by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Puig clearly took baseball by storm in 2013, causing quite a stir from fantasy owners. It certainly makes sense, when you hit .319 with 19 HR and 11 SB in just 382 AB. That said, I’m entering my drafts not expecting to come away with him in a single one. It’s not that I don’t think he’s going to be good, I just don’t think I have the man crush that many others have come down with.
First of all, as it stands right now the Dodgers are going to try and fit four outfielders into three spots. While that isn’t a major concern, given health issues and one of the options being Andre Ethier, it still could mean a few more days off than he’d generally get.
As far as the performance goes, there are an awful lot of red flags hanging out there. The two most notable ones, though, are in his average and power.
His .319 mark came courtesy of:
- 22.5% strikeout rate
- 19.1% line drive rate
- .383 BABIP
Everything about that trio tells us the average just isn’t realistic. First, the strikeouts which were consistent in the first (22.4%) and second (22.5%) halves. In 229 AB in the minors he owned a 16.8% mark, including 17.4% at Double-A, so it’s not an unreasonable expectation.
Of the 24 players who qualified for the batting title and hit over .300, none of them posted a strikeout rate above 22% (and only two were above 20%). In fact Marlon Byrd was the first person on the board with that high of a strikeout rate (he was at 24.9%) and he finished 35th with a .291 mark. In other words, unless he can improve his strikeouts .290 has almost already been taken off the table.
Then, you throw in an obviously lucky BABIP and there is serious concern. Even if he didn’t see such a dramatic split in line drive rate we’d be concerned:
- First Half – 23.9%
- Second Half – 15.9%
Now throw in that his minor league line drive rate was 14.4% and the issue is clouded even more. It would look like the second half could be closer to the truth, though that remains to be seen. The fact is it would more surprising to see him push .320 once again than to see him struggle to a mark in the .260 range.
He didn’t show much of a propensity for fly balls in 2013, posting a 30.7% fly ball rate. Instead he benefited from a 21.8% HR/FB rate. If he had qualified, that would’ve tied him for sixth in the league with Giancarlo Stanton. That alone should make us skeptical. Then you once again throw in his split:
- First Half – 28.6%
- Second Half – 18.6%
If that second half number is closer to reality, given the ballpark and lack of fly balls, he profiles more as a 20-24 HR hitter than someone who could push 30.
.278 (153-550), 24 HR, 80 RBI, 90 R, 18 SB, .321 BABIP, .358 OBP, .484 SLG
While it seems like I am against Puig, it’s not the case. At the end of the day I’m still projecting him as a five category contributor. However, that projection puts him more in the late third (and that could even be a stretch) vs. early fourth round, where I just don’t expect him to still be available.
There are just way too many risks and too much of a bust factor in the underlying statistics for me to roll the dice with an earlier pick. Maybe it’ll work out for whoever selects him in the second or early third, but I can promise you unless something changes it won’t be me.
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central
*** Make sure to pre-order Rotoprofessor’s 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide and be entered to win an autographed David Price mini bat! The guide comes complete with projections of over 575 players, expended rankings, sleepers, Top 50 prospects and so much more (including constant updates up until opening day). For just $6 you will get everything you need to dominate your fantasy league! For more information and to place your order, click here. ***
Make sure to check out all of our 2014 rankings: