3 Hitters With Possible Increased Value Based On Offseason Transactions (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
Last time we examined three starting pitchers with increased value on their new teams. This week, we’re breaking down three hitters with potential increased fantasy value, but two of them changed teams. The third hitter should have a boosted fantasy value with the ADP to reflect that with a corresponding move. Unfortunately, we won’t look at Marcus Semien, Corey Seager, or Starling Marte since they’re quality hitters with a solid track record. However, we’ll examine starters in deeper leagues based on their 2021 season, career stats, and what’s their fantasy value in 2022.
With Eduardo Escobar signing with the Mets, that boosts the playing time for Luis Urías at third base. Escobar totaled six home runs, 27 runs, and 25 RBI with a .268 batting average in 199 plate appearances with the Brewers. The .800 OPS doesn’t look too shabby either, as he typically batted in the heart of the lineup.
That’s an improvement in batting average from .246 earlier in the season with the Diamondbacks. However, Escobar accumulated the counting stats with 22 home runs, 50 runs, 65 RBI, and one stolen base in 400 PA before moving to Milwaukee. Throughout Escobar’s career, he thrived on accumulating a healthy number of plate appearances in 2018, 2019, and 2021 with 643 on average.
Eduardo Escobar just accumulates
-2018 – 631 PA
-2019 – 699 PA
-2021 – 599 PA
Amongst qualified hitters since 2018, Escobar ranks
-18th with 2,151 PA
-39th with 90 HR
-41st with 268 R
-14th with 312 RBI
Nothing flashy, but a solid 4-category contributor pic.twitter.com/TThDilY3Ew
— Corbin (@corbin_young21) January 10, 2022
So how does it impact Luis Urías? Honestly, it’s a mix of some positives and negatives. At the beginning of 2021, Urías batted leadoff for the Brewers before Kolten Wong arrived. Then with Escobar and Willy Adames coming to town, the playing time for Urías looked worrisome.
However, let’s look at the production. From April to July 11, while batting leadoff, Urías hit 12 home runs, 43 runs, 42 RBI, and five stolen bases with a .237 batting average. The .323 wOBA and 100 wRC+ look about average. Then from July 16 and beyond, he consistently batted towards the bottom of the Brewers lineup with an occasional game or two where he moved up. During that stretch, Urías hit 11 home runs, 34 runs, and 33 RBI with a .266 batting average. The wOBA improved to .365 with a 127 wRC+.
Part of the improved results involves the increased contact, evidenced by the 87% Z-Contact% and 82.7% Contact%. That increased from an 83.4% Z-Contact% and 78.2% Contact% earlier in the season. Urías’ barrel remained identical at 9%, but the line drive rate increased 2% with a 5% drop in F-Strike%, meaning he took fewer first-pitch strikes. Interestingly, the swing rates didn’t jump, so it doesn’t appear like a drastic change in aggressiveness at all. Even though the barrel rate remained the same, the season-long 9.3% (59th-percentile) reached a career-best.
Urías’s 2022 Value
Although we would love Luis Urías to move up in the lineup to accumulate more plate appearances, hopefully, the improvements in contact and barrel rates continue. After a possibly fluky 19 home runs in Triple-A in 2019, Urías lacked the power in the majors in 2019 and 2020 with four homers. With the consistent barrel rates throughout 2021, the near 20 home run power likely sticks in 2022. The slugging percentage rose in 2021, aligning with the spikes in wOBA.
Early STEAMER projections have Urías with 19 home runs, 65 runs, 69 RBI, and five stolen bases. The .255 batting looks decent, and it shouldn’t hurt fantasy managers. However, STEAMER only projects 564 plate appearances, less than the 570 from 2021. Regardless, Urías should have locked-in playing time at third base, with the chance to cover Kolten Wong or Willy Adames on rest days.
The tricky part involves the early Draft Champions ADP on NFBC at 169 near players like Anthony Rizzo, Ranger Suarez, Sonny Gray, and Alex Kirilloff. Although it’s nice to have the triple position eligibility, the ADP feels a bit rich for a player that could give you 20 home runs and five stolen bases with not many runs plus RBI. If, and it’s a big if, Urías can compile more counting stats, he could be worth the draft pick there. On the Razzball Player Rater, Urías finished as the 122nd ranked player, so the ADP adjustment seems warranted.
Ever since the years with the White Sox, fantasy managers chased the tools of Avisaíl García. After a solid 2019 campaign in Tampa Bay with 20 home runs, ten stolen bases, and a .282 batting average, García moved to a hitter-friendly environment in the Brewers in 2020 with a down season. However, like with many 2020 samples, let’s focus on the 2021 sample.
García battled some injuries in 2021, including a hamstring, lower back, and a bruised hand from a hit-by-pitch. We note that because García either dealt with injuries or lost playing time due to platoons. García reached a near career-high 515 plate appearances in 2021 with 29 home runs, 68 runs, 86 RBI, and eight stolen bases. The batting average sat at .262, but slightly lower than the career average of .270. The playing time looks in line with an average of 536 in four seasons, where García played at least 120 games.
