Mitch Haniger – Sleeper Post

Mitch Haniger was a popular sleeper going into 2017 when he was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Mariners.  He settled in nicely slotting in the two hole for the 21 games of the season hitting .342 with 4 HRs and 2 steals.  An oblique injury late in April caused him to miss nearly two months with a return to the lineup in mid-June.  It seemed to sap some of his power as he hit only three HRs through July.  Sure enough June and July is were he posted his lowest hard contact rates. He missed more time in August with a facial laceration before getting hot in September hitting seven dingers and stealing 2 bases.  Overall it was a bit of a lost year but the start and finish were encouraging and he’ll entering his age 27 season.

What’s interesting to me is that in the minors Haniger had solid K and BB rates but in the majors his 22.7% K and 7.6% BB rate left me wondering what was going on.  His O-Swing% was 24.7, Z-Contact% 88.6, and SwStr% 8.7.  All of those are quite a bit better than league average but the K rate and BB rate are just below average.  I’m expecting improvements in both BB and Ks meaning higher OBP and more balls in play.

In the past, Haniger hit well over 40% of the balls in the air but sat at 36.7% in 2017.  Now this may have helped his BABIP but in this day and age I think he goes back to his flyball ways and it’s possible that his injury changed his approach as well.  The elevated BABIP might drop but his power should improve as long as he can continue to elevate his pulled contact. His hard contact on fly balls is nearly 45% and his HR/FB on pulled fly balls was 48% last year!

He doesn’t have elite speed by any means but could easily steal 10 bases in 2018.  The additional walks will help.  His final numbers will come down to health and where he hits in the lineup. As of now  Roster Resource has him slotted in the six spot which I thinkis about right. The addition of Dee Gordon moves him down so his run total will suffer but his RBI numbers should be very good with Cano, Cruz, and Seager hitting in front of him.   I’ll take my chances with his current ADP per NFBC sitting at 210 overall around guys like Avisail Garcia and Odubel Herrera.  In a standard 12 team league, that’s around a fourth OF so he doesn’t cost much.

For 2018 I’ll give Haniger: .271/.343 24 HRs, 9 steals, 75 runs, 86 RBI
Remember, he was a hyped sleeper going into to 2017 and now he enters his prime at age 27, only injuries derailed what should have been a top 100 overall season in 2017.

TOP 250 FOR 2018

Well my goal was to finish my projections and rankings before March, and I just barely made it. Take a look at these rankings and let me know what you think in the comments. You can hot me up n twitter @Freezestats. I’ll try to update these weekly if there are injuries, jobs won/lost, etc but only if it seems like a major impact. I want to do posts that compare my rankings to ESPN and Yahoo rankings because I know there are many differences. Stay tuned for those posts coming up in March and I’ll continue some sleeper / bust posts along with interesting player outlooks. If you like my content here, go check out my stuff over at FantasyPros.

