Breakout or Bust: Can Joey Wendle Take A Step Forward? Maybe Not…

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When we think of valuable multi-positional players is the Rays’ Joey Wendle the first name that comes to mind?  Probably not, despite coming off a relatively strong season where he hit .300 with 7 HR, 61 RBI, 62 R and 16 SB over 545 PA.

One of the biggest questions facing him is going to be the usage, though the left-handed hitter proved productive no matter who was on the mound:

  • vs. LHP – .299/.373/.437
  • vs. RHP – .300/.349/.435

While all seven of his home runs came against right-handed pitchers, he was actually more patient against southpaws (11.8% walk rate) while adding 8 doubles and 2 triples over 87 AB.  With his ability to play all across the diamond those numbers would seem to indicate that he’ll be in the lineup on most days.

That leads to the question as to whether or not he’ll add enough production to make him a worthwhile option.  Neither his power nor his speed stood out last season, and it’s hard to envision him taking significant strides in either.

It’s obvious power may never be a big part of his game (32.3% fly ball rate, 5.4% HR/FB), but seeing 16 SB with the state of speed across the game is going to open a few eyes.  That said this scouting report from Baseball America (prior to 2017) tells you that he may never surpass this type of mark:

He has average speed, but savvy on the bases allowed him to steal 16 bases in 20 tries last season, just below his 80 percent career success rate.

It would appear that his ceiling is more in the 15/15 type range (with 10/15 being a much more believable mark).  There’s nothing wrong with that, especially given his ability to hit for a strong average:

  • Oppo% – 29.8%
  • Hard% – 37.0%
  • SwStr% – 8.5%

He did stray from the strike zone a little too much (35.9%) and he likely won’t maintain his .353 BABIP.  That said he hits the ball hard and isn’t going to be prone to the shift, which should allow him to be a .285ish hitter (or better).

There’s value in this type of makeup (.285/10/15), and he’s a solid player to help fill out your squad.  That said there isn’t significantly more upside, and that is going to keep him more as a middle infielder (or depth option) as opposed to a player you want to trust.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball America

2 COMMENTS

  1. Wendle seems like a solid but unspectacular option. A 15/15 ceiling doesn’t really move the needle for me.

    I like Brandon Lowe as the Rays upside play this year. After getting a large extension, is it safe to say he is going to play every day? What are your thoughts on Lowe? He has been killing it this spring to the tune of .372/.413/.744. I know it’s a small sample size but his numbers from last year were also very impressive. The only person who I feel is safe at the top of the Rays lineup is Pham so is it crazy to think that Lowe could be moved into a significant role for them this year?

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