Baseball is a long and glorious season and as we near the finish line, I’m more inclined to push for a longer season* than a shorter one just because I don’t want to let go, but one of the downsides of the six-month grind is that some seasons go unnoticed. A big April can overshadow regression down the road and a bad one can leave the turnaround overlooked. Sometimes a guy just comes up midseason and never really hits the radar despite performing.
Here are three solid seasons you might’ve missed:
Hernan Perez [MIL, 3B/OF]
Perez didn’t suffer through a bad April because he only played three games that month. The issue with him is that he was just so far removed from anyone’s radar that if you’re not a Brewers fan, I’m not sure how you would’ve noticed him until the numbers reached a level where we all had to give it a look. Perez has been a counting category stud with 13 homers and 30 stolen bases and the most impressive aspect is that he has needed just 371 plate appearances to reach those marks.
In his previous 1600 minor league plate appearances from 2012 through April of this year before he was called up, he had 16 HR and 51 SB. All told, he’s a .664 OPS guy in 3172 minor league plate appearances. This season he’s put up is absolutely absurd and really highlights to power boom in the middle infield ($) this year. Perez has just the sixth season with at least 13 HR, 30 SB, and a sub-.300 OBP and his 371 PA are easily the lowest. All that to say, I don’t really buy it going forward. Or at the very least I think that if he is to repeat those counting numbers, he will need about 250 more plate appearances and I’m not sure those will be available next year, even with his shift to the outfield.
Ender Inciarte [ATL, OF]
Like Perez, Inciarte only played three games in April, but then he did suffer from a terrible start to his season lingering even as he turned things around. Inciarte took a meager .227 batting average into the All-Star break which left him essentially worthless on the fantasy landscape. He is a batting average/speed guy, but his stolen base output (20 per season) isn’t good enough to be a one-category fantasy asset. Billy Hamilton hit .226 in 2015, but his 57 SB total kept him on a roster in all formats throughout that season. Add in that Inciarte is on the bottom-feeding Atlanta Braves which made it easier to ignore him once he got off to the horrific start.
Inciarte came out of the break with hits in 15 of his first 16 games, good for a .339 AVG. In fact, he has just five hitless games in the second half – one of which was a pinch-hit appearance late in the game as a defensive replacement – en route to a .347/.397/.453 line with seven stolen bases (maintaining the full-season pace of 20). Additionally, the Braves have 266 runs scored (10th in MLB) with Inciarte logged 45 of them (a full season pace of 128). When his 2016 is reviewed, it’s going to be right in line with his 2014-15, but the stark contrast from start to finish left him somewhat hidden until late in August in many mixed leagues.
Ryon Healy [OAK, 3B]
Healy was never a top prospect coming up through Oakland’s system. MLB.com listed him 20th last year (they do dynamic lists in-season so I’m not sure where he ranked this year as he’s now used up his prospect eligibility) while Kiley McDaniel had him in the Others of Note that same season and then Dan Farnsworth slotted 21st back in March. The 3rd round pick out of the University of Oregon didn’t put up flashy numbers and was always on the older end of the spectrum for his level, but then broke out with a .326/.382/.558 line at Double- and Triple-A with 14 homers in 374 PA, four more than he had in 543 during 2015.
The performance earned him a call-up and he’s been a lineup staple since his arrival. A fast start (.825 OPS in his first 10 games) followed by the league adjusting (.698 through 28 games) no doubt left him on many wires by mid-August. He has been fantastic over the last month with a .380/.417/.602 line that includes 5 HR, 16 RBI, and 15 R in 115 PA. I get a bit of a poor man’s Stephen Piscotty feel from him (poor man’s because Piscotty had a lot more pedigree coming up) right down the fact that Eno Sarris really likes Healy, too. The A’s shifted a performing Danny Valencia to 1B/RF for Healy and I expect they give the 24-year old a clear path to playing time from day 1 in 2017.