Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Will The Real Trevor Story Please Stand Up?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Trevor Story was a fantasy hero in 2016, hitting 27 HR in 97 games, before injury struck and prematurely ended his rookie campaign.  Many hoped he would be able to replicate those numbers in 2017, but that simply wasn’t the case as he struggled from Opening Day and fell from must start status to bench option (and in shallower formats maybe even waiver wire fodder):

503 At Bats
.239 Batting Average (120 Hits)
24 Home Runs
82 RBI
68 Runs
7 Stolen Bases
.308 On Base Percentage
.457 Slugging Percentage
.332 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Even the power paled in comparison to his breakout campaign, with his HR/FB going from 23.7% to 16.2%.  Things are not always quite as they appear, and Story gave hope as the season progressed.  Maybe he’s not the player he was in ’16, and that shouldn’t be a surprise, but does it mean he’s a player to avoid moving forward?

The power picked up as the season rolled on, giving hope for the future:

  • First Half – 13.8% HR/FB
  • Second Half – 19.1% HR/FB

That second half number helped to lead to 13 HR over 248 AB.  It’s not much of a change, in reality (11 HR in 255 AB in the first half), but there was a clear change in approach and he saw his average rise from .224 to .254.  Still not a sexy number it’s a usable one, especially with the power, so what changed?  Just look at the approach:

Half
LD%
GB%
FB%
IFFB%
First18.2%29.9%51.9%15.0%
Second18.7%37.4%43.9%4.4%

It’s interesting that the power improved after he clearly stopped swinging for the fences.  While he struggled with his line drive rate he showed flashes, including a 27.9% mark in July and 20.3% in September (after a 23.6% mark in ’16).  Maybe that allows him to maintain his BABIP, but obviously we can’t expect him to improve on an already solid mark.

The real question comes down to his strikeout rate, as he posted a 34.4% mark courtesy of a 14.1% SwStr%.  It also isn’t just one type of pitch that he’s struggled:

  • Hard – 11.31%
  • Breaking – 20.70%
  • Offspeed – 22.75%

He really saw his Whiff% jump against offspeed pitches (13.14% in ’16), and even in his breakout he struggled to a 31.3% strikeout rate.  That’s always going to cap his value, especially with 26-30 HR a more reasonable expectation (instead of the 40 HR pace he had set for himself in ’16).  That means any regression in his luck is going to send him spiraling from a .250 hitter back down to the .220-.230 range.  That’s a huge risk, and one that’s not hard to envision.

At the end of the day is a power hitting shortstop going to hold value?  Absolutely, and that’s not suddenly going to change.  However expecting him to be a Top 5 option would be misguided due to the risk in his average.  He’s a borderline starter and a perfect fit for a team that needs power, but isn’t concerned about their average as his upside there is limited at best.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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