New Everyday Players — Aug 24, 2022

It’s time to get back to reviewing the latest crop of new everyday players! It’s been just over a week since my las review, which is far too long. So let’s find out if any of these new faces are worthy of rostering.

Shea Langeliers | C OAK

The team’s third best prospect and 53rd overall prospect, Langeliers was acquired from the Braves in mid-March as part of a trade for Matt Olson. The 24-year-old catcher eligible top prospect has started six of seven games since his recall. The most exciting thing is four of those starts came at DH. A catcher who rarely catches?! We fantasy owners love those! That means far more PAs than the typical catcher and likely up there in playing time with the top tier backstops.

Langeliers has enjoyed a solid mix of skills in the minors. His walk rate has increased at each level, while his strikeout rate dipped to a professional best at Triple-A this year. That’s an excellent sign. However, I would caution that his SwStk% is a touch high and typically matches with a higher strikeout rate, so there’s risk of a high strikeout rate crippling his batting average.

His batted ball profile has tilted toward fly balls, which is great for his power, but also ominous for his batting average potential as his BABIP is unlikely to remain above .300 in the Majors. So worse BABIP, plus higher strikeout rate means harmful batting average.

But his power looks solid. He has posted high teen to low-20% HR/FB rates since Double-A, with ISO marks above .200. And the high FB% will increase his home run total. The only red flag here is fairly obvious — the Athletics have posted the second lowest wOBA and runs scored in baseball. So with a weak supporting cast, his PAs, RBI, and runs scored are going to take a hit. He’s still worth scooping up in all league formats though given his catcher eligibility and likelihood to start nearly every day.

P.J. Higgins | C/1B CHC

Here’s another catcher-eligible hitter who doesn’t catch! Though it’s unclear exactly how the playing time will shake out over the coming weeks, Higgins has started three straight games at first base and the last seven of eight games at the position. Higgins isn’t exactly a prospect at age 29, but he didn’t make his MLB debut until last year and has been a Cubs his entire professional career. The Cubs are clearly looking toward the future and trying out anything to see what sticks.

Higgins’ rose through the minors toting limited power. Then suddenly at Triple-A in 2019, his HR/FB rate nearly tripled, hitting double digits for the first time and settling into the mid-teens. His ISO also shot up over .200 for the first time. Was it a small sample fluke or a sign of his power blossoming? We haven’t gotten much of a sample size from him since, but between the short minor league stints and his MLB career, it sure seems like the newfound power is real. With a 14.3% HR/FB rate and .179 ISO, he’s no longer the weakling he was earlier in his career.

That increased power is important, because now he looks like a Moneyball-style first baseman with just average power, but excellent plate patience and good contact ability. That combination will likely make him more valuable in OBP leagues.

Emmanuel Rivera | 3B ARI

Man, I talked him up when he was with the Royals, but he disappointed, and then the team shipped him off to the Diamondbacks. And then he immediately hits four homers during his first month with the team, posting a 33.3% HR/FB rate.

Rivera’s power surged last year at Triple-A, as his HR/FB rate spiked to 29.7% and ISO to .306. That’s some serious pop that needed to be taken seriously, especially given what little power he had shown previously. He didn’t show any power during his debut with the Royals last year, so it was easy to wonder if his time at Triple-A was a fluke, even though his time with the Royals amounted to just 90 at-bats.

This year, his power improved with the Royals, but was still not at a level that demanded he remain in the lineup. Now with the Diamondbacks, having started 10 of the last 12 games, perhaps more secure playing time will lead to proving his Triple-A power breakout was no fluke. I’m not sure I would consider him in a shallow league, but he’s definitely worth speculating on in a 15-team mixed or deeper.

Brett Baty | 3B NYM

The Mets’ second best prospect and 26th overall made his debut last Wednesday and has started every game at third base since. I’m always skeptical of a hitter skipping Triple-A having immediate success in the Majors. Baty didn’t skip Triple-A, but he recorded just 26 PAs there, so I’m not sure that counts!

Baty has enjoyed an impressive streak of HR/FB rates, posting marks above 20% at each of his last three minor league stints, along with an 18.2% mark during his 2019 debut in the Rookie league. Unfortunately, his home run count has been capped by a low FB%. While he has improved it each level since 2021 at High-A when it sat at just 19.5%, it has still reached just 30.85 at Double-A this year. While that’s not great for his power, it’s actually not a bad thing overall.

That’s because instead of fly balls, he has typically hit lots of line drives. Furthermore, he has rarely popped up. That kind of batted ball profile usually results in a big BABIP, and sure enough, that’s what Baty has delivered. He has posted a BABIP of .390, .350, and .402 during his last three minor league stops, which is quite impressive. So that means we have a hitter with both power and strong BABIP ability, which could fuel a positive valued batting average.

He has also walked at a double digit clip everywhere he’s played, so OBP leaguers need to consider that boosted valued. His strikeout rate has actually mostly declined since his debut, so he hasn’t had an issue with tougher competition.

I don’t think he’ll make a big impact in shallow leagues this year, but I really like his overall skill set and it looks like it’ll ensure he becomes a strong MLB hitter.

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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1 year ago

Disagree on Higgins. Statcast metrics are… Not good. Nothing in his history (even the AAA “surge” in 2019 based on his 5 HRs there) suggests he’s got a playable bat.

1 year ago
Reply to  Werthless

Agreed. Max exit velo in the 16th percentile, and absolutely nothing in his expected stats to suggest power. He’s outperforming his xwOBA by fifty points.

Last edited 1 year ago by EonADS