Now on the Marlins, Avisaíl García should garner regular playing time as possibly their best outfielder with Jesús Sánchez, Bryan De La Cruz, Monte Harrison, and Garrett Cooper as possible options too. In the early Roster Resource depth charts, García slots in the three-hole.
Throughout García’s career, the exit velocities and barrel rates remain the strengths. With plate discipline, García regularly records below-average contact while chasing, evidenced by the 77.7% Z-Contact%, 68.1% in Contact%, and 41.8% O-Swing% in 2021. For context, the league averages in 2021 included a 31.3% O-Swing%, 84.6% Z-Contact%, and 76.1% Contact%. However, in the Statcast era, García reached a career-high with a 12.2% barrel rate (80th-percentile) and near career-best 116.7 mph maximum exit velocity (98th-percentile).
García typically uses a pull-heavy approach with the 44.3% Pull%, but it appears like an outlier 26.1% HR/FB% compared to the career rate of 17.3%. That makes sense since García averaged under 20 home runs from 2017-2019, then it jumped to 29 in 2021. However, the quality of contact in the 12.2% barrel rate and .452 xwOBAcon stood out – both metrics ended as career-bests throughout the Statcast era. The question remains whether García performs closer to 2017-2019 or 2021.
García’s 2022 Value
The elephant in the room involves the home ballpark change from the Brewers to the Marlins. From a Park Factor standpoint, the differences look notable. However, the Brewers home park doesn’t appear drastically hitter-friendly per EV Analytics. The Brewers park rates league average in wOBA at 1.00 (No. 12), tied with eight other parks.
Meanwhile, the Brewers rank 6% above average with a Home Run Park Factor of 1.06 (No. 13), that’s tied with the Rogers Centre. On the flip side, Marlins Park ranks second to last with a 0.96 wOBA tied with the Cardinals and Athletics. The same trend remains in Home Run Park Factor as the 5th-worst at 0.85, meaning they’re 15% below the league average.
Avisaíl García's 95.2 mph EV on LD/FB ranked No. 34.
García's max EV – 116.7 mph (No. 12). Outside of 2020, García's max EV ranked in the top 2% or better.
Barrel% of 11.6-12.2% in 2018, 2019, 2021
While I don't like the park downgrade (MIL ➡️ MIA), I love the skills. pic.twitter.com/IbzudqBCHM
— Corbin (@corbin_young21) January 10, 2022
That said, how does Avisaíl García’s fantasy value look in 2022? Like Luis Urías, García’s ADP sits inside the top-200 at pick 180 in early Draft Champions leagues. García goes near Hunter Renfroe, Robbie Grossman, Joey Gallo, and Nelson Cruz from a hitter perspective.
Early STEAMER projections have García with 23 home runs, 72 runs, 78 RBI, and nine stolen bases with a .264 batting average. The notable projection involves the 608 plate appearances, which would be a career-high. At García’s ADP, we’re buying into more and consistent playing time. Although he’ll provide 20-25 home runs with near double-digit stolen bases, the counting stats and power could suffer in Marlins Park.
When a 31-year-old hitter reaches career-best power numbers across the board, do we trust that heading into the following season? The Nationals made a sneaky acquisition for the veteran second baseman in César Hernández. After several seasons with the Phillies and Cleveland, Hernández never hit more than 14-15 home runs in 2018 and 2019.
Then in 2021, Hernández smashed 21 home runs, but it came with a career-worst .232 batting average. Before 2021, Hernández boasted a .277 batting average and a .339 BABIP in 3,543 plate appearances across eight seasons. With the career-low batting average, Hernández also logged a BABIP at .266 – the first time in his career that it ended below .313.
As noted in the graph with BABIP and wOBA from Hernández’s 2018-2021 seasons, we notice alignment since he possessed a high BABIP profile. However, it’s an understandable dip in BABIP in 2021 since he provided the additional power. It appears that Hernández traded line drives for fly balls with an 18.1% LD% compared to a career rate of 22.2%. Meanwhile, Hernández boasted a career-high 35.1% FB% with a career rate of 27.5%.
As a switch-hitter, Hernández sold out for power with the exit velocity numbers to back it up with a career-best 6.8% barrel rate (33rd-percentile) and 110.2 mph maximum exit velocity (72nd-percentile). However, we know that Hernández typically posted weak exit velocity numbers with a career 3.4% barrel rate. It doesn’t mean Hernández can’t provide power, but we hope it sustains, and he doesn’t completely give us a poor batting average.
Hernández’s 2022 Value
Early STEAMER projections have César Hernández with 14 home runs, 72 runs, 55 RBI, and three stolen bases. However, it appears they expect the batting average and BABIP to regress or sit lower like in 2021 with a .304 BABIP and .260 batting average. In the Nationals lineup, Hernández should hit second behind Lane Thomas. Although the overall Nationals lineup doesn’t look great, Hernández will have Josh Bell and Juan Soto following him.
Unless Luis García takes a massive leap on offense, César Hernández should have locked-in playing time atop a rebuilding Nationals lineup. Hernández remains a solid source of runs with a quality batting average later in drafts with an early ADP of pick 380. It’s not a sexy profile, but Hernández expects to have the opportunity to accumulate counting stats later in drafts.
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