Fantasy Fallout: Will Derek Norris Return To Fantasy Relevance In Washington?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

With Wilson Ramos hitting free agency (as well as working his way back from a torn meniscus and ACL, which will sideline him early in ’17), the Nationals acquired Derek Norris to help fill the void.  Of course if you simply looked at his 2016 numbers you would conclude that he’s more of a hindrance than a help:

415 At Bats
.186 Batting Average (77 Hits)
14 Home Runs
42 RBI
50 Runs
9 Stolen Bases
.255 On Base Percentage
.328 Slugging Percentage
.238 Batting Average on Balls in Play

It wasn’t long ago that Norris hit .270 with 10 HR in just 385 AB for the A’s (2014) and he is 27-years old (he’ll turn 28 before Opening Day), so simply writing him off would obviously be a mistake.  The question is, what exactly went wrong and is there any reason to believe that he can bounce back strong?

There has been a combination of things that have seen him regress so mightily.  The first would be that he appears to be swinging for the fences, which likely is causing part of his problem:

  • 2013 – 43.3%
  • 2014 – 35.3%
  • 2015 – 41.0%
  • 2016 – 43.0%

It’s not that it’s an extreme number, but you’d have to think that it’s notable that his best season came when he posted his lowest mark.  It’s also worth noting that it ballooned even more after the All-Star Break, jumping all the way to 47.9%.

You also have the poor BABIP, which is far below his career mark of .291 (he had been above .300 in each of the prior three seasons).  Considering his 21.9% line drive rate (21.3% in the first half, 22.9% in the second half) and 34.4% hard hit rate, there’s every reason to believe in a rebound there as well.

Then you have the strikeout rate, which ballooned to 30.3% despite a good command of the strike zone (26.5% O-Swing% in ’16, 24.9% for his career).  There was a surprising spike in his SwStr% (11.1%, despite a career 9.1%), and it was particularly worse in the second half (36.2% strikeout rate).

It all comes together for a nice buy low option.  Maybe he’s not quite as good as his ’14 line, but the potential is there for him to hit .260ish with some power and even a bit of speed (he had 10 SB in ’12).  Could a new voice in his ear get him to a 15/10 type line?  Could he finally live up to the potential?  It’s a gamble worth taking.

Source – Fangraphs 

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Standard League
OBP League
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

#21-40 |03/02/17
Relief Pitcher01/02/17--

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