(*) FACTS/FLUKES: Torres, Giolito, Carrasco, Soler, Do. Santana

Is Torres being overvalued?... 2020 NFBC drafters are selecting Gleyber Torres (SS/2B, NYY) towards the end of the second round of 15-team drafts (30 ADP), which indicates they are expecting him to improve on the $23 of R$ he produced in 2019. Do his 2019 skills support this level of optimism? 

Year   AB  HR/xHR   BA/xBA  HctX  bb% ct%   LA~   PX/xPX  HR/F  HR/HF^  FBv*  FBD+
====  ===  ======  =======  ====  === ===  ====  =======  ====  ======  ====  ===
2018  431   24/24  271/247   101   9   72  18.8  126/115   18%    50%   92.4  322
2019  546   38/31  278/270   105   8   76  17.4  130/116   21%    53%   93.1  330
~ average launch angle (degrees)  
^ home run per hard hit fly ball rate  
* fly ball average exit velocity 
+ average fly ball distance

Torres is a batting average and home run asset: 

  • He improved his strikeout rate, batting average, and batting average skills by making more contact on pitches both in and out of the strike zone. 
  • The fly balls he hit in 2019 traveled further and at a higher velocity, on average, than they did in 2018. This at least partially validates his improved home run total. 
  • But our expected home run metric indicates that Torres's home run rate on hard-hit fly balls was quite fortunate (i.e. it was 40% better than league average). Unless his underlying skills improve, we should expect a HR total closer to 30 than 40 in 2020. 
  • Though he stole over 20 bags in the minors a couple of times, he should not be counted on for more than a smattering of stolen bases in 2020. This because both his statistically-scouted speed (89 Spd) and Statcast Sprint Speed (26.5 ft/s) are well below the league average. 

The 23-year old Torres is a precocious former top prospect who certainly has the talent to exceed expectations. However, with little reason to expect a batting average or stolen bases spike in 2020, and with home run regression looming, it seems that Torres is likely being overvalued a bit by NFBC drafters.


There’s more where this came from. Click here to purchase a Draft Prep subscription plan, which gives you complete access to BaseballHQ.com's insights through April 30, 2020.


 

Giolito's second half a cause for concern?... Lucas Giolito's (RHP, CHW) long-awaited breakout finally seemed to be in offing after he posted a 2.72 ERA and 10.8 Dom in the first half of 2019. But he started giving up more home runs in the second half, posted a 4.24 ERA, and finished the season on the bench with a back injury. 2020 NFBC drafters are bullish—taking him on average at pick #48, and as the 14th SP off the board—but should we be so comfortable making such a significant investment in him? 

Year   IP   ERA/xERA  H%/S%  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  Ball%  SwK   Vel  GB% HR/F  BPX  CH~
====  ===  =========  =====  ===  ====  ===  =====  ===  ====  === ====  ===  ===
2016* 130  4.31/4.93  34/74  4.1   7.5  1.8   37%    6%  93.4  41%  29%   65  11%
2017* 174  4.49/4.63  30/72  3.9   7.9  2.0   36%   11%  92.1  45%  18%   62  16%
2018  173  6.13/5.33  28/60  4.7   6.5  1.4   40%    9%  92.4  44%  13%   15  15%
2019  177  3.41/3.60  28/74  2.9  11.6  4.0   34%   16%  94.3  36%  14%  158  26%
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
19-1H  96  2.72/3.78  26/78  3.1  10.8  3.5   34%   15%  94.2  37%  10%  137  23%
19-2H  81  4.24/3.51  31/69  2.7  12.6  4.7   33%   17%  94.4  34%  18%  182  29%
* includes MLE 
~ change-up usage rate

Giolito has ace-level talent, and his second-half swoon was mostly a fluke: 

  • A significant velocity spike, a revved up change-up, and a vastly improved ability to throw strikes were the key ingredients of this breakout. 
  • His second-half ERA was the result of the triple-whammy of hit rate, strand rate, and HR/F misfortune. However, he was rather fortunate in those areas during the first half, so overall it averaged out. 
  • His change-up was a lethal weapon (23% SwK; .191 BAA) that he prudently utilized more-and-more throughout the season. The usage increase in the second half was a big reason for the corresponding SwK and Dom spikes. 
  • Our BPX metric illustrates just how elite his skills were in the second half. If sustained, this skill level would place him among the Top 5 SP in the game. 
  • One potential Achilles heal is that Giolito's arsenal is lacking in grounder-inducing offerings. He will likely remain vulnerable to the long ball. 

