October 14, 2013; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Yasiel Puig (66) reacts after hitting an RBI triple in the fourth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals in game three of the National League Championship Series baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Yasiel Puig: 2014 Fantasy Baseball Outlook


Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I’m not obsessed with Yasiel Puig. I swear, I’m not.

It’s just that his power / speed combo, his madcap play, his raw athleticism, his high-spirited antics, and his #swagger hit all my fantasy baseball pleasure points. (Man, that sounded weird. Not gonna change it though.)

But on this 23rd anniversary of the day of his birth, us fantasy baseball owners need to take a moment to dig into what we should be able to expect for Yasiel Puig’s 2014 fantasy value.

Puig’s first 100 major league at bats weren’t like a normal 22-year-old’s first 100 major league at bats. In fact, they weren’t at bats at all, they were actually a mix of glitter, meth and pudding, fired out of a confetti cannon that is Puig’s right arm. So what might ‘normal’ look like for Puig in 2014?

Actually, it will be tough to get a firm handle on what normal will look like for Puig. Those first 100 MLB ABs were so fantastically skewed that it is hard to get an accurate read on his true ability. But even though there is nothing magical about a month, arbitrarily breaking down his season into month long chunks at least gives us a more reasonable body of data to work with and allows us to peek for trends.

Yasiel Puig: 2013 Month-by-Month

 
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
GB/LD/FB%
HR/FB%
BABIP
June102167164.431.45853/21/2733%.500
July949373.287.34348/23/2817%.393
August10311383.320.38552/14/359%.385
September74126111.230.34550/16/3429%.214

These monthly splits give us a little more insight.

After a down July, Puig really picked it back up in August. Know what I’m thinking? That’s right: burger of the month and fries, preferably from My Burger. But I’m also thinking that Puig showed some real resolve in bouncing back from a poor July. As pitchers seemly threw him less strikes, Puig began to lay off pitches out of the zone. Being able to adjust to the way that pitchers challenged him differently was a nice show from Puig.

His HR totals will be capped by a large percentage of his batted ball profile being ground balls. Batted ball output has been shown to stabilize quickly in hitters, meaning that Puig should stay right around that 50% mark, at least in the foreseeable future.

In August and September his FB% did inch up to 35 and 34%, respectively. With a lack of any evidence to the contrary, we can call it and say that that will be right around where it will land in 2014. Much more difficult then is his HR/FB%, which shot around from 33 to 17 to 9 to 29, a limitation of us breaking his season into month-long chunks.

Chris Davis led the league in HR/FB% at 29.6%, and Puig certainly won’t match that. 9% is Kyle Seager, Salvador Perez, Desmond Jennings and Austin Jackson territory, so we’re equally certain that Puig will blow past that. So let’s just assume he settles at a level 1-2 percent below his 2013 average, which was 21.8%. A 20% HR/FB level would place Puig comparable with Adam Jones, Domonic Brown, Alfonso Soriano, Brandon Moss, and Mark Trumbo.

That’s all fine company, but with Puig only hitting 34-35% of his batting ball as fly balls, he’ll project for around 24-26 home runs for 2014, a far cry from the 17 gatrillion that his most loyal fans are predicting.

There’s a good chance he’s overvalued come draft day 2014. The hype is unreal.  But there’s also a very good chance he returns fair value as well, depending on where he’s drafted. I’ve tried my best to look at his numbers dispassionately and to put blinders on to shield my eyes from the hype. I quickly found that the blinders made it difficult to type, so I scratched that and with limited data I crunched the numbers through the spreadsheet. Here’s my best guess:

Yasiel Puig 2014 Projections

 
AB
R
HR
RBI
SB
AVG
OPB
SLG
Yasiel Puig (2014)53782258921.294.357.506

That’s very solid early third round value but I wouldn’t scoff at all if he’s drafted mid-second round. After all, we’ve all seen Puig’s upside and somewhere deep inside we’re crossing our fingers that he’ll have another crazy month that will stretch into an entire season. Of course, I have no proof to back up that claim, except that you already know it is true in your [points to heart].

Tags: Los Angeles Dodgers Yasiel Puig