Everyone is clamoring for a Daniel Palka post. Don’t even try to lie. I know how hotly contested this is gonna be. Fine! Daniel Palka is a bore, but let’s look at this way. Imagine everyone lining up every sleeper post ever written. What’s the number one sleeper post of all time? The November 1995 sleeper post about Brady Anderson and how a 16-homer hitter was about to hit 50 homers? A 2010 Jose Bautista sleeper post about how a 13-homer hitter was about to hit 54 homers? A 2000 Darin Erstad sleeper about how he was about to hit .355? Richard Hidalgo that same year about to hit 44 homers? Before each of those posts, they were snoozes too. Hence, sleepers! So, before you place your iPhone on the ground with this post open so your dog can rub its ass on Palka, let’s hold judgment. Anyway, what can we expect from Daniel Palka for 2019 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
The way I came to Palka was roundabout. Not Roundtree, that’s Shaft. Not while dancing, that’s polka. I was crushing info on Statcast for average home run distance. Palka drops bombs on your moms like Everlast. His home run average distance was 410 feet. For guys with 27 homers, he was third in the majors. If curious, Aaron Judge was at 397; Giancarlo was 405; Mike Trout was 407. That doesn’t mean everything obviously, but if I want home runs, I want room to spare like a talkative older lady who’s thinking about opening a B&B. For average exit velocity, Palka was ranked 16th overall. In a dead heat with MVPs, Yelich and Betts. His velocity on fly balls was 97.4 MPH, that’s 12th in the majors. Palka drops rocket bombs like he’s Kim Jong-un playing Battleship, but calls it Battership, which is what I’m going to start calling Palka. Raycess? Or just a little raycess? “Yo, who sunk my fastball into the 37th row in the upper deck?” Palka playing Battership! He had a 7.6 Wins above replacement on fastballs, for what it’s Werth. In only 417 ABs last year, he hit 27 homers, which was the 10th best HR/AB in the majors, about the same as Aaron Judge. I’m spending so much time on his power, because he doesn’t have a ton else to his game. He did steal 24 bags one year in the minors, but it was High-A, and, in that league, catchers are required to count ten Mississippis before throwing down to 2nd. He could swipe maybe five bags, but feels more like a three steal guy. His average last year was .240. That reminds me of the old joke, you know why cans of baked beans only have 239 beans in them? Because one more and it would be too-farty. Take it, Highlights! It’s yours! Steamer is projecting him for .230, but that feels low for a guy so proficient in Battership with his rocket bombs. Yes, he had a 34.1% strikeout rate last year, which was awful, but he was a rookie and showed better contact in the minors. He swung at 34.6% of pitches outside the strike zone, which was 60th in the league, bit better than Jean Segura and Starling Marte to grab two randoms. He doesn’t make a ton of contact on pitches in the strike zone, though, which is worrisome. Hey, it can’t be all good, you’d think I was lying to you. By the way, I love what you did with your rosacea. See, that’s lying! Due to his lack of inside-the-strike-zone contact, I’m not going to project him for a high average, but he hit .270+ in multiple stops in the minors with a much better K-rate. There’s real possibility here for him to put it together. But, worst case scenario, he still sinks some batterships. For 2019, I’ll give Daniel Palka the projections of 64/31/84/.247/3 in 479 ABs with a chance for more.