The 25-year old erstwhile #3 overall prospect's 2019 breakout season is a fact that came with full skill support. Though his second-half ERA was subpar, the skills and underlying metrics he flashed at the same time all point towards an ace-level ceiling. Slowed by a muscle strain in his rib cage area so far this spring, Giolito will need to be healthy and firing on all cylinders to repeat or build upon his 2019 breakout. Natural regression risk (e.g. fastball velocity) and a susceptibility to gopheritis are reason enough to hedge bets in 2020 drafts and auctions. 

 

Is Carrasco still good?... After being diagnosed with leukemia, Carlos Carrasco (RHP, CLE) missed all of June, July, and August combating the illness. Prior to the diagnosis, he had posted a 4.98 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP in 65 innings. He returned in September and pitched an additional 15 innings out of the pen, posting a 6.60 ERA and 1.53 WHIP. What can we glean from the underlying numbers that will help us set expectations for the 2020 season? 

Year   IP   ERA/xERA   S%  HR/F  xHR/F  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  Ball% SwK   Vel  GB%  BPX
====  ===  =========  ===  ====  =====  ===  ====  ===  ===== ===  ====  ===  ===
2015  184  3.63/2.75  69%   13%   11%   2.1  10.6  5.0   32%  14%  94.5  51%  194
2016  146  3.32/3.41  78%   16%   14%   2.1   9.2  4.4   34%  13%  93.8  49%  162
2017  200  3.29/3.23  74%   12%   14%   2.1  10.2  4.9   34%  14%  94.3  45%  180
2018  192  3.38/3.05  74%   13%   15%   2.0  10.8  5.4   33%  16%  93.5  47%  191
2019   80  5.29/3.68  68%   22%   21%   1.8  10.8  6.0   33%  15%  93.5  41%  180
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
19-2H  15  6.60/3.78  63%   36%   23%   3.0  10.2  3.4   33%  20%  94.0  48%  140

These skills are rock-solid and his 2019 results were a fluke:  

  • Huge gaps between ERA and xERA, both on the season and after his recovery, illustrate the unfortunate nature of Carrasco's results. Strand rate and HR/F combined to wreak havoc in the second half. 
  • His fastball velocity, swinging strike rate, and Ball% hardly budged. Nether did Dom, control, or BPX. 
  • Though pitching out of the pen isn't quite the same, it is promising that Carrasco was still able to maintain his velocity, throw strikes, and miss bats at a similar or better rate than before his illness. 
  • The only true chink in his armor to appear in 2019 was an inability to keep the ball in the yard. This due both to a HR/F rate much higher than his norm and a ground ball rate much lower than his norm. 

Carrasco enters his age-33 season slowed by a strained hip flexer, but he is expected to pitch in his first exhibition game early this week, so he could still be ready to take his turn in the rotation in early April. The vast majority of his skills and underlying abilities are intact. It's fairly safe to assume typical per-inning production from him in 2020, and he could again anchor a rotation if vigor is sustained.  

 

Soler brings the power... Jorge Soler's (OF, KC) long-awaited breakout season finally came to fruition in 2019, as the former Cuban phenom put up an impressive power display, finishing with 48 home runs, 117 RBI, and $24 of R$. Was it a fact or a fluke? 

Year   PA   BA/xBA  bb%  ct%   EV+  GB%   PX/xPX  HR/xHR  HR/F  xHR/F  FBv~  FBd^
====  ===  =======  ===  ===  ====  ===  =======  ======  ====  =====  ====  ===
2015  404  262/236    8   67  91.7  42%  107/123   10/11   14%   15%   91.8  325
2016* 310  224/215   13   68  89.8  40%  112/ 91   12/12   17%   17%   92.3  322
2017* 421  205/217   12   65  89.0  38%  122/ 88   19/ 3    7%   11%   93.7  317
2018  257  265/251   11   69  89.5  47%  144/110    9/13   17%   25%   95.7  341
2019  676  265/271   11   70  92.6  39%  168/140   48/51   28%   30%   97.4  349
+ average exit velocity
* includes MLEs  
~ fly ball average exit velocity  
^ average fly ball distance in feet 

