by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Last season we saw the Indians’ Jose Ramirez emerge as one of the elite players in the game. It’s not fair to expect anyone to live up to that type of production, but could the Diamondbacks’ Brandon Drury enjoy a similar breakout in 2018?
Ramirez played last season as a 24-year, combining power with impressive plate discipline to produce a .318 AVG with 29 HR, 83 RBI, 107 R and 17 SB. Interestingly he wasn’t guaranteed a starting spot at the start of the season, a similar question facing Brandon Drury (though we’d expect him to find regular playing time at 2B).
Drury is the same age as Ramirez, meaning he will enter the year at 25-years old. That doesn’t hurt the comparison, especially with Drury showing similar extra base potential to Ramirez the year before his breakout:
Jose Ramirez (2016)
Brandon Drury (2017)
In 2016 Ramirez averaged an extra base hit once every 10.3 PA. Last season Drury was at an extra base hit once every 9.6 PA. Coupling that with the home ballpark tells us that growth in power is plausible. Given experience and development, along with regular AB, is seeing a jump into the 20-24 range a stretch? In fact, even more could be possible.
Drury doesn’t have quite the same plate discipline as Ramirez (5.4% SwStr%, 25.4% O-Swing% last season). That said his 9.9% SwStr%% and 30.8% is nothing to sneeze at. It led to an overall 21.5% strikeout rate, though he improved to a 19.4% mark in the second half.
He also did a good job of making consistent contact against all types of pitches:
- Hard – 8.53%
- Breaking Ball – 15.43%
- Offspeed – 10.06%
Like with the potential growth in power, these numbers coupled with maturity/experience could lead to an improvement.
He’s not going to be Ramirez-esque in terms of his average (and he also isn’t going to chip in stolen bases), but he’s proven he has a strong approach and can hit the ball hard (20.3% line drive rate in the Majors). Those two things combined should allow him to at least it .275, even without an improvement in his power. Coupled with the expectation that he hits a few more home runs as well, .285-.290 could be in the cards.
With it likely that Drury wins the second base job everything is pointing in the right direction. No one is going to expect Drury to post a stat line close to Ramirez’, but he has the potential to take a similar leap in production. Considering the likely draft day cost, Drury is a no-brainer player to target.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Projections: