Last Year’s Power Overperformers Based on HR/BRL (Fantasy Baseball)

Early in the offseason, I covered so hitters who greatly underperformed their homer uns per barrel rate (HR/BRL%). It’s a simple metric that includes barrels which is the best indicator of power we have. There are many factors that can sway this rate such as the home ballpark, weather, and the horizontal launch angle (essentially, what part of the park was the ball hit). I’ll cover some hitters that overperformed based on this metric in 2018 and their outlooks for this upcoming season. If you want to see my underperformers, click here. Keep in mind since the ball was de-juiced last season, the MLB average HR/BRL was 66.1%. There are a number of factors including home park, weather, and part of the park the barreled ball was hit to that could sway a hitter’s overall HR/BRL one way or the other.

Last Years HR/BRL Overperformers

 HR2018 BRLHR/BRL
Josh Reddick1714121.4%
Ozzie Albies242596.9%
Tim Anderson2020100.6%
Miguel Andujar273089.3%
Charlie Blackmon293290.1%
Scooter Gennett232784.9%
Jed Lowrie232592.1%
Johan Camargo1918105.8%
Jurickson Profar202290.9%
Jose Peraza141498.2%
Jonathan Schoop2118115.7%
Odubel Herrera2221104.4%

Ozzie Albies (2B – ATL)

I was a huge fan of Albies coming into 2018 and I saw significant upside due to his great contact rates, speed, and developing power. He was a steal going around pick 150 last year but the helium has caught Albies ADP this year now going around 62 overall. He smashed 24 homers as a 21-year-old, so naturally, he’s considered a mid-20s hitter with speed. Well, Statcast shows us that Albies is in the bottom 25% for average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls (EV LD/FB) and the bottom 15% in balls hit over 95 MPH. He’s nuzzled right in between known slap hitters Joe Panik and Orlando Arcia. Talk about maximizing his hard contact! From June 1st through the end of the season Albies hit just 10 homers. I believe this is where his power currently sits. Referencing Eno Sarris’ new research on park factors, SunTrust Park is in the bottom six for home runs per high drive%. I love Albies longterm, but he does not have many factors on his side that point towards a repeat of his power output from 2018.

Jonathan Schoop (2B/SS – MIN)

Schoop averaged 28.5 home runs per years between 2016 and 2017. Last year, however, his power metrics were on par with Albies and in fact, his EV LD/FB was actually 1.5 MPH lower than Albies. Schoop has been fortunate to play his home games in Camden Yards in Baltimore which by Sarris’ article, measures as the second best park for HR/HD%. The move in the second half to Milwaukee certainly wasn’t much of a downgrade either. Managing 21 home runs after nearly 29 per season is a disappointment. Will he bounce back? I’m skeptical. In 2017, he managed 32 homers on just 34 barrels. Based on league average numbers, he should have hit more like 26. Last year, he managed just 18 barreled balls but was extremely fortunate to hit those 21 homers. Now in Minnesota and likely hitting in sixth or even seventh, he should see a steep decrease in HR/BRL%. Target Field plays in the bottom third of all parks for power.

Johan Camargo (SS/3B – ATL)

Camargo was a surprising breakout in 2018 but unfortunately for him, the Braves signed Josh Donaldson for a one-year prove it deal. Camargo goes back to a bit of a utility role where he can fill in a 3B, SS, and even the outfield. Donaldson is far from a pillar of success, so Camargo still could have some value in 2019. He hit 19 homers last year on just 359 balls in play with a 15% HR/FB rate. Prior to 2018, he hadn’t posted a double-digit HR/FB at any level where he played more than 33 games. We already know SunTrust isn’t a great park for power, but Camargo was able to reach his 19 homers on just 18 barreled balls. Without a clear path to playing time, I’d stay away from Camargo because he doesn’t have any real speed to fall back on if the power takes a significant hit.

Josh Reddick (OF – HOU)

Reddick may have been the luckiest hitter in terms of HR/BRL% on 2018. He totaled a weak 14 barrels but smacked 17 homers and averaged a sub-90 MPH on average on his line drives and fly balls. Maybe the Crawford boxes stole a few outs which helped his totals. I’m not sure, Minute Maid Park plays near league-average overall but right-handed hitters get an edge. While only slightly above league-average in HR/BRL in 2017, one would think he would regress some with the de-juiced ball. His power metrics are clearly on the decline and he did not earn a jump in his HR?FB rate. I feel like the 32-year-old Reddick is about to come back down to earth ceding playing time to prospect Kyle Tucker.

Tim Anderson (SS – CHW)

Anderson hit 20 homers on 20 barrels in 2018 but plays in a favorable park in Chicago. Typically a player who can hit 20 home runs and steal 20 bases is a sought after commodity in the fantasy realm. However, Anderson is going just outside of the top 150 overall. It doesn’t feel like the fantasy community is believing in Anderson’s power either. His poor plate discipline leaves Anderson susceptible to long lulls within the season. His inability to get on base (.281 OBP in 2018) is likely to drop him to eighth or ninth in the lineup. Anderson has back-to-back 606 plate appearance seasons and I seem to think a repeat is unlikely. Anderson’s speed provides some value but the rest of his profile seems a little less appealing.

Jed Lowrie (2B – NYM)

How Lowrie was unlucky in 2017 with the juiced balls but was fortunate in 2018 with the de-juiced balls, I don’t know. It’s not as though Oakland is hitter’s haven but Lowrie had a late-season breakout of sorts. An unlikely career-high home run total of 23 from a 34-year-old seemingly on the decline had people buzzing. The Mets picked him and the oft-injured second basemen will be starting the year on the IL. I suppose we could have seen this coming after Lowrie managed 28 barrels in 2017 but his total dropped to 25 in 2018. Without a juiced ball, it appears Lowrie was a bit fortunate last year. Given his start on the IL, I’d be surprised if he plays every day instead, splitting time with Jeff McNeil. To expect anything more 12-15 homers this year would be a fools’ prediction.

Odubel Herrera (OF – PHI)
Herrera has literally been showing up on all of my pessimistic lists and here he is again. This is a guy who barreled fewer balls in 2018 than he did in 2017 but ended up with a career-high 22 home runs after just 14 in 2017. How does that work when the ball was clearly de-juiced in 2018? Well, that can I say, the man was lucky. The Phillies appear to be hitting him sixth after the opening day game on Thursday. I’d like to give the Phillies a pro-tip and drop him the eighth. I’d rather see Cesar Hernandez and even Maikel Franco hitting ahead of him. The one aspect going Herrera’s way is the home ballpark. Even with calling Citizen’s  Bank Ballpark home, he hadn’t reached double-digit in terms of HR/FB rate until 2018. Some might say he’s improving but his batted ball profile was the worst of his career. His hard contact was career-low and his soft contact and popup rates were career-highs. He looks like more of a 15 homer/6-8 SB type of player.

Miguel Andujar (3B – NYY)
Andujar benefits from playing his home games at Yankee Stadium but not as much as you’d think. He’s a right-handed hitter who has a very high pull rate so he doesn’t benefit from the short porch in right field. He’s also a hitter who puts a high volume of balls in play. He swings often and makes a ton of contact. So, he’ll keep his strikeout rate low along with his walk rate. That’s a risky approach that can result in a lot of weak contact chasing pitches outside the zone. Checking his power metrics tell me that he truly requires a high volume of balls in play to hit for high power. He’s right near the 50th percentile for average exit velocity on line drives and fly balls (EV LD/FB) and only averaged 389 feet on his home runs in 2018. That’s in the bottom 25% last year tied with Johan Camargo and Ian Kinsler. He’s only 24 years old so power growth is certainly a possibility, but I’ll take the under on 27 homers for 2019.

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats


 

post

Second Baseman Rankings for 2019

Let’s dig into one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball for 2019. Yes, believe it or not, second base is deep this year. It’s not quite as deep as shortstop but the additions of Travis Shaw, Max Muncy, Yuli Gurriel, and Zack Cozart have certainly helped make this one of the deepest classes in recent history. It doesn’t hurt that Jose Ramirez retains 2B eligibility for at least one more year. My ranks are loosely based on my projections, but not completely. I also am using standard 5×5 roto scoring for my rankings as well. I’ll breakdown the tiers below and highlight a few interesting players for 2019. So, here we go!

Rankings Updated 3/13/19.

Second Base Ranking 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositions
1Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B
2Jose AltuveHOU2B
3Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B
4Whit MerrifieldKAN2B/OF
5Daniel MurphyCOL1B/2B
6Adalberto MondesiKC2B/SS
7Robinson CanoNYM1B/2B
8Travis ShawMIL2B/3B
9Matt CarpenterSTL1B/2B/3B
10Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B
11Gleyber TorresNYY2B/SS
12Ozzie AlbiesATL2B
13Scooter GennettCIN2B
14Rougned OdorTEX2B
15Jonathan VillarBAL2B/SS
16Brian DozierWAS2B
17Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B
18Garrett HampsonCOL2B/SS
19Adam FrazierPIT2B/OF
20Cesar HernandezPHI2B
21Ketel MarteARI2B/SS
22DJ LeMahieuNYY2B
23Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B
24Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR2B/SS
25Yoan MoncadaCWS2B
26Jed LowrieNYM2B/3B
27Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B
28Marwin GonzalezMIN1B/2B/SS/OF
29Jonathan SchoopMIN2B/SS
30Starlin CastroMIA2B
31Ian KinslerSD2B
32Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF
33Jason KipnisCLE2B/OF
34Luis UriasSD2B
35Jeff McNeilNYM2B
36Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF
37Joe PanikSF2B
38Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF
39Enrique HernandezLAD2B/SS/OF
40Kolten WongSTL2B
41Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B
42Ben ZobristCHC2B/OF
43Devon TravisTOR2B
44Josh HarrisonDET2B
45David FletcherLAA2B
46Keston HiuraMIL2B
47Dustin PedroiaBOS2B
48Eduardo NunezBOS2B/3B
49Bo BichetteTOR2B
50Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF
51Jedd GyorkoSTL2B/3B

Tier one starts with Jose Ramirez and goes to Whit Merrifield. It consists of the only player to hit 35+ homers and steal 30+ bases in 2018. A poor second half where Ramirez hit just .218 has some experts left with a sour taste in their mouths. Despite the poor average, Ramirez still hit 10 HR and stole 14 bases in just 63 second-half games. For those wondering at home, that’s a 26 HR-36 SB pace over 162 games. The low average was partially due to some poor contact but also an unlucky .208 BABIP. Ramirez will either hit .270 with 30 homers and 30 steals or revert back to a line drive machine and hit .300 with 22-25 homers with 30 steals, both sound great to me! Yes, I like a bounce-back for Altuve, but more of an 18 HR – 22 SB type season with a .300+ average. Merrifield belongs in this tier. He hits for average, lead the league in steals last year and is not completely devoid of power.

Robinson Cano and Daniel Murphy are old and underrated. Hitting .300 has become a rare feat, just 16 qualified hitters reached that mark in 2018. Both Cano and Murphy should end up right around .300 with Murphy getting the edge thanks to Coors Field. Adalberto Mondesi is in this tier, but he already gets so much pub. I have him around 60 overall because he could go 20-45 but also go 10-20 with a .220 average and back in the minors #RISK. I love Travis Shaw and adding 2B is great for flexibility. I wrote about Shaw earlier this offseason and see him as a potential value pick coming into 2019. Give it a look.

The third tier goes from Matt Carpenter to Brian Dozier and is actually pretty exciting. I’m a little lower on Matt Carpenter than most because he had a career year at age 32 and has dealt with back issues in the past. Carpenter’s metrics are off the charts, but then again so are Max Muncy’s. Muncy is five years younger and not getting the same love. My projections have Muncy outpacing Carpenter but Muncy’s playing time is not guaranteed. He’ll get 450+ plate appearances, but needs close to 600 to surpass Carpenter, hence the rank. Gleyber Torres and Ozzie Albies seem to be overrated this year thanks to outpacing their projections in 2018. I was all over Albies last year (here) and (here), so I was able to benefit, but he will regress in the power department in 2019. Once his value drops, I’ll be back in.

In the fourth tier, which goes from Ketel Marte to Starlin Castro, there is some solid value. The ADPs in this group range from the low-100s to around 250 overall. The players I love from this tier are Ketel Marte, Cesar Hernandez, Adam Frazier, Jed Lowrie, and Asdrubal Cabrera. If I’m playing in a 15-team league or deeper, I might wait to grab one of these guys as my starting second baseman and get depth elsewhere. In shallower formats, these guys are great middle infielders, especially with some of the multi-position eligibility. Marte is going to earn OF eligibility early in the season as the Diamondbacks will try him out in center field. 

Tier 5 goes from Marwin Gonzalez to Keston Huria. There are a few old veterans in this tier who can still be fantasy relevant. That’s why they are in this tier. I’m not interested in many players beyond this tier. You’ll also notice a bunch of young guys/prospects in this group. Keston Huria might be my favorite of this group longterm because I think he has 20-25 HR power with 15 steal speed and high-end batting average. For this year, I think he gets the call around June 1st, which limits his value. Garrett Hampson is now partially blocked by Daniel Murphy who will likely slide over to second base against righties to get Ryan McMahon playing time at first base, limiting his upside. However, an early-season injury ( I hate projecting injuries) could provide massive value for Hampson. Keep an eye on him, he’s got 10+ HR power with 30 steal speed given the opportunity.

I’ve made the last tier extra long and will make this quick because you’re either bored, left the site already, or don’t play in a 20-team AL/NL Only League. Bo Bichette is awesome, I love him, but the Blue Jays have no reason to call him up. He might just be a September call-up, but keep him on your watch list if the Blue Jays change their mind. Niko Goodrum has an interesting power/speed combination and is eligible at a million positions, so I like him as an injury and deep-league fill-in. RIP Dustin Pedroia, it’s been a hell of a run. Even if he’s relatively healthy, don’t expect any power or speed. The next time we talk about Pedroia will involve whether or not he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Peace out Fam! Do people still say peace out?

