Mixing Fantasy & Reality: Sano & Yelich

Miguel Sano: 2017 Projection

Trevor Plouffe has elected for free agency which means Miguel Sano is slated to be the Twins starting third baseman. Sano has positive defense metrics for third base, unlike the outfield where he has been a subpar defender. This move has really opened up the playing time Sano which will help with his uninspiring fantasy value.

Sano’s game can be summed up as “trying to hit the ball hard”. When the 23-year-old makes contact, he can really hit it hard has seen by his career 23% HR/FB rate, .240 ISO, and .354 BABIP (good for a slow guy).

His fantasy value is limited by his 36% K%. It is impossible to have a decent AVG striking out over a third of the time. Even though he does walk a decent amount of the time (>10% BB%), his AVG really drags down his OBP into below average levels. Additionally, the lack of batted balls limits his number of Runs and RBI.

I wish there was some item to grasp onto for improvement, but there just isn’t anything. His plate discipline degraded from the first half to the second half as seen by his strikeout rate increasing (33% to 39%) and his BB% getting cut almost in half (14% to 8%). Additionally, his home run rate is among the league leaders, so it can’t go too much higher. I am not sure where the gains in his game will come from.

I see him putting up a season similar to 2016, but with an extra 100 PA.

2017 Projection: .235 AVG, 30 HR, 66 Runs, 72 RBI, 0 SB, 600 PA

 

Christian Yelich: 2017 Projection

Yelich will always be a superstar … at least in my heart. A worthless late game single by him was the difference maker for me winning Tout Wars this past season. I understand I may a small crush on him, so the following projection may be just a bit biased.

The 25-year-old Yelich put together a decent fantasy season and came in as our 12th rate outfielder using the end-of-season stats. He got the high ranking with a nice rounded approach which had a few stats fall just short of some nice round numbers (9 SB, .298 AVG, 98 RBI).

He was extremely close to being the same player as in 2015, but he tripled his home runs total from 7 to 21. While some of the change can be attributed to an increase in 134 PA. He did make some small changes to his batted ball profile which added up to help get the ball over the fence. He pulled off the perfect trifecta of hitting more fly balls (15% to 20%), pulling the ball more (32% to 36%) and hitting the ball harder (33% to 38%). All three are going to lead to more home runs. The key will be if he can carry the adjustment into next season.

I am a little worried he may stop running as much with his 21 SB and 75% success rate from 2014 down to 9 SB and 69% success rate last year. Maybe some regression will occur to bring the total back up, but I don’t like the drop in success rate.

For 2017, I see more of the same from him

2017 Projection: 650 PA, 20 HR, 10 SB, 80 Runs, 100 RBI, .300 AVG, .375 OBP

 

Notes

• The Astros have placed once highly touted prospect Jon Singleton on waivers. With his contract of $2M, he is likely not to be picked up and spend the next couple years in the minors or eventually released. For four straight seasons, Singleton made the Baseball America top-100 prospects but has had no major league success. He has just not been able to make contact with major league breaking pitches and has posted a .171 AVG. I am sure the 25-year-old will get a few more chances and maybe have an OK BABIP driven season but I would look elsewhere for players to take a chance on.

Lucas Giolito’s major league struggles (6.75 ERA and 1.78 WHIP) might have been worked out in the minors with some mechanical adjustments.

Giolito struck out 116 and walked 44, though that walk total corrected itself as the season went on. Giolito struggled with mechanics and command for much of the first half. Members of the Nationals player development staff said they saw him throw harder and with more conviction in the minors than he did in the majors, making those major league numbers less a cause for concern than a sign of youth.

I am a little concerned about his new elbow keeping it together after having Tommy John surgery performed on it a few season back. He already has 400 innings on it throwing 95 mph fastballs. With some of the minor league high walk rates and the injury risk, I am not buying in at his current prices until I see him pitch consistently.

Austin Hedges looks to be the starting catcher with San Diego with Derek Norris as his backup according to AJ Cassavell of MLB.com.

In the eyes of many fans, Hedges has been “catcher of the future” for too long. Well, it’s finally safe to call him “catcher of the present.” After hitting .326/.353/.597 with Triple-A El Paso last season, Hedges will be given the keys to the starting job in 2017. If Derek Norris isn’t traded, he’ll begin the season as Hedges’ backup, after struggling mightily last season. Right now, it’s Hedges’ job to lose.





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.

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