Rank Name Team Pos
1 Mike Trout Angels OF
2 Jose Altuve Astros 2B
3 Trea Turner Nationals SS
4 Mookie Betts Red Sox OF
5 Nolan Arenado Rockies 3B
6 Paul Goldschmidt Diamondbacks 1B
7 Bryce Harper Nationals OF
8 Giancarlo Stanton Yankees OF
9 Max Scherzer Nationals SP
10 Freddie Freeman Braves 1B/3B
11 Charlie Blackmon Rockies OF
12 Francisco Lindor Indians SS
13 Carlos Correa Astros SS
14 Corey Kluber Indians SP
15 Manny Machado Orioles 3B
16 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers SP
17 J.D. Martinez Red Sox OF
18 Joey Votto 10 1B
19 Jose Ramirez Indians 2B/3B
20 Anthony Rizzo Cubs 1B/2B
21 Chris Sale Red Sox SP
22 George Springer Astros OF
23 Kris Bryant Cubs 3B
24 Cody Bellinger Dodgers 1B/OF
25 Aaron Judge Yankees OF
26 Gary Sanchez Yankees C
27 Jose Abreu White Sox 1B
28 Alex Bregman Astros 3B/SS
29 Dee Gordon Marlins 2B
30 Josh Donaldson Blue Jays 3B
31 Noah Syndergaard Mets SP
32 Stephen Strasburg Nationals SP
33 Nelson Cruz Mariners DH
34 Anthony Rendon Nationals 3B
35 Luis Severino Yankees SP
36 Corey Seager Dodgers SS
37 Carlos Carrasco Indians SP
38 Marcell Ozuna Cardinals OF
39 Andrew Benintendi Red Sox OF
40 Tommy Pham Cardinals OF
41 Jacob DeGrom Mets SP
42 Zack Greinke Diamondbacks SP
43 Justin Turner Dodgers 3B
44 Brian Dozier Twins 2B
45 Justin Verlander Astros SP
46 Rhys Hoskins Phillies 1B/OF
47 Christian Yelich Brewers OF
48 Justin Upton Angels OF
49 Madison Bumganer Giants SP
50 Edwin Encarnacion Indians 1B
51 Yu Darvish Cubs SP
52 Robbie Ray Diamondbacks SP
53 Kenley Jansen Dodgers RP
54 Wil Myers Padres 1B
55 Daniel Murphy Nationals 2B
56 Khris Davis Athletics OF
57 Carlos Martinez Cardinals SP
58 Starling Marte Pirates OF
59 Craig Kimbrel Red Sox RP
60 Aaron Nola PHI SP
61 Lorenzo Cain Brewers OF
62 Yoenis Cespedes Mets OF
63 Elvis Andrus Rangers SS
64 Adrian Beltre Rangers 3B
65 A.J. Pollock Diamondbacks OF
66 Billy Hamilton Reds OF
67 Masahiro Tanaka Yankees SP
68 Chris Archer Rays SP
69 Jose Quintana Cubs SP
70 Aroldis Chapman Yankees RP
71 Byron Buxton Twins OF
72 Eric Hosmer Padres 1B
73 Joey Gallo Rangers
1B/3B/OF
74 Andrew McCutchen Giants OF
75 James Paxton Mariners SP
76 Willson Contreras Cubs C
77 Ozzie Albies Braves 2B
78 Trevor Story Rockies SS
79 Jean Segura Mariners SS
80 Rougned Odor Rangers 2B
81 Jonathan Schoop Orioles 2B
82 Edwin Diaz Mariners RP
83 Chris Taylor Dodgers
2B/SS/OF
84 David Price Red Sox SP
85 Ryan Braun Brewers OF
86 Whit Merrifield Royals 2B/OF
87 Nick Castellanos Tigers 3B
88 Ken Giles Astros RP
89 Miguel Sano Twins 3B
90 Luis Castillo Reds SP
91 Sonny Gray Yankees SP
92 Domingo Santana Brewers OF
93 Shohei Ohtani Angels SP/DH
94 Felipe Rivero Pirates RP
95 Roberto Osuna Blue Jays RP
96 Travis Shaw Brewers 1B/3B
97 Zack Godley Diamondbacks SP
98 Jake Arrieta FA SP
99 Jake Lamb Diamondbacks 3B
100 Miguel Cabrera Tigers 1B
101 Dallas Keuchel Astros SP
102 Robinson Cano Mariners 2B
103 Yasiel Puig Dodgers OF
104 Corey Knebel Brewers RP
105 Gerrit Cole Astros SP
106 Ian Happ Cubs 2B/OF
107 Marcus Stroman Blue Jays SP
108 Carlos Santana Phillies 1B/OF
109 J.T. Realmuto Marlins C
110 Buster Posey Giants C/1B
111 Eddie Rosario Twins OF
112 Ian Desmond Rockies 1B/OF
113 Sean Doolittle Nationals RP
114 Matt Olson Athletics 1B/OF
115 Luke Weaver Cardinals SP
116 Rich Hill Dodgers SP
117 Eduardo Nunez Red Sox
2B/SS/3B/OF
118 Ryan Zimmerman Nationals 1B
119 Alex Wood Dodgers SP
120 Raisel Iglesias Reds RP
121 Rafael Devers Red Sox 3B
122 Charlie Morton Astros SP
123 Tim Beckham Orioles SS/2B
124 Jeff Samardzija Giants SP
125 Cody Allen Indians RP
126 Ronald Acuna Braves OF
