Angels are a bad team. Doesn’t matter for sleepers. Their home park doesn’t help. Oh em gee, I just thought of something: Mike Trout as a Rockies player for his career. He’d be wearing a SpongeBob Nascar jacket during his 2nd year with the team as he was inducted into the Hall of Fame. “Today, we welcome the 23-year-old Mike Trout into the Hall of Fame, on the back of the 680 homers he hit his rookie year.” Oh, who am I kidding? If Mike Trout were on the Rockies, he’d still be platooning with Raimel Tapia. “I’m looking forward to giving Trouty a chance out of camp,” says Bud Black as he doesn’t give Trout a chance. Any hoo! What I was saying is Jared Walsh is on a bad team in a bad park. The bad team thing actually could help, because who’s bumping him from the lineup? Albert Pujols? Pujols has been shite, British pronunciation, for five years now. Taylor Ward? I just jotted his name down, and even I think I made his name up. I.e. Jared Walsh will have playing time. So, what can we expect from Jared Walsh for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Jared Walsh has one of the bigger differences between FanGraphs’s Line Drive, Fly Ball and Ground Ball rates and Statcast, so, if you’re wondering, I’m using FanGraphs’s. The difference seems to come that Statcast takes pop ups (>50°) out of the fly balls, and FanGraphs has infield fly balls, which I think is more useful. Statcast seems to think all pop ups are made equal. I don’t see how this makes sense, since (almost stutterer!) pop ups are bad and fly balls can be good. Infield flies are bad, but outfield flies can be good, in theory. Okay, this is a long way of saying Jared Walsh’s batted ball profile numbers are 48.3% GB, 36.8% FB and 14.9% LD. Not the best numbers I’ve seen, but far from the worse. That was also in 99 ABs, so take those numbers as far as you’d like. I’d take them to dinner, but ask to split the check, if you follow, and, if you do, you’re paying your own way too.
Surprising (to me, at least), his BABIP was only .256 and he still hit .293. Helping float up his numbers are a solid contact rate (13.9% strikeout rate) and 79.2% Contact rate with a but of a slap-and-dash approach without that much of a dash (he’s not fast). Walsh could suffer from a willingness to swing at everything (4.6% walk rate) and contact. See, contact is good to a certain point. If you hit everything, there’s a chance you’re gonna hit some weak-sauce grounders and pop ups. Like doing number two in a public bathroom: You can hover above unwanted territory for a while, but your Contact rate is high for unwanted contact. So far, or at least last year, he avoided dragging his jeans on the ground through a puddle of urine. I’m still in the last metaphor. In other words, he hit the ball hard. 42.5% Hard Contact, and that would be top 15 in the league, right above Juan Soto. In fact, everywhere Walsh has played he’s hit the ball hard.
To muddy the urine puddle, on Statcast, he had a 10.2 barrels per plate appearance rate, which was top 12 in the majors. So, A) Don’t strikeout. B) Make hard contact. C) There’s no C. Circling back on A, there is a chance pitchers just had no time to adjust to Walsh in under 100 at-bats, and his K% could go up to minor league levels — near 27%. At his current ADP (around 190), Jared Walsh is well worth the flyer. One thing quite a few of my 2021 fantasy baseball sleepers have in common so far is they ain’t got a lick of speed. I will change that going forward or my name isn’t Grey Braciole Albright, the 3rd. The 3rd because that’s what the number on my deli ticket says. For 2021, I’ll give Jared Walsh projections of 79/24/71/.281/1 in 487 ABs with a chance for more.