by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s easy to get excited about the impressive numbers Tommy Pham has posted. Through Thursday he’s proven to be an across the board contributor, entrenching himself in St. Louis’ lineup despite a crowded outfield:
The question, of course, is going to be if there is any chance that he can maintain this type of pace. While it’s not to say that he isn’t going to be a decent option, but at the end of the day the easy answer is going to be that a regression is almost certainly on the horizon.
Pham hit 72 HR over 3,109 PA over his minor league career, good for a home run once every 43.2 PA. This season in the Majors? He’s hit a home run once every 22.9 PA as he’s benefited from a 28.6% HR/FB. While we’ve seen older players develop power before (Pham is 29-years old), this is a significant shift and it’s not like he’s carried a fly ball rate to sustain it (24.5%).
Granted his 2.05 GO/AO is an extreme number, but it’s not like his 1.40 at Triple-A would shift our focus significantly. The fact his he’s never been known for his power, so seeing him slow down should be nearly a given.
The drop in power alone would cause his average to fall. At the same time, while his 25.0% line drive rate is impressive it’s still hard to imagine him maintaining a .390 BABIP. He has proven capable of making consistent contact, less power and a regression in luck is going to be a drop in average. Think more in the .270ish range, which is solid but a far cry from what he’s doing now.
So we are expecting his power to slow down and him to spend less time on base. How can you not expect the counting stats to fall off as well?
Sure he has a little bit of speed, but the surface numbers are a bit deceiving and given the alternatives the team has it’s easy to imagine Pham losing playing time when the regression comes. While “selling high” may not be the right term, since it’s hard to imagine getting a big return, it’s well worth exploring as his value will never be higher.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MILB.com
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