Sleeper or Bust: Will Daniel Palka Hold Value As A Late Round Buy?

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The White Sox Daniel Palka is gaining steam as a late round sleeper heading into 2019 drafts.  Considering his current average NFBC ADP of 314.57 it makes sense, especially considering this production in 2018:

417 At Bats
.240 Batting Average (100 Hits)
27 Home Runs
67 RBI
56 Runs
2 Stolen Bases
.294 On Base Percentage
.484 Slugging Percentage
.308 Batting Average on Balls in Play

It’s easy to be distracted by the impressive home run total, courtesy of a 27.0% HR/FB, but is that really enough to consider him a player worth targeting?  Even if we thought he could maintain that pace, which isn’t a given, there are two significant questions hanging over him.

1) Is he more than a platoon player?
Even as he was producing last season, the left-handed hitter struggled against southpaws:

  • vs. RHP – .249/.298/.526
  • vs. LHP – .200/.277/.293

He has shown more than that in the minors and he would at least be on the favorable side of the split, but it’s still something that would limit him.

2) Can he ever produce a strong average?
Everything in his makeup points to a strong “No”.  Just look at the underlying metrics from a year ago:

  • SwStr% – 16.9%
  • O-Swing% – 34.6%
  • Oppo% – 20.8%
  • Hard% – 36.4%

The Hard% is strong but not overwhelmingly so, especially since he’ll be prone to the shift (reducing his BABIP upside).  Then you have the abysmal approach with an inability to make consistent contact against any type of pitch (Whiff%):

  • Hard – 14.11%
  • Breaking Balls – 21.01%
  • Offspeed – 24.71%

So what does all this mean?  Maybe he can deliver 30 HR, though can he do it as part of a platoon?  Can he do it while hitting even .250?  He has the makeup of a Joey Gallo type player, though with less power, and that shouldn’t be seen as a strong investment.

Granted if you are late in your draft and need a power boost there’s value, but for most he’s better left ignored (especially how much easier it is to find power in today’s game).

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, NFBC, MILB.com

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