In my recent Launch Angle podcast, I had a tough time deciding if I’d draft Ozzie Albies or Jose Altuve in a new 2018 league. I decided I’d go with Altuve but being that I had to think about it, I needed to see if I buy Albies’s ascension into a possible first or second round talent.
Others and myself had an idea Albies was going to be good but just not hit for so much power. If someone would have told me to predict six and 13 for Albies’s home runs and stolen base totals, I would have swapped them. Last year, he had 15 HR and 29 SB. The season before, it was 6 HR and 30 SB. I figured the speed was safe (and it is) but his power may come later. I was right, he isn’t hitting for more power, he’s utilizing his it better.
First, here’s his StatCast 20 to 80 power grades.
While some small improvement exists, most of the values are the same except for Barrels.
This improvement comes down to him raising his launch angle from 15.0 degrees to 17.3 degrees. His groundball rate is down from 41% to a nearly ideal 35%.
Besides raising his launch angle some, pitchers aren’t afraid of him yet. With Albies normally hitting second in the lineup, pitchers are just pounding the strike zone with fastballs.
His Zone% is up from 47% last year to 49% this year. Because of the extra strikes, his walk rate has dropped from 9% to 5%.
I believe pitchers are more afraid of Freddie Freeman right now and don’t want to walk Albies who can then steal a base. Of the six players with 13 HR, Albies is the only one who hasn’t been intentionally walked this season.
The one aspect of his game which worries me a bit is potential plate discipline changes as pitchers begin to attack him differently. I’m glad I get another 120 games to base next year’s decision on. If his owners want to move him, I believe one owner is willing to move one of their hitters taken in the first or second round. Aim high.
When I saw Segura 10th, I was surprised. I went and looked at his stats and went back to check his ranking. Still 10th.
The deal is that he hasn’t changed much from last season. His 2017 slash line: .300/.349/.427. And in 2018: .314/.337/.434. He’s the same hitter but his value upswing is from three tough to predict factors: health, lineup positioning, and stolen base success.
Health: Segura has played in 41 of the Mariners 42 games. 187 PA, the league’s 20th highest total. The extra at-bats have helped him accumulate 29 Runs and 28 RBIs which ties into the next factor.
Lineup Position: With the addition, of Dee Gordon, Segura moved down from the leadoff to the second spot. While he generated 80 Runs last season, his RBI total was only 45. With the move down, his mix is even (29/28) so far.
Stolen Base Success Rate: His success rate at stealing bases is at a career-high level.
Before this season, he averaged a 76% success rate but as a 28-year-old, he’s at a career high. Right now, a stolen base total under 30 might be a disappointment.
Segura’s been a sneaky good play and he might be a good trade target for owners needing middle infield help.
Like Segura, Rosario hasn’t changed much with 2017 triple slash at .290/.328/.507 and this year it is at .296/.323/.553. A small power increase can be seen and explained.
This improvement is from raising his launch angle from 13 to 21 degrees which dropped his groundball rate from 42% to 34%. While he’s posted a 16% FB% the last couple of years, the extra flyballs mean more home runs.
Additionally, Rosario has seen a boost in his counting stats by hitting higher in the lineup. To start off last season, he was buried at the bottom and didn’t move up until after mid-season. He only hit in the top 5 spots in 51 of this 145 games (35%). This season, his total is 35 of 37 games (95%). This upward movement has helped to increase his counting stats.
Rosario has been sneakily good and his owner might not even know. While he has more value in an AVG instead of and OBP league, he’s a perfectly acceptable 2nd or 3rd outfield option.
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.