Is Javier Baez Worth A First Round Selection? It’s Not A Given…

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Drafts aren’t easy… You can’t expect that just because something happened last year we will see a repeat of that the following year. There is risk involved and you don’t want to react too strongly in either direction. That brings us right to Javier Baez, and the question is a simple one…

Does Baez warrant a first round selection in 2019?

There is no disputing his success last season and based on those numbers alone, .290 with 34 home runs, 111 RBI, 101 runs scored and 21 stolen bases, the answer to our question is a simple one. So with that being said it makes sense that through 34 NFBC drafts so far this off-season Baez’s ADP is 12.69, with a pick range that goes from 6 to 22.

A first round pick should be as close to a sure thing as possible. We also know, that isn’t the case. Just because you select a player in the first round, or he is ranked as such or has the ADP to back it up, it doesn’t mean that he will return the expected value.

The next question then is do we think that Baez can repeat his performance in 2019, and then based on that where do we feel comfortable drafting him? For me it’s not in the first round, as Baez isn’t someone who I would like to form the base of my team.

That doesn’t mean he is going on my do not draft list. Based on what he did last season, his skill set, talent level and multi-position eligibility (second base, shortstop and third base), Baez makes a solid case for being selected in the early rounds of drafts. Just not in the first round.

Let’s take a step back to 2017. In 469 at bats he hit .273 with 23 HR, 75 RBI, 75 runs and 10 SB. I’d have a hard time finding many people who are going to have a problem with that performance. Based on that, his production last season in 137 more AB makes a lot of sense.

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Before we take it at face value, let’s take a look at a few parts of his game:

  • Starting with the easiest attribute to look at, by all metrics Baez’s speed is elite. Last year went a long way towards showing that he can translate it to results, and I would expect 20 stolen bases again moving forward.
  • And now to the weakest part of Baez’s game, his four percent walk rate. To say that limits his upside would be an understatement, and his value in OBP leagues is severely hindered.
  • Despite Baez’s batting average over the past two seasons, .273 and .290 (which no one will complain about), he has trouble making contact. Over the past three seasons it has been 74%, 69% and 72%. At this point it doesn’t look like there will be any change in that skill set.
  • Despite the 34 HR we saw last season there are still some doubts about his power. Baez’s hard contact metrics, per Baseball HQ, are slightly below average and it dipped even further in the second half of the season. Additionally there is a significant difference, and not in a good way, between his actual and expected power. While we are poking holes in his game, will Baez’s 24% home run to fly ball rate sustain?

It’s hard not to like the infielder and his skill set, but it’s also difficult not to have some questions. For me I’m not touching him in the first round, and the second round is going to be difficult. With that being the case I likely won’t own Baez in any re-draft leagues, but I’m not against the infielder this season. It’s just hard to feel confident in a complete repeat of 2018s performance.

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Order Rotoprofessor’s 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide for just $7.75!!  Click here for the details, but don’t miss out on the best bargain in fantasy baseball preparation.

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