product (+225 SLG at home), but there's not many ballparks that would have contained a majority of his HRs last season. Sure there's another stud SS in the Rockies farm system, but Trevor Story isn't moving out of this lineup anytime soon. He's vastly undervalued coming into the 2019 season.
Lindor, Francisco Solid contact rate (84%) , but has became a heavy FB hitter with a .98 GB/FB rate, which he coupled with a solid 42% Hard Hit rate and 399 distance/106 BBS on his HRs. His HR/FB rate increased to 17% and that's legit given the batted ball peripherals. What's not likely to stick is his RBI rate from 2018. In the leadoff slot there typically is much less RBI opportunities. The RS count appears to be elevated, and is reflective of the production behind him last season, which is less potent on paper this year. At only 26, we're uncomfortable projecting a downturn, but if he sticks in the leadoff spot, it's going to be difficult to top last season.
Correa, Carlos His production was off considerably last season with his hard hit rate dropping to only from 40% to only 29%. We're going to write off his 2018 campaign as an injury plagued anomaly, at only 23, he's going to get better not worse. He can become a 30/100/90/280 from the middle infield position....which is very much in demand.
Russell, Addison Addison Russell's production took a pretty big dip last season, especially his run producing output. His HR/FB rate fell to a career low 5% and his ISO fell from 18% to only 9%. A big reason was the sub par hard hit consistency (only 29%). Unless eh turns it around early, he's going to lose a lot of playing time in 2019.
Seager, Corey At only 25 Seager is going to have a big season if he can stay healthy. His Hard Hit rates have historically been elite, as has his average distance on his HRs. Ignore the small sample size from last season.
Anderson, Tim Anderson's BA continues to decline, and a lot of that had to do with the poor contact hard hit rate of 30%. He's better than that so we should see an increase there. That said has picked up his walk rate (5%), but that's still below norm, and his RS totals are going to be sub par. The 14% HR/FB rate is still on the high end, so there'll likely be a regression there. The SB% was great 26 for 34, so at only 26, there could still be some more upside there.
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 he continues to post sub par quality of contact numbers. His Hard Hit rate dropped from 35% (2016) to only 32% last season and his Distance on his HRs has dropped from a high of 407 (2017) to 395 with an average 103.6 BBS last season. At only 26 he's well within reason that he'll regress upward in the near term. Of course there is the 43 SBs in 52 attempts ,with word that he might attempt 75-80 tolen bases this season. Lots to be excited about, but as we said last season, don't assume that he'll make a huge progression in the power categories all in one year.
Arcia, Orlando Contact rate took a step back (73%) and his hard hit rate dropped to a sub par 26%. Still a relatively heavy ground ball oriented hitter (2.18) which should keep his BA in the reasonable range...but did not last season. At only 24 he's likely to bounce back.
Adames, Willy Adames is a B type prospect, that has ascended through the Rays minor league system with velocity. In only 288 Abs last year we got a good glimpse of the hitter he will develop into. His 17% HR/FB rate was surprising, but really not within his arsenal just yet. Yes the 35% hard hit rate was encouraging, but the 104.1 BBS on his 10 HRs points to a hitter that should be in the 13% range. What we do like is his 1.71 GB/FB rate, which will keep his average in acceptable range (assuming he maintains his hard hit rates). At only 23 he's still filling out and will not rise to stardom in 2019 so don't expect to much in redraft leagues.
Crawford, J.P. Crawford struggled last season during his limited time up (117 Abs). There was the 27% K rate, which doesn't work out well for non-power prospects. He'll get better, and will eventually develop some power, but that's not likely to come in 2019. Look for his K rate and walk rate to start converging before we see his potential.
DeJong, Paul As expected DeJong's BA fell precipitously from his 285 perch in 2017. Of course that came off of a 349 BABIP. Last season he underachieved a bit on BABIP and we saw his average dip to 241. What we like about DeJong is his power potential. His 14% HR /FB rate last year was legit, and could have been higher based on his 399/104.2 on his HRs and 39% hard hit rate. Of concern remains his 25% K rate, which did improve last season. Lineup improves this season which should aid his overall fantasy stats.
Mondesi, Adalberto "A" rated prospect who posted some solid numbers in limited Abs last season. His 43% hard hit rate is well above average, as was his 412 average distance and 105 BBS on his HRs last season. His 20% HR/FB rate appears a little bloated though, but at only 23 he could justify that sooner rather than later. What will need some work is his 67% contact rate. His 276 BA from a season ago was based on a bloated 335 BABIP, so expect the BA to back off in 2019. Lots to like here, but be careful not to overvalue.