by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There were high hopes for the Rangers’ Nomar Mazara entering 2018, coming off a 2017 campaign that saw him hit .253 with 20 HR and 101 RBI over 616 PA. However, instead of taking that next step forward he instead appeared to stagnate as he missed time due to injury and finished the year with an incredibly similar stat line:
489 At Bats
.258 Batting Average (126 Hits)
20 Home Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.317 On Base Percentage
.436 Slugging Percentage
.298 Batting Average on Balls in Play
Was it really a stagnant season or does it set things up for him to emerge as a true post-hype sleeper? While the rest of your league mates may be prepared to label him as “overhyped”, now may be the perfect time to turn your attention in his direction. Let’s take a look:
While he actually finished with the same number of home runs, obviously it did come in fewer at bats. He also had a better HR/FB (13.6% to 20.0%) as the “problem” was a significant jump in his groundball rate:
- 2016 – 48.9%
- 2017 – 46.5%
- 2018 – 55.1%
The rate was relatively constant throughout the season (54.6% in the first half, 56.1% in the second), but he showed just how much power he has in the first half when he hit 15 HR courtesy of a 22.7% HR/FB. That was before injuries struck, and if he can stay healthy and put a few more balls in the air a 30+ HR season is going to be in the cards.
We can’t ignore his 50.0% groundball rate in the second half of ’17, but he also won’t turn 24-years old until the end of April. With experience and maturation we’d expect growth, and this year could be when he turns the corner.
Obviously improved power will help his average, and he also was hitting the ball harder with a 37.5% Hard% while showing a willingness to use the entire field (25.3% Oppo%). He also showed an improvement in his Whiff% against both breaking balls and offspeed pitches:
- Breaking Balls – 18.89% to 17.19%
- Offspeed – 16.53% to 12.62%
That’s an important step in the development of any young player, and just a little bit more luck (.298 BABIP) coupled with the other signs (the Hard%, for instance) and things should tip in his favor. That’s not to say that he’s going to be a .300 hitter, but he doesn’t need to be with improved power and RBI upside.
That said, we can’t ignore the split that the left-handed hitter has shown thus far:
- LHP – .235/.278/.351
- RHP – .267/.335/.452
He did improve his Whiff% against southpaws (14.29% to 12.55%) and he also maintained an improved Hard% against them last season (34.4%). Those are both promising developments and help to further support his breakout potential.
.275 (151-550), 25 HR, 90 RBI, 80 R, 2 SB, .314 BABIP, .337 OBP, .473 SLG
It’s easy to argue that this is a modest projection, with room for even more growth in his power and the potential to reach 100 RBI for the second time in his career. Now is the time to be buying, as the price may never be lower.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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