I Don’t Get The Hype: Ross, Davis, Pederson

Everybody has their sleeper lottery tickets. By that, I don’t mean known quantities like Adrian Beltre who may be slightly underpriced. Players like Lance McCullers, Corey Seager, and Xander Bogaerts have flashed impressive talent, but they’ve yet to truly prove it’s sustainable. We’re making informed guesses when we reach for them in the draft. Today, we’ll talk about three reaches that I just don’t get.

Ross

First on the docket is Joe Ross. By now, I think we all know the basic background. Joe and his brother Tyson Ross fell into radioactive waste as children, and they both developed mutant sliders. From a purely scouting perspective, Joe’s slider looks merely above average. It’s performance last year was elite.

The sustainability of that pitch is the foundation of his fantasy value. Ross’s fastball is no better than average. You can make a case to call it below average. He doesn’t really throw another pitch unless you’re counting his dumpster fire changeup.

Ross looks to be a front runner for a rotation job. He’s also the obvious odd man out if everyone stays healthy and Bronson Arroyo looks viable. Ross has options, and he has obvious areas in which he can improve.

I think we’ve seen the very best that the current iteration of Ross has to offer. I’m seeing him picked at a reasonable point in the draft – somewhere around the 22nd to 24th rounds. I’m also noticing that his owners are picking him for a prominent role in their rotation. There’s nothing wrong with taking a flier, just try to avoid relying upon him.

Davis

Unlike Ross, Khris Davis is a known quantity. We’re going to get 25 to 30 home runs over a full season with middling but non-terrible production in the four other categories. There are even some things to like about his profile. He’ll probably bat cleanup for the Brewers behind Jonathan Lucroy and Ryan Braun. He also appears to have defeated early career platoon splits.

Proponents likely see his 27 home runs in 440 plate appearances and expect growth. A healthy Davis will play every day, and he was on a 40 homer pace last season. Not so fast! If Davis performs well early in the season, he will be traded. There’s no mights or maybes about it. On a contender, Davis is a down-the-order power bat with limited production in four categories.

If the Brewers happen to keep Davis, it’s because he’s playing poorly. You could try to wait through an early season slump, but it’s unclear if the Brewers will do the same. They have other young outfielders they want to try, and I’m sure they’re eager to push Domingo Santana to a corner.

Davis posted a 24.5 percent HR/FB ratio last season. In his short breakout 2013 campaign, he had a 29 percent HR/FB. The 2014 season tapped in at just 14.5 percent. The plus power isn’t a lock, and it’s damning to see his hard hit rate in a steady three year decline (from 47.6 percent to 40.3 percent to 34.4 percent).

He’s being drafted 140th overall according to FantasyPros. His more reliable clone, Evan Gattis, is pick 168. Maikel FrancoRandal Grichuk, Ben ZobristAlex Gordon, and half the closers are among the names going after him. I’m not opposed to drafting Davis, but I’m targeting him as the last power bat off the board. I guess I won’t get him.

Pederson

Two picks ahead of Davis is Joc Pederson. The 2015 Rookie of the Year candidate fell apart down the stretch. Fantasy owners were looking for a five category monster. His 30 stolen base speed in the minors translated to a red light in the majors. We now know he’ll be a batting average sinkhole too. His minor league BABIPs left us with reason to believe he could offset his strikeout rate. A high infield fly rate and low line drive rate have dashed those hopes.

There is good news with regard to Pederson – the power reads as very real. With the power comes a discerning eye. He’ll be a solid target in OBP leagues. His ability to reach base should keep him on the short list for leadoff duties even though he’s a weird fit for the role.

Then again, he probably won’t bat leadoff. He was demoted from the top of the lineup in late July and hit eighth for most of the final two months. In those final two months, he hit just .161/.326/.285. He was slumping before the demotion too.

We don’t know why he slumped – it could be a league wide adjustment, a nagging injury, or just a fluke thing from a streaky hitter. What we do know is that the Dodgers have a crowded outfield. That’s true even if they trade Andre Ethier. Although it would hurt his long term value and development, Pederson could be platooned against left-handed pitching. An early season slump could even lead to a demotion. Or a hot streak could see him re-ensconced atop the order.

