by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We were in the minority entering the season, cautioning fantasy owners that Yaisel Puig had the potential to be significantly overhyped/overvalued. In the Rotoprofessor 2015 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide we said:
“Seeing Puig’s production take a step backwards should not have been a surprise, the question now is who the real Puig actually is. In the second half he hit .274, courtesy of a .333 BABIP, while adding 4 HR courtesy of a 7.4% HR/FB. The truth is that the average could be closer to reality, as he benefited from a .383 BABIP in ’13 and .370 in the first half of ’14. That said, there’s more power in his bat and he also offers some speed. We still don’t believe he’s as good as he looked in ’13, but he’s definitely better than his second half marks. Chances are people are still going to overvalue him a bit, given the hype, so be prepared.”
Injuries played a role in his struggles in the first half, but he’s still hitting just .261 with 4 HR, 14 RBI, 17 R and 1 SB over 161 AB. It’s a bitter disappointment, the question now is if there actually has become a buying opportunity for fantasy owners?
As we said his .274 second half average from 2014 was probably a more realistic number, so this year’s number is not unjustifiable… Except that the underlying numbers scream for an improvement:
- Strikeouts – 19.9%
- Line Drives – 22.4%
- BABIP – .314
The strikeouts are right along the lines of his 2014 season (19.4%), while the line drives are up (14.8% in ’14) and the BABIP is down (.356). Given his speed and jump in line drives it is fair to expect him to improve into the .280-.290 range with the potential for a little bit more.
How about the power? His fly ball rate has been consistent over the past year and a half (33.4% in ’14, 34.4% in ’15), as has his HR/FB (11.1% vs. 9.3%). However his overall average distance on non-groundballs is down:
- 2014 – 276.517
- 2015 – 262.095
In July the number has jumped to 279.910, so there is reason for optimism. Is he going to erupt for 15+ HR the rest of the way? It’s highly unlikely, though seeing him hit 8-10 in the second half (with maybe a few more if he truly gets hot) is not unrealistic. Throw in hitting towards the middle of the Dodgers’ lineup, leading to RBI/R opportunities, and there’s a lot to like. Would this type of line surprise you for the remainder of the season:
.285, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 35 R, 6 SB
There’s even room for more across the board, so now is the time to kick the tires and see what Puig’s owner is asking for. If they have grown frustrated, now is the time to buy. While he was likely overvalued heading into the year, he could be undervalued now and should be in line for a solid second half.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps
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