FACTS/FLUKES: Bryant, Peraza, Tapia, Lamet, Velasquez

Bryant returns to form... Kris Bryant had a down year by his standards in 2018, as the power production was lacking in the first half, then the second half was marred by lingering shoulder issues. He has rebounded in 2019, already connecting for 22 home runs, nine more than he hit a season ago. Is this level of production what owners should expect going forward?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  ===
2015* 587  28/15  .276  .233   12/64   34/21/45  38   104  165/148   16%  129
2016  603  39/8   .292  .273   11/74   30/24/46  33   122  158/159   19%  113
2017  549  29/7   .295  .274   14/77   38/20/42  34   102  139/111   16%  123
2018  389  13/2   .272  .252   11/72   34/25/41  35    83  125/119   11%  120
2019  403  22/2   .285  .271   12/75   38/20/42  33    94  136/103   17%  118

Bryant's skills are nearly identical to those he displayed in 2017:

  • His contact rate dipped to a career-low mark in 2018, but has bounced back most of the way. His hit rate and the gap between his BA and xBA are actually lower than usual, so he can probably be counted on to continue to hit for a high average.
  • He is still drawing a lot of walks and getting on base at a very high rate (.385), giving him even more value in OBP leagues.
  • His home run per fly ball rate was uncharacteristically low in 2018, even in the first half, when the power metrics were strong, and before any shoulder issue was reported. He's back to clearing the fence at a more typical rate in 2019, a level that is likely to hold up.
  • Bryant still has wheels, ranking in the 80th percentile in sprint speed. But after going 9-for-18 on the bases the past two seasons, his SBO has dropped for the fourth straight year, as he's attempted just two steals in 2019.

Bryant had a disappointing 2018 season, but has rebounded, and is on pace for a near repeat of 2017, with a few less steals and a slightly lower but still solid batting average. The double-digit steals probably aren't coming back, and the excellent power he displayed in 2015-16 may not, either. But Bryant's current level of performance is extremely valuable, and fully supported by his skills. Look for him to reach 30 homers again by season's end. 

 

Peraza showing signs of life... After a nice rebound season in 2018, Jose Peraza (2B, CIN) has struggled for most of 2019, as he is batting a career low .236, while swiping only five bases. Analyst Greg Pyron noted back in May that he was hitting far too many fly balls, but let's check back in on his skills now:

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX  PX/xPX  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  ======  =======
2015* 503   3/30  .255  .231    3/90   37/21/42  28   37   40/37   132/31%    
2016* 529   5/30  .292  .268    5/85   43/28/29  34   73   52/55   144/32%
2017  487   5/23  .259  .248    4/86   47/22/31  29   74   33/43   150/24%
2018  632  14/23  .288  .269    4/88   37/26/38  31   96   70/57   114/18%
2019  280   6/5   .236  .234    4/84   36/19/45  26   97   59/82   126/17%
*Includes MLEs

Peraza still offers speed, but isn't running like he used to:

  • He's striking out a little more than usual, and also hitting fewer line drives, which has affected his hit rate, and led to a steep drop off in his batting average. However, he entered the May 31 game batting .199, and has since hit .282 with a G/L/F of 37/28/35. 
  • His lack of patience has contributed to a second sub-.300 on-base-percentage in the past three seasons. As a result, he's been hitting in the bottom third of the order most of the time.
  • He has made a decent amount of hard contact the past two seasons, but his power metrics remain well below average, and he's never had a home run per fly ball rate higher than seven percent.
  • Even though he was successful on 77% of his steal attempts in 2017-18, his SBO fell significantly in each of those seasons. It has failed to bounce back in 2019, and considering he's been caught on half of his 10 attempts, owners shouldn't count on him running a lot more down the stretch.

While he's had ups and downs in other areas, Peraza has been a reliable source of speed the past few seasons. However, in 2019, his SBO has continued its decline, his success rate has been lacking, and his struggles at the plate have relegated him to the bottom of the order. Peraza has done a much better job of keeping the ball out of the air the last couple months, which has helped his batting average recover. He should keep improving upon that mark, and could very well be an asset in the category down the stretch, but it's looking increasingly unlikely that he'll be as much of a factor on the bases as his owners had hoped.

 

Tapia not showing much upside... Ramel Tapia (OF, COL) has provided decent production in a semi-regular role, as he's hit .274 with eight home runs and four steals. With David Dahl now on the shelf for an extended period, his playing time, at least against right-handers, should be pretty secure over the next several weeks. Do the skills show any signs he could take another step forward?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%   PX  xPX  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ===  ===  =======
2016* 566   7/22  .322   N/A    4/88      N/A    36   65  N/A  166/24%
2017* 423   4/14  .324  .283    4/81   42/28/29  39   86   69  155/16%
2018* 459   9/13  .261  .229    5/79      N/A    32  100  N/A  131/18%
2019  310   8/4   .274  .272    5/76   51/21/28  34  101   67  133/10%
*Includes MLEs

Tapia isn't running as much as expected:

  • His contact rate continues to trend in the wrong direction, but has been saved by his home park, where he's recorded a 39% hit rate and .317 batting average, miles ahead of his .226 road mark.
  • He lacks patience at the plate, and as he ranks in the Top 10 in O-Swing% and Z-Swing%, which leads to the sixth-highest Swing% among batters with 300 or more plate appearances. His value takes a hit in leagues that use OBP instead of BA.
  • His plus speed led to 21 steals in 24 attempts at Triple-A in 2018, and as many as 33 back in 2014. But he hasn't had a consistent green light in 2019, and he's been caught on three of his seven tries. 
  • His PX has been league average the past two seasons, though xPX isn't quite buying it. Keeping the ball out of the air suits his skill-set, but even in Coors, probably caps his homer upside in the low-to-mid-teens.

