by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Orioles’ Trey Mancini has generally flown under the radar, even as he rose through the minor leagues. That all changed last season, as he became a fixture in the lineup and ran up a strong line across the board:
.293, 24 HR, 78 RBI, 65 R
A career .306 hitter in the minor leagues it would be easy to just assume that he can continue to produce at this type of level. Is that a fair assumption though?
From a power perspective there’s nothing unrealistic in the overall number. Sure he posted a 51.0% groundball rate, but he’s a 25-year old (he will turn 26 prior to the start of the season playing in a hitter’s ballpark and posted a realistic 19.8% HR/FB. There is a little bit of risk, which we will get to shortly, but in general everything is slanted in his favor.
When we move to the average, though, the questions really start to build.
Considering the groundball rate and relative lack of speed would anyone be willing to bank on him replicating a .352 BABIP? A regression there is almost a given, and that alone brings significant risk. However there’s also concerns about his approach.
Mancini posted a 23.7% strikeout rate and 5.6% walk rate in 2017, and there’s the risk for those numbers to further regress. He owned a 13.8% SwStr% and 34.9% O-Swing%, and struggled against multiple types of pitches (Whiff%):
- Hard – 9.33%
- Breaking – 19.16%
- Offspeed – 23.99%
It should come as no surprise that he saw fastballs only 54.29% of the time. Considering his home runs mostly came on fastball variations, if opposing pitchers start throwing him even fewer fastballs he could see a regression there as well.
With the risk of a regression in his power and average, is it also a stretch to think that he won’t be slotted into the middle of the lineup? That would take out the potential for runs/RBI, two categories he already failed to thrive in.
We aren’t about to say that it will be impossible for Mancini to post strong numbers in 2018, but he clearly carries a lot of risk and you can argue that he’s never going to be among the elite. That means the risk simply may outweigh the potential reward.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball Reference
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: