Projection Adjustment: Tucker, Goodrum, Stewart, Ahmed, & Hays

My last few articles have been deep dives on hitters who I felt may need their projection adjusted. Today, I’m going through the last few. Remember, this analysis is focused on the player’s talent projection changing and not on playing time.

Kyle Tucker (220nd in NFBC ADP)

I knew Tucker would make this list before the list ever existed. The 22-year-old flew through the minors and just destroyed AAA with a .332/.400/.590 triple slash line last season. Once he got the majors, the results stunk with him hitting .141/.236 /.203 in just 72 plate appearances.

And now the xStats come to his rescue since he was extremely unlucky with his batted balls. Here are his various actual and expected values.

Value (source): Expected -> Actual
AVG (xStats): .141 -> .239
AVG (Savant): .141 -> .268
OBP (xStats): .236 -> .324
SLG (xStats): .203 -> .332
SLG (Savant): .203 -> .382
xwOBA (xStats): .207 -> .295
xwOBA (Savant): .207 -> .326

Everything points to him being unlucky with some heavy regression coming.

His Steamer Projection forgives much of the bad MLB stint with a .253/.316/.440 and a .324 wOBA projection. In all fairness, I’m fine with the Steamer projection as it stands. I just wanted to check in on him.

Niko Goodrum (305th in NFBC ADP)

Goodrum’s 2018 season was completely unexpected and it’s time to see if it will be the exception or the rule because it’s tough to ignore 16 HR/12 SB production.

First, nothing is out of line with his plate discipline.

As for power, he seems to have started developing some in 2016 when his HR/FB went to and stayed over 10% for the first time. He’s never been a groundball hitter since his age-21 season. All of his StatCast power metrics are in the top half of the league. All good so far.

He’  stolen over 10 bases every year and even stole 35 in 2014. There may even be more untapped potential with his sprint speed being the of the 41st highest of the 549 tracked hitters. His batting average will always be a disappointment with the mid-20’s K%.

As for adjusting his projection, I think I will keep it as it currently stands (15 HR, 12 SB, and .238 AVG). Maybe a small bump to his stolen base total.

One item helping his value up is that he’s qualified at first and second base in 20 minimum game leagues. In leagues with lower requirements, he also played 10 games at 3B, 12 at short, and 19 in the outfield. I’d not be surprised if he didn’t gain some of those other positions during this upcoming season.

No changes to the projection but this exercise did give me more faith in him going forward.

Christin Stewart (332nd in NFBC ADP)

The problem I originally saw with Stewart was his power profile. Of the 506 batters who put 40 balls-in-play, he ranks 78th with a 17.2-degree average launch angle. Of the same player group, his maximum exit velocity was 380th, average exit velocity at 325th, and Hard Hit% at 435th. He hits a bunch of weak flyballs.

While his power should have gotten a boost from the major league ball, it didn’t show it in the small sample. Since he has no speed, it’s tough to get excited about a power-only hitter without game-changing power.

In all fairness, others agree with my pessimism with him going after pick 300. His profile is somewhat similar to Nicholas Castellanos but without the cost. I could see myself taking a chance with Stewart as a reserve pick.

Nick Ahmed (418th in NFBC ADP)

I know I wanted to look into his power uptick, but the rest of his profile is just ugly. The biggest issue is the .279 career OBP. I’m amazed he’s got 1500 PA over the past five seasons with that OBP. And he has no speed but he thinks he does going 17 for 33 in stolen base attempts over his career. But onto the power.

He raised his exit velocity (84.7 mph to 86.5 mph) and launch angle (9.9 degrees to 11.3 degrees). So more and harder hit flyballs along with 564 plate appearances gets him to 16 home runs. The dongs used to be enough to make a short stop playable but not anymore. For now, he’d be someone I transition to mid-season if I need power from a middle-infield spot.

Austin Hays (520th in NFBC ADP)

Hays was nice sleeper pick coming into last season hitting 33 home runs across three levels. His 2018 season was broken up with several DL trips for his ankle which eventually needed late-season surgery. Can he regain his deep sleeper status? We’ll see.

He was able to hit 12 homers in 288 plate appearances with a 14% HR/FB. The power seems legit but so does his substandard OBP. He’s projected for a 4.1% BB% which makes a .300 OBP almost out of reach. With Baltimore’s new front office, it’ll be tough for them to roster such a low OBP hitter.

For now, there are too many check marks against him but I’d like to revisit him after he has a couple hundred healthy at-bats.

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 four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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J.D. Martinmember
5 years ago

In regards to Tucker, I think he was still adjusting to the big leagues, even when you consider that he was unlucky. In particular, his minor league GB% the last two years has been pretty steady at around 35%. In that 72 PA sample, it jumped to 49%. Seems like something was clearly wonky with his launch angle.

I feel like there’s still massive untapped upside if he can get a solid run of playing time to make the necessary adjustments, and get his major league GB% to around a similar spot. I think he started off AAA similarly, with a higher-than-normal GB% for him before adjusting and crushing it from like May on. Don’t have any numbers to back it up though, just from what I remember seeing when checking his player page around that time.