by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
With Kevin Kiermaier facing a lengthy absence (he’ll be sidelined at least two months), the Rays will give Mallex Smith an opportunity to entrench himself as a starting outfielder. There’s no questioning his speed, having stolen as many as 88 bases in a season (and three years of 50+) and swiping 3 bags in his return to the Majors yesterday, but there is a question as to if he will produce enough in the other categories to warrant our attention.
Entering play on Friday he’s had 241 PA in the Majors, hitting .241 with 3 HR and 19 SB. Those numbers alone tell us that there’s cause for concern.
In 140 PA at Triple-A this season he posted a 19.3% strikeout rate and 5.0% walk rate, hardly an impressive ratio. While he was hitting .311, it came courtesy of a .373 BABIP. Speed or not, it’s impossible to expect any player to maintain that type of mark. Couple those numbers with a 24.1% popup rate and 12.2% SwStr% and it’s fair to be concerned with his ability to get on base.
Keep in mind his metrics in the Majors, which carry similar concerns:
- SwStr% – 12.1%
- Line Drive Rate – 16.5%
- BABIP – .302
Those have added up to a .241 average, showing that he’s hardly a lock to produce a strong average.
A relative void in the power department (61.9% groundball rate in the Majors), Smith could ultimately prove to be a one-category performer at best (and how many bases will he steal if he’s not getting on base). Of course the intrigue in that category should put him on radars, because if the luck continues he could find a way to be a three-category guy (AVG, SB and R). Don’t bank on that, but if you need speed he’s a good gamble to take.
Waiver Wire Guidelines:
- 10 Team Leagues – Add, but only if desperate for SB
- 12 Team Leagues – Worthy gamble
- 14+ Team Leagues – Must Add
- NL-Only Leagues – Must Add
- Keeper Leagues – Worthy Add (depending on league size)
Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|