FACTS/FLUKES: Nola, Lamet, Marte, Bour, Gennett

Nola looking like an ace ... Aaron Nola (RHP, PHI) got off to a slow start in 2017, thanks to a back strain and some bad luck. He turned things around, though, and posted a 3.00 ERA over his final 18 starts. So what should we expect for an encore?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2015* 187  3.10  3.58  1.8   7.2  4.1  64%   9%  48/20/32  30  77   15%  105
2016  111  4.78  3.25  2.4   9.8  4.2  61%  10%  55/20/25  36  64   13%  146
2017  168  3.54  3.49  2.6   9.9  3.8  64%  11%  50/19/31  32  74   13%  135
2H 17 103  3.16  3.27  2.4  10.5  4.4  65%  13%  50/18/32  33  76   12%  153
*Includes MLEs

All signs point to continued success:

  • Nola's swing and miss stuff is obvious, and has been trending in the right direction. He'll be an excellent source of strikeouts again in 2018.
  • He keeps the walks under control, and an above average FpK indicates he'll continue to do so in the future.
  • He does a great job of keeping the ball down, so home runs aren't likely to become much of an issue for him.

Nola flashed intriguing skills in 2016, and the results followed in 2017, particularly during the second half. Armed with an ability to miss bats, keep the ball down, and limit the free passes, he has what it takes to be a front-line starter. Nola's D Health Grade is still a minor concern, but when he's on the mound, he is a great bet to put up excellent numbers. Therefore, owners should feel comfortable plugging him in at or near the top of their rotation.

 

Can Lamet take a step up? ... Dinelson Lamet (RHP, SD) was an immediate asset in the strikeout category following his call-up, recording a 15 percent SwK and 11.7 Dom in his first 11 starts. His 4.57 ERA wasn't much help, though, and the whiffs dropped a bit as the season progressed. So what should expectations be in 2018?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA   vL   Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV   
====  ===  ====  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2016*  85  4.11  3.47   N/A  3.6   8.9  2.5  N/A  N/A    N/A     33  69   N/A   97
2017# 153  4.26  3.60  .867  4.3  10.5  2.5  56%  13%  37/20/43  29  70   15%   91
*MLEs
#Includes MLEs

Lamet has a big arm, but still has some work to do:

  • His Dom and SwK are impressive, and foretell plenty more strikeouts ahead. His SwK did drop in each month, though (down to 11% in August and 10% in September), so don't count on a full repeat in that phase of his game.
  • Walks have been a problem for him throughout his young career (3.8 Ctl in minors), and things were no different in the majors, as his FpK was poor, and his BB% the eighth highest in the majors (min. 100 IP). He'll likely surrender a lot of free passes again in 2018.
  •  He was hurt by the long ball during his rookie year, and given his fly ball tendencies, the issue will probably continue to plague him.
  • Lamet was very effective against right-handed bats (.537 OPS, 4.1 Cmd), but left-handers gave him some fits, as his Cmd dipped to 1.7 against them. A sample of 253 plate appearances is still rather small, but for now, he looks increasingly risky against lefty-heavy lineups.

Lamet's strikeout numbers in his debut were pretty impressive, but he's going to have to improve in other areas in order to become a reliable fantasy asset. His ratios weren't very strong a season ago due to the fact that he walked too many batters, gave up a lot of fly balls, and couldn't quite solve left-handed bats. Gambling on the upside is tempting, but odds appear to be against Lamet posting a sub-4.00 ERA in 2018.

 

Marte still a top option ... Starling Marte (OF, PIT) fell well short of expectations after missing half of the 2017 season due to a PED suspension. Upon his return, his numbers didn't quite match those of his stellar 2016 campaign, but his bat came to life late, when he hit .371 in his final 23 games. Can he still be considered a safe early round investment?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd  SBO  
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  ===  ===
2013  510  12/41  .280  .259   4    73  51/22/28  36    98  116/98    12%  192  47%
2014  495  13/30  .291  .264   6    74  47/23/29  37   105  125/113   13%  166  32%
2015  579  19/30  .287  .283   4    79  54/24/23  34   101  103/94    19%  117  28%
2016  489   9/47  .311  .274   4    79  48/23/28  38   111   95/98     8%  147  46%
2017  309   7/21  .275  .249   6    80  49/21/30  33    84   57/77    10%  142  28%

A down year, yes, but Marte still has a lot to offer:

  • His power metrics fell off dramatically, and his 2015 hr/f looks like a clear outlier in the chart above. His past credentials suggest he'll show a little more pop going forward, though, and a full season of at-bats should yield 10-15 home runs.
  • His contact rate seems pretty well-established after the past three seasons, and he's shown the ability to consistently use an elevated hit rate to outperform his xBA. With a little more hard contact, another .300 BA is certainly within reach.
  • His SBO predictably slipped from his 2016 mark, but he still had a green light, and bumped his success rate up to a career best 85 percent.
  • He's never been a very patient hitter, but did draw a few more walks than usual in 2017, which also bodes well for his stolen base total.

