What makes fantasy baseball so interesting is that there are several ways to win your league. Whether you are a superb drafter or waiver wire warrior, there is one concept that is critical to success in this game. Surplus! What is this concept you ask? Surplus is the value returned by a player beyond their acquisition cost. The more you can squeeze out of an individual spot in the lineup the more likely you are to accumulate those precious statistics that you desire. In today’s hitter profile, we will look at a breakout player doing plenty to outearn his investment price. To make it fun, we will also predict the future and see who we should be looking to invest in for 2022 to duplicate the blueprint.
2021 Breakout: Tyler O’Neill
Tyler O’Neill has broken out in a big way in 2021 with the only limiting factor to his ceiling being the run production around him in the lineup limiting some of his counting stats. So let us break him down between his two carrying skills.
The first skill is the more obvious skill for Mr. O’Neill. Take one look at his physique that is somehow listed at a mere 5’11 and 200 lbs and you know he is a powerful human. On Friday night, he exhibited his power potential and crushed his 27th homer of the season. The majority of his longballs this season would be gone in any stadium and the power is a legit carrying tool. The downfall has been that the profile picture of that power card has come via the Pedro Serrano model and a bottom 3% strikeout rate. In pure Serrano style, the breaking pitch was a struggle in 2018 and 2019 hitting below .150 and whiffing at a rate higher than 50%. Turn the book into 2021 and the breaking pitch is now clicking at a .225 average and a low 40’s strikeout rate. While there is still room for improvement, those gains have forced teams to attack him more directly when he will capitalize on anything straight left up in the zone.
The second skill for O’Neill is a bit sneakier and that is his speed. For a strong guy, he can really move, contributing twelve steals on a 75% success rate so far this season. While this may come as a surprise based on the power we just discussed, feast your eyes on this:
O’Neill has the 15th best sprint speed in the majors this year and was seventh in the shortened 2020 season. Did anybody think he would be in the same conversation as Billy Hamilton when it comes to speed? Combine real improvements in the batting average supported by a real xBA uptick and what might be surprising speed, O’Neill’s breakout has been for real.
2022 Target: Jo Adell
Sporting the eighth-best sprint speed during the 2021 season Jo Adell has a mere two steals on the season. While it takes more than just speed to be a league leader in the category, this level of speed should be delivering mid-teens steals on a regular basis. The struggle? Getting on base enough to use that speed. Sporting a low walk rate and a dreadful .063 average on off-speed pitches getting on base has been a struggle. The profile is not too far off what we saw above with Tyler O’Neill. While the market may be down on Adell going into 2022, he is a few changes away from being a 20-15 player. Toss in some improvement in the launch angle as well? Then we are looking at the player the prospect pedigree projected.