Hit me up on Twitter @FreezeStats

Photo Credit: (Getty Images)


post

Weekly Rundown – You Spell Khrush with a K

Player’s Weekend is upon us and I think my favorite nickname is Rich Hill who has been dubbed, “Dick Mountain.” You really can’t top that. I read somewhere that Brock Holt coined that nickname for Rich back in his Red Sox days. Turns out Brock Holt is useful! The next best nickname is Brad Boxberger’s in which the back of his jersey simply displays an emoji of a cardboard box and a cheeseburger. Clever. Ok, let’s dive in!

Hot Hitters
Kendrys Morales has woken up in the month August and is hitting a blistering .500 with 6 homers with 9 RBI as he’s your Flavor of the Week. Over at BaseballSavant, he’s the hitter who has underperformed based on xwOBA-wOBA more than any other hitter in the league. While I don’t fully trust MLB’s expected numbers, Morales is clearly starting to catch up to his career numbers. I understand that’s cliche, but look at Morales’ last four seasons, he’s a .260 hitter with mid-20s pop at this point in his career.  

Khris “The New Krush” Davis is at it again against the Rangers, well, all teams really. This beast has an MLB leading 39 homers thanks to 5 homers this past week. He also has 10 RBI in that span with 103 on the season. Davis has cut his K rate by nearly 5%, upped his hard-hit rate by 5% (although everyone has), and increased his fly ball rate by 6%. He’s likely going to slow down (well obviously), he has 18 homers in 32 games since the break! I think he’s a lock to go in the second round next year as he finally gets some well-deserved respeKeD.

David Peralta is hitting nearly .500 with 3 homers and 6 RBI this past week. Peralta has always been a guy who has shown moderate power with a little bit of speed and good contact skills. He’s a guy that always seems to be available on shallow league waiver wires. Until this year, of course. Is this for real? The answer, kind of. He’s only increased his fly ball rate slightly from the high-20s to 30%. Meh, but his hard contact is WAY up to 47% and has doubled his HR/FB from last year. He’s also hit fewer infield flys, so do I think he’s a .300, 30 HR hitter next year? Not quite, but a.290 with 22-25 HR hitter, yes sir.

Xander Bogaerts has been an RBI machine with 10 RBI in the last 7 days with 2 homers and a .357 average. Bogaerts was sick of his soft contact ways of 2017 where he barreled 1.3% of his batted balls in 2017 (brutal) and is up to 10.5% this year. I was down on Bogaerts coming into the year because his fly ball rate was low, his hard contact was bad, and his IFFB% was way up. This year, he’s improved in all three aspects. At 25, Bogaerts looks like a .300-25-10 guy for the foreseeable future.

Whit Merrifeld and Jose Peraza both have two homers and two steals apiece with .400 averages. I lump them together not only because their stat lines are so similar this past week but are they really that different? Sure Merrifield has shown more power in the past with 19 home runs last year so he’s not quite a White Rabbit. Merrifield has 9 homers and 28 steals in 548 plate appearances this year. Peraza has 8 homers and 20 steals in 540 plate appearances. Sure, I prefer Merrifield, but Peraza is a nice consolation prize going into 2019 and he’s five years younger.

Justin Turner just hit his third home run in the last seven days to go along with 9 RBI and even threw in a stolen base! Is Turner the Red Rocket or is Kole Calhoun? I think Turner’s nickname is just Red. Anyways, Turner is Red-Hot! Ok, I’m done. Seriously though, it took Turner a little while upon his return to get his power back, but since the All-Star break, Turner is .390 with 5 homers, 8 doubles, and a triple in only 89 plate appearances, good for an ISO of .325! If you waited it out with Turner, you have been handsomely rewarded.

Hot Pitchers
David Price has given up only 2 earned runs with a 0.67 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in his last two starts. He’s starting to look like the top 25 pitcher I envisioned in my preseason rankings. Since Price’s July 1st 8-run blow up, he’s essentially been an ace. His fastball and cutter have combined for a 12.0 pitch value in only 8 starts! That’s insane. Unfortunately, he has no other good pitches. I don’t think Price is an ace anymore but he’s a smart veteran pitcher who can be your #2.



Now, this is an ace! Aaron Nola is Str8 Ballin’ and making his case for NL Cy Young with a 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in his last two starts. Nola does so many things well, but the best skill he has is home run suppression with his 0.46 HR/9. He’s rocking a 50% ground ball rate and an elevated IFFB rate which is how he can limit those dingers. In addition, Nola has boosted his swinging strike rate by nearly 2% but his K rate remains slightly lower than 2017. You know what this means? I’m expecting a strikeout bump next year, and Nola will be in my top 5 SPs going into 2019.

Walker Buehler really has lived up to the hype as he’s gone 20 innings giving up just 1 earned run with a 0.85 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in the last two weeks. Yes, that’s cheating, but his last two starts have been dominant as well, I just wanted to point out how great he’s been. Buehler threw just about 100 innings last year and is currently at 103 IP this year. We are dealing with the Dodgers, so we have to be careful with Buehler and an innings limit which I think will be about 130-140. If the Dodgers believe Buehler will be part of their Postseason rotation, he could be skipped a couple of times before the regular season is done. Owners, be aware.

Cole Hamels continues his dominance with the Cubs who desperately needed pitching help. He’s rocking a 0.56 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP in his last two starts. He’s not getting the strikeouts, but that’s fine, he’s basically the Cubs ace right now. It’s odd because Hamel’s four-seam fastball has not been good this year but he’s finding a way to be successful with it since joining the Cubs and is actually throwing it more! Maybe, it’s location, when he’s up in the zone with the pitch, it’s yielded some positive results. Let’s hope it continues because velocity is not his game anymore.

CC Sabathia is 38 years old, has dealt with issues with alcohol, went to rehab and is still killing it in the mound. Yes, he qualifies as a Return of the Mac. In his last two starts, CC has 15 Ks, a 1.50 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 12 IP.  Sabathia now has 2,960 strikeouts in his career which is 17th all time just behind John Smoltz. He’s also 6 wins short of 250 which I think are milestones that get him into the Hall of Fame. Congrats on a great career CC and being fantasy relevant at almost 40.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Mookie Betts is ice cold everyone. I know, it’s sad, but he’s hitting just .172 with no homers or steals this past week. He’s even got eight strikeouts to only one walk, this isn’t the Mookie-VP we know and love. Other than a few extra strikeouts, I’m not seeing anything in Mookie’s profile that concerns me. This is just a mini-slump got Mookie before he makes his MVP-push in September.



