Top 25 Hitter Projections 5×5 Using OBP

5×5 Using OBP in Place of AVG
RANK NAME POS Runs HRs RBI SB OBP
1 Mike Trout OF 114 40 108 23 0.429
2 Paul Goldschmidt 1B 96 32 97 16 0.410
3 Bryce Harper OF 103 34 98 7 0.408
4 Jose Altuve 2B 101 20 86 27 0.383
5 Joey Votto 1B 100 30 93 4 0.433
6 Freddie Freeman 1B/3B 101 35 98 7 0.394
7 Carlos Correa SS 94 32 105 10 0.380
8 Mookie Betts OF 102 27 89 24 0.366
9 Trea Turner SS 110 16 68 58 0.345
10 Nolan Arenado 3B 101 37 115 2 0.365
11 Giancarlo Stanton OF 102 47 112 2 0.364
12 Aaron Judge OF 95 45 98 8 0.371
13 Anthony Rizzo 1B/2B 100 32 103 7 0.382
14 George Springer OF 112 31 86 5 0.385
15 Charlie Blackmon OF 104 30 80 11 0.367
16 Alex Bregman SS/3B 100 26 82 14 0.365
17 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 105 31 84 5 0.377
18 J.D. Martinez OF 88 39 102 2 0.360
19 Francisco Lindor SS 102 27 89 18 0.350
20 Jose Ramirez 2B/3B 95 23 87 19 0.360
21 Cody Bellinger 1B/OF 89 40 100 9 0.344
22 Anthony Rendon 3B 94 24 80 6 0.402
23 Manny Machado 3B 98 35 95 9 0.335
24 Gary Sanchez C 80 33 93 2 0.332
25 Josh Donaldson 3B 95 35 90 4 0.365

I previously put up my top 25 hitter rankings for 2018 using average in place of OBP.  Personally I like OBP better, I’ve been playing in a lot of OBP leagues the last few years and it changes the game little.  Think back to when Adam Dunn was hitting .240 but also hitting 40 HRs and 100 RBI.  He was like a 5th rounder in standard 5×5 leagues, but using his .380-.390 OBP, he would have been a 2nd rounder.  The game has changed a little bit, more guys are hitting for more power, lower average and being more patient (like Dunn).  It’s all about getting on base.  I use to hate looking at the box score seeing my guy going 0-2 with 2 BB and getting nothing for it.

Ok, enough ranting!  Here are the biggest risers in terms of using OBP in place of AVG: Aaron Judge (10 spots), Joey Votto (8 spots), Freddie Freeman, Kris Bryant, and Josh Donaldson (all jumped 6 spots). Donaldson and Rendon were not ranked in my top 25 but have fantastic plate discipline boosting their OBPs.  Votto is a machine who is always one step ahead of the pitchers.  He’s likely to lead the league in OBP again possibly by a wide margin.  Freeman and KB are similar because they hit for a relatively high average but also walk at 12-15% clips elevating their OBPs.  Judge is different though.  I don’t project him to hit over .250 in 2018 but despite the high strikeout rate, he actually has a pretty good approach at the plate.  Pitcher’s don’t want him to beat them and he isn’t chasing like he was in 2016 and in the minors.  His upside combined with the ability to lessen the negative affects during a slump by taking walks, scoring runs and possibly stealing a few bags makes him a top 12 pick in OBP leagues.

The fallers include: Manny Machado (9 spots) and Francisco Lindor (7 spots).  A few others dropped a couple spots, but not enough to talk about.  Dee Gordon and Jose Abreu dropped out of the top 25.   Both Lindor and Machado are great, they make a ton of quality contact without striking out much and I’d love to have them in my leagues.  The problem is the lack of patience, more so with Machado than Lindor.  Machado had a terribly poor and unlucky first half but turned in around hitting .290 15 HR, 48 RBI and 5 steals in only 73 games in the 2nd half.  That’s great!  Then look at his BB rate at 5.8% and a .326 OBP, he goes from a top 10-15 hitter to top 25 hitter with that low OBP.

More projections are coming.  I’ll be focusing on pitching next.

