Let’s profile 6 players who have the type of plate approach to provide you with a vote of confidence in 2013. In order to make this interesting, I thought I’d stick with the number 6. That is, here are 6 guys in their age twenty-six season.
I’ll share my bias as it will help you understand why I chose these the following parameters. I value guys with great plate discipline. I believe a guy will show a solid batting average if he knows the strike zone, makes good contact, and shows some power. I also think power develops a little earlier than the conventional wisdom of age 28. Therefore, I targeted guys who will be 26 in 2013, who walk over 8% of the time, and also strike out in less than 22% of their plate appearances.
Buster Posey C – Giants 11.3% BB / 15.7% K
It’s hard to imagine Buster Posey making a jump in 2013 because his 2012 line of 78 / 24 / 103 / .336 was so good. But Posey’s peripheral numbers suggest that you can confidently bet on a 2013 that is just as good, if not a little bit better. It’s valuable to have a little confidence that the high round draft pick you’ll have to spend on Posey, is it not? Fear not, because Posey’s approach at the plate says that you have nothing to worry about in drafting him high.
Andrew McCutchen OF – Pirates 10.4% BB / 19.6% K
Andrew McCutchen‘s 2012 numbers were excellent, so it’d be a stretch to not prepare for some regression. But how much? He’s consistently being drafted in the first round of mock drafts, which means fantasy baseball drafters everywhere are hoping beyond hope he can repeat, and his age and plate approach says he can. His plate approach says he’s worth that first round pick.
Austin Jackson OF – Tigers 10.9% BB / 21.7% K
Austin Jackson didn’t begin his career with the plate discipline he showed last season, but the numbers are certainly trending the right direction. He’s cut his strikeout dramatically while raising his walk totals to over 10%. Jackson had some sophomore struggles but they are long past and I think going into his age-26 season we may be looking at a breakout for the young center fielder. He’s said he wants to run more and has been working on his technique. Couple that with a full season of games played and his 2013 season could be even better than his solid 2012.
Desmond Jennings OF – Rays 8.2% BB / 21.3% K
Desmond Jennings just met the requirements, but I’m optimistic he can inch his walk rate up by 1% while simultaneously inching his K% down by a percent, because he’s flashed those skills before. There are some warning signs, mainly that he pops the ball up into the infield too much and those balls need to turn into line drives. It’s surprising with his speed that his batting average is as low as it is, but his young career (including the minors) as been a case study of a player everyone is just itching to see do more and do it more consistently. His age 26 season could be that year.
Jason Kipnis 2B – Indians 10.0% BB / 16.2% K
Jason Kipnis was a trendy sleeper in 2012, primarily because the second base position is devoid of fantasy baseball depth. His isolated power (ISO) is a little low for my tastes, but he has a mature approach at the plate and his age 26 season could mean a small uptick in power. 2012 wasn’t a flash in the pan.
Pablo Sandoval 3B – Giants 8.6% BB / 13.3% K
What objective value – if any – can you put on a player’s confidence, because Panda has to be riding high after both the Wold Series and Venezuelan championship MVP trophies. Panda has an aggressive hitter’s approach possible because of his freakish contact rates. His fast hands make hittable pitches out of just about anything, high fastballs, changeups low and away, you name it. Could his age 26 season be the one where he puts it all together, playing a full season? I think it might be.
It’s not going out on a limb to say that Buster and The Dreaded One (use that for your band name) have a great approach at the plate and are fantasy baseball superstars. So in addition to a vacation of their skills, use this as a new way to evaluate hitters, going beyond simply scanning bating average. Plate discipline and isolated power are better measures of a player’s true skill.
Let’s go a little deeper as a bonus. Several other players are entering their age- 26 season but just missed the 8% walk rate and sub-22% strikeout rate.
- Josh Reddick just missed with a 22.4% K rate, but you should let him slide because of his .221 ISO. Draft him.
- Cameron Maybin just missed the 8% walk rate and doesn’t flash the power, but he could be a solid post-hype draft target.
- Yonder Alonso has great plate discipline, but will need to flash more power to be valuable. Same with Gerardo Parra.
Draft the above guys with confidence. Their walk rate, strikeout rate, and isolated power tell us they have the skills to win you a fantasy baseball championship.
We’re counting down you our 2013 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit, which will be available for download on February 18th. Here’s a quick review:
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