The Change: Player Types with Duvall, Piscotty, Polanco

On the back end of the top 25 outfielders last year, there’s a trio of young outfielders that found success with very different approaches. Adam Duvall just hit the crap out of the ball. Gregory Polanco was a five-tooler with good patience and contact. Stephen Piscotty was somewhere in between. We all have our favorites when it comes to player types, but let’s be concrete about these things. Let’s filter the players based on a few key statistics and find historical comps that can help us better understand the futures for our three relative youngsters.

The Adam Duvall

Duvall isn’t a statue — he can play a little defense in the outfield — but he is relatively one dimensional anyway. He doesn’t walk, and he strikes out a fair amount. You want him for his power. So let’s look at players that had a season before they turned 28 in which they walked less than eight percent of the time (that’s around the traditional league average), struck out more than 23% of the time (the game used to have fewer strikeouts, so this way we include some old school sluggers), and showed an isolated slugging percentage over .200. Since he’s no Carlos Gomez, let’s limit the pool to players with fewer than 10 stolen bases.

The result is a mixed bag of sluggers that prove that Duvall is not necessarily destined to repeat his performance.

Season Name PA HR SB BB% K% AVG OBP ISO wRC+ WAR
1981 Tony Armas 462 22 5 4.1% 24.9% 0.261 0.294 0.218 124 3.9
1985 Mike Marshall 564 28 3 6.6% 24.3% 0.293 0.342 0.222 141 3.1
2013 Pedro Alvarez 614 36 2 7.8% 30.3% 0.233 0.296 0.240 112 3.0
2016 Adam Duvall 608 33 6 6.7% 27.0% 0.241 0.297 0.257 104 2.8
1976 Dave Kingman 510 37 7 5.5% 26.5% 0.238 0.286 0.268 126 2.6
2012 Mark Trumbo 586 32 4 6.1% 26.1% 0.268 0.317 0.222 124 2.4
2013 Yoenis Cespedes 574 26 7 6.4% 23.9% 0.240 0.294 0.202 102 2.4
2013 Mark Trumbo 678 34 5 8.0% 27.1% 0.234 0.294 0.219 107 2.3
2012 Chris Davis 562 33 2 6.6% 30.1% 0.270 0.326 0.231 121 2.1
2016 Brad Miller 601 30 6 7.8% 24.8% 0.243 0.304 0.239 111 2.0
1983 Ron Kittle 570 35 8 6.8% 26.3% 0.254 0.314 0.250 118 2.0
1975 Dave Kingman 543 36 7 6.3% 28.2% 0.231 0.284 0.263 115 1.7
2016 Corey Dickerson 548 24 0 6.0% 24.5% 0.245 0.293 0.224 101 1.5
1977 Butch Hobson 637 30 5 4.2% 25.4% 0.265 0.300 0.224 101 1.5
2004 Craig Wilson 644 29 2 7.8% 26.2% 0.264 0.354 0.235 119 1.1
1994 Ryan Thompson 379 18 1 7.4% 24.8% 0.225 0.301 0.210 88 0.8
2016 Yasmany Tomas 563 31 2 5.5% 24.2% 0.272 0.313 0.236 109 -0.1
1994 Dean Palmer 371 19 3 7.0% 24.0% 0.246 0.302 0.219 91 -0.4
1987 Cory Snyder 615 33 5 5.0% 27.0% 0.236 0.273 0.220 85 -0.5
Since 1974, players with <8% BB, >23% K, >.200 ISO, <10 SB.

For every Mark Trumbo and Yoenis Cespedes, there’s a Craig Wilson and Cory Snyder. Wait, that’s not necessarily true. Snyder himself hit 26 homers in 1988, and had a few productive seasons, and really I named the only two that didn’t manage to have actual careers. If you look at the group as a whole, even with the active players messing up the average, you’ll see a slugger that managed 3152 plate appearances in their career, on average. Wilson and Ryan Thompson are the only non-active major leaguers that had a Duvall season and didn’t make it to 2500 plate appearances, is another way you can say it.

The average career home run rate for the group was 4.6%, while Duvall’s was 5.4% last year. While it’s not the sexiest package, it looks like Duvall has an 80% chance of at least playing another four seasons, in which he should put up 90-100 homers on average. That’s a decent floor, for a guy that has the least attractive skills package.

The Gregory Polanco

I have loved Gregory Polanco for so long, and yet have no shares, because I proclaimed my love too loudly and everyone wanted everything from me in trade talks. And now it’s too late because he’s had the season I thought he could have. He showed speed, power, and patience. Let’s look for players younger than 26 that had a walk rate higher than league average, a strikeout rate that was better than league average, an isolated slugging percentage over .180, and stole more than 15 bags in the free agency era. This should be a fun list.

It’s beautiful. 73 player seasons full of Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt, David Wright and also Alex Rodriguez, Chipper Jones, Ken Griffey Jr, and Barry Bonds but also Mike Schmidt, and Dale Murphy, Mike Greenwell, and Larry Walker. It’s *really* hard to find a dud.

Of the 51 players on this list, there are only three non-active players that didn’t manage to put up ten wins of production — Fernando Tatis, Gary Thomasson, and Mitchell Page. Nate McLouth barely crossed that threshold. If you want twenty wins or bust — Polanco already has five on his resume — you can count Gary Redus as a disappointment, and Leon Durham, and Matt Lawton.

The rest of the list is populated with Hall of Famers and current studs. Seriously, Polanco basically has a an 86% chance of continuing to be a star, and even the likely floor is useful for a couple years. You want to bet on this skillset.

The Stephen Piscotty

There, in between the two, is an interesting character who played some center field, showed some patience and contact and power, but wasn’t what you’d call a five-tooler. Not a Duvall, and not a Polanco, Stephen Piscotty was just sort of in between on everything. That makes it harder to set the thresholds, but let’s go with younger than 26, better than league average contact, close to league average patience, better than a .180 ISO, and better than five stolen bases but fewer than 15. That sort of defines the in between guy, I’d say.

We still end up with 363 player-seasons, so let’s limit the pool from guys with plus walk rates, so basically all guys with walk rates between seven and ten percent. Down to 68, but also featuring guys with isolated slugging percentages over .300! Let’s also trim that down to those below .210. Now we have 29 players, and a manageable and interesting list of players.