Jameson Goes Down Smooth

Jameson Taillon Sleeper Post:


Listen, this guy’s been through quite a bit over the last 8 months or so, much more than most of us can relate to.  So I could be immature and tell you his stats during ONE BALL counts, but I won’t.  I’ve matured in my adulthood, kinda…

Jameson Taillon was a top tier pitching prospect but has been derailed with injuries throughout both the minors and now cancer.  It’s pretty amazing that he came back after less than 6 weeks but obviously he was not the same pitcher he was prior to the diagnosis/surgery (2.73 ERA in the 1st half, 5.96 ERA in the 2nd half).  Either way, this is a tough MFer or he has elite stuff, how about both.

But wait!  His June ERA which was just after the surgery was 2.42 in 22.1 innings.  So what’s the deal, why such sub-par 2nd half?  Was his body breaking down due to everything he was going through?  Nope, his Fastball velo averaged over 95 mph, same as the first half.  His Ks dropped by 1.5% but the BB% also dropped 1%.

The only thing that jumps out at me is the BABIP.  Taillon was unlucky all season based on a crazy high .352 BABIP, but check out the 2nd half, the BABIP ballooned up to .375!!  That’s almost as unbelievable as Avisail Garcia’s .392 BABIP in 2017.  Talk about a major fade in 2018, but I digress.  Taillon’s BABIP in 2016 was .287.  Maybe he’s not that good but somewhere around .310 sounds about right to me.  Due to that unusually high BABIP, his SIERA and xFIPs were consistently lower than his ERA, both sat around 3.50 and 3.75 respectively in both halves.  I believe those numbers to be accurate looking forward to 2018.


Looking at his profile, I love the ground balls which sits around 50% in 235 major league innings.  Limiting fly balls help limit his home runs, this is ground breaking stuff here guys!  His control is great, I expect his walk rate to hover around the low 2s/9.  The only thing he won’t do well is strikeout a high percentage of batters.  The 20-22% K percentage is what you will get which should translate to around 8.0 K/9.  That’s fine but slightly below the average fantasy starter in this era.  At least he’s got three of the four qualities I look for in a starter: Quality stuff, high ground ball rate, and low walk rate (Ks obviously being the 4th).   For 2018, I will give Taillon:

185 IP, 13 W, 3.51 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 164 Ks (going around 180 overall in Way to Early Mocks)

You’ve got a guy who has top 20 SP upside going in 15th-16th rounds. So pour yourself a SINGLE high-BALL with of Jameson in 2018.

Don’t Sleep on Marcus Semien

Tags: Marcus SemienJorge Mateo, Sleeper, 2018 Projections

Marcus Semien is often overlooked in fantasy baseball.  With the young talented crop of shortstops, it’s easy to see why.  It might seem like Semien has been around a while and that’s true.  He got his first taste of the bigs with the White Sox in 2013 but didn’t become a full time player until he went to Oakland in 2015.  Since then he’s played in 399 games where he has hit 52 HRs and stolen 33 bases.  I’ll do the math for you. That averages out to 21 HRs and 13 steals per 162.  That doesn’t sound all that bad for a shortstop going around pick 225.  I actually think he’ll surpass those numbers in 2018 and here’s why.

First off, remember how I said it seemed like he’s been around for a while?  He’s ONLY going to be 27 in 2018.  So he’s right in the middle of his prime.  He did only hit 10 HRs in 85 games last year but missed a lot of time due to a wrist injury.  That wrist injury sapped a lot of his power when he came back off the DL hitting only 1 HR in August but bounced back with 5 in September.  That was backed up by his increased fly ball% to 43% in the 2nd half and his hard hit% back up over 30%.  The wrist injury is no longer a concern going into 2018.  Oh and did I mention he hit 27 dingers in 2016?  So there’s clearly power in his bat.

That brings us to his approach.  His K rate hovers around 22% but in 2017 his walk rate jumped to a career high 9.8%!  That’s good, he’s being more selective not chasing pitches out of the zone as much and as a result making better contact.  The increase in walks seems like it will stick, he had shown patience in the White Sox minor league system so his OBP should be on the rise. This is necessary because he doesn’t hit for a high average partially due to the elevated FB%.  I do think he got a little unlucky with his BABIP which was .300 in 2017.  He’s got good speed and hits line drives at an over 20% clip.  I mention the speed and while his 12 steals were a career high in 2017, it was only in 85 games and he’s efficient AF on the bases stealing 22 bases in his last 25 attemptsThat’s like 88%!  I’m thinking more like 15-18 in 2018.

I know Jorge Mateo is waiting to take over and he’s one of the more exciting players in the minors right now.  He came over from the Yankees in the Sonny Gray deal.  He’s got Billy Hamilton speed with developing power!  Scary.  Semien though, is under control through 2020 with the A’s and I don’t see Mateo up in 2018 except maybe in September for a cup of coffee as he’s only played 60 games above high A ball.  So playing time shouldn’t be an issue for Semien who batted almost exclusively in the #1 or 2 spot in the lineup last year.  He’ll have to keep up the walk rate to secure one of those spots for all of 2018.  The good news is, the A’s don’t really have anyone else to hit atop the order.  So, here’s what we are looking at for 2018:

.260/.337 22 HRs, 15 steals, 90+ runs and 68 RBI.  He’s going around pick #225 in Early Mocks.

TOP 25 HITTER PROJECTIONS (5×5 with AVG)

Early Fantasy baseball top 25 hitter projections for 2018.  No need to sign up for a membership or pay money.  That would be absurd!  It’s all free here.  I should have 5×5 using OBP projections later in the week.

RANK Name Team POS Runs HRs RBI SB AVG
1 Mike Trout LAA OF 114 40 108 23 0.302
2 Jose Altuve HOU 2B 101 20 86 27 0.316
3 Paul Goldschmidt ARI 1B 96 32 97 16 0.288
4 Bryce Harper WAS OF 103 34 98 7 0.297
5 Mookie Betts BOS OF 102 27 89 24 0.295
6 Nolan Arenado COL 3B 101 37 115 2 0.293
7 Giancarlo Stanton MIA OF 102 47 112 2 0.271
8 Trea Turner WAS SS 110 16 68 58 0.294
9 Carlos Correa HOU SS 94 32 105 10 0.297
10 Charlie Blackmon COL OF 104 30 80 11 0.302
11 Freddie Freeman ATL 1B/3B 101 35 98 7 0.301
12 Francisco Lindor CLE SS 102 27 89 18 0.285
13 Joey Votto CIN 1B 100 30 93 4 0.303
14 Manny Machado BAL 3B 98 35 95 9 0.281
15 J.D. Martinez OF 88 39 102 2 0.286
16 Anthony Rizzo CHC 1B/2B 100 32 103 7 0.274
17 George Springer HOU OF 112 31 86 5 0.285
18 Jose Ramirez CLE 2B/3B 95 23 87 19 0.295
19 Gary Sanchez NYY C 80 33 93 2 0.262
20 Alex Bregman HOU SS/3B 100 26 82 14 0.291
21 Cody Bellinger LAD 1B/OF 89 40 100 9 0.260
22 Aaron Judge NYY OF 95 45 98 8 0.245
23 Kris Bryant CHC 3B/OF 105 31 84 5 0.283
24 Jose Abreu CHW 1B 82 31 98 2 0.288
25 Dee Gordon MIA 2B 93 2 44 57 0.294

I almost had A.J. Pollock inside the top 25 but I docked him about 90 PA due to lingering groin issues the last couple years.  But the upside is huge if he can stay healthy hitting second in the ARI lineup, a 20-30 season is a possibility.  I was also surprised that Rhys Hoskins did not make the list considering how much I love him!  I feel that with all the fly balls his BABIP will be around .260-.270 capping his BA upside and not to mention the Phils offense isn’t going to help him all that much.  Also, Justin Upton got an upgrade staying in LA with Mike Trout.  Hitting behind Trout will provide ample RBI opportunities and should finish close to 30-100 with 10 steals but with BA regression.

Ok, enough about who isn’t on this list.  I was a bit surprised to have Jose Abreu inside the top 25 but he’s been a steady 30-100 hitter since he’s come over from Cuba.  I understand 30-100 isn’t what it used to be, but he’s capable of hitting over .300 with his high contact rate.  Batting average is often overlooked but with the increase in strikeouts batting average’s across the league have dropped and only 25 players hit .300 in both 2016 and 2017.  BA isn’t quite as scarce as steals, but Abreu should be close to top 25-30 in three categories.  He’s a safe, highly productive 3rd rounder.  That being said, if I’m in a keeper or dynasty league, I’m taking Hoskins all day over Abreu.

Gary Sanchez‘s overall projections probably put him in the mid 30s for hitters but his numbers at the catcher position were unmatched in 2017 and I expect more of the same in 2018.  Contreras is my #2 catcher and he might end up with .265-70-25-80 which is solid but you’d have to spend a top 65 pick to get him.

Stanton and J.D. Martinez could move around a bit depending on where they end up.  The rumors of Stanton going to the Giants would be a knock on his fantasy value.  I’m not worried about the park, no park can hold Stanton except maybe center field at the old Polo Grounds.  Martinez on the other hand has been rumored to go to the Red Sox or back to the Diamondbacks which would obviously be great for his value.  I wouldn’t change his projections is that’s where he ends up.

Anyone else you think should be in the top 25?  Who should be left off that I have here?  You can also ask me on twitter @FreezeStats. 

 

Here’s a Lump of Cole in your Stocking: Hamels Bust Post

A Christmas reference!  It’s the day before Thanksgiving tho!  Blackout Wednesday!!  True, but the radio’s been playing Christmas music for the past month and every store is like “F” Thanksgiving, here’s two isles full of Christmas sh*t.

Ok, back on task.  It’s been a pretty steep decline for Cole Hamels the last couple of years and if you’re hoping for a rebound at age 34, you’re going to be disappointed.  Cole was never an overpowering guy but has always had an elite change up and good secondary pitches.  His command was very good and could induce swings and misses out of the zone with regularity.  While his strikeout numbers were never elite, they were good and he was great at inducing weak contact, limiting walks, and stranding runners on base (over 77% of the time prior to 2016 for his career).  I think it’s safe to say he no longer has those skills.

Just look at his numbers from 2015-2017.

Season Age BB% Hard% Soft% LOB% ERA
2014 30 7.1% 26.8% 20.0% 81.9% 2.46
2015 31 7.1% 27.0% 21.6% 75.3% 3.65
2016 32 9.1% 32.0% 20.4% 79.1% 3.32
2017 33 8.6% 36.0% 13.7% 70.2% 4.20

The four year trend of increasing hard contact stands out the most but the other categories are all trending in the wrong directions.  The only reason for a 3.32 ERA in 2016 was due to high LOB% which IMO was very lucky.  His skills are eroding quickly.  He also posted his first ever SwStr% below 10% in 2017 and I just don’t see any swing and miss upside going into his age 34 season.

So, we have an aging pitcher who pitches to contact, gives up hard contact, has an elevated walk rate, and coming off a career low LOB%.  Sounds terrible and I haven’t mentioned the extremely low BABIP from 2017 of .251, which believe or not is a career LOW for the HAM man.  Ok, terrible nickname, sry.  But how ITF is this possible because he gives up a ton of hard contact and doesn’t have a crazy high HR rate?  A lot of times you see bad pitchers with low BABIPs due to abnormally high HR/9 such as Jeremy Hellickson who had a BABIP of .246 and a HR/9 of 1.92!  Damn, that’s awful!  Hamels HR/9 was only 1.09, so basically he’s Max Scherzer OR the one of the luckiest pitchers for 2017.

This one seems like a slam dunk but IMO C. Ham; Cam? has gone full MEMORY LOSS.  He’s exactly who the big box sites will peg for a rebound due to the name value.  I could see ESPN projecting Hamels inside the top 40 for SPs with something like a 3.80 ERA by lazily averaging his ERA from the previous two seasons which would be ridiculous of course!  Don’t fall for that.  I think he will be even worse in 2018 and essentially undraftable. If you’re wondering, undraftable is a word, I’ve added it to my dictionary in Microsoft Word, so there.  So for 2018 I’ll give Cole:

  • 155 IP, 9 Wins, 4.41 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 125 K (Way to early mock drafts have him around 195).  There are so many pitchers around 200-225 that I want much more like Chase Anderson
  • So have a Merry Christmas  Thanksgiving!

2nd Half Fly Ball Escalators – Part 1

The fly ball revolution is upon us.  We all know this; it’s been happening since the second half of 2015 and has continued through 2017.  This doesn’t seem to be a fluke or blip on the radar.  Until MLB changes the ball or does something to shift the favor to the pitchers, fly balls aren’t going away.  The ratings are up and there’s a great young crop of major league players who play with a ton of passion and they are embracing this revolution.

First let’s start with the parameters I set for this statistical analysis.  It’s easier to see which hitters change their approach year to year but I wanted to focus on players who have increased their fly balls in the 2nd half of 2017.  I split the data between the 1st half and the 2nd half of 2017 with a minimum of 200 PA in each half.  I was only going to include hitters who increased their fly ball % by 4% of more between the 1st half and 2nd half but it would have excluded Byron Buxton (2.4% increase) and Giancarlo Stanton (3.4%).  I want to talk about both of them, so I went a little lenient to include those two.

Now that I have my crop of fly ball escalators, I also included Infield Fly%, BABIP, HR/FB, and Hard Hit %.  I wanted to see the changes in all of these statistics in addition to the FB increase and see whether of not they make sense or if luck played a roll.  Keep in mind, not everyone is benefiting from hitting more fly balls.  Here’s the table of players I believe should benefit in 2018 with the increase fly balls if their approach remains the same via google docs.

Eugenio Suarez

Suarez had a nice little breakout year in 2017 with a wRC+ of 117.  In the 2nd half of 2017 he significantly increased his FB% while decreasing his IFFB%.  That’s huge because of course infield fly balls are essentially an automatic out.  He did all that while increasing his LD% and Hard hit%!  This to me looks like a conscious change for Suarez coming into 2018.  While his overall numbers look pretty good in 2017 with a triple slash of .260/.367/.434 with 26 HRs (career high) and he’ll be entering his age 26 season.  All that being said, I think there’s still upside there.  Here is his slash for the 2nd half of 2017: .268/.378/.490 with a wRC+ of 126!  For reference, here are few players with similar wRC+ in 2017: Gary Sanchez (130), Nolan Arenado (129), Domingo Santana (126), and Chris Taylor! (126); more on him later, and Brian Dozier (124).  You get the idea.  But can Suarez do it for a full season?  If he does, we are looking at a 30-100 player in 2018 hitting 4th or 5th behind Joey Votto and Adam Duvall.  In my opinion, he’s a better hitter than Duvall and should be slotted behind Votto.

Of this group of 2nd half fly ball surgers, Suarez is one of the more intriguing for fantasy purposes.  Suarez is and has been the starting 3rd baseman for the Reds, but he’s also one of only two players on the roster who have logged significant time at SS within the last three seasons (the other being Jose Peraza) now that Zach Cozart is gone.  Nick Senzel who finished the season in AAA, is knocking on the door and 3rd base is his main position, but they are giving him reps at 2nd (which should tell you they like Suarez at 3rd).  This creates a logjam at 2nd with Scooter Gennett but still doesn’t solve the shallow SS position.  Maybe the Reds address it or maybe Suarez plays some shortstop and on those days, Senzel moves to 3rd.  If this happens and Suarez gains SS eligibility, he could be at top 8-10 shortstop right behind Corey Seager.

Manuel Margot

Coming into 2017 Margot was a consensus top 50 prospect and was ranked 24th overall by Baseball America.  Eric Longenhagan of fangraphs graded him at a 70 speed score out of a possible 80. So far, it checks out per baseballsavant as he ranks 8th in average sprint speed in all of baseball.  Something else you may notice on Margot’s fangraphs page is the potential for a 55 raw power grade.  You can’t totally ignore the 40 game power grade but these are the types of guys who have proved to benefit the most from the “juiced ball.”  Keep in mind that Margot played all of 2017 at age 22.  This kid is still learning the game and developing power.

That being said, his batted ball profile leaves a lot to be desired.  He made a lot of soft contact and of course, not a whole lot of hard contact.  However, based on the 1st half / 2nd half splits, he made adjustments with not only more fly balls and line drives but harder contact.  That’s a good sign but yet his BABIP dropped in the 2nd half.  Sure, a speedster like Margot can benefit from weakly hit groundballs (part of the reason Billy Hamilton doesn’t hit below the Mendoza line), but the increase in line drives should have certainly increased his BABIP.  The point is, even with the slight improvement in wRC+ between the 1st and 2nd halves, he was still unlucky.

I expect Margot to continue to make improvements with the bat in 2018.  I don’t expect him to reach the 55 raw power grade, but he’s moving in the right direction.  I also expect him to improve on the bases and utilize his speed a little more while he’s still at his peak (as far as speed in concerned).  There’s an intriguing window with young players who possess speed and untapped raw power where the speed is still at (or near) it’s peak and the raw power begins to materialize.  Margot will be approaching that window in 2018 at age 23, so you need to jump in now before he’s fully reached that window and becomes a premier power/speed threat that is so rare in fantasy baseball these days.  Jump in now while he’s ADP is around 200 and you could be rewarded with around 15-18 HRs and 20+ steals in 2018.  His upside could be somewhere around Mookie Betts’ 2017 without the runs + RBI numbers.  Will he ever reach those heights?  I can’t say for sure, but it’s intriguing.  In keeper/dynasty leagues, he’s a great asset to have at his current cost.

Logan Forsythe

Forsythe was hampered by injuries in 2017, he broke his toe in April of 2017 and only appeared in 119 games.  In those games he had 439 PA, hit .224 with 6 HRs and 3 steals.  Woof, why is he a thing for fantasy baseball in 2018 at age 31?  Well, first the Dodgers traded Jose DeLeon to the Rays for him last offseason and exercised his option for 2018. With Utley now gone, second base is his to keep or lose.  So playing time is there unless they sign another 2nd Baseman this offseason.  On a plus side, he walked at a career high 15.7% and had some big at bats in the post season carrying at least some momentum into 2018.

You would expect Forsythe’s numbers to improve in the second half due to the toe injury in April and the numbers in the 2nd half look awfully good.  Yes line drive rate did drop by only 2.8% but the net positive on FB% + LD% is 12.6% and his hard hit rate increased by 10.9% in the 2nd half!  That massive BABIP drop of 0.082 seems way out of whack to me.  That’s the reason he hit .201 in the 2nd half.  Now, I’m not saying he’s going to go nuts, but he also cut is SwStr% to 6.6% and his O-Swing to a career low 18.7%.  So there are a lot of potential positives with Forsythe in both the average and power departments based on my research.  I expect the K% to go back down to about 20%, the BABIP to go up about .020 points and the HR/FB% to be back in the double digits.  His value is going to depend on playing time.  If he platoons, he’s an NL only bat.  If he doesn’t and gets say 550 PA, he could go something like .258/.339 14 HRs, 7 steals and is a solid deep league MI.

Jacoby Ellsbury

Over the last year or so I had left Jacoby Ellsbury for dead until this research piece.  All of his batted ball data in the second half of 2017 point to improved results. While his 2nd half 107 wRC+ was an improvement on his 95 wRC+ in the 1st half, I’d argue he was extremely unlucky and it should have been much higher.

Let’s look at the positives, his K% dropped, BB% went up, FB% went up, IFFB% went down, and Hard Hit% went up.  So then why did his BABIP, HR/FB, and BA (albeit minimally) all go down?  I don’t know.  How’s that for an answer.  In my opinion, it can be chalked up to straight up bad luck.

Since the Yankees are clearly moving in another direction, Ellsbury may not have a starting spot with Judge, Gardner, and now Hicks listed as starters with Clint Frazier ready to be a full time major league starter when healthy and possible a brief stint in AAA to start the season.  The best chance for Ellsbury is to be traded where he can start.  Of course with his huge contract, that could prove to be difficult.  Hypothetically, though if it happens, he’s good for 20+ steals; he was 22 for 25 last year so his speed is still there and steals are becoming more and more infrequent.  For fantasy in 2018, he could be a solid 4th or 5th outfielder going .270 10-20 next year.

Star(t)ling ADP for Marte in 2018

Tags:  Starling Marte , Bust, A.J. Pollock, Ender Inciarte

Another speedster suspended for PEDs (Gordon in 2016, Marte in 2017).  Starling Marte has more pop than Gordon obviously but will this hurt what power he has left?  I can understand the scarcity of steals in today’s game but a top 35 pick for Marte?  Naw Bro!  Marte’s career high in HRs is 19 back in 2015 (possibly PED aided).  He’s great source of steals with a high of 47 in 2016 and still managed 21 in only 77 games in 2017.  So maybe he can still get 40.  Yeah but Dee Gordon can get 60 at about the same price.  Quick update 60>40.

