Is Kevin Kiermaier Legit?

I drafted Kevin Kiermaier in my dynasty league this season, hoping he would get a shot with the Rays eventually and show off the speed he displayed in the minors. He battled some caught stealing issues to start last season at double-A but went seven of eight in his 39 triple-A games to close out the season.

This year I was happy about his results at Durham, especially his .305 average and 11 stolen bases in 12 opportunities. He added three homers which were nice, but his career .398 slugging percentage in the minors pointed to him being more of a singles hitter with speed and high quality defense that should keep him in the lineup should he be given a full time opportunity. The Rays love top notch defenders and most scouting reports said Kiermaier was just that. Baseball America ranked him as the best defensive outfielder and the best outfield arm. He has been a bit erratic at times this year, but those tools have certainly been on display.

What has been really odd so far in his major league stint is the eight home runs in 179 plate appearances. I was pretty confident Kiermaier would be a decent value in my 20 team dynasty league, but I certainly wasn’t expecting him to become a playable outfielder in standard redraft formats. In his five seasons in the minors Kiermaier hit just 15 home runs in 1,649 plate appearances. The most he had hit at any level was the five he hit at double-A last season.

It should be noted that none of Kiermaier’s eight home runs have landed 400 feet or further, though he did hit a 399 foot bomb off of David Phelps in Yankee Stadium at the end of June. He has also placed his home runs in nice spots, with all but two being dead pull hits. If you are not going to be hitting any home runs 400 feet or further, you better be pulling them down the line. But what this says to me more than anything is that we are in for home run regression. That should be no big surprise to anyone, given his track record of limited power. I think he has a very nice swing and in long term leagues I am thinking he could actually end up being a 12-15 homer guy annually as he continues to fill out his frame, but going forward I would not bank on many more long balls.

What I would hope is that he becomes a bit more efficient on the base paths, as he is just three of six so far after posting the solid aforementioned rate at triple-A. With a .355 BABIP that is likely inflating his average, power that is almost sure to come down, and a stolen base rate that is uninspiring, I do not think acquiring Kiermaier as much more than a week-to-week sub would be advised.

Again, in long term leagues I think he could be a useful player going forward, but in redraft formats he is not a guy I would go after and expect a continuation of the results he has posted in his 51 major league games.

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Ben has been at RotoGraphs since 2012 and focuses most of his fantasy baseball attention toward dynasty and keeper leagues.

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