Draft Day Decision: Nolan Arenado’s Stock Could Plummet In 2020…

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The Rockies’ Nolan Arenado has a well-known platoon split, but fantasy owners have generally been willing to overlook it due to just how great he is at home.  Just look at his splits over the past three years (2017-2019):

  • Home – .345 (303-879), 63 HR, 208 RBI, 186 R
  • Road – .270 (244-905), 53 HR, 150 RBI, 120 R

Obviously the road numbers would play, though they aren’t nearly as impressive.  The biggest change is in his average, though we also can’t ignore the drop in his power production.  With the talk of baseball playing all it’s games in one location, the advantage of playing in Coors Field could be completely negated.  This is all speculation at this point, as we wait to gain clarity as to what will happen with the 2020 season.  Still, it’s fair to wonder just how far his value could plummet if this plan does come to fruition.

It’s not strikeouts that have been an issue for Arenado, with a 16.6% strikeout rate on the road.  What’s been different is his “luck”:

  • Home – .356 BABIP
  • Road – .276 BABIP

He’s hitting the ball plenty hard while on the road (40.0%), though that doesn’t mean it’s all bad luck.  We have to remember the huge outfield of Coors Field, which Arenado has consistently been able to take advantage of.  There also are the questions about his power, which is solid on the road but not quite as impressive with a 16.0% HR/FB (20.7% HR/FB at home).

Without the thin air and vast expanses of the outfield, these road metrics stand out:

  • Flyball Rate – 44.6%
  • Popup Rate – 14.2%

Both of them are inflated from his home metrics (41.2% and 9.9%, respectively), and you have to wonder if he’s swinging for the fences a bit more to make up for playing outside of Coors.  It would still put him on pace for around 32-36 HR over a full season, but if it came with a .280ish average?  He’d still a great player, but not quite an elite one and his ranking would have to be adjusted:

In the latest 2020 Rotoprofessor Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide Arenado was ranked 10th overall (.298 with 38 HR, 115 RBI and 100 R).  What if we reduce that to .280 with 34 HR, 100 RBI and 95 R based on the road metrics?  That would definitely send him below not only Anthony Rendon and Alex Bregman on our rankings, but Jose Ramirez and Rafael Devers as well (meaning he’s falling just outside our Top 25 overall). 

Maybe Arenado is able to maintain a slightly better average or produce a few more RBI/R.  Regardless, without playing in Coors Field it’s obvious his value drops dramatically.  Figure him for around Top 20, at best, but closer to Top 30.  Keep that in mind as we await word of how the 2020 season will ultimately unfold.

Source – Fangraphs

2 COMMENTS

  1. Professor, that’s a great point. I wonder if playing in the hot, dry air of Arizona would negate his traditional road split somewhat?

    Actually, that would make for a fascinating analysis. If all games are played in Arizona and Florida, how do those parks play — and then based on that, what players might be over or under-valued?

    • That’s already something I’m doing the research on. This was the first in what will become a series of upcoming articles in time 🙂

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