Digging into Marte’s profile, you’ll notice he’s a bit of a hacker.  He doesn’t walk much, swings at a lot of pitches out of the zone, and makes slightly below average contact.  He’s needed crazy high BABIPs to hit over .290 in the past and he hit .275 last year with a .324 BABIP.  I think that’s about where he will be for 2018.  I’ve already touched on his lack of power and part of that is his low FB% and the other is the below average exit velocities. In 2017 his average exit velocity was 83.21 mph which is terrible and even in 2016 he averaged only 86.3 mph.  That’s Still in the bottom third.  So in my opinion his days of hitting .300 with 20 HRs are gone.

Let me throw out some (freeze)stats for you regarding Marte’s power.  First, we understand that fly balls to the pull side yield by far the most homeruns than to other fields.  In 2017 Marte had 238 Batted ball events.  He pulled 36.3% of those batted balls but only 7% of those balls to the pull side were fly balls!  That’s a total of 6 fly balls hit to the pull side!  Luckily half of those were hit for HRs, that’s a total of 3 folks!  Here’s another one. 47.9% of Marte’s fly balls hit in 2017 were to the opposite field for a total of 36 batted ball events in that category.  Of those 36 fly balls the other way, he hit ZERO HRs!  In case you’re wondering, in 2016 (full season of PA) he also hit zero HRs to the opposite field.  2015 was the last time that happened!  That’s over 860 PA fam, let that sink in.  It wouldn’t surprise me if he ended up with 5-10 HRs in 2018.

Let’s wrap this up!  Listen, I love his speed and he should have no problem getting 30+ steals in 2018.  The Pirates have hit him anywhere from 1st to 4th in the order.  4th makes no sense to me so I’ll say he hits 2ndFor 2018, I’ll give Marte: .274/.325 9 HRs, 33 steals, 83 runs, 51 RBI.  Go ahead and wait 30 picks and get A.J. Pollock (who I have ranked ahead of Marte) or better yet wait 80 picks and get Inciarte. (Marte’s Early ADP sits in the mid-30s, don’t be silly).

Ozzie Albies 2018 Sleeper Post

Tags: Ozzie being Ozzie, Starboy, Francisco Lindor

Love me some Ozzie!  He’s got a ton of energy and plays with passion a little bit like Lindor…  I’m not gonna go that far to say that comparison but then again he’s only going to be 21!  Did you hear that? The kid is going to play the entire season at age 21!  I call these kinds of talented youngsters Starboys. I do think his upside will be similar to what 2016 Lindor did but with more speed.

So we know he has speed, typically around 30 steals per year in the minors, and he had 8 in 244 PA in the majors.  But let’s look at some other numbers from his two-month audition in 2017. You’ll notice that he flashed a little power hitting 6 HRs in 244 PA.  He also hit 9 in AAA before being called up.  His previous high was 6 in 2016.  You might think that 15 is more of a ceiling but digging deeper into his approach, his FB% jumped from around 30% in 2016 to 40% in 2017 (38% in AAA).  That isn’t by accident.  A jump of 2-3% might be, but not 10%.  In his small sample, he hit the ball relatively hard, especially for an undersized 20-year-old and he pulls over 40% of his batted balls while rarely hitting popups.  I like this approach, it’s very similar to what Lindor and Jose Ramirez are doing in Cleveland.  If the ball remains the same in 2018 (and why wouldn’t it, the ratings are up), expect the HRs to keep coming for Albies.

Whatever is going on with the ball is helping the 8-10 HR hitters more so than the Stanton / Judges of MLB.  See the table below published by The Ringer about Alan Nathan’s trajectory calculator and the aforementioned NCAA seam-height study.

Now again this is just a study on NCAA balls but it at least gives us an idea about how extra distance can be added to the ball within the legal parameters.

That extra 5-10 feet turn those warning track fly outs into dingers.  “Just enough” HRs count the same as Judge’s 495-foot blasts.  Expect a few ups and downs throughout the year because remember, he’s only 21!  Did I say that already?  The steals will be there as well, he was very efficient in 2017, at nearly 90% success rate at should be slotted 1st or 2nd in an underrated lineup with a better than average Suntrust home park.  Unfortunately, with his new approach I don’t think he’ll hit for as high of an average as originally expected, but you’ll take the HRs as a trade-off.

My 2018 Projections are: .277/.339, 90 runs, 16 HRs, 70 RBI and 27 steals (ADP around 171 in the Way Too Early Mock Drafts)