Ozzie Albies is 3 for his last 26 with no homers and no steals. This is not just one cold week for Albies, it’s been the better part of two months now. Albies is a player I’m worried about because his overall season numbers look solid (especially for a 21-year-old), but remember he was the hottest hitter to start the season in April. Since the All-Star Break, Albies is hitting .237 with 1 HR and 3 steals. His hard contact is down and he’s expanding the zone too much. He’s still making enough contact, but I think he’s being too aggressive. He might be over-drafted next year and should set up for a discount in 2020, I know I’m thinking way too far ahead.

Jose Ramirez is hitting just .160 without a home or an RBI this past week but has chipped in with a steal thanks to a healthy walk rate. Remember when Ramirez was hitting like .160 in April thanks to an extremely low BABIP? Yeah, this is the same situation. Since August 4th, he’s got a .222 BABIP but he’s still walking more than striking out and is making MORE contact. His quality of contact is down a bit, but that’s the only issue. Jo-Ram is just fine, he’s already given you 140% of his projected stats, be happy.

Rhys Hoskins is hitting just .192 with no HRs, no RBI, 2 runs, and a steal in the last 7 days. It’s essentially been a month-long slump for Hoskins as his .196 BABIP is the culprit. His hard contact is down and his line drive rate is at 15%. Hoskins hits a lot of fly balls and doesn’t run well, so unless he can maintain a 20+% HR/FB, he’s a .250-.260 hitter. Combine that with 30 homers and 90-100 RBI and you have a poor man’s E5. That’s a top 100 pick but not much higher. OBP leagues, he’s still borderline top 50 though.

Kole Calhoun, the red rocket, has fallen back on hard times after a blistering month and a half. Kole is hitting .182 with no homers or steals and carries a 43.5% K rate in the last 7 days.

I had to include a graph of Calhoun’s 15-game rolling averages because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a wOBA fluctuation from 0.089 to 0.525 in the same season. Fear not, the hard contact continues to trend upwards. I’m not telling you to buy him, but continue to hold unless the strikeout rate gets out of control.

Starling Marte again! Yes, he’s hitting .160 with zeros across the board. Oh, he did have stolen base last night though, so that’s good. His K rate is up and he’s expanding the zone with a nearly 40% O-Swing (swings outside the zone) in August. You know what helps in these “Dog Days” of summer? PEDs! Ouch, low blow bro! I’m sorry, but Marte was a guy who struggled to stay healthy for 162 and we all know how healthy Ryan Braun has been since getting busted. I’m going to be out on Marte next year, he turns 30 and he’s not getting faster. He’ll be over-drafted thanks to around 20 HR and 35 steals this year.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Lance Lynn’s success with the Yankees has halted quickly where he’s been punished by the Blue Jays and Marlins of all teams. He’s given up 10 earned runs 19 baserunners in his last two starts. It was starting to look like Lynn was the saving grace after the horrific run by Sonny Gray. I can’t judge (All Rise) Lynn’s performances with the Yankees yet because his getting 11.6 K.9 with a 49% groundball rate but also has a .375 BABIP and a 66.4% LOB. His SwStr% is nowhere near matching his elevated K rate either. I’m chalking this up to small samples and using him as a streamer against weaker opponents.

My boy (he’s not my boy) Big Game James Shields is back to getting roughed up after a mini-resurgence with a 6.59 ERA, 19 baserunners and 3 homers in his last 13.2 IP. I admit I did recommend him once as a streamer this year. The start was OK, it didn’t kill your ratios or your week. The reason I was optimistic was his home run rate has been down (for him) and he’s getting more swings and misses but with a lower K rate. I think my (slim) optimism is gone. Good-Bye Big Game James, it’s been real, it’s been nice, but it hasn’t been real nice.

Zack Godley’s stretch of good starts is long gone as he’s given up 11 earned runs and 19 baserunners in his last two starts that spans 10 innings. The lone bright spot is his 14 strikeouts. Why is Godley bad this year? Well, his walks are up, his BABIP is 50 points higher, and he’s stranding fewer runners. His home run suppression remains intact but he really only has one plus pitch this year, the curve. Last year, his cutter was utilized much better, currently, it’s received a pitch value of -8.6 compared to 7.3 PV last year. I don’t trust him anymore.

Andrew Heaney has struggled in his last two starts posting an 8.74 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in that timeframe. His last month has actually been relatively poor. He currently has thrown 146 innings this year coming off only about 50 innings last year and 6 IP the prior year. I just think Heaney is out of gas. He’s got a good changeup and breaking ball, so I think Heaney will be on my sleeper list for next year. At this point, he will probably throw a couple more starts then be shut down for the rest of the year. I like him to reach 175+ next year with solid ratios.

Clayton Richard’s nightmare season continues. In his last 8.2 IP, Richards is sporting an 11.42 ERA with a 2.31 WHIP with only six strikeouts. I understand Richard isn’t all that fantasy relevant but last year against lefty-heavy lineups, he was a solid streamer. Then there’s the home/road splits, his 3.94 ERA and 1.22 WHIP at home is playable but the 6.67 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP on the road is just brutal. Am I really recommending Richard as a streaming option at home against lefty-heavy lineups? I guess so, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

post

8 Bold Predictions 2018 MLB Season – Results

The 2018 season is in the books, let’s see how I did on my eight bold predictions.  My original post is the black text and my current comments are in red. For comparison sake, I’ll use the ESPN Player Rater as it is more widely known even if I believe the Razzball Player Rater to be more accurate.


Delino DeShields (ADP 190) outperforms Starling Marte (ADP 49) in Standard 5×5
I’m not the biggest fan of Starling Marte coming into 2018 and the hype train is once again full steam ahead for Delino DeShields aka “The Dentist” (just like in 2016). On the surface, it’s easy to see DeShields pulling this one off because he’s finally been given the leadoff spot and there isn’t much competition for his job in center field. Obviously, he has to perform and get on base for the Rangers to keep him there. What I see is six home runs and 29 steals in only 440 plate appearances in 2017. Given 600 to 650 PA this year he could hit 10 home runs and steal 35-40 bases and while I don’t think he will hit for as high of an average as Marte, the run total should be around 90 given his 10% walk rate. My projections for Marte are .275-9-33, I just don’t believe in the power and he’s never been a great run producer.
Um, well ok. So Marte finished 27th on the ESPN Player Rater and Delino DeShields is nowhere to be found.  He’s been so bad, I’m not even willing to look up where he’s ranked. DeShields is hitting an embarrassing .209 with 2 homers and 20 steals in 384 plate appearances. His walk rate has improved and his strikeout rate has decreased which leaves his plummeting BABIP as the culprit. Marte on the other hand had a great season and his power has returned. My projections more or less nailed his batting average and stolen bases but he nearly doubled my HR projection. This one was just straight BAD. 0 for 1

