by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s hard to label a player with 101 RBI as a disappointment, but you certainly can argue that the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara didn’t quite live up to expectations in 2017. Just look at the numbers he produced:
554 At Bats
.253 Batting Average (140 Hits)
20 Home Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.323 On Base Percentage
.422 Slugging Percentage
.293 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Outside of the RBI it’s easy to argue that he wasn’t a significant contributor in any category. The home runs and average were pedestrian while he offered no speed and was below average in terms of runs scored. That could easily lead to him being ignored on draft day, but is that really prudent?
First of all his age, as he will turn 23 in April, alone indicates that growth is possible. Mazara added 30 doubles and 2 triples while posting a 13.6% HR/FB. As it is he showed more power in the first half (12 HR courtesy of a 14.1% HR/FB) and opponents are shying away from throwing him fastballs (56.21%). Seeing a small bump to the 24-27 HR range, at the least, isn’t much of a stretch.
The bigger problem is in his average, as he hit .284 against fourseam fastballs and .292 against sinkers. While he was fine against changeups, everything else was a grind:
- Sliders – .198
- Curveballs – .207
- Cut-Fastball – .143
The problem seemed to sit with breaking balls, and it’s an adjustment he will need to make. Can he? It remains to be seen, especially after he hit .221 on sliders and .172 on curveballs in 2016.
You also have to factor in his struggles against southpaws, which has been consistent over his first two years in the Majors:
- vs. LHP – .231/.282/.295
- vs. RHP – .267/.333/.456
That screams of a potential platoon, though given his upside and talent it’s hard to imagine. We may just have to stomach the struggles, barring some maturation/development.
As far as the RBI, it’s easy to scream luck but a .336 BABIP with runners in scoring position isn’t unreasonable. Plus, if we are expecting a small bump in power it would offset any regression.
The runs scored should also improve, as he’s going to hit in the middle of the order once again. That doesn’t mean he is a 100 R monster, but even a bump into the 75-80 range simply due to better production around him would go a long way.
Are there risks in making an investment? Absolutely, though they are solely in his average. He is going to produce HR, RBI and enough runs to get by. With even a little luck the average should be .275 or better, so don’t look at last year and shy away. You should be buying for the upside.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 02/20/18|