Sleepers don’t have to mean they put you to sleep, but in this case…Well…I mean…Yawns…Looks both ways at a red light, briefly dozes off…What were we talking about? Jorge Polanco! Right! Pure excitement! Exclamation mark after exclamation mark! Jorge Polanco came with large question marks prior to last year (in my mind, at least). Here’s what I said about him going into last year, “I know by heart most of the main stats from the main guys within a couple homers and ten to fifteen runs or RBIs. If you asked me Polanco’s home run total prior to writing this blurb, I would’ve started at 10 and went up by one until the audience at The Price is Right would’ve stood up, booing, and left the theater. Then, finally, when I found out he hit 22 homers, I would’ve looked up his stats at three different sites, not believing it. Then, finally, I would’ve said his HR/FB% must’ve been at least 25%, only to find out I was, like a good linens sale, roughly 15% off. Wow, Polanco hits lots of fly balls. I had no idea. That doesn’t bode well for his .295 average. I don’t know how to figure this out, but I bet his season last year was in the top 5% of the statistical anomalous, and I don’t even know what ‘statistical anomalous’ means. I just made it up. I guess what I’m saying if you had a guy who hit 44.4% fly balls and finished in the bottom 5% of exit velocity, it’s statistically impossible for him to have a .295 average. Though, that brings another point up, Polanco makes a good case against Statcast’s “line drives,” which are different than Baseball Info Solutions (which are used by Fangraphs), because Polanco had the 6th most “line drives” from BIS, but finished hideously for exit velocity, according to StatCast. If you hit .295, you have to think BIS’s ‘line drives” are more accurate. Okay, could someone text me their coordinates, because I just went down a massive rabbit hole and got lost.” And that’s me quoting me! What I feared would happen last preseason happened. His 2020 numbers were .258/.304/.354 and he hit four homers and stole four bags. So, why have high hopes for him this year? Or rather…So, what can we expect from Jorge Polanco for 2021 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Kinda want to throw out last year for Jorge Polanco. He was awful. His 2.8% Barrel% couldn’t be much worse. Something peaked my interest though, and after the last 500 words it’s about time we got to it. His Statcast similar batters are: Jose Ramirez, Charlie Blackmon, Christian Vazquez and Francisco Lindor. He had a .300 xBA on fastballs last year, and .289 the year before. Pretty consistent, right? His offspeed and breaking pitch xBAs were .216 and .158 last year after being .311 and .276. His BA on four-seam fastballs last year was .315, but his changeup average went from .312 to .229 year over year, and .270 to .167 on sliders. But behind those numbers are a combined .230 BABIP in a small sample. Runs above average on sliders was -4.24, and it’s usually positive, 1.24 the year before. All of this with a O-Swing% that went down and a Swinging Strike rate that went down. Whoa, who put my melon on a Lazy Susan, because my head is spinning. By the by, why’s it gotta be Lazy Susan? Susans are worker bees. Lazy Bob? Well, okay, you said it… In conclusion, Polanco got unlucky on breaking pitches, or just slumped for a month-plus and never had a chance to come out of it. Polanco is not suddenly a Bob. He had the same Hard Hit% and lowered his strikeouts.
What led me down the Polanco path — the Pathlanco — was the Steamer projections for him: 19 HRs, 9 SBs and a .272 average. A 20/10/.270 line where he’s going currently around 200th overall ADP sounds like a steal. Let’s take the projections of 20/14/.232. That’s Cavan Biggio, who is going in the top 50 overall. Strike “sounds like,” Polanco is a huge steal! Don’t want to believe Steamer’s projections? Good, neither do I in this case! I want to give Polanco more power than 19 homers. He does hit a lot of fly balls, as mentioned in the top ‘graph, and last year his HR/FB% was low for even him. At 27 years old, he’s just coming into his own, and could have a 25-homer season in him. Those nine steals projected by Steamer sound about right, but nine becomes 15 with just a hot month. Did I just say Polanco could be a 25/15/.270 guy? Yes, I did. Could with italics and underlined a few times? Sure, if you must. More likely…For 2021, I’ll give Jorge Polanco projections of 83/23/74/.272/8 in 572 ABs with a chance for more.