The theme of this week’s deep league wire is POWER. Lots and lots of power. And unfortunately, perhaps nothing else. Most of you could use a couple of extra homers, right?
Ryan O’Hearn | 1B KC | CBS 8% Owned
With Lucas Duda gone, first base is O’Hearns, at least against right-handed pitchers. The 25-year-old was ranked as the Royals 15th best prospect heading into the season. The key point made by Eric Longenhagen:
He went unpicked, but we think he could be a second-division regular despite his strikeout issues because, despite all the whiffs, he reliably gets to his plus raw power in games.
That’s good, because how many times have hitters with obvious power potential been unable to actually tap into it? Oddly O’Hearn’s HR/FB rate has jumped all over the place throughout his minor league career. It makes it difficult to evaluate where he might settle in at. He’s been above 20% at three different stops, even reached just over 30% once, but has also been in the mid-teens three times. And perhaps most surprisingly, he was at just 9.6% at Triple-A this season before his callup.
Though he isn’t exactly known for his contact skills, his strikeout rate has remained surprisingly stable and since 2017, his SwStk% hasn’t been problematic. He also hasn’t had any issues with pop-ups historically, which should help his BABIP. As a left-handed hitter, odds are he pulls his grounders and may face the shift often, which could pull down his BABIP, and offset the benefit of his lack of pop-ups.
Though you never know exactly why the Royals do what they do, there’s no reason O’Hearn shouldn’t remain a regular the rest of the year. With the potential to bop a handful of homers the rest of the way, he’s worth speculating on if you need the power.
Chris Shaw | OF SF | 5% Owned
With Andrew McCutchen gone and a 68-71 record, the Giants are looking to the future. Enter Shaw, who now has the opportunity for regular playing time over the final month. The 24-year-old was ranked as the team’s sixth best prospect before the season began and was rated as having 70 grade power. It’s not often we find a 70 power guy! Eric Longenhagen marveled at his power, while acknowledging some real flaws:
Shaw has some Quad-A traits (he’s a 1B-only defender despite tries in the outfield corners, and he strikes out a ton), but he does have truly massive raw power and has generally performed, for several years now, at the upper levels of the minors.
He has posted HR/FB rates of at least 20% at four of six minor league stops, including a 24.7% mark at Triple-A this year. That his power hasn’t waned as he climbed the ladder is a good sign. He also hits a reasonable rate of fly balls, so he’ll be able to take advantage of his ability to smack those flies over the fence.
Of course, with grand power comes a real struggle to just make contact. Through Double-A in 2017, Shaw actually had no issue with strikeouts. His worst mark was just 23.0%, which is totally acceptable. But that respectable ability to make contact went poof when he arrived at Triple-A in 2017. Suddenly his strikeout rate skyrocketed to 29.4% and it spiked further to 34.1% this year. Supporting the newfound whifftastic ways was a 16.2% and then 19.3 SwStk% mark at the level in the last two years. That latter rate, in particular, is alarming. That’s Joey Gallo contact issues, but with less power.
Hopefully offsetting some of the batting average done in by his strikeout rate is a pretty good history of BABIPs and batted ball distributions. He hits liners, doesn’t pop out often, and has posted a BABIP above .300 in all but one stint, and that one stint was still at .299. He’ll need every ounce of that BABIP to not absolutely kill his owners in batting average.
Okay, so he’s doubtful to boost your average and he’s not only stolen zero bases throughout his career, but actually never even attempted a steal. So he won’t be a speed asset either. This is all about power and the prospect of potentially adding a bunch to your bottom line.
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.