New Everyday Players — Sep 6, 2022

September callups have arrived! That means there has been an influx of new names in box scores, many of whom now find themselves in the starting lineup on an everyday basis. Let’s meet four of those new starters.

Mike Ford | 1B LAA

For some reason, I just can’t quit Mike Ford. He’s been consistently good in the minors, but has never been given an extended look in the Majors. In fact, he’s played in parts of four seasons so far, mostly with the Yankees, but has never earned more than 163 PAs in a season. He’s shown good power though with a career 18.3% HR/FB rate and .197 ISO, which is boosted by his fly balls ways and 40.2% FB%.

He has even walked at a double digit clip, giving him extra OBP league value, while striking out at around a league average rate, but posting a single digit SwStk%. The low swing and miss rate means he actually makes excellent contact, but passiveness has led to a high rate of strikeouts looking.

The problem really stems from his career .213 BABIP. Even with such a low mark, his career wOBA stands at .304. That’s not good, but it’s not terrible, and it’s almost solely because of the atrocious BABIP. Yes, he’s a slow, left-handed batter who doesn’t hit enough line drives and posts a higher than average FB%. So his BABIP talent is likely below league average. But certainly not this low!

Amazingly, Ford is now on his fourth team just this year and the Angels have dealt with so many injuries that he’s suddenly their starting first baseman! The team hasn’t faced a left-handed starting pitcher in a while, but I would imagine he would serve on the strong side of a platoon and sit against southpaws. For as long as he’s starting, I’d speculate here in deep leagues, especially those that count OBP.

Ryan Aguilar | OF LAA

After a brief three game cup of coffee for his MLB debut to replace some unvaccinated Angels, Aguilar is back up again and has started three straight games in the outfield. It’s pretty clear that the team has soured on Jo Adell, so it seems like Aguilar now has an outfield job locked up, unless he doesn’t hit over the next couple of weeks.

The 27-year-old isn’t a prospect and failed to ever make a top prospect list. In fact, he’s the rare player we’ve never even mentioned in any article, ever! Oddly, it seems as if despite spending many years in the minors going back to 2016, he never played a game at Triple-A, but has spent three separate seasons at Double-A. I’m not sure why he was never promoted and the team chose to promote him directly from Double-A.

He did enjoy a big breakout at Double-A this year. Enough so that he looks interesting, especially in OBP leagues. His HR/FB rate jumped to a professional best of 22.4% and his ISO hopped above .200 for the first time. He even showed some speed, swiping 11 bases, making him look like a potential contributor in both power and speed.

Furthermore, he was a walking machine, as he posted an absurd 19% walk rate, which follows consistent double digit marks throughout his career. His patience has likely led to some high strikeout rates though, but he doesn’t swing and miss at an alarming rate. I would absolutely speculate here in deep leagues, particularly in OBP formats.

Dermis Garcia | 1B OAK

The Athletics continue to throw everything at the wall to see what sticks, as they should given their current position. Garcia had started eight straight games at first base before getting Sunday off. The 24-year-old was last ranked on a top prospect list back in 2019 when he was still with the Yankees.

Garcia’s game is all about power. He has posted double digit HR/FB rates everywhere he’s played, including marks over 20% on four occasions. He has also typically posted high FB% marks to fully take advantage of that power. It’s led to as many as 31 homers in a season.

Of course, to get to that power, he has ended up swinging and missing often and posting high strikeout rates. He’s offset some of those strikeouts with a double digit walk rate most of the time. However, his high FB% has also led to mediocre BABIP marks. Lots of strikeouts, plus mediocre BABIP marks equals a potentially ugly batting average. So he’s not necessarily one to gamble on if you’re trying to protect your batting average, but won’t be as harmful if you use OBP instead.

Cody Thomas | OF OAK

Thomas is another Athletics hitter who has found himself with a starting job, as he’s started three of four games since his recall. Thomas was also not much of a prospect, ranking just 31st on the team this year. Interestingly, he didn’t play much in the minors this season as he was recovering from Achilles surgery, and yet still earned a promotion.

The 27-year-old enjoyed a breakout Triple-A performance last year with massive power, including a 28.1% HR/FB rate and insane .376 ISO. His power output benefited from a 46.4% FB%, which led to 18 homers in just 245 PAs, for a 44 homer pace over 600 PAs. That was quite the increase in power compared to previous seasons when he posted mid-teen HR/FB rates and ISO marks hovering around .200. Perfectly acceptable, but nothing to get excited about.

Like Garcia above, strikeouts have been a problem and his SwStk% hit a professional high during his Triple-A performance, so the increased power came at the expense of contact. As a left-handed hitter, he’s likely going to be platooned, so he’ll need to hit against right-handers to at least stay on the strong side. Don’t forget, RingCentral (can’t believe I just typed that) Coliseum is one of the most unfavorable parks for left-handed home runs. Sure, if you need power, take a shot here, but given the poor lineup and the lack of other contributions, there should be better alternatives.

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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