Soler's power is peaking and he's not a BA liability: 

  • He can discern a ball from a strike and takes a healthy amount of walks. This is an especially important talent in his case because of his inability to make contact on pitches outside of the strike zone (O-Ct%: Soler-47%; MLB Avg-63%). 
  • Though 48 home runs and a 28% HR/F rate are both much better than anything he had ever done in the past, our xHR and xHR/F metrics indicate that he deserved every bit of it, and then some. He helped himself by also keeping the ball off of the ground more frequently and increasing his rate of hard-hit fly balls (xPX). 
  • Careful observers may have had an inkling that more power was coming after his 2018 fly ball velocity and distance both spiked. But it was probably hidden from most by his season-ending toe injury in June of that year, and by his power-damping ground ball rate. 
  • He strikes out more than desired, but the combination of elite exit velocity and extreme power tends to hide that deficiency. 

Soler's breakout 2019 season was a fact that came with full skill support. At age 28 he is probably in the midst of his power prime, though regression is much more likely in 2020 than continued growth. Given his lengthy injury history (30+ days on the IL 2015 - 2018), lack of track record, and the market's bullishness (86 ADP) we don't recommend him as a value outfield buy.  

 

Santana limps to the finish... In early June of 2019, when we last checked-in on Domingo Santana (OF, CLE), he was off to a great start, hitting .269 with 10 HR, 42 RBI, and 5 SB in 223 at-bats ($23 of R$). But he faded badly in the second half of a walk year, and it didn't seem like he had many teams clamoring for his services over the winter (signed a one-year deal on 12 February 2020). 

Year   PA   BA/xBA  h%  HctX  GB/LD/FB  bb%  ct%  HR/xHR  HR/F  xHR/F  xPX  SB
====  ===  =======  ==  ====  ========  ===  ===  ======  ====  =====  ===  ==
2016  281  256/252  36    98  44/30/26   11   63   11/11   28%   28%   107   2
2017  607  278/266  37   106  45/27/28   12   66   30/23   31%   24%   120  15
2018* 445  245/209  40    85  49/23/28   10   57   11/ 9   13%   24%    95   2
2019  505  253/238  35    92  43/27/31   10   64   21/27   24%   30%   128   8
------------------------------------------------------------------------------
19-1H 374  278/257  36   102  39/28/33    9   67   18/25   24%   33%   145   5
19-2H 131  181/180  31    63  56/21/23   11   53    3/ 3   21%   21%    64   3

Santana has the skills to be a useful part of a fantasy roster: 

  • He landed on the IL in late August with an elbow strain and missed the remainder of the season, save six games in late September. In retrospect it seems likely this was the reason for his second-half swoon. 
  • Though he strikes out too much to be a reliable batting average asset, his line-drive-oriented swing allows him to post consistently high hit rates, and helps elevate his batting average floor. 
  • At a powerful 6'5", 220-pounds Santana can put a charge into the ball, and in the first half it appeared as if he would challenge the 40-HR plateau. His xPX and xHR/F during that time were especially impressive. 
  • His Statcast Sprint Speed was once a healthy 28.3 ft/s back in 2015, but he has lost a few steps and registered a slightly below average 26.7 ft/s in 2019. But he is a savvy baserunner and will probably contribute 5-10 bags in 2020. 

After seeming to breakout in 2017 and then falling short of a repeat the next two years, some of Santana's luster may have worn off (335 ADP). But he has proven 30+ HR power, a very BABIP-friendly swing, enough basestealing acumen to avoid liability status, and should be in the Cleveland lineup nearly everyday between LF and DH. At age 27, it's too early to write him off. 

More From Facts & Flukes

Is Jarren Duran's excellent start sustainable? Can Jason Foley hold on to the closer job in Detroit. Plus updates on Zach Eflin, Willi Castro, and Jorge Mateo.
May 27 2024 3:08am
The slam-dunk top pick. No brainer. Uhh...what's going on?
FREE
May 24 2024 3:04am
Are the Rays developing another sleeper starting pitcher in Zack Littell? We'll also examine the skills of Gavin Sheets, Seth Lugo, Will Brennan, and Reese Olson.
May 23 2024 3:03am
Paul Goldschmidt is off to a horrific start. Can he rebound? Plus, Brice Turang, James Paxton, Nolan Gorman, and Ryan Feltner.
May 22 2024 3:09am

Tools