Bologna gets a bad rap. Is it because of it’s association to baloney? Or maybe blame should be given to it’s American counterpart, the hot dog, which, because of it’s processed meat nature, is linked to type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, and high mortality. I sat in the all-you-can-eat pavilion at Dodgers Stadium and put down over 10 Dodger Dogs, and I’m still ticking. Doctor: Your blood pressure is abnormally high for a man of your age. Can you think of any reason why? Me: Nope, I eat an apple a day, so I’m still trying to figure out why I’m in your office. Hot dogs can’t be that bad, right? Dodgers Stadium sells them for $6.75 a pop and they sell around 2 million every year. Fine, they aren’t great for you, but they aren’t the worst. In fact, they provide some utility and have value. Just like Kevin Kiermaier, who was dropped in 8.4% of ESPN leagues the past week to bring his ownership down to 26.8%. Trash or treasure?
Grey always clowns Kiermaier, and for good reason. He’s played over 108 games in a season just once in his MLB career. In addition, while he will likely produce over 10 homers and 10 stolen bases, the journey to get there is so uninspiring that you wished the guy working behind the deli counter would smush you into a sausage casing.
Full disclosure: I’ve always been a Kiermaier guy. I’ve always been a Brett Gardner guy as well, so I have a type and there is obvious bias here. With that said, I will try and be as objective as possible in my analysis.
Currently, the walk and strikeout rates are near career norms. The ISO is a tad higher and so is the BABIP, so the .266 batting average could come down to the .250 range. Kiermaier is hitting more ground balls with few line drives and fly balls. Clown.
Looking at the plate discipline numbers, the chase and swinging strike rates are both down around 3% from last season, but are similar to the numbers from two years ago. The most significant change I see is in the contact rates, as they are the highest since 2015. Overall contact rate is right at the career average, but the contact rate in the strike zone is well above the career number. Hmmmm.
When I go over to Baseball Savant, I begin singing “My bologna has a first name, it’s K-E-V-I-N” to the tune of this. The barrel% is the highest of his career at 6.8%. So is the exit velocity at 88.4 mph. The hard hit rate is a whopping 41.4%. He had never had a rate higher than 32% previously.
Steamer has Kiermaier projected for 13 homers and 15 stolen bases in 111 games played. That ain’t bad. Last season, only 19 outfielders went at least 10/10. Kiermaier is playing almost everyday and is primarily batting sixth in the order. If you haven’t noticed, the Rays have a potent offense this season. They are 8th in wRC+, 11th in wOBA, 12th in SLG, and 10th in OBP. They are 16th in runs scored, 10 behind the 8th-place Braves.
Will Kiermaier probably get hurt? Yup. Would you rather watch paint dry then persue his box score? Yup yup. Do you like fantasy goodies? Then pick up Kiermaier for free and set it and forget it until he inevitably goes down with injury.