Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Can Kevin Pillar Build On His Solid 2019 Performance?

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We all know who the elite players are, but it’s those at the back of your roster who could ultimately prove to be the difference maker for your season. That’s what Kevin Pillar may have been, especially for those in five-outfielder formats, as he proved that he could produce across the board (mostly for the Giants):

611 At Bats
.259 Batting Average (158 Hits)
21 Home Runs
88 RBI
83 Runs
14 Stolen Bases
.287 On Base Percentage
.432 Slugging Percentage
.270 Batting Average on Balls in Play

The stolen base mark isn’t gaudy, but it’s a solid mark considering the state of speed across the game. There were 46 players who stole at least 14 bases, and only 17 who paired it with 20+ HR. Pillar has 14+ SB in five straight seasons, so it’s more the power that may have been a surprise.

He added 37 doubles, after producing 40 doubles, 2 triples and 15 HR over 512 AB last season. His 11.1% HR/FB isn’t outrageous, especially considering the power surge across the game. With the power and speed came runs and RBI, so exactly why wouldn’t we be enthusiastic about him moving forward?

For starters was the abysmal OBP, as he saw his already poor O-Swing% regress even further:

  • 2016 – 37.1%
  • 2017 – 40.1%
  • 2018 – 43.5%
  • 2019 – 48.8%

It’s hard to consistently make hard contact when you are chasing outside the strike zone, and that’s a highly concerning rate. Throw in that he’ll be 31-years old entering the season and could easily see his speed start to regress (he was successful on just 60% of his stolen base attempts in the second half), and the outlook doesn’t get any better.

Pillar enjoyed a strong season, but it’s likely the best we’ll see. With a poor approach and risk of a regression in both his power and speed, what exactly are we buying? He’s a low-end option and should continue to be viewed as such.

Source – Fangraphs

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