by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Indians’ Lonnie Chisenhall has always seemed to have the fascination of fantasy owners. It seemed like people saw some type of untapped potential and they were just waiting for him to actually show some sign of it on the field. Well in 2014 he finally cashed in as he posted the following line:
478 At Bats
.280 Batting Average (134 Hits)
13 Home Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.343 On Base Percentage
.427 Slugging Percentage
.328 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Now, as we look at the numbers again, did he truly “breakout”? Is he a player that we want to actually target entering 2015?
The fact is that it was actually a tale of two halves for Chisenhall, as he thrived in the first half and disappeared in the second:
- First Half – .332, 9 HR, 41 RBI, 39 R
- Second Half – .218, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 23 R
So what was the difference? Nearly everything to be honest. His line drive rate fell (25.3% to 21.5%). His BABIP plummeted (.371 to .270). His strikeouts rose (15.1% to 23.0%). It was such a stark change that we have to wonder if either one truly represents the “real” Chisenhall.
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle. Even in the second half his line drive rate was enough to post a strong average. There was no way to think that he could maintain his early season BABIP, but his second half mark justified a better result as well. From 2011-2013 at Triple-A he owned a .343 BABIP. That seems a bit high, both for the Majors and his lack of speed, but a mark in the .310-.320 range is reasonable.
For the strikeouts, the average mark of 18.6% is probably a good mark to expect (despite the way he got there). His 17.1% mark at Triple-A and 19.0% for his career tell us that.
You put those two numbers together and you get a .265ish type hitter. Not great, but also not awful.
When valuing Chisenhall a lot of it is going to come down to if you think the power is going to emerge or not. He showed signs in the first half and did add 29 doubles. Of course, his average distance on non-groundballs of 258.996 isn’t inspiring, nor is his 17 HR in 478 AB at Triple-A from ’11-’13.
Sure there could still be some upside at 26-years old, but expecting anything more than 20 (maximum), would be a mistake. If he surpasses that consider it a huge bonus.
The bottom line? Don’t read into his strong first half and think that he’s a must target player. Third base is weak, so if he’s playing every day (and that’s not even a given) there is value, but not enough to really separate him from the pack.
Consider him worthy of a late round flier, but there are gambles with higher upside worth taking.
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central, Baseball Heat Maps
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