Jabari Blash & Mikie Mahtook: Deep League Wire

A flurry of trades as we inch closer to the non-waiver trade deadline are going to boost the values of many players not currently on a deep league roster. But for now, I got two outfielders for you.

Jabari Blash | OF SD | CBS 3% Owned

As usual, the Padres are in sell mode, so it’s time to test their young players, throw them all against the wall, and find out who sticks. Blash is no longer a youngster at 27, but he’s back with the Padres and stealing playing time in left field. If you peek at his minor league track record, you have to wonder why he has only received 162 plate appearances in his entire Major League career. He has posted big walk rates at every single stop for the most part and while he has struck out often, it has never been high enough to truly question his ability to hit at the big league level.

And of course, the strikeouts are acceptable because they have come along with immense power. He has posted HR/FB rates in the 20% range during four different minor league stints, and even three stops of 30%+, including during his time at Triple-A this year. I think most question his ability to make enough contact, but there are enough big leaguers now striking out 30% of the time or more that still deliver above average offense thanks to their power and high walk rates. This is Blash’s profile.

Of course, a 40.5% strikeout rate during his first taste of big league action last season over 71 at-bats was problematic and didn’t do anything to alleviate those contact questions. But in a still small sample so far in 2017, he has cut that strikeout rate down to just 30.8%. When paired with a .206 ISO and monstrous 17.6% walk rate, you have more than enough ingredients for strong offense. Playing time is no lock at the moment with Jose Pirela still getting left field starts, but the Padres should give him a longer look given his intriguing profile.

Mikie Mahtook | OF DET | 3% Owned

Here’s one beneficiary of a recent trade. When the Tigers shipped of J.D. Martinez, it left a gaping hole in right field. Alex Presley, who had taken over the strong side of a platoon in center field, moved over to fill that void, while Mahtook has essentially become the team’s every day center fielder. We know the Tigers aren’t going to acquire any guys to replace Mahtook given that they are in sell mode too, so his only playing time risk would come from the team’s farm system.

As long as you don’t glance at Mahtook’s ugly walk and strikeout rates, he looks pretty respectable. His HR/FB rate has rebounded to settle in around league average and he has moved up to the fifth spot in the Tigers batting order. He has shown speed in the past, but has seemingly lost any interest in stealing bases, having attempted just two over his last 375 plate appearances in the Majors. But who knows, maybe he rediscovers the joys of swiping bags and starts a run. He still has the speed.

Clearly, this is no long-term play. The Tigers are going to trade whatever they can and get by with whatever’s left. So far, Mahtook is one that’s left. He should continue to see mostly every day at-bats for the next couple of weeks and could deliver some in the counting stats, while not killing your average.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Off topic, but I would really appreciate your insight

Judge for Adam Duvall and MadBum
12 team 5×5

Close? Do you favor any particular side?