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Initialists to lead in 2022

Image Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea – USA TODAY Sports

Translated by Pepe Latorre

Spencer Torkelson, Detroit Tigers

Over the past few seasons, our readers have been warned about the risk of drafting newcomers, especially those super prospects who are ready to spend the early days of the season in the minor leagues. Let’s call it “Vladito phenomenon 2019-2020”. Although Guerrero possessed enormous talent, his place in the concept only made sense if his performance was the maximum, there was very little room for error. Not that anyone thought it was not good. It’s just that he had to be really good at justifying the choice in the third or fourth round.

So let’s talk about Tork.

The former no. 1 draft pick progressed through three levels in 2021 and ended the season with 177 plate appearances in Triple-A. The batting average was not the best, but everything was different: 11 home runs and a .881 OPS. I do not think Torkelson needs much more time in Toledo. And that brings us to his conceptual situation. According to early NFBC poll, Torkelson is the 27th batsman to qualify to play first-round pick. Around rank 257. Back Abraham Bul and ready for Lou Trivino. There is a risk that Torkelson could be injured in the spring practice, which could delay his debut or force Detroit to keep him longer at Triple-A. But the cost of the concept choice is so low that it is an easy risk to take. There is no other butcher at this point in the concept that has the potential to be a four-tool as Torkelson projects. Picking up a lot of newcomers can be a bad strategy, but it makes sense when you pick up premium talent outside of the Top 250. – Mark Barry

Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics

After a rocky 2020, Olson had the best statistical season of his career in 2021. He hit .271 / .371 / .540 with 39 homers, 101 runs scored, 111 RBIs and four stolen bases. According to Statcast, he finished in the 95th percentile for maximum snout speed and the 87th percentile for hard contacts.

That Olson has a lot of power is not news, it is his improved discipline that can lead you to use a third-round pick on him. He lowered his takeout rate to just 16.8%, which is an improvement of 30% compared to the 25.2% he posted in 2019! He also increased his walking rate to 13.1%, a 3.8% increase from his 2019 level.

His contact rate of 83.4% on shots within the zone was a career best (not including the 28 APs he had in 2016) and the key to improving his discipline. He attacked the launches in the area in a more aggressive way than in previous years, especially those located in the middle. I think Olson will be able to sustain these improvements in 2022 and will continue to be a major resource in fantasy leagues using OPB or BA. If we add strength to this, we find a butcher who can produce in four categories like any of the best first-class men. In addition, PECOTA likes it and projects a similar production in 2022 but with the potential for more. – Tim McCullough

Yoshi Tsutsugo, Pittsburgh Pirates

Recently I wrote an article that focused only on him, so to mention it here can be like fraud. Although that may also be the purpose of this collective article. My main thesis: Tsutsugo went to the Pirates and started working. This is the kind of phrase we have not been able to formulate for most of the last few decades, so it’s getting weird. But it’s true. He hit .268 / .347 / .535 in his 43 games with Pittsburgh. It looks like a small sample, but it’s the second biggest since he arrived in the Major Leagues.

The main reason to trust that what Tsutsugo did late last year does not appear among the usual statistics or among the advanced. He was able to hit the big league fastballs, something crucial. The only reason I watched his performance against the straight was because of what Kazuto Yamazaki did on his excellent report published here at BP when Tsutsugo signed with the Rays before the 2020 season. Despite this, the NFBC poll places him as the 375th choice, a position that may not change too much as it does with other suspects as the drafts pass, but the talent it can be just as real and rewarding. PECOTA projects an OPS of more than .800 thanks to 45 extra-base hits. Yes please. – Timothy Jackson

Brandon Belt, San Francisco Giants

Despite being a bored 30-something from the Bay, Belt quietly rebuilt his career in the Majors. You are probably not aware of how good he has been on the board since the start of the 2020 campaign.

Statistics Band compared to the rest of 1B in 2020 (min. 150 PA) Belt compared to the rest of 1B in 2021 (min. 350 PA)
AVG .309 (4th) .274 (9th)
OBP .425 (2nd) .378 (4th)
BB% 16.8% (3rd) 12.6% (6th)
ISO .282 (6th) .323 (1st)
SLG .591 (5th) .597 (2nd)

For years, users in fantasy leagues have complained that Belt has not gained power. On top of that, he played in a pitcher-friendly park. That has changed. Combining his past two seasons, Belt hit .285 / .393 / .595 with 38 homers, 90 runs scored and 89 RBIs in 560 PA. It approaches elite-level production at the first base. For context: If we include Belt’s combined SLG (which was .595) among qualified first basemen in 2021, we find that he would be in second place, behind only Vladimir Guerrero Jr. That’s pretty good.

Currently, according to NFBC polls, Belt is selected as the 23rd best first baseman (231st overall). go behind Jonathan Schoop Y Alex Kirilloff, and I’m talking on average of more than 50 elections of difference with Kirilloff. It is difficult to know how many hit options currently exist.

Injuries were obviously a problem for Belt. He went on the list of disabled last summer with a right knee injury, which cost him more than five weeks of playing time. He was able to return in September and ended the season with .349 / .451 / .721. His knee looks good and although I have general injury problems, he was still the 25th best first baseman in the fantasy leagues last season with just 381 PA. If he can record 600+ record appearances in 2022, as he did in 2019, we can look at a top-10 first baseman in fantasy leagues. – JP Breen

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