Ozzie Albies hits 25 home runs, steals 30 bases and is a top 25 player
I’ve seen a lot of people ridiculously high on Albies, but not many are predicting 20 home runs let alone 25; that’s what makes this one bold. I threw in the top 25 player ranking even though almost anyone who goes 25/30 is likely a top 25 player. The steals aren’t as crazy because he stole 29 bases in 154 games in 2017 (AAA and MLB) and 30 in 2016 between AA and AAA plus scouts have tabbed him at 70-grade speed out of 80. Here’s where it gets bold; he is being projected for between 10 and 15 home runs, so where do I get 25? Albies changed his approach early in 2017 to try and elevate the ball more which he accomplished upping his fly ball rate from about 30% in 2016 to 39% in 2017. He ended up hitting 15 home runs between AAA and the Majors which was 9 more than in 2016. He’s continued this trend in the spring with a ground out/air out ratio of 0.73, meaning he’s hitting only about 40% ground balls and 60% LD+FB. Let’s assume 41% FB rate for 2018 with 650 PA for Albies (hitting 2nd for 150+ games) with a 17% K rate and an 8% BB rate. That comes out to about 485 balls in play at 41% FB rate with a HR/FB rate of 12.6% comes out to 25 HR. I believe.
When Albies came out in April absolutely crushing baseballs, I though this one has a great shot. However, Albies never managed to steal many bases attempting only 16 and successful on 13. Albies has managed a high success rate but a lower walk rate and batting average than I projected are only part of the problem. I’m interested to see if he will run more next year because if he doesn’t I don’t think his fantasy upside will meet my lofty expectations.  0 for 2



Patrick Corbin is a top 20 Starting Pitcher
Here are the statistics from the 20th best SP in 2017: 10 Wins, 3.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 209 strikeouts. That’s Yu Darvish if you’re wondering. Kind of a mixed bag, low win total, high(ish) ERA, low WHIP and a lot of strikeouts. My projections for Corbin this year are 13 Wins, 3.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 179 strikeouts. More wins and a better ERA but fewer strikeouts and a higher WHIP, but that would definitely be good for a top 30 stater for sure. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to assume more wins (he did win 14 games in 189 innings in 2017) and maybe a few more strikeouts given 200 innings pitched (I have him projected for 190) to put him right around the top 20. He’s got a 50+% ground ball rate, a Swstr rate of 11% last year, the humidor should help with some of his HR issues as well as the high BABIP effectively lowering his projected ERA and WHIP.
BOOM! Corbin checks in as the #11 SP on the ESPN Player Rater just behind Trevor Bauer and ahead of Luis Severino. Corbin was much impressive than I even imagined. You can see my projections for Corbin above and he blew that shit out of the water. Who would have guessed that Corbin would introduce a spinoff (get it?) of his already great slider and throw them combined nearly 45% of the time? Those Ks are gorgeous and that propelled him into the elite. Nailed it! 1 for 3

Lewis Brinson Outperforms Byron Buxton in Standard 5×5
Brinson should be given every opportunity to show his skills this year in Miami because let’s face it, there’s really no else that should take his spot. He’s mashing this spring to the tune of .339/.377/.607 triple slash line and RosterResource has him leading off! Brinson doesn’t have the speed Buxton does (not many do) but I feel that Brinson will be the better hitter long-term and takes a step in that direction in 2018. I think given a full season, Brinson is more than capable of hitting 20 homers and stealing 15-18 bases while hitting .260-.275. That’s good enough to keep him in the leadoff spot (if he can walk a little) and with Castro, Realmuto, and Bour hitting behind him, I can see 85+ runs. Buxton, on the other hand, may hit 8th or 9th so that’s a killer for run production. I can see Buxton struggle to hit for average again and while I like his ability to hit 15-20 homers with 30 steals, I think Brinson has a chance to outperform him.
So technically Brinson outperformed Buxton this year, so it’s a win. However, it’s one of the saddest wins ever. Now that 2018 has come and gone, this doesn’t seem that old, but remember the hype on Buxton coming into the season? He was being touted as a top-50 player by some perts. His ADP settled in the 60s and Brinson was between 250 and 300, so yes, this was bold, but both greatly under-performed and that’s a understatement. Have I used “under” enough here? I’m underwhelmed, let’s move on. 2 for 4

Joey Gallo leads the majors in home runs with 50 AND Hits .245 with 10 steals
At first, I thought about just doing 50 homers and 10 steals, but he’s such a beast, if he’s given 650 plate appearances, 50 homers is basically a lock. However, given his 37% K rate, a .245 average is a long shot. He did cut his K rate to under 35% in the second half last year and his BABIP, which was .250, had a xBABIP of about .275. Using a 34% K rate and a BABIP of .275, I still fall short of a .245 batting average, so this prediction needs a bit of luck to something like a BABIP of .290, now that’s possible! For the HRs, he needs to keep his 52% FB rate with his 30% HR/FB rate and 615 plate appearances. Steals can be fluky but he did steal seven bases in only 532 plate appearances, so three more in 85 more PA is certainly possible.
I saw some other “bold predictions” that had Gallo hitting something like .230 with 45 homers? How is that bold? I went a little further but i did not pan out. Gallo was essentially the same player he was in 2017 even though he showed improvements in the first half. Gallo probably needs to cut his K rate to below 32% to have a shot at hitting near .250. 2 for 5

Chad Kuhl outperforms Gerrit Cole in all fantasy categories other than wins
This is more about Kuhl taking a big step forward than significant regression for Cole. The categories I’m referencing in my prediction are ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. Cole’s numbers last year were 4.26/1.25 with 196 strikeouts; Kuhl last year: 4.35/1.47 with 142 strikeouts in 157 innings. Cole has a career K rate of 8.44 and will no longer get to face the pitcher two or three times a game. I’m expecting a slight K rate drop to 8.2. His innings should go down with all the able body long relievers/spot starters (Peacock, McHugh), the 10-day DL, and his ratios should be around 4.00 and 1.25. I do believe Kuhl is a much better pitcher than his numbers indicated last year and a significant walk rate decrease is in order to keep his WHIP in check. I could see a 4.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP from Kuhl but how about the strikeouts? Kuhl throws 96 mph with a nasty slider that he only threw 20% of the time last year. If he throws that more and can locate his fastball, he could be around a 9.0 K/9. With that rate, he would only have to throw about 175 innings to Cole’s 190 IP.
Uhhhhhhhh, whoops. This one is so bad I don’t even know what to say. The Astros unlocked Cole’s magic and Kuhl looked good at times then was lost to injury midway through the season.  Let’s move along. 2 for 6



