Waiver Worthy: Is The Reds’ Josh VanMeter Worth Our Attention?

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The Reds have recalled Josh VanMeter from Triple-A, a virtual unknown who has posted an impressive line at Triple-A in 2019:

.336 (37-110), 13 HR, 31 RBI, 27 R, 5 SB

Obviously speculation is now running rampant as to the potential impact he could make in the Majors.  Could he come reasonably close to matching those impressive numbers?  Could he make an impact?  Will he even get enough opportunity?  Let’s take a look:

Average
Is there anything unrealistic in a .320 BABIP?  He also has shown a strong approach:

  • Strikeout Rate – 17.6%
  • Walk Rate – 13.0%

His 7.8% SwStr% backs up these numbers and resembles his 8.5% mark last season (which led to an 18.7% strikeout rate and 11.1% walk rate, leading to a .260 AVG) split between Double and Triple-A.  The big difference is his power surge, as well as a slight bump in his BABIP (.304 in ’18).  While he isn’t going to be a .336 hitter, even at the highest level is .260-.270 a reasonable expectation?  It is, though there’s a little bit of a caveat…

Power
Last season he posted an 8.9% HR/FB, hitting 12 HR in the process.  He added 35 doubles and 6 triples, which did show that there was a potential for a spike in power, especially when playing in a favorable home ballpark.  This type of spike however?

He currently held an unsustainable 31.0% HR/FB, which is guaranteed to regress in the Majors.  That’s not a significant red flag, but his shift to a flyball-centric approach could have a negative impact (GO/AO):

  • 2018 – 0.97
  • 2019 – 0.58

A 48.3% fly ball rate could lead to a drop in his BABIP, and when the power regresses the ultimate impact could be significant.

Opportunity
It would appear that the Reds are recalling him to give him an opportunity, with Jose Peraza struggling.  He’s going to get a shot, and if he capitalizes on it he should find himself in the lineup moving forward.

Conclusion
It’s easy to get excited about the numbers, but the fact his he’s changed his approach could have a significant impact moving forward.  While we’d like to see him hit .260ish, it’s far more likely that he hits .240ish with 12-15 HR with regular playing time.  The thing is, those types of numbers aren’t going to lock him into the lineup.  There’s a better chance that he finds himself back at Triple-A then running with the role.

Sources – Fangraphs, MILB.com

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