A couple of years ago for FG+, I created a minor league rating stat for hitters called ZOBRIST. It looks for hitters who were off prospect ranking lists and showed a propensity to control the strike zone and hit for power in the upper minors. It aims to find such untouted hitters such as Ben Zobrist, Matt Carpenter, and Kole Calhoun. I ran it after the 2014 season and didn’t have the best of luck picking out some non-prospects (it did love Mookie Betts). Well, it is time to run it again for some 2016 unheralded sleepers.
I haven’t made any changes this year to ZOBRIST, after implementing some baseline strikeout and walk values last year. Here are the players who meet those requirements and some thoughts on some of those players.
|Jeremy Dowdy||White Sox||C||32||24||500||25.0%||9.4%||9.4%|
|Tommy La Stella||Cubs||2B||38||26||263||10.5%||7.9%||10.5%|
|Aneury Tavarez||Red Sox||OF||23||23||174||13.0%||17.4%||13.0%|
|Dan Black||White Sox||1B||140||27||157||19.3%||17.1%||9.3%|
|Derrick Chung||Blue Jays||C||87||27||138||13.8%||9.2%||6.9%|
|Forrestt Allday||Red Sox||OF||21||24||114||23.8%||14.3%||0.0%|
|Ryan Schimpf||Blue Jays||2B||307||27||106||13.7%||17.6%||13.0%|
|Sam Travis||Red Sox||1B||281||21||94||11.7%||12.1%||8.2%|
Jerry Sands – Sands has basically had the problem of striking out way too much for his limited major league power. This year in the minors, he showed the power with 14 home runs and a 14.5% K%, but again those numbers have not translated to the majors.
Tyler White – Not much love for Tyler White outside of the some hardcore Astros fans who are fed up with Chris Carter. Carter has a career walk rate (16%) higher than his strikeout rate (15%). Besides the outstanding plate discipline, he put up decent power numbers in 2015 with 14 total home runs between AA and AAA. His defense may be his limiting factor on getting called up, but in instructs this fall he is listed as a catcher.
Austin Barnes – The ZOBRIST players definitely have some overlap with Carson’s “Fringe Five” and Austin Barnes is definitely one of those players. The biggest knock on Barnes has been his power, but he has been putting up acceptable power numbers. In just 10 batted balls so far, his average exit velocity is at 93 mph with a max value of 111 mph. These values could equate to league average power from the catcher position. With his good plate discipline, he should eventually make an impact in the majors if he could just break onto the Dodgers roster.
Jose Pirela – The 25-year-old has gotten a small taste of the bigs the last couple of seasons, but hasn’t made an impact yet. Pirela’s main issue is a lack of power. In the minors, he can work the count and get some walks. In the majors, pitchers attack him and make his bat beat them. So far it hasn’t.
Jose Martinez – The 27-year-old is on the fringes of making the age and power thresholds. He just doesn’t have enough power to make it as a corner outfielder in the majors. He might be more interesting if he was a middle infielder.
Max Kepler – He’s a stud and should be on a most people’s top 50 prospects this spring as he joins the Twins.
Brock Stassi – Like Martinez, his bat may not be good enough. Also, the Phillies are paying another left-handed first baseman quite a bit of money in the majors, so Stassi’s chances may be limited.
Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.