by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Prior to 2016 the Yankees’ Didi Gregorius was viewed as a solid plug-in shortstop, but one who offered little in any one category. That started to change in ’16, when he hit .276 with 20 HR, and he furthered that breakout last season:
534 At Bats
.287 Batting Average (153 Hits)
25 Home Runs
3 Stolen Bases
.318 On Base Percentage
.478 Slugging Percentage
.287 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Gregorius has clearly started taking more of a home run approach at the plate, and while there doesn’t appear to be good luck there are some warning signs ringing quite loudly. Maybe he can continue his home run pace that he’s set over the past two seasons (12.1% HR/FB), but with it will come a potentially great cost.
His fly ball rate rose overall in ’17 (a career high 43.8%), and it also trended upwards as the season continued:
- First Half – 40.7%
- Second Half – 46.5%
With that increase came a bloated popup rate (20.2%) and he’s never consistently hit the ball hard (23.1% Hard% in ’17, 23.7% for his career). Even if he maintains his power pace there’s risk hanging over his average/BABIP (though it wasn’t a bloated mark), but if he continues to swing for the fences and sees a slowdown in his power the results will be significant. You can see just what the impact could be based on his home/road split, despite showing similar power marks:
- Home – .252 BABIP // .251
- Road – .319 BABIP // .321
Given what we know in regards to the popups and Hard%, it’s easy to lock in on which is closer to the truth.
Then you have his extremely poor plate discipline, as he posted an 11.4% SwStr% and 40.8% O-Swing%. Those numbers didn’t lead to more strikeouts, with a 12.3% strikeout rate, but it easily could (and helped to contribute to the low Hard%). It also led to few walks (4.4%), and that helps to hamstring him in regards to runs scored even further (especially with the potential drop in average).
It all comes together for the following projection:
.260 (143-550), 24 HR, 75 RBI, 65 R, 5 SB, .269 BABIP, .298 OBP, .449 SLG
It’s nice that he’s found some power, but coming off a season where power was regularly found regardless of position that’s a hard sell. With the risks of his batting average plummeting, thanks to poor discipline and a further drop in BABIP, and the runs scored going with it the risk far outweighs the reward. While others may be drawn to the power, don’t make that mistake.
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: