There’s some legit pitfalls to avoid this year. Maybe it’s like that every year, but this year feels more so than other years. With the juiced ball, how do judge people’s power? As I’ve said before, there’s one angle here where we just don’t worry about it, because if the ball is not juiced in 2020, it will not be juiced for everyone, so the very high plateau for power will just readjust for everyone. The one issue with that is the guys who we’re targeting who might’ve only looked good last year because of the juiced ball. For unstints, if Marcell Ozuna hit 29 homers last year, and, guess what, he did, he could hit 29 homers again in 2020 with a dry ball because the supposed ten feet extra on fly balls provided by juice is irrelevant for Ozuna. So, when you look at Lourdes Gurriel Jr. and his 20 homers in only 84 games, and start commiserating with Mr. Prorater about how Lourdes Gurriel Jr. could now hit 40 homers, you have to wonder if Gurriel only hit 20 homers because of a juiced ball and is really a 20-homer hitter across 162 games, as well. So, what can we expect from Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for 2020 fantasy baseball and what makes him a sleeper?
Would it shock you (and it should if you still have the ability to be shocked, you cynical bastard) if I told you Marcell Ozuna, on average, actually hit shorter home runs than Lourdes Gurriel Jr.? It’s not completely analogous because Lourdes hit fewer home runs, so there’s fewer in that average distance number. For unstints, Roman Quinn has a higher average home run distance than Hunter Renfroe and no one is confusing Roman Quinn for having more power. Lourdes Gurriel Jr. might not be the small-ball player you thought he was, though. He averaged 409 feet per homer. Even if the dry ball costs him ten feet, he’s hitting a lot of home runs. His wOBA of .363 is actually one point behind his daddy, Yuli, and just outside the top 40 overall. (Top 40 overall in baseball, not top 40 Gurriels.) Lourdes’s .264 ISO would be top 20 in the majors. Maybe we should start thinking of Lourdes Gurriel Jr. as a power threat, huh? Rhetorical, over-the-internet friend, that’s what this post is pretty much talking about. His 42.9% fly ball rate (35.7% is league average) would produce roughly 175 fly balls and if his 20% HR/FB holds, well, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. or Lourdes Gurriel Jr. for more home runs in 2020? Lourdes Gurriel Jr. is a pain in the ass because I feel like I have to write his whole name every time, but how much of a PITA is he gonna be for pitchers when he hits 35 homers? Looking for this year’s Ketel Marte? Think we’ve stumbled onto him. He has some swinging strike tendencies, which might cash out around a .250 average, but he’s also not an absolute zero on speed either. This feels like one of those sleepers, where you draft him, your leaguemates think you’re nuts, and Lourdes Gurriel Jr. ends up a top 50 bat. Remember, he’s only now entering his peak power years and his third year in the league. If he gets 550 at-bats, he’s going to have a huge year, juiced ball or not. Oh, and right now he’s penciled in as the three-hole hitter for a Jays lineup that could be sneaky good. For 2020, I’ll give Lourdes Gurriel Jr. projections of 78/28/84/.252/7 in 569 ABs and a chance for much more.