We all have different conceptions of what is/isn’t gross. I hate mayonnaise. It’s the most disgusting thing and the mere sight of it makes me want to puke. Mustard too. I can deal with ketchup, but sometimes it makes me gag as well. I know, I’m a freaking weirdo. I don’t care. I don’t care. Grossness is triggered by any of the senses. Some can’t stand the sight of toe jam, while others cringe at the sound of nails scraping a blackboard. Smell can make one float in the air like Pepe Le Pew or barf like Stewie Griffin. I traveled to Hong Kong many years ago with my wife and one day she brought a bag of durian into the hotel room. Once she opened the bag, the smell. The god-awful smell permeated the entire room. It was straight-up chemical warfare. I keeled over into a fetal position, put a pillow over my head, and held my breath. I would rather die than smell another whiff of that fruit. Then my wife kicked my balls and inserted a piece of durian into my mouth. O. M. G. Heaven. Bliss. Which brings me to Robbie Grossman of the Detroit Tigers. He looks like shit and probably smells like shit after playing nine innings, but is there some savory sweetness for fantasy that can induce a chef’s kiss?

Grossman is 31 years old, 6′ 0″, 215 pounds, and bats from both sides of the plate. The Pirates selected him in the sixth round of the 2008 MLB Draft. In Single-A, he put up 13 homers, 24 stolen bases, and 127 runs scored with a 16.9% walk rate, 18% strikeout rate, and .294/.418/.451 slash in 616 plate appearances.

In 2012, he was traded to the Astros, released in 2015, signed with the Twins in 2016, then with the Athletics in 2019 before becoming a part of the Tigers for this season. Throughout his playing career, there wasn’t much to get excited about. Little pop, little power, little average, and the defensive issues prevented him from being a full-time player. Ewww, Grossman.

The walk and strikeout rates always remained good, though, and the OBP was often in the .340 or higher range. So why am I writing about Grossman today?

He is slated to be the leadoff hitter for the Tigers. He has also improved his defense over the years and is a switch hitter, so platooning may not be an issue. He could see the highest number of plate appearances in his career if everything goes well. Steamer has him projected for 535 plate appearances, while his prior high was 482 in 2019. This is not strictly a volume play, though.

Grossman made some tangible changes to his hitting profile last season. He hit fewer ground balls, more flyballs, and started pulling the ball at a higher rate. In 2018, the pull rate was 36.6%. In 2019, that number was 29.8%. Last season, it spiked to 47.7%. All the other plate discipline numbers point to a more aggressive approach at the plate. The chase rate increased 7% and he swung at 5% more pitches in general. He had career-highs in barrel rate, exit velocity, launch angle, and hard hit rate.

BARREL % EXIT VELO LAUNCH ANG HARD HIT%
2018 2.2 87.1 15.1 28.4
2019 2.4 87.7 12.2 31
2020 5.5 89 15.2 37.5

The sample size in 2020 was only 192 plate appearances, so there’s uncertainty if that can be maintained over a 162 season.

With that said, what if it can? The BABIP was .267 last season, so it wasn’t like he was getting lucky. There are tangible numbers to indicate that he made a conscious change at the plate while maintaining his excellent walk (10.9%) and strikeout (19.8%) rates. He hit eight homers and stole eight bases last season, which would have been close to a 20/20 pace.

He’s currently being drafted as the 405th player on average in NFBC drafts. It looks like shit, smells like shit, but maybe it doesn’t actually taste like shit. Regardless, the risk/reward is very favorable, and if he bombs, then there’s no problem tossing it in the trash and replacing him with someone else. TREASURE

 
  1. Laura Holt

    Laura Holt says:
    (link)

    Great work as always, Son! I’ve been oddly drawn to Grossman this season (then again, I also love mustard);mentioned him in my very first post of the year and don’t see what’s not to love about giving him a try at or even near his current price. Glad to see your data backs that up!

    • Son

      Son says:
      (link)

      Thx! It’s always good to be on the same side as the Queen of the Deep Dive. Agreed that the price makes it all good. Mustard. Ewwww

  2. OaktownSteve says:
    (link)

    When you mine the local press for Grossman news, there are a lot of positive narratives swirling around him. Fior a guy who hasn’t always had a roster spot coming into spring, getting a two year deal and being penciled into the lead off spot is a nice upgrade. He seems like he’s coming from a confident place. Then you factor in how hard it is to get steals this year, he should have a decent floor just from the speed. He’s a really good play in an OBP league.

    • Son

      Son says:
      (link)

      Agreed. You are well-respected member of the Razzball community, so I’m feeling good being on the same side as you.

  3. Foxman says:
    (link)

    “It looks like shit, it smells like shit, but maybe it doesn’t actually taste like shit”
    Mr. Robbie Grossman everyone!!!!

    Nice article Son, I will keep an eye out for this tainted fruit late in my draft.
    I just wish he knew how to spell Robby. What is up with the “ie”?

    • Son

      Son says:
      (link)

      Cut Robbie some slack. That’s on Mr. and Mrs. Grossman

  4. Harley Earl says:
    (link)

    Man, I had this guy a couple of times over the last few years. He just doesn’t sustain anything for very long. Maybe you’re onto something, and I hope you are. He seems like a hard working, solid player that deserves some success. That said, I’ll be watching from the sideline as I’m not yielding a spot on my roster for him. He’s just so “meh”

    • Son

      Son says:
      (link)

      He has been for sure but there could be something here. Only time will tell

      • Harley Earl says:
        (link)

        Yeah, I think you make some good points and I think he’s someone to keep an eye on. The batting order position and strong side of a platoon are key factors.

        I’ll watch him and maybe pick him up later if he’s available. Just can’t convince myself to invest having already tried him out a couple of times. I have other positions of greater need. But I can also see a nice return on what is basically zero investment here.

        • Son

          Son says:
          (link)

          For sure. A scorned lover I see. I get it. =)

  5. Rocky Colavito says:
    (link)

    he is sneaky valuable in OBP leagues

    • Son

      Son says:
      (link)

      Agreed. Cost is so cheap

Comments are closed.