by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The Cardinals’ Tommy Pham was one of the biggest surprises of 2017, emerging despite a crowded outfield and producing strong numbers across the board:
444 At Bats
.306 Batting Average (136 Hits)
23 Home Runs
25 Stolen Bases
.411 On Base Percentage
.520 Slugging Percentage
.368 Batting Average on Balls in Play
The BABIP jumps out, making you think the numbers aren’t sustainable, and he has a history of injuries that had devalued him previously. Do these things combine to form a player who shouldn’t be trusted heading into 2018, or is there the potential for him to replicate his success?
The BABIP would indicate a regression is likely, but he did hit the ball relatively hard (22.2% line drive rate) and he also showed a strong approach with a 7.6% SwStr% and 19.0% O-Swing%. Couple those, along with his speed, and it’s not impossible that he continues to post an above average “luck” metric.
He also should be able to maintain an improved strikeout rate (25.4% in the first half, 19.4% in the second), and could improve even further. All of that means he should be able to maintain a strong average, and while he may not be a .300+ hitter you should view .270 as his floor (with the potential to be significantly better than that).
Like his average the metrics would indicate that he can’t quite maintain last year’s mark. A 26.7% HR/FB would appear unsustainable, though he was relatively elevated throughout the season:
- First Half – 34.4%
- Second Half – 22.2%
Even that second half mark would’ve put him 21st in the league (his overall mark was 6th highest). It represented a home run once every 20 AB, so in a 600 AB season he’d still project out for 30 HR.
Couple that with any type of improvement in his groundball rate (51.7%) and he should still be able to hit 20+ HR (with 25+ extremely possible).
Stolen bases haven’t been a significant part of his game recently, maybe due to the injuries, but he’s shown it before. Maybe the team starts to limit him a little bit, but 15+ SB hitting near the top of the order is a fair expectation.
.284 (156-550), 24 HR, 80 RBI, 85 R, 19 SB, .330 BABIP, .390 OBP, .476 SLG
Maybe these numbers represent a step back across the board, but would anyone complain about this type of production? With the potential to be even better (think .290/25/25) and it’s easy to buy in. Let others avoid him due to fear of a regression, because even a “lesser” Pham is going to be a strong option.
Source – Fangraphs
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|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|