Leody Taveras could’ve appeared in my fantasy baseball rookies series, but I wanted to put some extra shine on him, and, honestly, no one knows what constitutes a rookie this year. Sixto Sanchez received Rookie of the Year votes, and I think he’s eligible again in 2021. I say “I think” because the whole point of the last few sentences is no one knows! Right, so Leody Taveras, Wily’s son, Alex’s cousin, Frank’s brother, Jose’s uncle, Aneurys’s blood brother and Samuel Clemens Taveras, the celebrated frog of Taveras County. The Taveras family — La familiaras. Or not, I don’t know if Leody is related to anyone who’s played baseball before. Getting all the stuff I don’t know out of the way, so here’s what I do know: Last year in 119 ABs, Leody Taveras went 20/4/6/.227/8. Mr. Prorater runs into a phone booth, tipping it over, but still makes a call, telling us, “Leody was on pace for a 100/20/30/.227/40 season, and if everyone was eating stacked pancakes at the same time, it would cause an eclipse of the sun.” Okay, not sure about Mr. Prorater’s math on either of those accounts, but lordy Leody that was a solid month of baseball. So, what can we expect from Leody Taveras and what makes him a sleeper?
You don’t need me to Mr. Shaibel you through the ins and outs of strategy on how to move your pieces around to win your league, but let me just say the quiet part real loud: SPEED AND POWER MMM YUM. Got it, all you Normies and five Carlas? Leody Taveras is only 22 years old, so his power could be developing into more goodness, but let’s assume it is what it is as literally everyone said for like five years straight about six years ago. He has a 14.3 Launch Angle, which should lead to roughly a 37+% fly ball rate (it was 32.9% last year, but small samples). A 37% fly ball rate should lead to roughly 178 fly balls. Taveras is not built like a brickhouse. He’s built more like a Shed Long. But he has a 50 grade in raw power and who knows? Maybe he runs into 10% HR/FB. That would give him, you guessed it, 18 homers! We’re rounding. The bases, as it were. I’ll be honest, that feels optimistic. Steamer projects him for 13 homers in 133 games, and that feels optimistic too, but pessimistic on his games played. When all things are equal, 13 homers feels like a solid projection, but in more games.
Next up, his average. Last year he was bunking with Marla Gibbs at .227. (By the way, Leody is fast with a top 10% sprint speed, and why we care about his power and average. Okay, continuing on…) He had a 32.1 K% and if that were what to expect, I would tell you to forget about Willy Taveras Jr. But in the minor leagues, he regularly had a 15-17% strikeout rate and only barely dipped above 20% in Double-A (20.5%). He also had a 10.4% walk rate last year and 10+% at different stops in the minors. Lordy Leody didn’t show great plate discipline last year, but he can. He’s not Billy Hamilton. He doesn’t have 60+ steal speed, but won’t hit .180 either. He should have a .335+ BABIP and easily get his average above .250. If he does that, it’s hard to imagine the Rangers not instilling him as their leadoff man from the jump, and him having a year you’d want from Whit Merrifield, minus 30 points on average. For 2021, I’ll give Leody Taveras projections of 87/13/48/.253/26 in 587 ABs with a chance for more speed. Oh lordy Leody’s a sleeper!