by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
At times The Phillies’ Nick Williams has been considered a “top” prospect, though one with questions hanging over him. The biggest issue has always been his strikeout rate, and while it looked like he may have corrected the issue those thoughts have been squashed.
Upon reaching the Majors last season he posted a 28.3% strikeout rate, after carrying a 29.4% mark at Trple-A. He still hit .288 with 12 HR over 313 AB so it’s easy to overlook the red flag, but that’s not prudent. You have to be able to make consistent contact to tap into any power, and right now we have to wonder if he’s going to be able to. Just consider these plate “discipline” marks from his time in the Majors:
- SwStr% – 19.0%
- O-Swing% – 44.6%
Those are ugly, and actually support a much higher strikeout rate. It actually gets even scarier, as these came despite seeing mostly fastballs as a rookie:
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Now what will happen as opposing pitchers change their approach, cutting down on the number of fastballs he sees? As it is he’s no lock to make contact, but as he sees more offspeed pitches and breaking balls the results could get ugly. A strikeout rate close to 35%, given the numbers we have, is realistic.
That alone is going to dramatically limit his appeal, and then when you add in that he benefited from a .375 BABIP during his time in the Majors? Suddenly we get the makeup for a player who is far more likely to hit .225 as opposed to .280 (or even .260).
Just to complicate matters even more, let’s look at his slashes against left-handed pitchers last season:
- Triple-A – .250/.294/.375
- Majors – .274/.333/.405
He was better in the Majors, but it’s not inconceivable that we are talking about more of a platoon outfielder (at Triple-A in 2016 he slashed .231/.253/.319).
So now we are looking at a highly strikeout prone player who could see his AB capped? Throw in a crowded outfield mix and this is shaping up more and more like a situation to avoid. It’s not to say that Williams doesn’t have potential, because he’s already shown that. However this is an ideal case where the risk simply outweighs the potential reward.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MILB.com
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: