by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Red Sox’ Xander Bogaerts has always been a highly hyped option, though it’s easy to argue that the production has never quite matched it. Fantasy owners don’t necessarily draft with that in mind, consistently reaching/overvaluing him with the thought that this will be the year the breakout occurs. Should we continue making that mistake, or would fantasy owners be wise to wait and instead take a high upside youngster who should be available significantly later in drafts? For this exercise let’s use the Brewers Orlando Arcia as a comparison, though there numerous examples/options that can be used.
While Bogaerts popped a .320 average a few years ago, he’s hit .294 and .273 the past two seasons. The big year came courtesy of a .372 BABIP so it should never have been viewed as repeatable, and a 20.8% career line drive rate helps to support the regression. He does make consistent contact (8.2% SwStr% in ’17), which helps, but a .280 mark appears more realistic.
Arcia hit .277 in his first full season in the Majors, though his plate discipline does leave a bit to be desired (12.8% SwStr%, 38.7% O-Swing%). That said his Whiff% shows a bit more upside:
- Hard – 12.88%
- Breaking Ball – 15.41%
- Offspeed – 14.29%
At 23-years old and with more experience, is it hard to imagine him improving across the board (specifically against fastballs)? Couple that with speed that should be able to maintain an elevated BABIP and he too profiles in the .280 range (as long as the strikeout rate remains in this range).
Verdict – Draw
While Bogaerts hit 21 HR in ’16, that number regressed to 10 last season. His 7.2% HR/FB is right around his career mark (8.1%) and he continues to be geared more towards groundballs (48.9%). Maybe he rebounds a little bit, but at this point he projects more as a 15ish HR threat.
As for Arcia, he delivered 15 HR last season (after hitting 12 HR in ’16). That said he too is more of a groundball hitter (51.6%) and with his speed that’s something we want to see. He’s not going to be an elite HR hitter, though he doesn’t have to be. Like Bogaerts, we’d expect in the 12-15 HR range.
Verdict – Draw
This is the real differentiator between the two players. While Bogaerts has proven to be able to kick in 10-15 SB per season, no one is going to question Arcia’s speed/upside. He’s stolen as many as 31 bases in a minor league season. While he only delivered 14 in 21 attempts last season, more experience should help him at least reach 20+ SB regardless of where he hits in the lineup. If he finds his way towards the top? We could easily see 25+ with 30 as a possibility.
Verdict – Arcia
Neither player is going to deliver a significant number of RBI, though Bogaerts may have a slight advantage. The bigger question is the runs scored and that solely comes down to where in the order Arcia is hitting. The Brewers need a leadoff hitter, but Arcia’s lack of walks may deter them from slotting him into that spot. If he can refine the approach and get on base regularly he’d at least match Bogaert’s potential and could even surpass it.
For now it’s Bogaerts with the advantage in the counting stats, though that could change.
Verdict – Bogaerts
As it is Bogaerts has the advantage in just Runs/RBI, so why pay a premium for what may not be a very big advantage (if there even is one)? Considering the shortage of stolen bases around the game, the idea of selecting Arcia gets that much stronger. Even if they were close you could argue Arcia as the better selection, but considering how much later you can likely select him it’s a real no-brainer.
What are your thoughts? Do you still believe in Bogaerts upside potential or are you willing to bypass him?
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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