Season Name PA HR SB BB% K% AVG OBP ISO wRC+ WAR
2014 Kyle Seager 654 25 7 8.0% 18.0% 0.268 0.334 0.186 127 5.4
2007 Troy Tulowitzki 682 24 7 8.4% 19.1% 0.291 0.359 0.189 109 5.2
1977 Chet Lemon 627 19 8 8.3% 14.2% 0.273 0.343 0.186 117 5.0
2005 Felipe Lopez 648 23 15 8.8% 17.1% 0.291 0.352 0.195 116 4.7
2016 Anthony Rendon 647 20 12 10.0% 18.1% 0.270 0.348 0.180 112 4.7
1984 Chili Davis 546 21 12 7.7% 13.6% 0.315 0.368 0.192 148 4.6
1983 Willie Upshaw 655 27 10 9.3% 15.0% 0.306 0.373 0.209 137 4.5
2006 Dan Uggla 683 27 6 7.0% 18.0% 0.282 0.339 0.198 110 4.2
1979 Lance Parrish 548 19 6 8.9% 19.2% 0.276 0.343 0.181 113 4.2
2004 Vernon Wells 590 23 9 8.6% 14.1% 0.272 0.337 0.200 106 4.0
1981 Chet Lemon 383 9 5 8.6% 12.5% 0.302 0.384 0.189 154 3.9
2000 Adrian Beltre 575 20 12 9.7% 13.9% 0.290 0.360 0.184 116 3.9
2010 Ryan Braun 685 25 14 8.2% 15.3% 0.304 0.365 0.197 134 3.8
1987 Kevin Mitchell 515 22 9 9.3% 17.1% 0.280 0.350 0.194 121 3.8
2006 Ryan Zimmerman 682 20 11 8.9% 17.6% 0.287 0.351 0.184 112 3.8
1977 Ruppert Jones 664 24 13 8.3% 18.1% 0.263 0.324 0.191 108 3.7
2008 Joey Votto 589 24 7 10.0% 17.3% 0.297 0.368 0.209 124 3.6
2011 Matt Joyce 522 19 13 9.4% 20.3% 0.277 0.347 0.201 126 3.6
2000 Miguel Tejada 681 30 6 9.7% 15.0% 0.275 0.349 0.204 109 3.5
2008 Andre Ethier 596 20 6 9.9% 14.8% 0.305 0.375 0.206 134 3.4
1991 Luis Gonzalez 526 13 10 7.6% 19.2% 0.254 0.320 0.180 113 3.4
2009 Hunter Pence 647 25 14 9.0% 16.8% 0.282 0.346 0.190 117 3.3
1990 Ellis Burks 641 21 9 7.5% 12.8% 0.296 0.349 0.190 127 3.3
2000 Mike Sweeney 717 29 8 9.9% 9.3% 0.333 0.407 0.189 129 3.3
1976 Dwight Evans 571 17 6 10.0% 16.1% 0.242 0.324 0.190 112 3.1
1994 Ivan Rodriguez 405 16 6 7.7% 10.4% 0.298 0.360 0.190 112 3.0
1982 Harold Baines 668 25 10 7.3% 14.2% 0.271 0.321 0.197 109 2.8
2016 Stephen Piscotty 649 22 7 7.9% 20.5% 0.273 0.343 0.184 115 2.8
1999 Mike Sweeney 643 22 6 8.4% 7.5% 0.322 0.387 0.198 128 2.7
1988 Kevin Mitchell 566 19 5 8.5% 15.0% 0.251 0.319 0.190 119 2.6
1986 Darnell Coles 587 20 6 7.7% 14.3% 0.273 0.333 0.180 114 2.6
2004 Omar Infante 556 16 13 7.2% 20.1% 0.264 0.317 0.185 98 1.9
Since 1974, players under 26 with a walk rate between seven and ten percent, an isolated slugging percentage between .180 and .210, a strikeout rate better than 21%, and between five and fifteen stolen bases.

Non active players with fewer than ten wins are actually not that easy to find on Piscotty’s list: Darnell Coles didn’t work out, nor did Felipe Lopez really. Maybe Matt Joyce, Willie Upshaw, and Omar Infante don’t float your boat. They still had valuable seasons, but weren’t great fantasy forces, giving The Piscotty about an 82% chance of being useful going forward.

Here’s the problem with the list: There aren’t many stars here. While The Polanco was in a bin with Hall of Famers, we’ve got Adrian Beltre, Miguel Tejada, and Ryan Braun headlining this list. Braun and his complicated career aside, there’s a lot of defense helping the first two.

The names that pop out for me are Andre Ethier, Luis Gonzalez, and Mike Sweeney — useful players that had a couple star-level seasons among them, but were more back-end role players in a fantasy sense, at least in the normal year. Call it a high floor, low ceiling type of package, and you’ll probably evaluate him correctly going forward.

We hoped you liked reading The Change: Player Types with Duvall, Piscotty, Polanco by Eno Sarris!

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With a phone full of pictures of pitchers' fingers, strange beers, and his two toddler sons, Eno Sarris can be found at the ballpark or a brewery most days. Read him here, writing about the A's or Giants at The Athletic, or about beer at October. Follow him on Twitter @enosarris if you can handle the sandwiches and inanity.

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Metsox
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Metsox

Eno – Any comment on Duvall’s defensive value? He registered pretty terrific numbers this year. In fact, it appears he was the best LF in baseball by some measures. Obviously, doesn’t matter in fantasy but it does bear on his Dynasty value. Do you think that was likely something of a fluke, given his lack of a track record or obvious athleticism?