Will Eric Thames Provide Value In 2018 Or Is He Destined To Be A Bust?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

The Brewers looked like geniuses early in the season, as Eric Thames looked like the best hitter in baseball.  There was a steep dropoff, however, though that shouldn’t come as a big surprise.  Did anyone really expect him to maintain that April pace , as he hit .345 with 11 HR?

He didn’t hit more than 6 HR after that and the average was generally poor.  Of course the only number you really need to know was a 45.8% HR/FB in April, meaning the only way Thames could go was down.  At the end of the day no one is going to complain about 31 HR, though it came with a .247 average and from May on the power was pedestrian.  So what have we learned?  Is there any value or is he destined to be a non-factor?

His April success had come courtesy of an impressive 19.1% O-Swing%.  In the second half that was up to 32.2% and his SwStr% was 12.5%.  Those are probably more realistic numbers, and he also struggled to make consistent contact against breaking balls (18.10% Whiff%) and offspeed pitches (18.99%).  Those things give concern that strikeouts will continue to be an issue moving forward.

There are two other noteworthy splits that can’t be ignored:

 

1) Home/Road Power

  • Home – 19 HR
  • Road – 12 HR

Considering the home ballpark, is this a surprise?

 

2) Right-Handed Pitchers/Left-Handed Pitchers

  • vs. RHP – .265/.382/.551
  • vs. LHP – .182/.270/.394

The strikeouts were significantly worse against southpaws (36.9%), the walks were down (8.1%) and his line drive rate was unimpressive (17.2%).  Again, as a left-handed hitter the split shouldn’t come as a surprise but it does tell us that he’s going to be limited to being a platoon player and nothing more.

 

You put that together and we get a .240/25 HR hitter, but with a few key caveats:

  1. He’s a much better play at home than on the road
  2. If there are lefties on the schedule he’s virtually unusable

For a player who already has limitations, pigeon holing him into such a narrow usage window makes it that much tougher.  Will there be value when the schedule dictates it?  Absolutely, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find a similar upside option with less restrictions.  Let someone else pay for his strong April.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections:

Player
Date Published
Cano, Robinson10/09/17
Castillo, Luis10/03/17
Gerrit Cole10/30/17
Didi Gregorius11/20/17
Wil Myers10/24/17
Quintana, Jose11/13/17
Sanchez, Aaron12/05/17
Schoop, Jonathan11/27/17
Stroman, Marcus10/16/17
Walker, Taijuan 11/06/17

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