There are a wide range of potential outcomes. If we’re acknowledging the downside, then the 138 ADP seems to imply the potential of a Bryce Harper or Manny Machado style breakout. There are too many flaws in Pederson’s game to expect half as much upside. In my view, the best case scenario puts him right around the 100th best player. The downside could be ugly. I’d prefer for him to be a bench stash, but his name just has too much appeal.





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Dave
Guest
Dave

Everything you said of Pederson is true, but that first half still happened. Regard the more recent production higher, yes, but let’s not ignore a 20-HR rookie first half.

wily mo
Member
Member

another article from this very same website has me encouraged about pederson –

http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/joc-pedersons-ugly-second-half/

e.g. the recent track record for rookies with big first halves and brutal second halves is actually pretty good. it’s not proof of anything, but, there it is.

and i think the best case scenario for pederson is really pretty good – he gets back on a first half type ride and keeps it going, plus dave roberts coaches him up and the steals appear, and you get something like 30/15. how likely that is, obviously is debatable, but if there’s 99 players better than that it’s gonna be a fun year, so that’s what people are drafting.

blue fountain
Guest
blue fountain

Isn’t that what Brad is pointing out? 20 HR happened. But that’s it (when your league doesn’t count walks). In that same first half, he had 2 SB, hit .230, and had 86 R+RBI.

A monster upside involves overall production in 2016 being notably higher than his first half production of 2015, not a continuation of what he did in the first half. Certainly possible – I don’t see any reason he can’t steal 20+ bases, for example – just unproven to date.

Plus the 20 HR was based on somewhat lucky performance. Only 5 players in all of baseball maintained a HR/FB rate over 25% for at least 500 plate appearances last year. Either Pederson has truly elite power, or he won’t maintain that rate over the course of a full season.

wily mo
Member
Member

eh i dunno man, i think a continuation of his first half that wound up with him hitting 40 home runs, people would get over the .230 thing

“Either Pederson has truly elite power, or he won’t” did y’all see the home run derby last year

Frank the Tank
Guest
Frank the Tank

According to hit tracker, Joc had the longest average home run distance in the majors last year, ahead of Stanton. I’m not calling that luck.

bluefountain
Guest
bluefountain

It’s not just the average, though. If we simply extrapolate first half production over 600 PA, that’s 33 HR; 36 HR at 650 PA. I agree people would take that with a .230 average. But the problem Brad is pointing out is that Pederson didn’t steal bases, drive in runs, or score runs, either. His 2015 first half was only a 600 PA pace of 3 SB(!), 75 R, and 66 RBI. He needs to get better as a 24 year old (which is quite possible), not simply return to what he did as a 23 year old.

As far as luck Frank, I’m not sure what you’re saying? A 25% HR/FB rate is not a normal occurrence. Fangraphs doesn’t view Pederson as having 80 grade power. So either the scouting report is outdated (which would be good news), or he won’t maintain a 25% HR/FB rate for an entire season (which makes the downside risk greater and seems the more likely outcome). He’s a great home run hitter. But maybe he hits 25-30 instead of 35-40.

MrObvious
Guest
MrObvious

How can this guy be knocked for his low RBI count? The guy batted leadoff for all but what, the last one or two months of the year? Inexplicable that Mattingly ever thought it was a good idea to put a 30 HR guy in the leadoff spot but it definitely hurts RBI’s.

I don’t have a real explanation for the low run count, but based on what has already been supplied, I think there is enough in his profile to suggest that he is not useless just because he has a bad 2nd half as a large number of rookies do. (except last year for some reason)

The guy has the potential to put up a .250/375/500 line in short order, with 90-100 runs, 15 SB’s, and 30-40 HR’s in his best 1 or 2 years. This kind of potential doesn’t grow on trees.

Jake
Guest
Jake

Depending on where Joc hits in the lineup, I think he could still have substantial fantasy value even if he only hits in the .230-.250 range. Despite his .210 average last year, he still had a solid .356 OBP, ahead of Howie Kendrick who hit .295. If he hits towards the top of the order, he should be able to score a lot of runs.

The real question will be his SBs. If he can swipe 20 SBs, he is definitely a viable fantasy option. His production in the minors shows he is capable of 20+ SBs, but the Dodgers were last in the majors in SBs and it seems as though it is a club-level principle not to steal many bases. Perhaps that could change with Dave Roberts as the new manager, and perhaps as a rookie last year, Pederson was more focused on the major aspects of his game (plate discipline, defense) than more ancillary aspects like stealing bases.