127 Adam Jones Orioles OF
128 Brad Hand Padres RP
129 Jon Lester Cubs SP
130 Justin Bour Marlins 1B
131 Marcus Semien Athletics SS
132 Danny Duffy Royals SP
133 Michael Fulmer Tigers SP
134 Wade Davis Rockies RP
135 Chase Anderson Brewers SP
136 Xander Bogaerts Red Sox SS
137 Mark Melancon Giants RP
138 Kyle Hendricks Cubs SP
139 Justin Smoak Blue Jays 1B
140 Josh Bell Pirates 1B
141 Willie Calhoun Rangers OF
142 Evan Gattis Houston C
143 Garrett Richards Angels SP
144 Jameson Taillon Pirates SP
145 Ian Kinsler Angels 2B
146 Salvador Perez Royals C
147 Trevor Bauer Indians SP
148 Marwin Gonzalez Astros
OF/SS/1B/2B/3B
149 Jose Berrios Twins SP
150 Eugenio Suarez Reds 3B
151 Brandon Morrow Cubs RP
152 Patrick Corbin Diamondbacks SP
153 Trey Mancini Orioles 1B/OF
154 Evan Longoria Giants 3B
155 Yonder Alonso Indians 1B
156 Johnny Cueto Giants SP
157 DJ LeMahieu Rockies 2B
158 Kevin Kiermaier Rays OF
159 Lance McCullers Astros SP
160 Blake Snell Rays SP
161 Eric Thames Brewers 1B/OF
162 Hector Neris Phillies RP
163 Michael Wacha Cardinals SP
164 Shin-Soo Choo Rangers OF
165 Andrew Miller Indians RP
166 Alex Colome Rays RP
167 Jorge Polanco Twins SS
168 Scooter Gennett Reds
2B/OF/3B
169 Yoan Moncada White Sox 2B/3B
170 Dylan Bundy Orioles SP
171 Avisail Garcia White Sox OF
172 Jose Peraza Reds 2B/SS
173 Zack Cozart Angels SS
174 Jon Gray Rockies SP
175 Mike Clevinger Indians SP
176 Bradley Zimmer Indians OF
177 Arodys Vizcaino Braves RP
178 Jordan Montgomery Yankees SP
179 Dinelson Lamet Padres SP
180 Mark Trumbo Orioles 1B
181 Luiz Gohara Braves SP
182 Blake Treinen Athletics RP
183 Corey Dickerson Pirates OF
184 Brett Gardner Yankees OF
185 Gregory Bird Yankees 1B
186 Hanley Ramirez Red Sox 1B/DH
187 Kyle Seager Mariners 3B
188 Lance Lynn Twins SP
189 Matt Carpenter Cardinals
1B/2B/3B
190 Mitch Haniger Mariners OF
191 Cesar Hernandez Phillies 2B
192 Paul DeJong Cardinals SS/2B
193 Drew Pomeranz Red Sox SP
194 Josh Reddick Astros OF
195 Kelvin Herrera Royals RP
196 Jay Bruce Mets OF/1B
197 Tim Anderson White Sox SS
198 Andrelton Simmons Angels SS
199 Maikel Franco Phillies 3B
200 Orlando Arcia Brewers SS
201 Didi Gregorius Yankees SS
202 Michael Taylor Nationals OF
203 Jeurys Familia Mats RP
204 Chris Davis Orioles 1B
205 Starlin Castro Marlins 2B
206 Delino DeShields Rangers OF
207 Michael Conforto Mets OF
208 Archie Bradley Diamondbacks RP
209 Tanner Roark Nationals SP
210 Aaron Hicks Yankees OF
211 C.J. Cron Rays 1B
212 Brad Brach Orioles RP
213 Javier Baez Cubs 2B/SS
214 Jonathan Villar Brewers 2B
215 Adam Eaton Nationals OF
216 Jacob Faria Rays SP
217 Kyle Schwarber Cubs OF
218 Gio Gonzalez Nationals SP
219 Marco Estrada Blue Jays SP
220 Jackie Bradley Jr. Red Sox OF
221 Shane Greene Tigers RP
222 Aaron Sanchez Blue Jays SP
223 Randal Grichuk Blue Jays OF
224 Brad Peacock Astros SP/RP
225 Dexter Fowler Cardinals OF
226 Odubel Herrera Phillies OF
227 Sean Manaea Athletics SP
228 Jason Kipnis Indians 2B/OF
229 David Peralta Diamondbacks OF
230 Greg Holland RP
231 Todd Frazier Mets 3B
232 Nick Senzel Reds 3B
233 Yulieski Gurriel Astros 1B
234 Jose Martinez Cardinals 1B/OF
235 Matt Chapman Athletics 3B
236 Brandon Belt Giants 1B/OF
237 Mike Mikolas Cardinals SP
238 Dustin Pedroia Red Sox 2B
239 Dan Straily Marlins SP
240 Jack Flaherty Cardinals SP
241 Brad Ziegler Marlins RP
242 Kendrys Morales Blue Jays 1B
243 Max Kepler Twins OF
244 Joe Musgrove Pirates SP
245 Lewis Brinson Marlins OF
246 Ryon Healy Mariners 1B/3B
247 Austin Hays Orioles OF
248 Kevin Pillar Blue Jays OF
249 Dellin Betances Yankees RP
250 Lucas Giolito White Sox SP

