Draft This, Draft That: Jeff McNeil vs. Matt Chapman: Who Is The Better 2020 Target?

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Not all decisions are easy, though team construction could help to swing your thinking if things are close.  When it comes to deciding between Jeff McNeil (average ADP of 86.58) and Matt Chapman (average ADP of 89.46) it would appear to be a fine line, but should it be considered this close?  Who Is the better draft day target? Let’s take a look:

Jeff McNeil – New York Mets

Part of his allure is going to be the positional flexibility, entering the year with eligibility at 2B, 3B and OF.  That helps with versatility, but is there enough of a bat to make that worth it?  He is coming off an impressive season, where he gave the appearance of someone who could control the strike zone and be one of the elite hitters in the game.  Over 567 PA he hit .318 with 23 HR, 75 RBI, 83 R and 5 SB, though when you look at the underlying numbers there is some concern:

  • SwStr% – 11.1%
  • O-Swing% – 41.7%

That doesn’t support the overall 13.2% strikeout rate, which rose to 14.9% in the second half leading to a .276 AVG.  You also have to question the power, which could be chalked up to the general surge around the game.  His 15.4% HR/FB wasn’t unreasonable, and after posting similar numbers in 2018 (15.1% at Triple-A, 14.3% in the Majors) it’s not completely unbelievable.

Without significant speed is it enough, though?  The risk of the strikeout rate rising, along with a modest 37.6% Hard% bringing questions about his BABIP, could he be more of a .290 hitter as opposed to a .310?  With 20-25 HR and not much speed his draft day price seems to become inflated more due to his flexibility as opposed to the upside.

Matt Chapman – Oakland Athletics

There is no question that Chapman brings more power, even playing half his games in Oakland, and hitting in the middle of the lineup he’s going to have RBI/R opportunities.  He’s coming off a year where he hit .249 with 36 HR, 91 RBI and 102 R over 670 PA, and everything about the underlying numbers scream of a significantly better average:

  • SwStr% – 9.2%
  • O-Swing% – 24.8%
  • Hard% – 45.3%

That should lead to better than a .270 BABIP, and after hitting .268 with 21 HR in the first half we got a glimpse of what’s possible over an entire season.  It’s possible he became infatuated with power, as both his fly ball rate (40.3% to 47.3%) and strikeout rate (19.0% to 26.0%) rose significantly.  His approach remained solid and even with the “regression” he’s better than a .250 BABIP (which is what he posted in the second half).

As a .260 hitter with the potential to go 35/100/100, the upside is clear.

Conclusion

While fantasy owners appear to be somewhat split on the decision, when you start to look at the numbers/metrics the choice should be clear.  Especially at their current ADP Chapman has the advantage and the overall upside is significantly higher.  If the decision needs to be made, he’s the one to target.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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