by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Oakland A’s have Stephen Vogt penciled in as their starting catcher, but the lineup is fluid and it’s easy to envision him seeing a lot of time as the designated hitter. That’s not a bad thing, as it would open playing time for 26-year old Bruce Maxwell.
Maxwell got his first taste of the Majors in ’16 (101 PA), hitting .283 with 1 HR and 14 RBI. Those numbers aren’t going to catch your attention, but his line at Triple-A prior to his recall does:
.321 (62-193), 10 HR, 41 RBI, 27 R
Even more impressive was his ability to work the strike zone, with a 17.4% strikeout rate and 11.0% walk rate. Those are skills that he’s shown throughout his time in the minor leagues, and while the strikeout rate did jump in the Majors (23.8%) the underlying numbers don’t give reason for concern. Just look at the Whiff% by pitch type:
- Hard – 11.70%
- Breaking – 10.00%
- Offspeed – 10.71%
It was a small sample size, but it’s promising all the same. Maxwell wasn’t a highly touted prospect entering the season, and it’s easy to write off his Triple-A success since it came in the Pacific Coast League and he benefited from a .354 BABIP. They are fair concerns, as is the fact that his power likely won’t translate to Oakland.
He’s going to be calling a big ballpark home, and there is a red flag in his fly ball rates. Look at his GO/AO rates from the past few seasons:
- 2015 (Double-A) – 1.74
- 2016 (Triple-A) – 2.13
- 2016 (Majors) – 1.50
The Major League mark yielded a 52.2% groundball rate, to put things in perspective. Considering the ballpark, just how many home runs is he really going to be able to add ?
A career .266 hitter in the minors, that’s not a given as well. While he could be a decent source of average, especially from a catcher, thanks to his strong batting eye, there’s concern in regards to his power and playing time. As a deep sleeper for those in two-catcher formats? He’s worth stashing in that type of scenario. In other formats, though, he’s a hands off player simply to monitor off the waiver wire and little else.
Sources – MILB.com, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference
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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17|