Luiz Gohara Sleeper Post

Gohara is a large young man who turned only 21 in July of 2017.  What I mean by large is this:

He’s listed at 6-3 210 pounds LOL. Maybe when he was drafted back in 2013 at the age of 17. He’s easily 260 now. But so what, look at Sabathia and the ageless Bartolo Colon. Ok, enough about how large this man is, this is about his talents.

The Braves minor league system is absolutely stacked! Gohara is a top five prospect in the Braves system that includes Ronald Acuna and I’ve seen him ranked as high as second in the system. Gohara came up late in 2017 and threw 29.1 innings. Of all the rookie pitchers that will be called up in 2018, I think he might be the most valuable for fantasy. A couple rough outings skewed his numbers but the fact that he struck out over a batter per inning, walked less than 2.5/9 and only gave up two HRs tells me a lot. He also was unlucky with a .366 BABIP against and a 62% LOB. His small sample shows a low 35% ground ball rate but looking at his profile you’ll see that he’s consistently had ground ball rates around 50% which is huge if you combine that with swing and miss stuff. Speaking of swing and miss.

Looking at his pitch mix and let me tell you this guy throw gas. He averaged 97 mph on his fastball and has a wipe-out slider. He’s got plus stuff, above average command and went from high A ball into the majors all in 2017. I wouldn’t worry too much about workload because he threw 153 innings across the four levels last year.

The question is will he earn a rotation spot or start the year in Triple-A to be called up in June. The Braves did make a move to acquire Brandon McCarthy and Scott Kazmir from the Dodgers. Talk about reliable starters, do you know how many innings these two pitchers threw the last two seasons combined? Nope, lower, keep going, 268 innings! That’s an average of 67 innings pitched per year. I believe he’s earned a spot but I’ll split the difference and say he gets 25 starts in the majors in 2017. Here are my 2018 projections: 10 Wins, 3.75 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 153 Ks in 145 IP. His ADP is around 260 to 275 overall, so he’s always my last round flier in shallow leagues.

Dallas Keuchel – 2018 Fantasy Outlook

Dallas Keuchel turned in a Solid bounce back campaign in 2017 after a down year in 2016. The 2015 Cy Young Award Winner did miss some time last year (two DL stints for a neck issue) but came back strong to finish with a 2.90 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP in 145.2 innings. The overall Ks were not great at 125 but that was offset by 14 wins. Unfortunately wins are the most difficult category to predict but luck is on your side when you have the offense of the Astros behind you.

