Dudes & Don’ts Recap: The Hitters, Part Two
In Part One of these Recaps, I explained the purpose and the process behind my preseason Dudes & Don’ts. If you’re confused as to what’s going on here, go check that out for an explanation. We will do the Pitchers in Part Three, but in this edition, we will look at Shortstop, Third Base, and the Outfielders.
The Dude – Jorge Polanco
Projection: 650 PA, 15 HR, 100 R, 70 RBI, 15 SB, .285 AVG
Final Line: 704 PA, 22 HR, 107 R, 79 RBI, 4 SB, .295 AVG
Analysis: The Polanco breakout would have happened in 2018 if it weren’t for his suspension. You can read my thoughts on Polanco from the preseason here, but suffice to say, my process came through here. I mentioned projecting his steals down after getting caught a lot in 2018, but he really didn’t run at all. That was the only letdown, however, as he turned a huge profit from his 233 ADP as the 19th SS off the board.
The Don’t – Chris Taylor
Projection: 575 PA, 18 HR, 70 R, 65 RBI, 7 SB, .250 AVG
Final Line: 414 PA, 12 HR, 52 R, 52 RBI, 8 SB, .262 AVG
Analysis: I was worried about Taylor’s playing time heading into 2019, making his SS12 ADP too rich for my blood. He wound up missing about a month due to a fractured forearm, so he had far fewer PA’s than even I had expected. I was also concerned about his dip in contact and spike in K% in 2018, which didn’t change much in 2019. He was a solid fade.
The Deep League Dude – Ketel Marte
Projection: 650 PA, 15 HR, 90 R, 65 RBI, 10 SB, .280 AVG
Final Line: 628 PA, 32 HR, 97 R, 92 RBI, 10 SB, .329 AVG
Analysis: It’s always fun when I feel almost too optimistic about a player projection and then the player makes my projection look conservative. As I mentioned in my original write-up, all of the supporting metrics were trending in the right direction for Marte. I was wary of a power breakout, however, “unless he increases his launch angle”. Well, guess what happened? Marte doubled his launch angle in 2019, from 5.7 degrees to 11.5. Between that and the juicy new balls, Marte more than doubled his 2018 HR output. It feels good to go 3/3 here at Shortstop after some rough calls in Part One.
The Dude – Wil Myers
Projection: 600 PA, 25 HR, 80 R, 90 RBI, 20 SB, .255 AVG
Final Line: 490 PA, 18 HR, 58 R, 53 RBI, 16 SB, .239 AVG
Analysis: Myers actually stayed healthy, but he saw limited PA’s because he was quite bad. He at least gave you solid steals, but his 18 HRs this year was a detriment. Myers simply looked broken at the plate, seeing his K% mysteriously skyrocket nearly 7% from 2018 to 34.3%. He simply couldn’t make contact, with his contact rate dropping from 77.2% to 68.9%. Looking back, I feel like my process here was sound (albeit risky given Myers’ injury history). You just can’t expect a 28-year-old in the prime of his career to suddenly forget how to hit. If Myers can get with a hitting coach and cure what’s been ailing him this offseason, he could potentially be a very cheap option with high upside in 2020.
The Don’t – Rafael Devers
Projection: 550 PA, 23 HR, 65 R, 75 RBI, .260 AVG
Final Line: 702 PA, 32 RBI, 129 R, 115 RBI, .311 AVG
Analysis: Woof. Obviously, I couldn’t have been more wrong on Devers. I did mention in my write-up that I didn’t feel great about the call but had to pick someone as a Don’t at Third Base. Devers didn’t show a lot to indicate a breakout was imminent and was also just 22 years old, so I was ready to wait another year to buy into a breakout. Devers decided not to wait. He cut a crazy 7.7% from his K% and increased his exit velocity, leading to a massive XBA leap from .239 to .291. I have no issues buying into Devers as a premiere player moving forward.
The Deep League Dude – Jake Lamb
Projection: 594 PA, 29 HR, 81 R, 91 RBI, .249 AVG
Final Line: 226 PA, 6 HR, 26 R, 30 RBI, .193 AVG
Analysis: Lamb played just 14 games in the first half due to a quad strain, so this was a moot call almost immediately. Hopefully, you picked up his direct replacement in Christian Walker, who basically did what I thought Lamb would do as a source of cheap power. When Lamb did come back over the second half, he was just terrible. I have no interest in him moving forward.
