by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Manuel Margot was generally regarded as one of the better prospects in baseball dating back to his days as a member of the Boston Red Sox. So it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he posted a strong rookie campaign, flashing his speed while showing growth in the power department:
487 At Bats
.263 Batting Average (128 Hits)
13 Home Runs
17 Stolen Bases
.313 On Base Percentage
.409 Slugging Percentage
.309 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Speed had always been considered his carrying tool, though 17 SB isn’t going to blow you away. He stole 32 bases between Triple-A in the Majors in 2016, and had posted 30+ SB in four of five seasons from 2012-2016. With experience and maturity seeing a jump in the number should be expected. While an expectation in the 25-29 range is fair, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him go 30+ this year.
Margot also displayed impressive plate discipline, with an overall 8.6% SwStr% and 29.0% O-Swing% (8.3%, 27.5% in the second half, respectively). Unlike most young hitters he also showed an ability to make consistent contact against all types of pitches (Whiff%):
- Hard – 7.70%
- Offspeed – 12.03%
- Breaking Balls – 13.86%
While those numbers all came together for a 20.0% strikeout rate, it’s easy to envision an improvement. His speed and a 23.2% line drive rate should also produce better than a .309 BABIP. Put it together and you get a .280 hitter with the potential to close in on .300 if luck really swings in his favor.
What’s left is Margot’s power, which is the biggest question mark in regards to his upside. It isn’t his best skill, though 10+ HR was always a fair expectation. He hit 6 HR in 507 AB at Triple-A in ’16, a year after hitting 6 HR between High-A and Double-A. A little surge in July/August (9 HR) skews the number, but at the same time he’ll be 23-years old in 2018 so seeing a slight increase in his power is a fair expectation.
He’s not going to be a 20+ HR threat, but is 15 a stretch?
It all comes together for the following 2018 projection:
.282 (155-550), 15 HR, 55 RBI, 85 R, 27 SB, .314 BABIP, .332 OBP, .442 SLG
While he’s not going to produce many RBI hitting atop the Padres’ lineup, he could easily exceed the runs scored considering the potential for a better average and more stolen bases. It’s a solid, across the board, line and one that many are going to overlook. Don’t make that mistake, as Margot could easily produce Top 30 outfield production and if it all falls right Top 20 marks.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings: