Players To Avoid: Is Jonathan Villar Destined To Disappoint In 2019?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Whether he was playing for the Brewers or the Orioles, Jonathan Villar was ultimately a productive player who helped fantasy owners across the board.  There are a few reasons why you may have overlooked the numbers, but would anyone complain about these results:

466 At Bats
.260 Batting Average (121 Hits)
14 Home Runs
46 RBI
54 Runs
35 Stolen Bases
.325 On Base Percentage
.384 Slugging Percentage
.339 Batting Average on Balls in Play

While the average was solid and his HR/SB production would put him in a special class, it doesn’t mean that fantasy owners should be willing to pay for it.  There are obvious concerns, much like the ones that plagued him in 2017 (when he hit .241 with 11 HR and 23 SB), and they ultimately could eliminate his value.

The issue is his approach at the plate, considering his 26.8% strikeout rate and 8.0% walk rate.  While he does stay inside the strike zone (30.8% O-Swing%), there is far too much swing and miss to his game (13.4% SwStr%) and his struggles have come against all types of pitches (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 12.85%
  • Breaking Balls – 13.35%
  • Offspeed – 21.15%

While he does have the speed to maintain an elevated BABIP and he wisely takes a groundball-centric approach (55.9% groundball rate in ’18), his 30.8% Hard% is uninspiring.  While we wouldn’t bet against him maintaining his .330ish type mark, with the strikeout rate it’s not enough to think he could improve his average significantly.  In fact, with any regression in his luck he could easily be a .240ish hitter or worse once again.

That’s an obvious knock, and with his inability to draw walks he’s never going to have a strong OBP.  For a player whose biggest value comes from his legs, an ability to get on base is obviously paramount.  We saw it in 2017 when he stole “only” 23 bases…  Obviously in this era, where stolen bases are down, that still holds value but it also comes at a significant cost.

The power is clearly real, with HR/FB of 19.6%, 19.0% and 17.9% over the past three seasons, and he should be good for 12-16 HR.  That helps, but it all comes back to the AVG/OBP, because without it the SB will be limited…  The runs scored will be limited (and it’ll already be limited due to a poor lineup around him)…  He’s never going to be a strong source of RBI…

At best we’re looking at a 2-3 category performer, but there’s also a good chance that he’s a 1 category guy who may not bring enough to justify putting in your lineup.  Who’s racing to invest?

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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Make sure to check out all of our 2019 projections:

Date Posted
Dylan Bundy10/22/18
Foltynewicz, Mike10/09/18
Gibson, Kyle10/29/18
Hoskins, Rhys10/16/18
Hosmer, Eric11/05/18
Wheeler, Zack10/02/18

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