Are We Buying The Hype: Is Josh Naylor A Breakout In Waiting?!

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When we discussed those who may benefit from the universal DH it was Wil Myers and Ty France who got the attention in regards to the San Diego Padres.  However a new name has emerged as a potential candidate, outfielder Josh Naylor.  Like Myers the revamped San Diego outfield would appear to limit Naylor’s opportunities under normal circumstances, but is the upside there to deliver if he does get the chances as DH?

Last season Naylor split time between Triple-A and the Majors, producing significantly better prior to his recall:

  • Triple-A – .314 with 10 HR and 42 RBI over 252 PA
  • Majors – .249 with 8 HR and 32 RBI over 279 PA

Interestingly he showed a good command of the strike zone at each level, despite a jump in his strikeout rate.  Just look at his SwStr% and Strikeout Rate:

  • Triple-A – 7.5% SwStr%, 11.9% strikeout rate
  • Majors – 9.1% SwStr%, 22.9% strikeout rate

It’s fair to say that he should’ve been able to carry a better average, with a 41.6% Hard% hopefully leading to better than last year’s .302 BABIP.  That all seems good, but there are two key questions that need to be answered:

1. Will There Be Enough Power?

Even at Triple-A he was more of a 20-25 HR hitter, which is hardly an elite mark in today’s game.  He proved to be a groundball machine, both at Triple-A (49.3%) and in the Majors (53.2%), with one of the worst launch angles in the game.  During his time in the Majors he posted a 4.5 launch angle, compared to the MLB average of 11.2.  That would’ve tied him for 244th out of 250 qualified hitters.

None of that makes it seem that he could maintain a significant amount of power, especially playing half his games in Petco Park.

2. Is He More Than A Platoon Player?

Interestingly the left-handed swinger actually produced better against southpaws last season, just look at the numbers in the Majors:

  • vs. LHP – .292 with 0 HR in 48 AB
  • vs. RHP – .239 with 8 HR in 205 AB

Including his time at Triple-A, 15 of his 18 HR came against right-handed pitchers so there’s no guarantee.

So what does all this mean?  Is there a reason to be excited about Naylor?  There’s going to be competition for at bats and the power simply may not be there.  In other words in the deepest of formats why not roll the dice, but in most leagues there are better gambles to take.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Savant, MILB.com

Make sure to check out all of our 2020 prospect rankings:

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PositionLast Updated
Catcher04/13/20
First Baseman--
Second Baseman04/15/20
Shortstop04/17/20
Third Baseman04/20/20
Outfield04/24/20
Pitcher--

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