The Outfield Dudes
The First Dude – Jesse Winker
Projection: 625 PA, 25 HR, 105 R, 80 RBI, .300 AVG
Final Line: 384 PA, 16 HR, 51 R, 38 RBI, .269 AVG
Analysis: Winker was unfortunately shut down in August with a cervical strain and wound up playing just 61% of the playing time I had projected. He was aggravatingly platooned at points throughout the season as well, however, playing sparingly against lefties. He also took a step backward rather than forward, notably with a 4.8% decrease in his BB%. Winker’s value will be limited if he is a platoon bat rather than an every-day high-OBP leadoff or #2 hitter.
The Second Dude – Franmil Reyes
Projection: 575 PA, 30 HR, 75 R, 85 RBI, .270 AVG
Final Line: 548 PA, 37 HR, 69 R, 81 RBI, .249 AVG
Analysis: Franmil did indeed wind up as a premier power source, but he didn’t quite hit for the average I’d hoped. He did not carry over his 2018 second half plate discipline improvements, and his contact rate actually got worse. At 24 years old, there is time for him to improve his contact ability. The question is if that is really a goal for him or if he’s content being a free-swinging boomstick. Whatever the case, Reyes was a sound investment as the 49th Outfielder drafted.
The First Deep League Dude – Christin Stewart
Projection: 600 PA, 25 HR, 70 R, 75 RBI, .265 AVG
Final Line: 416 PA, 10 HR, 32 R, 40 RBI, .233 AVG
Analysis: Yet another Dude with a season hampered by injuries here. I had hoped that he could be an endgame option who could get you some cheap power as an underlooked rookie on a bad team. Instead, he was a bad rookie with negative defensive value on a bad team. His contact rate remained decent at 74.4% and he suffered an egregiously low 8.9% HR/FB%. I would expect more power down the road from Stewart, but I’m not sure I see enough to really be interested in him in 2020 drafts.
The Second Deep League Dude – Greg Allen
Projection: 550 PA, 5 HR, 65 R, 45 RBI, 30 SB, .275 AVG
Final Line: 256 PA, 4 HR, 30 R, 27 RBI, 8 SB, .229 AVG
Analysis: In my initial write-up I noted Allen’s improvements over the second half of 2018. He never really got a fair shake to build upon that though, riding the shuttle between Cleveland and Columbus all year. He’s really only someone to consider as a short-term pickup when he’s seeing consistent playing time.
The First Don’t – Mitch Haniger
Projection: 650 PA, 24 HR, 80 R, 85 RBI, 5 SB, .265 AVG
Final Line: 283 PA, 15 HR, 46 R, 32 RBI, 4 SB, .220 AVG
Analysis: Haniger didn’t play after June 6th due to a (gulp) ruptured testicle. Ouch. My argument against Haniger at his ADP was that his skillset was something you could land later in drafts. What I didn’t account for was Haniger taking a step back. His K% jumped 6.9% while his contact rate was a career-low 74.3%. His ISO was a career-high .244, as was his 18.7-degree launch angle. If he was making a concerted effort to hit for more power, he’d be better off getting back to making more contact because his exit velocity actually dipped. He should be healthy heading into 2020, but my interest in him will be modest unless his ADP drops dramatically.
The Second Don’t – David Dahl
Projection: 525 PA, 24 HR, 65 R, 75 RBI, 5 SB, .270 AVG
Final Line: 413 PA, 15 HR, 67 R, 61 RBI, 4 SB, .302 AVG
Analysis: Another injury-wrecked season here, but this time it was expected. Dahl simply cannot stay healthy, which I baked into his playing time. He’s a good hitter and rode a crazy .386 BABIP to a .302 average. He hit his way into the three-hitter role, which is huge for his 2020 R+RBI projection. Due to his injury-prone nature and lack of steals, he is a high upside but very risky player heading into 2020. If he has a top 25 outfielder price tag again, it’ll be hard for me to invest.
The Third Don’t – David Peralta
Projection: 575 PA, 23 HR, 75 R, 75 RBI, .295 AVG
Final Line: 423 PA, 12 HR, 48 R, 57 RBI, .275 AVG
Analysis: An astonishing 3/3 for injuries in the Outfield Don’ts. Peralta struggled with an AC joint injury throughout much of the season, limiting him to 99 games. He was one of the biggest power over-performers in 2018, and his ISO did indeed dip from .223 to .186, which is right at his career norm of .188. Even if he played a full season, this call was sound.
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