2017 Projection: Is Willson Contreras Destined To Disappoint?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

No one is going to question the upside and potential of Willson Contreras, and given the state of the catching position it does make sense to “reach” for him.  You can make the argument that it’s exactly what’s happening, with a current ADP of 91.62 in NFBC formats, including being drafted as high as 65.  Is he worth a selection in the first 7-8 rounds?

 

2016 Statistics
252 At Bats
.282 Batting Average (71 Hits)
12 Home Runs
35 RBI
33 Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.357 On Base Percentage
.488 Slugging Percentage
.339 Batting Average on Balls in Play

 

Power
When you look at his 12 HR in the Majors and 9 HR at Triple-A prior to his promotion, it’s easy to get excited about the upside.  While he should be able to chip in some power, it’s easy to expect a regression (and maybe a significant one).  As it is he posted a 23.5% HR/FB during his time in the Majors, and his GO/AO gives the appearance of a player who is going to hit for limited power:

  • Triple-A – 2.27
  • Majors – 2.13

The MLB mark translated to a 54.3% groundball rate, and while there is power if he’s consistently driving the ball into the ground it’s not going to matter.  An interesting comparison could be Eric Hosmer, who posted a minor league career 2.01 GO/AO (2.18 in the Majors in ’16).  Hosmer has always been viewed as a player with potential, but he’s never quite lived up to the hype.

 

Average
Contreras saw a significant jump in his strikeout rate upon reaching the Majors, going from 13.3% at Triple-A to 23.7%.  Part of it is going to be due to an adjustment period, but Major League pitchers also may have exposed him (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 10.69%
  • Breaking – 20.78%
  • Offspeed – 22.31%

With the groundballs and not elite speed, you can question his BABIP (especially with a 17.9% line drive rate).  We know he can hit, but is he a .280 hitter or a .260 hitter?  There’s a pretty big difference, as it wipes out the advantage he had over the catching field (since he’s not going to post gaudy power totals).

 

2017 Projection
.268 (114-425), 17 HR, 60 RBI, 55 R, 5 SB, .315 BABIP, .334 OBP, .456 SLG

 

Final Thoughts
Obviously there’s a lot to like with those numbers, but it appears that owners are paying for what he did in ’16 and not what he will likely do in ’17.  It’s hard not to expect a regression, as he can’t keep up the pace he set a year ago.  He’s still ranked fifth on our catcher rankings (click here to view), so don’t take this as a slight against him.  Instead just realize that waiting a few rounds for a J.T. Realmuto or even later makes sense.  Contreras is good, but utilizing the early pick to fill another need makes sense as opposed to overpaying for a regression candidate.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, STATS, MILB.com, Baseball Reference

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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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