The Phillies make the playoffs
Hoskins, Kingery, Santana, Arrieta! Other than 50 games from Hoskins, those are all new ML players for the Phillies this year. All of them should be worth between 2.0 WAR to 4.3 WAR. I also think Nola takes a step forward as well and you lose the likes of Tommy Joseph who was worth -1.1 WAR (yuck) in 2017 and Michael Saunders who was worth -0.7 WAR. I also believe Maikel Franco (-0.5 WAR) improves this year and Odubel Herrera takes a step forward. Now, this is all very unscientific and you can’t just say all of these players/improvements are worth 20+ wins this year (which would put them at 86 wins). Right now they are projected for 75 wins, good for 11th best in the NL. To reach a top-five spot in the NL makes this prediction bold.
(Here is what I wrote mid-season) Ok, this one is looking good.  The Phillies are currently in first place in the NL East by 1 game over Atlanta and 5.5 games ahead of the Nationals. I expect the Nationals to get hot, but even if the Phillies lost the lead in the division, they would still have a very good shot at making one of the two Wild Card slots. I gave them a 60% chance to make the playoffs and they completely feel apart. The offense went to sleep and the pitching staff outside of Nola was bad and inconsistent. I’ll take my L. 2 for 7

Tim Beckham outperforms Justin Upton in Standard 5×5
Yeah, even this one is hard for me to believe. Upton is coming off a career year hitting 35 home runs, stealing 14 bases and driving in 109 runs and now he gets to hit behind Mike Trout. It’s not that I think Beckham will put up those numbers but I think Upton is a bit of a letdown in 2018 after signing a big contract with the Angels. I think Upton’s batting average goes back to the .255 range and his power falls back to around 27-30. At age 30, his speed will continue to dwindle and an 8-10 steal season is likely. Now, for Beckham, he needs to build on his second half of 2017 and now with a full season in Baltimore and an increase in fly ball percentage indicated by his Spring Training GO/AO ratio tells me he can hit 30 home runs. That’s his ground out/air out ratio which is under 1.0 during Spring Training. He’s also not a zero in terms of speed so 8-10 steals is possible. If he hits .260, he’s right on par with Justin Upton. This is a longshot, but that’s what makes it bold.
I was expecting regression from Upton and that made this one a possibility. However, Tim Beckham turned back into, well, Tim Beckham. It’s too bad because he actually cut his K rate by nearly 5% but his hard contact plummeted. Yes, he missed time but he’s starting to look like a .230 hitter with 18-20 homer power and that’s about it. 2 for 8

Overall I’m hitting .250, so better than Gallo and Tim Beckham for what that’s worth. Considering the low probability of some of these predictions, I’m happy with the results. I suppose the Albies predictions is a partial win, he fell one HR shy of 25 homers which was probably more bold than the 30 steals in the preseason. Even though he finished outside the top 50 on the ESPN Player Rater, he did end up ranked 39th on the Razzball Player Rater. 



Let’s Project 2018 Breakout Players

The best thing about Spring Training statistics for fantasy owners is that you can spin them whichever way is convenient for you, the owner. If you’re heavily invested in a certain player who is struggling in Spring Training, you can always say “It’s only spring, these numbers don’t count!” Or, on the other hand, you can use a hot spring to justify reaching for a player who you believe will breakout. So yes, largely spring statistics are meaningless. Except, Jeff Zimmerman wrote an article earlier this year highlighting batted ball data to spot potential breakouts. With limited Statcast data provided at many Arizona and Florida ballparks, the ground out-fly out ratio may be the best indicator for hitters to spot those breakouts. Luckily MLB.com provides the GO/AO ratio for all spring statistics, so we can put Jeff Zimmerman’s hard work to use now that 2018 Spring Training is in the books. Let’s look at three players that look poised to breakout in 2018. I’ll write a part-two portion including three or four players who had previously broken out (relatively speaking) in 2017 but are projected to regress some by the masses.

Let’s start with Brandon Nimmo, the young outfielder for the Mets. Nimmo had a hot spring and with Michael Conforto starting the season on the DL, Nimmo got the nod to leadoff and play centerfield for Opening Day. Conforto is progressing much quicker than expected and should be back before the end of the month. halting Nimmo’s playing time. Thanks to the Mets signing on Adrian Gonzalez, effectively blocking Jay Bruce from moving from right field to first base, Nimmo is left without a spot. I won’t speculate on injuries (too much) but Yoenis Cespedes rarely plays a full season and I don’t expect Adrian Gonzalez to be at first base all season.

Back to Nimmo, he hit .306 with three home runs and whooping nine extra-base hits in Spring Training. In addition to all those loud numbers, his GO/AO ratio sits at 0.87 for the spring. For context, his minor league ratio is 1.32 and so far in limited major league experience (250 at-bats) it’s 1.12. Based on Zimmerman’s conversion table, we are looking at a ground ball rate of between 42 and 43 percent. Throughout his minor league career his ground ball rates have ranged between 45 to 56 percent, let’s call it 50 percent. That difference in groundball rate could mean an improvement in fly ball rate to near 40%. Nimmo has never been considered a power hitter but he’s been graded with a 50 in raw power, so a change in approach may unlock 20+ home runs. His previous career high is 12 in 2016, mostly in AAA and one at the major league level. His plate discipline is already fantastic evidenced by his incredible minor league walk rates. If he were to unlock average to above average power, Nimmo could become a Matt Carpenter-type leadoff hitter for years to come.

Steven Duggar is a name I haven’t seen on many people’s radar this offseason. He performed well this spring and has impressed the coaching staff of the Giants. But alas, he was Optioned to AAA to receive everyday at-bats. The Giants believe he is the centerfielder of the future and given the health track record of players like Hunter Pence and the mediocrity of Gregor Blanco, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dugger by June (if not sooner). Duggar is a good athlete with a good hit tool and above average speed. His raw power is only graded out as average but I’ve noticed an approach change that began in High-A last year where he, like many others began elevating the ball more. He missed some time last year but also saw a solid HR/FB% at about 13% along with the increase in fly balls. This is a good sign. So let’s compare some numbers for Duggar.

In his first two seasons of minor league ball, his GO/AO ratio was 1.52 with fly ball rates typically below 30%. In 2017, again he dealt with injuries and only played in 42 games, but improved on his GO/AO ratio and fly ball rate to the tune of 0.82 and 43% respectively. This spring he’s continued elevating the baseball with a GO/AO ratio of 0.92 along with 4 home runs and six extra-base hits. His patience at the plate is incredible, much like Brandon Nimmo and his outfield defense is good enough to play centerfield for the Giants right now. He’s been a doubles machine in the minors and it’s possible those doubles start turning into home runs. I don’t see the upside in terms of home runs compared to Nimmo but I think Duggar can steal more bases, so both can be solid fantasy contributors, especially in OBP formats.

Based on all the hype in Ozzie Albies direction this offseason, you would be under the impression that he already broke out. However, he was only up with the Braves for all of 57 games and 244 plate appearances. In that short amount of time, he performed admirably with a triple slash line of .286/.354/.456 with six home runs and eight steals at the ripe age of 20 years old. Impressive to say the least, but before 2017 he had hit a total of eight home runs in 293 games. So, should we just chalk up the 15 he hit between AAA and the majors in 2017 to luck or an outlier?

