So far in 2019, Jurickson Profar has a slash line of .120/.170/.180. If you squint hard enough, you can see boo/boo/boo. As an Asian man, I don’t even have to squint at all. Anyways, he’s been brutal to start the season. As a result, his ownership in ESPN leagues has dropped from 89.6% to 77.7%. Trash or treasure?
For full disclosure, I wasn’t that high on Profar coming into the season. He was being drafted as the #123 overall player on average in NFBC drafts. My main gripe with him was the move from Globe Life Park in Arlington (one of the most hitter-friendly parks) to Oakland Coliseum (one of the most pitcher-friendly parks) for home games. With that said, he could be had for free or cheap right now. Steamer has him projected for 13 home runs, 8 stolen bases, 67 runs, and 61 RBI. Nothing to get naked and jump up and down in the street for, but in conjunction with the multi-position eligibility (1B, 2B, SS, 3B), someone to definitely consider.
Perusing all the data, I’d feel good buying low on Profar because it seems like a timing issue. The strikeout and swinging strike rate are similar to last season. He’s not chasing more pitches outside the strike zone. For pitches inside the zone, he’s swinging more and making more contact. And herein lies the main issue. He’s popping up a ton more this season. Fangraphs has the IFFB% at 31.3%, while the Statcast data has the PU% at 16.7%. For perspective, last season, those numbers were 12.6% and 8.2% respectively. Profar has a barrel rate of 0% and a hard contact rate of 23.8%. Translation? He’s not squaring the ball up.
When I look at the pitch type data, Fangraphs has 48.2% fastballs thrown, a 4% decrease from last season, and a 2% increase in both the curveball and changeup. Small sample size for sure, but early on, it looks like pitchers have been attacking Profar a little differently to start the season. It’s not like Profar is a wide-eyed rookie. He’s a vet now that’s experienced the adjustment process. He should get going at some point. TREASURE
Jason Heyward (28.1% – increase of 23.1%) was one of the most added players in ESPN leagues over the past week. I was so smitten with Heyward when he first made it to The Show. He was for sure going to be the Next Big Thing. Guess not. I’ve been so off the Heyward train that I was all set to write him off as TRASH and move on. But I saw some things in the data that piqued my interest. After being a murderer of gophers throughout his career, Heyward has joined the Launch Angle Revolution. According to Statcast data, Heyward currently has a launch angle of 19.3%. Since 2015, he had never had a number above 10.9%. As a result, the GB/FB is under 1.00 for the first time ever and the FB% of 50% is the first time above 36% in his career. The hard hit rate is at 39.3%. Heyward has been above 30% only two other times. When I look at the plate discipline numbers, the thing that jumps out to me is the increased aggressiveness. He’s swinging 8% more at pitches in the strike zone. In addition, he’s chasing 5% fewer pitches outside the zone. There will always be skepticism when it comes to Heyward because he’s been so bad for so long but…..let’s not forget that he’s still only 29 years old and is a mammoth of a man at 6′ 5″ 240 pounds. So far, it looks like he has a plan at the plate and is waiting for his pitch. The key has been that he’s been consciously elevating the ball to do maximum damage when he does swing. TREASURE, BUT I’M SCARED