Will Franklin Gutierrez Be A 27-Year Old Breakout?

Franklin Gutierrez appears to be flying under the radar for most, though there are plenty of reasons to think that he could be on the verge of the prototypical age 27 breakout campaign.  Why?  Let’s take a look:

First, his 2009 statistics:

565 At Bats
.283 Batting Average (160 Hits)
18 Home Runs
70 RBI
85 Runs
16 Stolen Bases
.339 On Base Percentage
.425 Slugging Percentage
.333 Batting Average on Balls in Play

First of all, he’s going to be given the opportunity to excel.  The Mariners lineup was not very potent in 2009, but two of the biggest bats, Adrian Beltre and Russell Branyan, departed in the offseason.  That leaves a gaping hole in the middle of the lineup that Gutierrez, who was third on the team in RBI in ’09, should be given an opportunity to fill.

He spent the majority of his time in the second hole last season (221 AB), but with Chone Figgins being added to the mix and the Mariners in need of some pop means he’s going to be moved down.  In fact, he could potentially fill the cleanup spot (or the five hole, with Milton Bradley hitting in front of him) and, with Figgins and Ichiro Suzuki setting the table, should have plenty of opportunities to drive in runs.

There’s also the chance that he continues to hit second, with Ichiro moving down to the third hole.  That certainly could change things, huh?

Will the power develop a little bit more, however?  I know the home ballpark is tough for home run hitters, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t take a step forward (consider Jose Lopez had 25 and Branyan had 31 in ’09).  His HR/FB took a major step forward last season, but is still a very realistic 11.5%.  As he ages and potentially adds strength, you would think he could maintain that mark.

It’s the flyball rate that needs to be monitored.  Last season was the first time he got to play everyday, posting a 35.8% mark.  The prior two seasons in partial duty:

  • 2007 (271 AB) – 41.8%
  • 2008 (399 AB) – 40.8%

For even more, over his minor league career (934 AB), his flyball rate was at 41.8%.  You have to think that he will be able to post a better rate in 2010, which, coupled with his increased HR/FB rate, would easily result in a 20+ home run campaign.

The average is a very usable number and there’s no real reason to expect a huge dropoff from him.  Granted, the BABIP was slightly on the higher side, but he does have good speed and should be able to maintain a number at least reasonably close to last season’s.

Speaking of speed, there’s little questioning the idea that the Mariners will give him a chance to run.  They are a team built on speed and defense, so there’s certainly a good chance he builds on last seasons 16 stolen base (21 attempt) campaign.

The biggest concern is the runs scored, considering how weak the Mariners lineup is after him.  Just consider that the bottom of the lineup could easily feature Ken Griffey Jr., Reed Johnson and Jack Wilson.  Enough said.  Though, with his speed and some increased power, he should be alright (and hopefully they will utilize him in the upper part of the lineup).

Now, with all the backup in place, the 2010 projection:

.276 (160-580), 22 HR, 75 RBI, 85 R, 19 SB, .308 BABIP, .340 OBP, .447 SLG

I will admit to playing it safe with him, especially in the RBI department (the runs number is set thinking he ultimately fills into one of the top spots in the lineup).  Given the makeup of the Mariners lineup, he has the potential to significantly out produce that number.  You couple that with a solid average and almost 20/20 production and what’s not to like?  Considering where he’s going in drafts (ADP around 255), he’s someone I’m certain to target in five-outfielder formats.

What about you?  Is Gutierrez a player you think could break out in 2010?  What type of production are you expecting?

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  1. Will says:

    love him next question

  2. Quintilian B. Nasty says:

    He’s a guy I’m targeting later on in my league. I hope he has a higher OBP though since I play in an OBP league.

  3. PigBodine says:

    i’m surprised its taken this long to let the cat outta the bag with the big fragu. although he didn’t go 20/20 last season, he was very close (18hr/16sb)and all this was done very, very quietly. i’ve heard very little to no hype around him in this mockdraft season. another thing to consider, his glove will keep him in the line-up, this kid can really chase ’em down in thee field. oh yeah and he’s that magical age… 27. sign me up, but let’s keep it quiet.

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