Will Kyle Blanks Hold Value In 2010?

Kyle Blanks is a player that I was very high on last season at the time of his recall.  Despite walking into a home ballpark that limited the potential of his dangerous bat and the lack of a true position (since Adrian Gonzalez has him blocked at first base), he had shown more than enough in the minor leagues to get you excited.  That’s what a career minor league average of .304 and back-to-back 100 RBI seasons can do for you.

Upon his recall he posted mixed results, though there is a lot of reason for optimism:

148 At Bats
.250 Batting Average (37 Hits)
10 Home Runs
22 RBI
24 Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.355 On Base Percentage
.514 Slugging Percentage
.325 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The batting average is the number that has to be concerning.  After showing in the minor leagues that he could hit for a solid average, he went out and struck out 37.2% of the time.  While making the jump from Triple-A is likely to bring about a jump, his career strikeout rate in the minor leagues was 22.8%.  At Triple-A his rate was 27.04%, though it was a small sample size (233 AB).

Even if you believe that the Triple-A mark is realistic, a 10% jump is very extreme.  Look for that number to come down significantly in 2010, probably to around his Triple-A numbers (at worst), which will allow him to hit for a significantly better average.  While it is not likely to be near the .300 he was hitting in the minor leagues, he should be able to post a manageable number.

He showed the power that he possesses, which certainly helps to offset his moderate average.  Of his 10 home runs, six of them came at Petco Park in 75 at bats.  If there was a doubt that he had the strength to hit the ball out of the spacious home ballpark, he alleviated it quickly.

While he hit just four of his home runs on the road (in 73 at bats), he did pick up seven of his nine doubles.  Give him a little bit more time and he could become one of the bigger power hitters in the game.  He’s already showing signs.

You also have to like the idea of him hitting in the middle of the Padres lineup.  While it’s not a strong lineup, joining Adrian Gonzalez should give him an opportunity to drive in runs in droves.

Last season he saw the bulk of his time hitting sixth, with the team not wanting to challenge the rookie too much.  That should all end in 2010, as the team simply needs to find a way to score runs.  They scored the second lowest number of runs in the league last season (638, for comparison the Yankees, who led the league, scored 915) and have done little to help improve the offense.

With no moves made, they are going to have to look for their youngsters to take the next step forward.  Look for him to open the season hitting fifth, a prime spot to make an impact.

Let’s take a look at what I’m projecting for him:

.260 (143-550), 23 HR, 85 RBI, 70 R, 5 SB, .306 BABIP, .343 OBP, .455 SLG

Those are solid numbers, but if he were in a different lineup or different ballpark, things would be significantly more encouraging.  Unfortunately, with the situation he is in, he is not going to be in a good position to score many runs.  What else would you expect with the likes of Nick Hundley and David Eckstein hitting behind him in the order?

Without that, it’s tough to consider him a usable option in shallower formats.  If you are in a five-outfielder format, he’s only a low-end option.  When you realize that there were 52 outfielders who scored 70 runs or more in 2009, the potential of him just getting to that mark, or falling below it, is certainly troublesome.  Throw in the lower average and little speed and he’s best left for keeper league owners or those in deeper formats in 2010.  In 2011 and beyond?  Well, that’s a whole different story.

What are your thoughts on Blanks?  Am I too pessimistic on him?  How do you see him performing?

Make sure to order your copy of the Rotoprofessor 2010 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide, selling for just $5, by clicking here.

Make sure to check out some of our 2010 projections, including:

3 comments

  1. Keith says:

    Blanks will one day lead the NL in HR.

    This year he’ll hit .265 with 27 HR, 75 R, 93 RBI, and 5 SB.

  2. Aaron says:

    I think this is a generous estimate on both of your parts. I think your projection is more his upside this year. Certainly worth a late round gamble but let’s not get ahead of ourselves before he proves himself.

  3. Randy says:

    Blanks is a tough one to judge given the short sample. When he makes contact, he knocks the heck out of the ball. 2 things scare me about him: 1. The Rate is wayyy too high. 2. Playing outfield is not natural for him.

    However, if AGon gets traded, which he should if the Pads want to get decent value out of him (a revamped minor league system should be the “value”), Blanks then gets dual eligibility.

    What I like most is his willingness to get better. He spent the offseason improving his diet, and he lost 15 pounds. If he’s willing to do that, he’ll be willing to do what it takes to improve the K rate, which should improve his BA significantly.

    Here’s my projections for the Big Guy

    .268 BA (with an improvement in the second half)
    24 HR
    87 RBI (who’s getting on in front of him? AGon? Headley?)
    65 R (even worse behind him)
    2 SB Would you give him a green light with past foot problems?
    .347 OBP

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *