by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Astros’ Yuli Gurriel caused some drama during the playoffs, for the wrong reasons, but he also played hero hitting .305 with 2 HR (as well as 7 doubles and 1 triple) to help Houston to a World Series title. Given the production it would be easy to get excited heading into 2018, but can we expect the postseason hero to produce? Let’s take a look:
Gurriel showed the ability to avoid strikeouts, with an 11.0% strikeout rate in 2017. That doesn’t mean he has a strong approach, as he posted a 3.9% walk rate and a 32.8% O-Swing%. The latter likely contributed to his pedestrian 18.6% line drive rate, a mark that was even worse in the second half (17.8%).
For a player without much speed, the lack of line drives could make it difficult for him to maintain his already average .308 BABIP. You also have to wonder if pitchers will start to throw him more offspeed pitches than the 12.49% he saw last season. Considering his 16.46% Whiff% against them, it makes a lot of sense.
It’s not to say that a significant falloff is in his future, but his .299 from last season is probably a best case scenario.
He did add 43 doubles and 1 triple, but he managed just 18 HR. At 33-years old, can we expect him to see an uptick in power? We certainly couldn’t call it impossible, especially having hit more home runs on the road (10) than at home (8). He was expected to hit for power, as noted by Baseball America prior to his jump to the Majprs:
He stays within the strike zone and uses the whole field, and with plus raw power on the 20-80 scale, he offers a balance of being able to hit for average, get on base and hit for power.
While we wouldn’t anticipate him suddenly becoming a 30 HR slugger, with experience would 25 be a shock?
The Astros have a deep lineup, but Gurriel could easily find himself hitting on the middle of it. That should give him the potential to produce an ample amount of runs, further adding to the appeal.
No one is going to confuse Gurriel with one of the elite, but even with a dropoff in average there’s upside across the board. While we wouldn’t want him as our starting first baseman, as a corner infielder or depth option he is well worth it.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, Baseball America
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