Let’s talk about why Dallas will be overrated in 2018. His surface numbers look much closer to his 2015 Cy Young season numbers but I’d argue he’s closer to the guy he was in 2016. First, his K rate is nearly identical, 7.71 in 2016 and 7.72 in 2017 and his BB rate actually went up in 2017 to 2.90 from 2.57. Let’s look at BABIP which was a career low at .256 in 2017, his previous low was in 2015 at .269. Now, to be fair you can’t just say well a pitcher’s BABIP against is below the league average of .300, so he’s going to suppress because Keuchel does induce a lot of weak contact. So while I think he’s similar to Kyle Hendricks in this regard, I think a BABIP around .280 seems more comfortable. Along with the weak contact I love that he leads the league in ground ball rate at 66% and in turn limits home runs in an era where everyone and their great aunt Clare is hitting balls 425 feet. Wait, is this a LOVE post or a bust post, I’m getting confused.  

Take a look at the graph showing ERA, FIP, and BABIP.  BABIP and ERA basically are in line with each other with the exception of 2012 (partial year).  And his FIP had improved every year from 2012 – 2015 but in 2016 and 2017 it’s leveled off in the high 3s. The ERA stayed low and the BABIP stayed with it. As mentioned earlier, I expect that BABIP to bounce back up and the ERA will go with it. Also look at HR/FB which shot up in 2017 and now his margin for error is minimal with Keuchel, a few less GB and a few more HR with a rising BB rate = 4+ ERA and limited K upside.

I can’t deny that Keuchel is a good major league pitcher but I’m looking at his numbers regressing and I haven’t even mentioned his LOB % of nearly 80%! I do think his Ks will go up near 8.0/9 due to the fact that he does have a very good sinker/slider combo and mixes his pitchers very well. However, another issue arises when I look at his zone% which was only 37% and while he does get hitters to chase those pitches out of the zone over 32% of the time, I think hitters are going to start to be a little more patient with Keuchel and you’ve already seen some that with the increased walk rate. So I don’t expect a decrease in walk rate back to his career numbers.

Typically the margin for error with a pitcher that doesn’t have overpowering stuff (90 mph on his fastball) is so slim (Shady) a slight adjustment takes Keuchel from a 3.00 ERA guy to a 4.00 ERA guy. So to recap, Keuchel needs to do the following perfect to be successful: locate all pitches, get ahead in the count, get hitters to chase, suppress HRs, and get weak contact/ground balls. I don’t doubt he has the ability to perform on some of those tasks, but I’m betting he under performs on his projections especially since he’s had trouble staying healthy (he’averaged under 157 IP the last two seasons).

Projections for 2018: 170 IP, 13 Wins, 3.82 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 154 Ks

His early ADPs are around 64 overall, going as the 17th SP off the board. I’d rather have Aaron Nola, Jose Quintana, and Masahiro Tanaka among others.

Patrick Corbin – 2018 Fantasy Outlook

Patrick Corbin is a post hype sleeper who is one of many pitchers to lose significant time to Tommy John surgery.  He lost all of his 2014 season and half of 2015 to the recovery.  Pre-surgery, he went 14-8 with a 3.41 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in 2013 at only 24 years old. When he returned in the second half of 2015, he pitched very well but completely fell apart in 2016.  In 2017, he had a bit of a bounce back with a 4.03 ERA but still a high WHIP of 1.42!  I love that his ERA finished above four and his WHIP was so high.  He will be overlooked in many leagues due to his final numbers and even may go un-drafted in shallow leagues.  That would be a mistake.

I’ll stop talking about all the negatives and get to why I think you should draft him.  He’s got one of the best sliders in the game, in fact, his slider ranks 9th in all of MLB sandwiched between Carlos Martinez and Carlos Carrasco!  That’s good company. The bad news, his fastball is in the bottom three for qualified starters.  OUCH Bro!  However, he’s increased his slider usage (2nd most by % thrown in 2017) and decreased his fastball usage as well.  