How about neither, you know better than that! Ozzie was a ground ball machine in the minors which is typical for a speedster with 70-grade speed and five foot nine inch, 160-pound frame. Prior to 2017, Albies’ minor league GO/AO ratio was 1.5. Last year between AAA and the majors, it was 0.9 which matches his approach this spring at 0.85. Albies has hit over .300 with three homers and six extra-base hits this spring. I realize that Albies only played in 57 games in 2017 but I set some parameters for comparison sake to Ozzie Albies’ short time in the Majors, because why not? It’s fun. Take a look. Not bad, right? I set the walk rate above 8%, the K rate below 17%, the flyball rate above 39%, and the Hard contact above 33%. The player I want to highlight of this group is fellow five foot nine inch Mookie Betts. Let’s compare Mookie’s 200+ PA cameo at age 21 to Albies’ 200+ PA cameo last year.

SeasonNameAgePABB%K%FB%IFFB%HR/FBHard%
2014Mookie Betts212139.914.638.611.58.235.8
2017Ozzie Albies202448.614.840.31.48.233.2

I should point out that Betts didn’t strike out as much as Albies in the minors but it’s impressive, to say the least. New SunTrust Park plays much better in terms of power for left-handed batters and yes Albies is a switch hitter but should bat from the left side at least 65% of the time which should also help his power production. The infatuation with Albies continues to grow and if he builds on his success from 2017, there’s nothing in his batted ball profile that would prevent him from hitting 20+ home runs as he reaches his peak. The kid’s a star! I envision multiple seasons of 20 home runs and 30 steals with a great average for Albies.

Eight Bold Predictions for 2018

Delino DeShields (ADP 190) outperforms Starling Marte (ADP 49) in Standard 5×5
I’m not the biggest fan of Starling Marte coming into 2018 and the hype train is once again full steam ahead for Delino DeShields aka “The Dentist” (just like in 2016). On the surface, it’s easy to see DeShields pulling this one off because he’s finally been given the leadoff spot and there isn’t much competition for his job in center field. Obviously, he has to perform and get on base for the Rangers to keep him there. What I see is six home runs and 29 steals in only 440 plate appearances in 2017. Given 600 to 650 PA this year he could hit 10 home runs and steal 35-40 bases and while I don’t think he will hit for as high of an average as Marte, the run total should be around 90 given his 10% walk rate. My projections for Marte are .275-9-33, I just don’t believe in the power and he’s never been a great run producer.

Ozzie Albies hits 25 home runs, steals 30 bases and is a top 25 player
I’ve seen a lot of people ridiculously high on Albies, but not many are predicting 20 home runs let alone 25; that’s what makes this one bold. I threw in the top 25 player ranking even though almost anyone who goes 25/30 is likely a top 25 player. The steals aren’t as crazy because he stole 29 bases in 154 games in 2017 (AAA and MLB) and 30 in 2016 between AA and AAA plus scouts have tabbed him at 70-grade speed out of 80. Here’s where it gets bold; he is being projected for between 10 and 15 home runs, so where do I get 25? Albies changed his approach early in 2017 to try and elevate the ball more which he accomplished upping his fly ball rate from about 30% in 2016 to 39% in 2017. He ended up hitting 15 home runs between AAA and the Majors which was 9 more than in 2016. He’s continued this trend in the spring with a ground out/air out ratio of 0.73, meaning he’s hitting only about 40% ground balls and 60% LD+FB. Let’s assume 41% FB rate for 2018 with 650 PA for Albies (hitting 2nd for 150+ games) with a 17% K rate and an 8% BB rate. That comes out to about 485 balls in play at 41% FB rate with a HR/FB rate of 12.6% comes out to 25 HR. I believe.

Patrick Corbin is a top 20 Starting Pitcher
Here are the statistics from the 20th best SP in 2017: 10 Wins, 3.86 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 209 strikeouts. That’s Yu Darvish if you’re wondering. Kind of a mixed bag, low win total, high(ish) ERA, low WHIP and a lot of strikeouts. My projections for Corbin this year are 13 Wins, 3.65 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, and 179 strikeouts. More wins and a better ERA but fewer strikeouts and a higher WHIP, but that would definitely be good for a top 30 stater for sure. I don’t think it’s that much of a stretch to assume more wins (he did win 14 games in 189 innings in 2017) and maybe a few more strikeouts given 200 innings pitched (I have him projected for 190) to put him right around the top 20. He’s got a 50+% ground ball rate, a Swstr rate of 11% last year, the humidor should help with some of his HR issues as well as the high BABIP effectively lowering his projected ERA and WHIP.

Lewis Brinson Outperforms Byron Buxton in Standard 5×5
Brinson should be given every opportunity to show his skills this year in Miami because let’s face it, there’s really no else that should take his spot. He’s mashing this spring to the tune of .339/.377/.607 triple slash line and RosterResource has him leading off! Brinson doesn’t have the speed Buxton does (not many do) but I feel that Brinson will be the better hitter long-term and takes a step in that direction in 2018. I think given a full season, Brinson is more than capable of hitting 20 homers and stealing 15-18 bases while hitting .260-.275. That’s good enough to keep him in the leadoff spot (if he can walk a little) and with Castro, Realmuto, and Bour hitting behind him, I can see 85+ runs. Buxton, on the other hand, may hit 8th or 9th so that’s a killer for run production. I can see Buxton struggle to hit for average again and while I like his ability to hit 15-20 homers with 30 steals, I think Brinson has a chance to outperform him.

Joey Gallo leads the majors in home runs with 50 AND Hits .245 with 10 steals
At first, I thought about just doing 50 homers and 10 steals, but he’s such a beast, if he’s given 650 plate appearances, 50 homers is basically a lock. However, given his 37% K rate, a .245 average is a long shot. He did cut his K rate to under 35% in the second half last year and his BABIP, which was .250, had a xBABIP of about .275. Using a 34% K rate and a BABIP of .275, I still fall short of a .245 batting average, so this prediction needs a bit of luck to something like a BABIP of .290, now that’s possible! For the HRs, he needs to keep his 52% FB rate with his 30% HR/FB rate and 615 plate appearances. Steals can be fluky but he did steal seven bases in only 532 plate appearances, so three more in 85 more PA is certainly possible.

Chad Kuhl outperforms Gerrit Cole in all fantasy categories other than wins
This is more about Kuhl taking a big step forward than significant regression for Cole. The categories I’m referencing in my prediction are ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. Cole’s numbers last year were 4.26/1.25 with 196 strikeouts; Kuhl last year: 4.35/1.47 with 142 strikeouts in 157 innings. Cole has a career K rate of 8.44 and will no longer get to face the pitcher two or three times a game. I’m expecting a slight K rate drop to 8.2. His innings should go down with all the able body long relievers/spot starters (Peacock, McHugh), the 10-day DL, and his ratios should be around 4.00 and 1.25. I do believe Kuhl is a much better pitcher than his numbers indicated last year and a significant walk rate decrease is in order to keep his WHIP in check. I could see a 4.00 ERA and 1.25 WHIP from Kuhl but how about the strikeouts? Kuhl throws 96 mph with a nasty slider that he only threw 20% of the time last year. If he throws that more and can locate his fastball, he could be around a 9.0 K/9. With that rate, he would only have to throw about 175 innings to Cole’s 190 IP.

The Phillies make the playoffs
Hoskins, Kingery, Santana, Arrieta! Other than 50 games from Hoskins, those are all new ML players for the Phillies this year. All of them should be worth between 2.0 WAR to 4.3 WAR. I also think Nola takes a step forward as well and you lose the likes of Tommy Joseph who was worth -1.1 WAR (yuck) in 2017 and Michael Saunders who was worth -0.7 WAR. I also believe Maikel Franco (-0.5 WAR) improves this year and Odubel Herrera takes a step forward. Now, this is all very unscientific and you can’t just say all of these players/improvements are worth 20+ wins this year (which would put them at 86 wins). Right now they are projected for 75 wins, good for 11th best in the NL. To reach a top-five spot in the NL makes this prediction bold.

Tim Beckham outperforms Justin Upton in Standard 5×5
Yeah, even this one is hard for me to believe. Upton is coming off a career year hitting 35 home runs, stealing 14 bases and driving in 109 runs and now he gets to hit behind Mike Trout. It’s not that I think Beckham will put up those numbers but I think Upton is a bit of a letdown in 2018 after signing a big contract with the Angels. I think Upton’s batting average goes back to the .255 range and his power falls back to around 27-30. At age 30, his speed will continue to dwindle and an 8-10 steal season is likely. Now, for Beckham, he needs to build on his second half of 2017 and now with a full season in Baltimore and an increase in fly ball percentage indicated by his Spring Training GO/AO ratio tells me he can hit 30 home runs. That’s his ground out/air out ratio which is under 1.0 during Spring Training. He’s also not a zero in terms of speed so 8-10 steals is possible. If he hits .260, he’s right on par with Justin Upton. This is a longshot, but that’s what makes it bold.

Outfield – Speed

This is a new feature I’m doing for the month of March since draft season is in full swing. I’m comparing similar players at the same position using ZIPS Projections. The feature is called “The Choice is Yours.”For those of you who were either born in the 90s (or later) may not be familiar with the Hip Hop group Black Sheep or the song The Choice is Yours. Go ahead and give it a go, the lyrics are often giving you the option to either “get with this or you can get with that.” Of course, I’ll reveal the players in the table below and also give my personal analysis and thoughts on each player. So without further ado, I give you group of five relatively similar outfielders whose primary asset is speed.

ZIPS Projections      
OFNFBC
PlayerAVGHRRRBISBADP
Player A0.2781165522851
Player B0.2831476592268
Player C0.291989482291
Player D0.23415605625200
Player E0.2448722133210

Clearly, players A, B, and C are the most complete in terms of all-around talent with high batting averages 9-14 HR power and 20+ steals. Players D and E while don’t hit for a very good average, still provide similar power numbers and as much or more speed than the first three. The difference is you can wait 110 to 150 picks later to grab them. So who are these mystery players? Remember ZIPS is a little bit conservative with their projections and I’ll be sure to let you know where my projections are for each player after I reveal them.

Based on the ADP, you probably can figure out that Player A is Starling Marte. If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m not touching his this year. He was busted with PEDs last year and his 19 HR season back in 2015 seems to be an outlier. I know power wasn’t likely the reason Marte was taking PEDS, but it may have helped him stay on the field, now at age 29, without PEDs (probably), and coming off a year where is hard contact was a career low 26% and his soft contact at an even higher rate at a whopping 29%, I don’t think he hits more than 10 HRs this year. I have him at 9 HR in about 135 games. I wrote a sleeper post about him back in December, the ADP has come down since, but not far enough. Don’t get with this.

On to Player B, I believe this player provides the most value in terms of fantasy this year. He’s 31 and has got a new team this year where his home park is a significant upgrade from where he was in 2017. Ok, so that gave it away, it’s Lorenzo Cain. Cain has played 133 or more games in three of the last four season and 103 games in 2016. Cain has never stolen 30 bases in a year but here is a look at his 162 game averages since 2014: .300 AVG 14 HR and 30 steals. He’s now going to a team that has added Yelich and is looking to contend in 2018. Craig Counsell, the Manager, is known for his aggressiveness on the base paths and Miller Park is one of the most hitter-friendly in the league. In my opinion, both HR and SB projections by ZIPS are low, I have him around 16-18 HR and 28 steals for 2018 and should much more value than Marte this year. Get with this

Player C has a little less power but the highest projected batting average and run total. Based on this information, he must hit in one of the top two spots in the lineup. My projections are very similar to what Zips projects, and I think his ADP is about right (maybe a touch high). Player C is Ender Inciarte. Inciarte won’t provide the power upside that some of the other players on this list can provide, in fact, I think 12 HR might be somewhat of a ceiling for Inciarte. However, the high contact rate and speed will keep his batting average high and run total up hitting in front of Ozzie Albies (probably) and Freddie Freeman. He doesn’t profile as a player with elite speed either so I can’t see him reaching 30 steals. So the upside is limited but certainly has one of the safer floors in this group. Get with this (kind of), but don’t reach, I like him after pick 100.

Player D is projected for the lowest batting average from this group but also the most home runs. His current ADP is at 200, so the low batting average is baked into the price. Would you believe me if I told you that Player D had the third highest sprint speed in the majors last year behind only Byron Buxton and Billy Hamilton and one spot ahead of Dee Gordon! Well, I guess clicking the link gave this one away. Bradley Zimmer is not only a great athlete, he’s also 6’5″ and 220 pounds. He’s like a leaner more athletic Kris Bryant. I’m really just kidding with that comparison, Bryant and Zimmer are very different as ballplayers, they only have similar body types. Ok, so the K rate is terrible and his contact rates don’t lead to much optimism but Zimmer had shown patience in the minors so I expect his OBP to improve; combine that with a high GB%, elite sprint speed, and above average hard-hit rate. These abilities should lead to an improved OBP and a good amount of SB opportunities. His elite defense will keep him on the field, an OBP around .325 is possible and I could see 35+ attempts over the course of an entire season. Don’t sleep on his power either, 20 HR upside is in his bat down the road. Get with this.

Player E looks a lot like Zimmer but with more speed and less power. What’s confusing to me is how ZIPS projects him for 72 runs but a measly 21 RBI! How is that even possible? It sounds like a strong-side platoon leadoff hitter. if you haven’t guessed this player yet, you will after this comment; he was sixth in sprint speed in 2017. Yes sir, the son of one of my favorite childhood speedsters Delino DeShields. Jr. profile is almost identical to Sr. except he’s a little shorter and a little thicker. Jr. strikes out too much to have a good batting average but his patience will keep him on base and hopefully in the lineup. His defense should keep him in the lineup as well, but there is the risk for a platoon here but even with only 440 PA in 2017, he still stole 29 bases. The risk after pick 200 is going to be there for almost any player but if you need 30-40 steal upside at this point in the draft, then Get with this.

 

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)