Tapia showed excellent contact skills coming up through the minors, but has regressed in that area each of the past three seasons, and his career major league contact rate is merely league average, at 76%. He got a look at the top of the lineup against right-handers this season, but failed to impress, as he hit just .227/.256/.320 from that spot across 78 plate appearances. Tapia's clearest path to value is his legs, but he hasn't been running much, and the SBO may not rebound while he's stuck in the bottom third of the order. He's a good bet to continue what he's been doing, but has more to offer in leagues with flexible lineup rules and/or deep benches, where he can be placed on the bench on the road and against left-handers.

 

Lamet making immediate impact... Following a promising rookie campaign in 2017, Dinelson Lamet (RHP, SD) underwent Tommy John surgery in April of 2018, which cost him the entire season and the first half of 2019 as well. He's back now, and looking good so far, as he's whiffed 42 batters in 30 IP over his first five starts, including a 12 K performance last time out. Is he all the way back already?

Year      IP   ERA  xERA   Ctl/Dom  Cmd  FpK/SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%/S%  hr/f
=======  ===  ====  ====  ========  ===  =======  ====  ========  =====  ====
2017     114  4.57  4.14  4.3/10.9  2.6  56%/13%  95.0  37/20/43  28/68   15%
2018     Did Not Pitch-TJS
19Minors  24  6.00   N/A  3.4/12.4  3.7    N/A     N/A  43/25/32  32/54   22%
19MLB     30  3.90  3.73  3.9/12.6  3.2  56%/14%  95.7  36/25/39  33/74   14%

Lamet's skills haven't missed a beat:

  • He relied very heavily on two pitches in 2017, a four-seamer (54%) and slider (40%). He's mixed in a sinker a bit more in 2019, though it hasn't been effective (50 thrown, .333 BA against, one swinging strike per Brooks Baseball), but he's throwing his slider 47% of the time, with a 26% SwK.
  • His biggest problem as a rookie was his shaky control, and his identical FpK and 3.9 Ctl suggest that is still a work in progress. 
  • He doesn't keep the ball on the ground at a high rate, but so far in 2019, he is doing a better job of limiting hard contact. Both FanGraphs and Baseball Savant have him cutting down on the hard contact by about four percent.

Some rust would have been excusable after such a long layoff, but Lamet has picked up right where he left off before his injury. He still hasn't proven that he has a third pitch, but the increased usage and effectiveness of his slider has led to a bump in his SwK and the league's eighth highest O-Swing% (min. 30 IP). The ratios should continue to be merely decent, and the Padres will likely monitor Lamet's (and others) workload down the stretch, but he should continue to deliver a healthy dose of punch outs for owners who scooped him up. 

 

Valasquez dominant but inconsistent...  Vince Velasquez (RHP, PHI) has bounced around between the bullpen and starting rotation this season, but for now, seems entrenched as a starter. He has had his ups and downs, but has allowed just 4 ER in 18 IP over his last three starts, and recorded double-digit swinging strikes in six straight. Can he be a reliable option the rest of the way?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK/SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%/S%  hr/f  BPV  
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  =======  ====  ========  =====  ====  ===
2015*  89  3.54  3.01  3.4   9.9  2.9  61%/11%  94.6  31/22/47  30/72    7%  108
2016  131  4.12  3.85  3.1  10.4  3.4  60%/12%  93.7  35/24/41  33/75   15%  117
2017   72  5.13  4.63  4.3   8.5  2.0  63%/10%  93.9  43/23/35  30/72   21%   59
2018  147  4.85  4.11  3.6   9.9  2.7  59%/12%  93.8  38/21/41  33/65   10%   96
2019   79  4.23  4.52  3.5  10.1  2.8  59%/13%  94.4  34/21/45  30/78   19%   97
*Includes MLEs

Velasquez's skills are right in line with expectations:

  • He has bumped up his velocity slightly, and kept it at 94.0 mph in the second half, when he has worked exclusively as a starter. His SwK sits at a career high rate, as he's inducing swinging strikes at a 14% clip for the second straight season on his four-seam fastball.
  • He's striking out 26% of opposing batters for the second straight year, and as shown by his double-digit Dom, he's a great strikeout source on a per inning basis. His overall impact in the category in most formats is minimized a bit by the fact he doesn't work deep into games, as he is averaging less than five innings per start for the second year in a row.
  • Batters get the ball in the air against him often, and he surrenders a lot of hard contact, checking in at the eighth percentile per Baseball Savant. His hr/f and 2.1 hr/9 may come down some, but in a park that increases LHB HR by 25% and RHB HR by 24%, home runs will continue to be a concern.
  • Velasquez has always been a little wild, and his subpar FpK suggests his Ctl isn't likely to improve much, if at all.

Velasquez is missing bats and racking up a lot of strikeouts when he's on the mound. However, he has lasted six innings or more in just two of his 14 starts, he gives up a lot of hard contact in a hitter-friendly park, and also gets into some trouble with his control. The strikeouts make Velasquez a solid option in NL-only formats, but in 12 and even 15-team mixed leagues, he's still probably best viewed as a matchup play whose strikeouts are accompanied by volatility.


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