An 80-game suspension and dip in hard contact combined to suppress Marte's value a season ago, but the combination of his track record and all-around game provides plenty of reason for optimism. A return to his 2015 power level appears unlikely, but he should bounce back some in that area, and the rest of his skills are as strong as ever. In a landscape where BA and stolen bases have become more valuable, Marte's ability to excel in those categories while contributing decent power numbers make him an extremely valuable commodity. Invest with confidence.

 

What to make of Bour's power outburst ... Justin Bour (1B, MIA) put up the best numbers of his career in 2017, but injuries got in the way for the second straight season. What are the chances his success carries over into 2018?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA   vL    vR   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2014* 459  11  .246  .249  .600  .734    7   81  53/16/31  28   127   93  126    6%
2015* 460  24  .258  .254  .573  .845    8   77  48/17/35  29   112  128  110   21%
2016  280  15  .264  .276  .533  .857   12   80  44/22/35  28   114  117  107   19%
2017  377  25  .289  .279  .809  .929   11   75  43/23/34  33   118  138  127   26%
*Includes MLEs

There are several positive trends in Bour's skills:

  • He struck out a little more than usual, but hit a lot of line drives for the second straight year. Owners shouldn't count on a BA repeat, but he should still post a respectable mark.
  • He consistently makes a ton of hard contact, and his power metrics reached new heights in 2017. He'll be hard-pressed to maintain such a lofty hr/f, but he's proven that a high percentage of his fly balls will find the seats. 
  • Bour held onto the patient approach he displayed the previous season, and posted a career best .366 on-base-percentage.
  • He entered the season with no home runs vs LHP in 103 career plate appearances, then went on to go deep six times in 87 PA against them. He still struck out a third of the time, but clearly showed some growth.
  • He punished right-handed pitching, continuing his positive trend in that department. 

A couple of DL stints, including a July oblique strain, slowed Bour down, but there are a lot of positive takeaways from his 2017 campaign. He maintained the previous year's jumps in walk rate and line drive rate, showed he was capable of handling lefties, and displayed more power than ever before. Bour does have a spotty health history and the possibility of a weak lineup around him working against him, but he still looks like an attractive target for 2018. If he can stay healthy, the Baseball Forecaster's 35 HR upside projection doesn't look far-fetched at all.

 

Gennett unlikely to duplicate 2017 ... Scooter Gennett (2B, CIN) began the season in a part-time role, but it didn't take long for him to force his way into the lineup. Was his breakout legit, or just a fluke?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA   vL   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  ===
2013* 534   8/9   .275  .240  .329   5    79  39/24/37  33   116   72/115   10%  145
2014  440   9/6   .289  .285  .253   5    85  41/25/34  32   105  105/92     7%   69
2015* 450   7/1   .262  .262  .310   3    82  49/22/30  30    78   80/77     7%  122
2016  498  14/8   .263  .256  .708   7    77  44/22/35  32    91   97/90    11%   87
2017  461  27/3   .295  .272  .691   6    75  41/21/38  34   105  131/125   21%  106
*Includes MLEs

Gennett 's skills took a major step forward:

  • He sold out for more power, as the strikeouts and fly balls both increased. His power metrics, including his hr/f, were impressive, and much higher than anything he had shown previously.
  • He provided a boost for his owners in the batting average category, with a little help from his hit rate. His BA and xBA history shows it's rather unlikely that he'll flirt with a .300 average again.
  • He's shown that he can hold his own against lefties the past two seasons, which has allowed him to take on a larger role than anticipated. 
  • Gennett possesses decent speed, but his stolen base totals have been erratic, and he can't be counted on for more than a few steals.

A power spike drove Gennett's breakout 2017 season, and there's reason to believe he can once again be a solid power source in the middle infield. However, his modest track record and lofty hr/f indicate his power production will probably slip a bit, and his BA is due for some regression as well. Bottom line, Gennett should be good again, but 2017 will probably go down as a career year.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.