by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
No one is going to argue that there isn’t upside in the Marlins’ Christian Yelich. He showed it on the field in his rookie campaign and many are expecting growth in his sophomore season. It makes sense, given the previous hype (prior to 2013 Baseball America had him ranked as the #15 prospect while MLB.com had him at #13), but could he follow in the footsteps of the Brewers’ Jean Segura? First, let’s compare their rookie seasons:
|Christian Yelich (2014)||660||.284||9||54||94||21|
|Jean Segura (2013)||623||.294||12||49||74||44|
The numbers are very similar, outside of Segura showing more stolen base ability. The thing is, as we dive into the numbers even further the similarities don’t end on the surface.
Like Segura, Yelich saw a significant drop in power from the first half to the second and simply may not profile to hit for much power. Just look at the numbers:
1st Half HR
1st Half HR/FB
2nd Half HR
2nd Half HR/FB
Now keep in mind that Yelich plays in a significantly worse park for power hitters and the first half “surge” looks like a complete aberration.
The average looks even worse, as Yelich strikes out more (20.6%) than Segura (13.5%) and could see a similar drop in power. He does have the advantage of a greater line drive rate (21.2%) and he does have speed, but can he maintain a .356 BABIP? It’s certainly not a given, and a regression there coupled with a loss in power could send his batting average spiraling into the .260 range.
You also have the added concern about where Yelich will hit in the batting order. Thanks to the addition of Dee Gordon, the leadoff spot appears to be out of the question. As it is, with a drop in average there would be concerns about his ability to score runs. Hitting second, where he could be asked to give himself up and move the runner over? The concerns grow even more.
It will also limit his stolen base potential, though in that regard he may never have had the upside of someone like Segura. As it is, his career high in the minors was “just” 32, and it’s possible that 25-30 is his ceiling right now. Obviously there’s nothing wrong with that, but we shouldn’t go into the season expecting a potential league leader in the category.
While there’s going to be a lot of hype surrounding Yelich, fantasy owners need to take something out of the debacle that was Jean Segura in 2014. With a potential regression in both power (likely) and average, as well as the questions regarding his runs score and stolen bases, he simply is not a player to be overvalued.
Given the likely draft day cost, there’s no chance I own him in any format.
Source – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our early 2015 rankings:
- First Basemen
- Second Basemen
- Third Basemen
- Starting Pitchers
- Relief Pitchers
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