New Everyday Players — Jun 30, 2022

The new everyday players keep on coming! Let’s continue reviewing the fresh faces in starting lineups and see if we could identify any must-adds.

Luis García | 2B/SS WAS

After his small sample power breakout at Triple-A in 2021, I was a fan of García , as I liked his low strikeout rate combined with that power. After a weak debut offensively in 2020, he got another shot last year, but ended up posting an identical wOBA, despite almost doubling his ISO. That’s because his BABIP collapsed, even though he remained a ground ball machine. Hitting so many grounders isn’t good for his power output, so he was only on a 14.5 HR pace over 600 PAs.

He’s back now, serving as the team’s starting shortstop since the beginning of the month. During his second taste of Triple-A, he continued to show much of the increased power he showed last year, though did suffer some regression. Everything else remained stable, except he couldn’t get his FB% back above 30%. While that should help his BABIP, it’s not good for the fantasy category you’re hoping he contributes strongly in — home runs.

Over his 99 MLB at-bats this year, he’s already posted a nice maxEV of 113.4, but his batted ball profile remains ground ball heavy. Obviously, that .392 BABIP won’t last, and with just a measly 1% walk rate, his OBP might plummet fast, reducing his runs scored opportunities. I think the HR/FB rate should rise, but I just don’t know if that would make him any more than a high teen homer guy with just a couple of steals. He should hit for a respectable average though given the better than average strikeout rate. Overall, he’s certainly worth an add in deeper leagues, but I think he’s more like a bottom tier or top of the free agent pool option in shallow mixed leagues.

Nomar Mazara | OF SD

Remember him?! The one time top prospect failed to progress as a hitter, posting extremely stable wOBA marks, all of which were around the league average, for four straight seasons. He then suddenly lost it and has bounced around since. He now finds himself on the Padres and with a starting job given the team’s injuries.

Mazara opened the season at Triple-A and hit well enough to think maybe at the age of 27, a big breakout is on the horizon. His ISO shot up to .273, supported by a 21.2% HR/FB rate, he notched his highest walk rate since his 2012 professional debut at Rookie level, and cut his strikeout rate to a professional low over any sort of reasonable sample size. He also hit tons of line drives, rarely popped up, and posted an absurd .426 wOBA.

These are the types of late blooming breakouts from former top prospects that make me take notice. He’ll remain on the strong side of a platoon, but he’s worth speculating on for as long as he’s starting most days.

Mickey Moniak | OF PHI

With Bryce Harper expected to miss significant time, Moniak was recalled and may end up platooning with Matt Vierling, serving on the strong side, despite being ranked much lower as a prospect. Moniak enjoyed a home run power breakout at Triple-A last year, as his HR/FB rate jumped into the mid-teens for his first double digit mark. His ISO also hopped over .200 for the first time.

Aside from the middling power he may contribute, he has shown a touch of speed, stealing as many as 15 bases in a season, but only five last year. It’s likely he would swipe a handful over a full season, but would be a greater contributor in the power category.

Strikeouts haven’t been a problem for him, though he’s posted worse than average SwStk% marks. Interestingly, his strikeout rate had risen at every level from 2016-2021, which isn’t a great sign for his strikeout rate in the Majors. He also doesn’t walk a whole lot, so his OBP might be pretty weak. This is especially true given his mediocre BABIP marks.

Overall, I’m not very excited about Moniak’s real baseball offensive potential and would be surprised if he remained on the strong side of a platoon for long. While he might hit an occasional homer and steal a base, it could come with a weak batting average, and the counting stats won’t be enough to offset the damage from the average. I’d pass here and maybe bet on Vierling stealing more playing time.

Oneil Cruz | SS PIT

We figured Cruz would open the season as the team’s starting shortstop, but he didn’t. Instead, he was banished to Triple-A before being recalled on June 20. At Triple-A, he continued to show excellent home run power with a 22% HR/FB rate. Unfortunately, he also suffered from worm-killing tendencies, as his FB% sat at just 27.3%, which resulted in just a .190 ISO. He has shown better FB% marks at times in he past though, and he’ll need to post somewhere in the mid-30% range to be a strong home run contributor like we expect.

His minor league walk and strikeout rates look good and could give him boosted value in OBP leagues. He posted just a .270 BABIP in the minors this year, which is quite discouraging, but he’s always posted inflated marks previously, so that’s a surprise to see. In fact, he had never posted a BABIP below .323 before the .270 mark this season! It makes his MLB BABIP potential tough tough to forecast.

He swiped 11 bases at Triple-A, putting him at a pace of over 20 over a full season. That makes him a true power/speed threat, which is exciting. While it’s likely he’s owned in the majority of leagues, he should be added in shallow leagues he’s available as well. His team isn’t going to provide a whole lot of RBI and runs scored opportunities, but the upside of both home runs and steals, without killing your batting average, is easily worth a pickup.

Bligh Madris | OF PIT

Now here’s a name I just learned existed! Madris has been rotating between right field and left field since his recall on June 20, starting in all but two games. As a left-handed hitter, one would assume he might be in a strong side platoon role, but he’s actually started two of four games against southpaws. That’s a good sign that the Pirates might be willing to give him a shot against lefties early on.

Madris is already 26 and failed to make the team’s latest top prospect list, but he enjoyed a nice little breakout at Triple-A this season, which clearly earned him a callup. His HR/FB rate jumped from single digits to 15.6%, while his ISO jumped over .200 for the first time. He has swiped a couple of bases at each minor league stint, so we can’t expect much in that category, but he might be good for a handful over a full season.

He has also shown pretty good plate discipline metrics, walking at a double digit pace each stint since 2021 and keeping his strikeout rate around 20% or better. Whether intentionally or not, he changed his batted ball profile to more heavily lean toward line drives and grounders this season. That meant fewer fly balls and pop-ups, which boosted his BABIP. It’s anyone’s guess which version will show up in the Majors.

Overall, there’s unlikely any standout contribution here to make him worthy of a pickup in shallower leagues. In OBP leagues, he looks to get a boost in deeper leagues, and in batting average leagues, he’s merely a stopgap solution outside of NL-Only leagues.

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

Sometimes I think this is an NL only site. Many articles seem to lean that way.

1 year ago
Reply to  squid

NL best L.