Welcome to Miami, Jonathan Villar

Last week, Jonathan Villar was traded to the Marlins, which will be his third team in three years. For a guy who has posted six WAR in the last two seasons, that’s pretty surprising. He’s been quite the exciting power/speed contributor over the past four years, with double digit homers and steals galore. Will the park switch affect his offensive output? Let’s check the park factors to find out.

Park Factor Comparison
Oriole Park 103 96 88 107 98 100 101 103 99 101
Marlins Park 99 93 105 90 99 100 101 99 98 95

*Hit type park factors were adjusted given Villar’s switch-hitting, using a 69/31 lefty/righty factor split

Villar’s former home, Oriole Park, is more favorable than Marlins Park for singles and doubles. Marlins Park actually suppresses both hit types, while Oriole Park boosts singles and suppresses doubles a bit less. However, Marlins Park is significantly better for triples. That actually matters for Villar, who has the speed to take advantage, but because triples are the most rare hit type, it’s not going to move the needle on his overall production much.

Instead, the dip in singles and doubles factors could hurt his BABIP. That could be problematic because he has relied on an inflated mark throughout his entire career. He holds a .342 mark for his career, and has posted at least a .330 mark in each of his last four full seasons. Since his career average stands at just .261 even with that inflated BABIP, he needs to maintain such a high mark to continue being around neutral in batting average. Otherwise, he’s going to quickly turn into a negative in the category.

Oriole Park is one of the best home run parks in baseball, while Marlins Park is one of the worst. This is one of the biggest swings a hitter could experience going from one park to another. Villar has posted HR/FB rates in the high teens for four years running now, though it has declined marginally each seasons since his first full year in 2016. There’s serious risk here of a dramatic decline in HR/FB rate into the low teens. Depending on how much of his fly ball rate gains he holds, his home run total could dip back into the mid-teens or lower.

The strikeout and walk factors are nearly identical, so there shouldn’t be a park-related change there. Villar has done well to reduce his strikeout rate in the last two seasons from a peak set in 2017, while also increasing his walk rate.

Perhaps helping to counteract the weaker singles and doubles park factors, Marlins Park suppressed pop-ups, versus a slight boosting effect at Oriole Park. Fewer pop-ups is obviously good for BABIP. Villar actually just posted his lowest IFFB% since becoming a full-timer, so this move could help stave off a return to his double digit years.

Overall, this is clearly a bad move for Villar’s home run power. But most of his value comes from his steals, so his willingness to run on his new team is really the more important driver here. Unfortunately, we can only guess. For a team lacking in power, you would think he would be free to run wild, but you never know. That said, it’s highly doubtful he’ll come anywhere close to the 24 homers, 111 runs scored, and 73 RBI he produced in 2019. So unless he pushes that steals total well above 40, his fantasy value is going to take a hit, and possibly a serious one.

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.

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2 years ago

The Marlins are moving in the fences and installing a new turf for 2020, so everything changes.