Earlier this week, I played guarantee fairy by marking guys likely to rebound or drop-off based on their BABIP differentials (actual vs. expected). Justin Morneau was a red flag because his expected BABIP is 34+ points lower than his actual BABIP, however this is the case for other Rockies, Brandon Barnes and Troy Tulowitzki even more-so. Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado are just behind Morneau as well. What I’m saying is that it’s a generalizable (Colorado) effect, and isn’t too much of a concern in Morneau’s case. The lineup stack probably exacerbates the effect as well.
On the other hand, while Prince Fielder is likely to rebound based on expected BABIP, the ground ball increase and hitting into the defensive shift is really hurting him, meaning I think his issues will somewhat sustain all year.
For this post (using this same matrix), let’s look at some MLB catchers and corner infielders to replace Matt Wieters and Brandon Belt long-term, and who should rebound at least from an expected BABIP perspective (<10% ownership on ESPN as of 5/12). Here is how I have them ranked:
1 – Josmil Pinto (1.4%)
2 – Yasmani Grandal (.6%)
3 – Mike Zunino (4.7%)
4 – Dioner Navarro (6.2%)
5 – Travis d’Arnaud (1%)
1 – Ike Davis (1.2%)
2 – Mitch Moreland (1.2%)
3 – Cody Asche (.8%)
4 – Mike Olt (3%)
5 – Mark Reynolds (7.9%)
6 – Matt Dominguez (2.4%)
7 – Mike Moustakas (7.6%)
Lost Matt Wieters? Whatevs…
You have a sundry of solid options: d’Arnaud, Zunino, Grandal, Navarro and Pinto. If I had to pick one for a 5×5 league, I would still have to go with Josmil Pinto or Yasmani Grandal. I wish d’Arnaud made believe he was hitting in the Pacific Coast League again. Or as I did in my Razzball Commenter League (RCL): Trade your catcher that you drafted i.e. Wilin Rosario + another asset or two for top-5 talent and then pick-up Grandal/Pinto or Zunino. Thanks for Paul Goldschmidt ‘Minnesota Mice’.
Grandal is the most likely to increase his discipline from here-on-out, and he’s shown impressive power (3 HR since 4/30), however I think Josmil Pinto is about to break out…again. He has 6 hits in his last 3 games, has the 42nd best walk to strikeout ratio in the bigs this year (it’s only his 2nd season) plus after Zunino, he has the best raw power from this group. The pop-up rate and line drive rates should come back to earth, which would both increase his value. If you’re in an OBP league, he could be a monster for you moving forward this year and I think he should be more of a .255+ AVG here-on-out too.
Navarro has an elite contact/swinging-strike rate this year, if you want a .285 catcher without the counting stats.
Sorry, but don’t bother with Mike Moustakas…
I had to remove C.J. Cron from my list as he’s approaching >10% quickly which is sure to rise with two homeruns in his last two games.
What about Mike Moustakas? First, let’s look at the good: Clearly, we should figure Moustakas’ .141 BABIP should approach his expected BABIP of .264 and while his K-rate jumped a little, he’s actually making more contact and whiffing less. The pop-up rate keeps decreasing too and the related flyball and homerun average distance shot up 15 feet from last year. However, he’s visually pressing, getting platooned and hitting into the shift. The shift effect in conjunction with his lack of speed and hard-hit% will continue to kill his BABIP.
No other CI on this list is effected the same way as Moustakas is from a defensive shift perspective. As of May 9th, per Jeff Zimmerman’s ‘Players Shifted Compared to Last Year’ list, only 24 big leaguers have been shifted against more than Mike Moustakas. HE HAS LESS HITS INTO THE SHIFT THAN ALL 24 OF THEM.
As the air heats up and the balls start flying (gosh I wish I owned the entire Colorado stack), keep an eye on Ike Davis who is showing solid discipline and heating up again; Cody Asche who is getting more at-bats even against lefties now and Mitch Moreland whose actually batting .301 (thanks to an elevated 31% line drive rate). I’d use all three in very deep 5×5 leagues as my utility guy unless I solely need homeruns where I naturally go with Mike Olt.
Follow Dano on Twitter @Rotobanter.