Finally, after months of waiting, the regular season is here. The pomp and circumstance of Opening Day on Thursday has come and gone, but we now have months and months remaining of the best game on Earth!
That means we have months and months to discuss who may or may not be some of the best dynasty keepers. This week, I am spotlighting three players who I actually think are all solid dynasty keepers but at varying levels of success.
Meadows was drafted 9th overall in the 2013 draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates and was a top 100 prospects every year he was in the minors. He was first ranked 45th in 2014 by MLB.com, 49th by Baseball America and 89th by Baseball Prospectus. He eventually rose as high as 6th by BA, 10th by MLB and 6th by BP in 2017 before finally making his debut in 2018 with the Pirates.
Bohm was a standout at Wichita State University, leading the Phillies to select him with the third overall pick in 2018. With the Shockers, Bohm hit .317/.393/.548 with 33 homers and 125 RBI in 166 games over three seasons. By 2020, he was ranked as the 28th best prospect by BA, 20th by MLB and 40th by BP.
Gorman is the youngest of this group, entering the season as a 23-year-old. Like Meadows and Bohm, he was a first-round selection as the Cardinals drafted him with the 19th pick in the 2018 draft.
Three players, all at three different stages of their careers. Meadows is nearly 28 and looking to recapture his form from earlier in his career. Bohm is entering the prime of his career and wanting to show his 2020 debut season was not a fluke. Gorman is trying to establish himself as a major leaguer after slugging his way through the minors.
Let’s get going and take a look at these three players.
The Detroit Tigers expected Meadows to anchor the offense last season after acquiring him from Tampa Bay, and for good reason. In 2021 with the Rays, Meadows hit 27 homers and drove in a career-high 106 runs.
But Meadows never got going last season, appearing in only 36 games and not playing at all after June 15 due to an Achilles injury, vertigo, and mental health issues toward the end of the season. When on the field, Meadows slashed .250/.347/.328 with zero homers and only 11 RBI. Compare those numbers to 2019 and 2021 when Meadows combined for 60 homers and 195 RBI in 280 games.
Who is the Real Meadows?
Meadows’ two best seasons came in 2019 and 2021, but when you look at his MLB percentile rankings, it looks like only one season should have actually produced good numbers. In 2019, he was clearly above average in nearly every hitting category, including a barrel percentage of 88%.
But look at his 2021 percentile rankings. Despite hitting 27 homers and driving in 106 runs, he wasn’t close to being the same hitter he was in 2019. His Max EV dropped 24% and his hard hit percentage fell 41%. That is pretty alarming.
New Dimensions in Detroit
Comerica Park will look a little different this year, and it may benefit Meadows. Center field is now 10 feet closer to home plate and the wall has been lowered from 8.5 feet to seven feet. The right-center field wall has been lowered from 13 feet to seven and the right field wall from 8.5 feet to seven as well.
This could be good news for lefty hitters such as Meadows, but only if he returns to form.
Bohm burst onto the scene in 2020 for the Phillies as he finished second in the NL Rookie of the Year voting, leading to high expectations for the 2021 season. Those high expectations weren’t realized, however, as Bohm struggled to a .247/.305/.342 slash line with only seven homers and 47 RBI in 115 games.
Bohm didn’t have a breakout season for Philadelphia last year, but it was more than acceptable as he slashed .280/.315/.398 with 13 home runs and 72 RBI. Over his final 68 games, he slashed .285/.321/409 with seven dingers and 37 RBI.
His xBA ranked in the 98th percentile and he was above average in most of hitting categories. Additionally, his career Hard Hit% is seven points higher than the MLB average.
Entering the 2018 draft, Gorman was viewed as one of the top high school sluggers. After being drafted by the Cardinals, Gorman quickly showed off his power as he hit 17 home runs at the Rookie and Class A level that year. He followed that power display with 15 homers as a 19-year-old at the High Class-A level in 2019 before slamming 25 dingers in 2021 at Double A and Triple A.
Hitting to All Fields
One of the concerns with Gorman was that he has a lot of swing-and-miss in his swing and that he can become too pull-heavy. Looking at his spray chart from last season, he showed the ability to drive the ball to all fields.
However, the strikeouts were certainly a part of his game as he had a 32.9% strikeout rate. He struggled against fastballs, hitting only .192 against the pitch with a .346 slugging percentage. Interestingly, he hit .264 against breaking pitches and .273 against off speed pitches.
As I mentioned above, I think all three of these players are still solid dynasty keepers. But if ranking them, I am going with Bohm as my top choice. First, he doesn’t strike out too often, posting a 17.4% strikeout rate last season, way below the MLB average of 22.9%. Second, his fly ball rate has increased every year.
During his rookie season he had a 15.1 fly ball percentage. That increased to 16.5% in 2021 and then rose to 21% last year. The increased fly ball rate along with a career average EV of 90.7 mph (MLB average is 88.1 mph), and it is not hard to image his home run rate climbing into the mid-20s or even higher as he is showing the ability to drive the ball to the opposite field.
This offseason I went out and traded for Bohm to add to several of my teams as I firmly believe he is going to hit for power, drive in a fair amount of runs, and is not going to hurt your slash line at all.
Gorman is not too far behind Bohm when it comes to who I would take first if all three players were available. I love his power potential that has been on display at every level he has played. But right now he is a man without a position.
A third baseman during most of his time in the minors, he is obviously blocked at that position thanks to Nolan Arenado. Meanwhile, the Cardinals are likely to use Brendan Donovan at second base, leaving Gorman to battle for at-bats at DH and at second when Donovan isn’t playing there. But if he gets most of his at-bats at DH, that is fine with me.
My biggest concern is the strikeouts. The 32.9% rate he had last season is excessive. And the strikeouts are not something that happened only with the Cardinals. During his minor league career, he had a 27.5% strikeout rate. If you don’t worry too much about a player’s slash line, then Gorman is a great dynasty keeper moving forward. But I like Bohm’s well-rounded game more than Gorman’s raw power but likely low slash line.
While I rank him behind Bohm here, I think he is being completely overlooked in ESPN and Yahoo leagues and even in Fantrax leagues. He is rostered in only 2.6% of ESPN leagues, 8% of Yahoo leagues, and 61% of Fantrax leagues. All three of those numbers are way too low.
Bringing up the rear is Meadows. One big strike against him is the fact he is now 27, turning 28 on May 3. He has had some really nice years, but he has had some horrible seasons as well. Is Meadows really the 2019 and 2021 versions he showed on the field, or the 2020/2022 version?
I don’t think it would be wise to write Meadows off yet, but I’m not convinced he is going to reach the level of his 2019/2021 production. Despite the new dimensions at Comerica, my hunch is he is going to hit 16-18 homers and drive in 60 to 65 runs with a .250 batting average. And that will basically be his level of production over the next few years, far below what I expect to see from Gorman and Bohm.
Thanks for reading.