Let’s do a little digging into Corbin’s profile. In 2017 he turned in a career high Swstr % at 11% but it’s not as if he didn’t have solid SwStr rates previously (10.8% in 2015, 10.7% in 2013). Plus his velocity is back up near 93 mph which won’t blow anyone away but it’s another indicator that he’s fully healthy and the Tommy John surgery is behind him. Another aspect he’s been able to bring back is the ability to induce popups which were back up to 10%. That combined with a near elite 50% GB rate means the home runs should decrease. Home runs have been his Achilles heel but at under 30% FB rate, I’m expecting his HR/9 to drop for the 3rd straight year to around 1.1/9. Ok, so he’s getting ground balls and popups, increased his K rate by 3% and decreased his BB rate from 9% to a respectable 7%. 

He’s clearly trending in the right direction and now three years removed from the surgery, and should have no restrictions on innings. Can we talk BABIP? In2017, his BABIP was .328, that’s pretty high. Here’s why: he was tied to the WHIPing Post a few too many time last season.  Two of them he was BABIP’ed to death by the Brewers on the road and the Padres (of all teams) at home; the other two were road games against the Rockies and the Cubs where he gave up the gopher ball.  Now I hate kicking out stats especially since he can’t avoid the Rockies at home because they are division foes but you’re likely benching him there and against the Cubs in Midsummer at Wrigley.  Taking out those two games, his ratios for 2017 look like this: 3.35 ERA, 1.36 WHIP.  Not too bad!  Now the WHIP is high but again the BABIP should come down closer to league average couple that with a decrease in home runs and walk rate and now he’s looking like #3!

Here are my projections for 2018:

195 IP, 14 Wins, 3.62 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 184 Ks; he’s going around 250 overall and SP #70! That’s absolutely nuts especially since he did throw 189 IP in 2017 and could be a candidate to be a 200 inning horse and a #3 on your fantasy team.  I’ll have to mention the humidor which would certainly help reduce home runs but no one knows if that’s actually happening this year. If it does go in, it’s only going to help Corbin.

Yelich Brings his Talents to…. Bradford Beach?

Full disclosure, I had this article written early in the off season before Christian Yelich was traded and even before Marcell Ozuna and Giancarlo Stanton were traded. The reason I held off on posting it is because the Marlins began  gutting their entire team and it was looking like Yelich was going to be surrounded by  minor leaguers and league average veterans. Alas, Yelich got himself out of Miami up north to Milwaukee. The same day, the Brewers signed Lorenzo Cain and all of a sudden, the outfield is now crowded. I fully expect the Brewers to trade Domingo Santana for pitching because Ryan Braun has 5/10 rights and likely isn’t going anywhere. So how does the move from Miami to Milwaukee change Yelich’s value? Let’s find out.

Check out his new digs

I’ve always been a fan of Yelich.  He’s an athletic kid that does all things well on the baseball field.  He’s one of those guys who’s not exceptional at anything but good at everything, know what I mean?  Plus he’s entering his age 26 season and could be primed for a breakout. We have to be careful not to over value Yelich because of the trade. Just looking at park factors for home runs, (100 being neutral or average) Miami falls around 85 to 90 depending on the source and Milwaukee is around 105. Miller Park is typically known as a launching pad but in recent years the park factors show that it’s only slightly above average for home runs and Marlins Park hasn’t played as bad for home runs as it has in the past.  So while this should certainly help Yelich, it may not be as big of jump as some may think.

I know I said I didn’t want to over inflate his value due to the move to Milwaukee but I can’t help it! Yelich’s career road wOBA is .363 with a wRC+ of 128! We aren’t talking about good numbers on the road, those are perennial all-star type numbers. He’s even stolen more bases on the road 41 to 31 in his career (for whatever that’s worth), probably nothing. Speaking of stolen bases, Jeff Zimmerman of fangraphs recently wrote an article about how managers influence stolen bases. Would you look at that! Craig Counsell is one of the most aggressive managers in terms of sending runners while Don Mattingly is about 6% to 7% below average. Now, it’s important to note that Milwaukee is going all in this year and being ultra aggressive on the base paths is not a great strategy for winning ball games. So, he may dial back the green lights a bit but should still be more aggressive than the Marlins. Man, this is getting difficult to not get excited.

I mentioned that Yelich is entering his prime, and he already makes hard contact, takes walks, can run a little bit, and should hit somewhere in the top three spots in the batting order. Roster resource has his leading off. I don’t love that for his production but it makes sense.  His ONLY real problem is his GD Ground Control.  The kid beats baseballs into the ground to the tune of 59% for his career! That’s insane, but at least he hits line drives right?  Right guys…. Guys?  You there?  

I may have lost the extreme launch angle guys with that information. Ok, so a lot of people will argue that Yelich is who he is at this point in his career with over 2800 PAs and 4.5 seasons to his name.  I’m taking a leap of faith and saying that Yelich continues to evolve as a hitter and will continue to get better.  Maybe it’s because I’ve just always liked him as a ball player, but take a look at some batted ball info:

Season FB% Hard% Pull% wOBA
2013 13.8% 34.3% 32.0% 0.341
2014 17.8% 34.2% 27.8% 0.341
2015 15.0% 33.1% 31.7% 0.343
2016 20.0% 38.0% 36.0% 0.367
2017 25.2% 35.2% 33.3% 0.348

Now if can combine his increased FB% with a career high Hard% & pull%, we might have something! Nearly every year Yelich has increased his FB% (with the exception for 2014).  This seems like a conscious decision. We all know a pulled flyball has the best chance to get out, and Yelich’s pull percentage isn’t as high as you’d like for hitting home runs; but Yelich is a great hitter to all fields and can hit the ball out the other way better than most. What’s more, in the second half of 2017 Yelich hit 29.3% of his balls in the air.  So, now we are getting somewhere.  You can see that in 2016 Yelich had his best offensive season mostly due to his career high Hard% and HR/FB over 20%, but he also pulled more balls and continued his trend of hitting more fly balls.  If you’re wondering, Yelich almost never hits popups (2.5% for his career), so he can increase hs FB% without giving himself up with popups.

What’s your angle Bro?

For me, I think he can put together the best season of his career in 2018. A stat I Iike a little more than FB% is average launch angle because it’s a little stickier” year to year because it encompasses all batted balls. Here are Yelich’s average LA (in degrees) since 2015: 0.0, 2.5, 4.5. Now those aren’t great for home runs but balls hit from 0-10 degrees are valuable. So this backs up his increased FB trends. And just to check in on his 2nd half increased FB%, I took his last 200 BBE and averaged his LA, which comes out to 6.3 degrees. At 200 batted balls, LA is more accurate, so this justifies his 2nd half FB% increase.  With that information, I believe he continues his FB trend and 28-30% FB is a reasonable expectation, that along with making more hard contact at age 26 is possible. The move to Miller Park is great for Yelich and the surrounding cast is also very solid. To keep expectations in check, we have to remember Yelich hit in the middle of a lineup that was stacked and had career years from both Stanton and Ozuna, so his production in terms of runs and RBI likely won’t improve from 2017.

PROJECTIONS

For 2018, assuming Yelich hits leadoff, I’ll give him: .289/.371 24 HRs, 15 steals, 98 runs, 69 RBI. If he hits 2nd, not much changes, a few less runs and a few more RBI. If he does hit in three hole, expect a couple less steals but close to a 90-90 in the R + RBI department. Basically, that’s Hosmer with speed! Here’s another good one, what’s the difference betweenYelich Andrew teammate Ryan Braun? Not peak Braun, mid-30s Braun. Nothing, except health, I’ll have Yelich ranked over Braun all day. Currently Yelich is going around 70th overall but I expect that to bump up 15 or so spots with this move. It will interesting to monitor as the season approaches. Around 55 overall you’ve got guys like Hoskins, Buxton, Cruz and Hamilton. That sounds about right to me. I’d take him over Buxton and Hamilton but probably not over Cruz or Hoskins.