Today I continue with my recaps, this time reviewing my early January post touting six home run sleepers. I compiled the list by initially sorting the 2017 Brls/BBE leaderboard in descending order and identifying sleepery hitters. Let’s see how they performed.
In his first opportunity as an every day player, Teoscar Hernandez basically delivered according to reasonable expectations. However, the perception for those owners who stuck with him all year was probably worse than his overall season line. That’s because most of his production came during the first half, as he hit 15 of his 22 homers, and posted a .346 wOBA, versus just a .299 mark in the second half. That offensive slide in the second half also cost him playing time. Still, given the likely cheap price on draft day, he probably earned his owners a small profit. He’s going to need to cut down on his strikeouts though to become a real shallow mixed league option.
Franchy Cordero impressed with his power potential during a cup of coffee in 2017, but he didn’t get much more of a shot in 2018, recording just 154 plate appearances. However, he reminded us of what an exciting power prospect he is. There are two problems he must resolve first though before becoming a power force — he can’t continue to strike out 35% of the time, and he’s gotta get that fly ball rate up. His 2018 FB% was just below 30%, which is low for a guy with mammoth power. Impressively though, he maintained a high line drive rate and never popped up once. That means a high BABIP. Perhaps he could find a happy medium between the batted ball distribution that leads to a high BABIP and one that leads to many more homers.
With the Astros talent and ridiculous depth, it was unlikely that J.D. Davis would find himself with regular playing time. He managed just 113 plate appearances as an injury replacement and utility guy who filled in at first and third base and in the outfield. Though the sample size was tiny, the power never manifested. He homered just once for a 4.8% HR/FB rate, after homering 17 times for a 19.3% HR/FB rate at Triple-A. There’s still nowhere for Davis to play so maybe he’s a trade candidate. I’m intrigued if he finds himself with a full-time job.
It says a lot about the sad state of the Rangers’ left field battle when Drew Robinson figured to open the season as the starter. Most assumed he was merely keeping the seat warm for Willie Calhoun, but Calhoun’s arrival came much later than expected. Robinson only finished with 125 plate appearances, but he did continue to show off his power, posting a 20% HR/FB rate. He swatted just three long balls though thanks to an insane 45.6% strikeout rate.
This was a real step forward for Matt Chapman in his sophomore campaign. He dramatically cut his SwStk% and resulting strikeout rate, boosted his BABIP, and nudged up his HR/FB rate. Throw in excellent defense, and he was quite valuable in real baseball. I’m optimistic about his future.
It’s too bad that Clint Frazier missed a large chunk of the season to a concussion. He ended up recording just 41 plate appearances with the Yankees and 242 plate appearances in the minors. He did continue to display exciting power potential as he upped his HR/FB rate to his highest mark in the minors. Like Davis above, there’s nowhere for Frazier to play with the Yankees, but I’m interested if he finds himself with a full-time job.
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.