Will Stephen Piscotty Breakout In 2017, Or Is That Just Wishful Thinking?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There’s a lot of hype surrounding the Cardinals’ Stephen Piscotty, with many projecting him for a 2017 breakout campaign.  Is it qualified, though, or is it more wishful thinking?  Let’s take a look and determine if he’s a player worth targeting:

2016 Statistics
582 At Bats
.273 Batting Average (145 Hits)
22 Home Runs
85 RBI
86 Runs
7 Stolen Bases
.343 On Base Percentage
.457 Slugging Percentage
.319 Batting Average on Balls in Play

 

Power
He took a step forward from his taste of the Majors in ’15 (7 HR in 233 AB), and with a 13.5% HR/FB along with 35 doubles and 3 triples there’s reason to believe that he’s going to take another step forward.  The question is if he’s going to see enough fastballs to get there.  The breakdown of his home runs from 2016 is telling:

  • Fourseam/Sinker/Cutter – 15
  • Change – 1
  • Slider – 3
  • Curveball – 3

It’s not uncommon for youngsters to thrive against hard pitches, the question is going to be if he can adjust, which is the same thing we can say about his average…

 

Average
While he hit for a strong average and the BABIP is believable, there’s reason for concern about his 20.5% strikeout rate.  He owned an overall 12.4% SwStr%, and he was particularly bad against non “Hard” pitches (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 10.80%
  • Breaking – 16.07%
  • Offspeed – 22.22%

It makes you wonder how opponents will adjust, and you would think that fewer fastballs will be on the horizon.  Could September be a sign of things to come, as opponents threw him 58.79% “Hard” pitches and he hit .262 with 2 HR?  He did see a similar rate of fastballs in August (58.91%), and he managed 6 HR, but he also struggled to a .240 average.  In both months he saw the strikeout rate rise, with marks of 26.5% and 23.5%.

 

Conclusion
Piscotty showed power in the second half, with 11 HR, but the average tumbled to .247 (.295 in the first half) as the strikeouts climbed (17.4% to 24.3%).  The big question will be how he adjusts and if he can improve against non-fastballs.  If he can’t we could see a power hitter, though a non-elite one (20-25 HR), with an average between .250 and .260 who is going to chip in a handful of stolen bases.  Sure there’s value, but not enough.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out our other Early 2017 Rankings:

Position
Standard League
OBP League
Catcher03/20/1702/28/17
First Base01/16/1703/07/17
Second Base03/22/1703/09/17
Third Base02/06/1703/12/17
Shortstop02/13/1703/15/17
Outfield#1-20 |03/16/17

#21-40 |03/16/17
03/19/17
Starting Pitcher#1-20 |02/27/17

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

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