An Attempt at Figuring Out Carlos Correa, Plus a Pollock Update

So about Carlos Correa. He looks pretty solid. It’s hard to avoid getting to excited with a player like this. I think it’s been fairly well established that Correa is good. Real good. I’ll try to tackle the fantasy implications of his first 50 games and determine how much weight to give them. Statistics through Aug. 5.

Is Correa the top fantasy shortstop for 2016?

We haven’t seen enough yet. Here’s Correa’s season: 20 years old, 50 games, .39 BB/K, .266 ISO, 145 wRC+, 8 steals.

Here’s another player’s interesting first season: 21 years old, 43 games, .52 BB/K, .287 ISO, 157 wRC+ 7 steals.

The player? Brett Lawrie. I understand this is a bit of a cheap shot for a couple of reasons. Working with 43- and 50-game sample sizes is dangerous. Interestingly, Lawrie did edge the stabilization points for ISO, walk and strikeout rate in his sample, so I wouldn’t call the samples completely useless.

Lawrie of course went on to be plagued by injuries during the next several seasons and never approached that ISO or stole bases at that pace again. Him failing to live up to the hype has no bearing on whether Correa will or will not live up to the hype. It does give some context and toss a little rain on the Correa parade. It’s fun to watch emerging players dominate. And it’s fun to hope they’ll keep it up for the rest of their career. Those things said, we’ve been tricked by a player like Correa putting up numbers like this before.

Is Correa the top fantasy shortstop right now?

It’s fair to say he’s been the best fantasy shortstop during his time in the majors. His wRC+ is the best over second (Jung-ho Kang) by a fairly large margin. He’s fourth in home runs and tied for eighth in steals, despite playing about half the games of the leaders. He’s the only shortstop among the top 10 in batting average with a BABIP below .300.

Is there reason to believe he’ll stop being this good?

The obvious metrics don’t paint red flags. He doesn’t have an inflated BABIP and his HR/FB is within the normal range. His swinging strike rate is better than average and he’s showing a steady approach on all types of pitches. He was an elite prospect who dominated at every level in the minors.

ZiPS and Steamer both project a sub-.260 average the rest of the way. Steamer calls for six homers and six steals. That’s a step down, though still solid and tied with Hanley Ramirez and Jose Reyes for the most HR+SB at shortstop. I’m not sure rankings mean too much at this point since it’s all about team needs, but I’d slide him in behind Troy Tulowitzki and Ramirez at shortstop, and around 40th overall.

How should he be valued for next season?

That Steamer projection would give him 19 home runs and 14 steals in 98 games. Those numbers plus his profile and position are going to boost draft cost in 2016. Lawrie was going in the fifth round of drafts after his 2011 burst and Correa would play a thinner position with a sample more than twice as large.

Now for something completely different: Next A.J. Pollock Watch

Check here for an explanation. Two weeks is hardly long enough to demand an update, yet here we are. These two guys have forced their way into consideration.

Adam Eaton – A hot streak from Eaton moved him past my criteria for double-digit steals and home runs, and ZiPS now projects 12 home runs and 19 steals on the season. Oh, and 97 runs. Not bad for a guy who hit .192 in April. Eaton still hasn’t been a terribly effective base stealer, but he’s been better than last season.

His home run total sticks out. He had six homers in 211 games and now has nine through 100 games this season. That said, he plays in a park that slightly boosts left-handed power (eight of his home runs have been to right field) and his average fly ball + home run distance certainly supports a mild power outburst. He’s also hitting more fly balls than ever before.

Aaron Hicks – The switch-switch hitter is back from a forearm injury and doing what we all thought he might do two years ago. He’s slightly younger than I was considering for the list originally, but I’d say when you have more than 200 career games and a wRC+ of 80, you’ve officially shook off any prospect hype.

The big difference this year is an improved strikeout rate and I’m a little worried about that sticking. He’s become more aggressive on pitches in the zone, but is making less contact.

Adam McFadden contributes to RotoGraphs when he's not working as a sports editor at MSN. His writing has appeared online for FOX Sports and Sports Illustrated.

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7 years ago

Brett Lawrie is my go-to warning for young players as well, and the reason I missed on Mookie Betts this year.
But one correction – Lawrie was 21 (about 21 yrs, 6 months) when he made his debut, nearly a year younger than Correa (20 years, 8 months)