How many Pollocks does it take to hit 20 homers, steal 39 bases and bat .315? 200 billion Pollocks. One, A.J. Pollock, to hit, and 199,999,999,999 Pollocks to run real fast to make the earth spin. Pollock’s year in fifteen-after-twenty couldn’t have went any better. On our Player Rater, he was the 2nd best outfielder behind Bryce Harper and in front of Mike Trout. Yes, that Mike Trout. The fish oiliest of them all. If you owned Pollock last year, you are a Serbian who purchased a Polish person at a flea market or you are a fantasy baseballer that enjoyed one of the best seasons of recent memory. Either way, you’d be more than happy with the Pollock’s output. Value-wise, things couldn’t have been much better. When I called him a sleeper last year, I foresaw great things, but even I couldn’t have imagined greatness that hadn’t been achieved by a Pollock since Ivan Putski. That’s why it’s real sucky that we’re not all drafting for 2015 again. Think of the advantage we’d have knowing what players would do! (Sadly, if we got together today and drafted a 12-team league for last year, eleven of us would still lose. Talk about depressing. Even more depressing, all twelve people drafting would think they’d win easily.) This is one of the biggest mistakes people make each year. Forget Aaron Hicks or Adam Eaton, let’s all draft guys that were good last year. I mean, how wrong can we go with that? Honestly, you won’t go that wrong, but you won’t go that right either. It’s a good way to find yourself right to the middle of your league with Malcolm and Monie Love. Anyway, what can we expect from A.J. Pollock for 2016 fantasy baseball and what makes him overrated?
Let’s break him down one stat at a time from his line last year of 111/20/76/.315/39. 111 runs is not entirely ridiculous. It’s not entirely repeatable either. Last year, he had 673 PAs. That’s more PAs than Michael Bay had on his last movie, but shy of James Cameron on Avatar. It was only 23rd in the major leagues last year, and, with Ender gone, Pollock will have less competition for everyday at-bats. That doesn’t exclude injuries happening, but I’m not going to say, “This guy will get injured and miss time,” that’s a cop out, which is bad, but not as bad as Cop Land or Cop & 1/2. Still, Pollock was third in the league in runs, that’s asking a lot. 101 runs would’ve been tenth in the league and that seems fair. Next up: homers. Here’s where I have some issues. Nine of his homers were Just Enough, and the average distance on his homers was 398.7 feet. That’s in the bottom third of the league for guys who hit at least 18 homers. It’s not obscenely low, but he could lose three homers there easily. More troubling, his Fly Ball rate was 29%. Here’s some names around him for fly ball rate: Alexei Ramirez, Kevin Kiermaier, Odubel Herrera, Gerardo Parra, Melky Cabrera, Alcides Escobar and Martin Prado. Bunch of real boppers there, huh? Know why those names give you the yawns? Because they don’t hit the ball in the air enough to hit homers. Pollock’s career HR/FB% is 10.1%. If he hits 152 fly balls like last year with all 673 of those plate appearances, he will hit 15 homers. Maybe he gets lucky on two more, but maybe he gets unlucky too and hits 13 homers. Lowercase yay. Next up, 76 RBIs. Pollock hit 2nd last year more than leadoff. This year, he’s penciled into the leadoff spot. The top guy in all of the majors for RBIs last year batting leadoff was Mookie Betts with 69 RBIs. Betts also doesn’t have the pitcher hitting in front of him for at least half the game. Pollock will be lucky to get 60 RBIs. Next up, a .315 average. He hits the ball hard, a decent amount of line drives and has speed. Not in the top 30 of the league for hard contact or line drives, but solid. He dropped his Ks and upped his walks. He makes a lot of contact with strikes (top 6 in the league), but doesn’t make nearly as much contact with balls outside of the strike zone (77th in the league) and will chase, so he has a flaw there that could be exposed. For instance, Goldy makes contact on 67.5% of pitches outside of the strike zone and Pollock on 67.2%, but Goldy only swings at 23.1% of balls while Pollock swings at 30.8%. I’d be lying if I thought this was a huge problem, but he feels closer to a .290 hitter. Pollock can spray balls all around the field like his first name is Jackson, but the average is coming down. Finally, his steals. He’s a year older, 39 steals was his career high, and crazy high for the league. It was the third most steals in the majors last year. One nagging injury that has him playing but not running, cuts his steals. He gets caught more often and sent less? It cuts his steals. He doesn’t get on base as much? It cuts his steals. Maybe David Peralta gets hurt and Pollock moves to the cleanup spot, will help his RBIs, won’t help his steals. The pitcher gets on base more often in front of him and he won’t steal as much. SAGNOF! Steals ain’t got no face, i.e., don’t pay for steals, i.e., a platoon of Yasmany Tomas and Jarrod Dyson on your fantasy team could give you Pollock’s homers and steals. All of this is to say, I’m not drafting Pollock, especially not at his current price tag, and even in Serbian flea markets this Pollock’s price tag is high.