FACTS/FLUKES: Gregorius, Burnes, Belt, Porcello, and W. Ramos

Gregorius on track for a rebound... After sliding down 2020 draft boards to a 228 ADP, fantasy owners were hoping that Didi Gregorius (SS, PHI) could bounce back from his .238, 16 HR, 61 RBI, 47 R, and 2 SB performance in 2019. Through six weeks in the 2020 season, his rebound efforts are going strong. Through 124 at-bats, he's hitting .274 with 5 HR, 21 RBI, 22 R and 2 SB. Is he rebound backed by skills?

Year   AB  HR/SB  xHR    BA/xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  Spd   SBO
====  ===  =====  ===   ========  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ===  ====
2016  562  20/ 7    9  .276/.271    3   85  40/20/40  29    85   96/ 78  103    7%
2017  534  25/ 3   10  .287/.274    4   87  36/20/44  29    81   96/ 67   97    3%
2018  504  27/10   15  .268/.282    8   86  39/20/42  26   114  114/100  110   13%
2019  324  16/ 2   12  .227/.258    5   84  38/18/44  23   100   88/ 99   97    5%
2020  124   5/ 2  N/A  .274/.272    7   90  38/20/42  27   107   86/ 77  134    9%

His plate discipline and Spd look healthy, even if his xPX is still lagging: 

  • Although his xPX continues to lag behind his PX, he has increased his Pull% to 41.7% in 2020. His 84.3 MPH exit velocity on fly balls is below league average, and he has a 279 feet average fly ball distance. Without the power metrics to support more power, he will likely fall short of double-digit HR. 
  • He's making consistent ct%, and his 0.77 Eye is a career high. Even though his Hard Hit% ranks in the bottom 5% of MLB, his xBA supports an above-average BA. 
  • The shortstop's Spd is above average again and he's seeing more chances. His Sprint Speed ranks in the 66th percentile in MLB, and with a 68% career SB%, he could add another bag or two to his tally. 

While his xPX still has doubts, his plate skills and elite Eye have supported his rebound. With consistent ct% against both RHP and LHP, his BA and plate skills are facts. Even though he has outperformed his power metrics and xHR several times, his below-average xPX and below-average fly ball exit velocity doubt any significant power output. Expecting a few more HR in 2020 is a reasonable projection. Seeing his Spd and SBO increase are encouraging signs, even if his career SB% limits his SB ceiling. Overall, his rebound is primarily a fact. 


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Burnes moves on from poor 2019 fortune... With an ugly and forgettable 8.82 ERA and 1.84 WHIP in 2019, Corbin Burnes (RHP, MIL) had a 272 ADP in 2020 drafts. The early returns have been a boon for those that rostered him. Through 38 IP, the right-hander has two wins, 53 strikeouts, a 2.35 ERA, and a 1.04 WHIP. How do his skills look beneath the results?

Year   IP   ERA/xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  Ball%   SwK   Vel   G/L/F    H%/S%  HR/F/xHR/F
====  ===  =========  ===  ====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ========  =====  ==========
2017&  86  3.22/3.35  2.4   7.6  3.2   N/A    N/A   N/A     N/A    33/74   N/A/ N/A
2018* 118  4.33/3.99  3.0   7.9  2.6   33%   15.9  95.3  49/21/30  31/68   13%/ 13%
2019*  72  9.06/8.03  3.6  11.3  3.1   36%   17.7  95.2  45/24/31  43/53   39%/ 29%
2020   38  2.35/3.40  4.5  12.4  2.8   40%   14.4  96.2  45/16/39  27/77    3%/ N/A
&-Double-A MLEs
*-Includes MLEs

While control has been an issue, his skills are solidly above average with a 127 BPV:

  • Throwing a sinker more often has cut into SwK, as the pitch only has a 6.9% SwK. The right-hander's supports his strong SwK with his slider (27.1% SwK), change-up (18.6% SwK), and cutter (14.3% SwK). With an 11.6 xDom in the 50th percentile for his SwK, he has the skills to maintain a double-digit Dom. 
  • With a higher Ball% and a 54% FpK, his Ctl is mostly earned, as his Ball% has a 4.0 xCtl in the 50th percentile. With a 68% career S% and a Hard Hit% allowed in the 44th percentile, his WHIP could increase slightly with a result should still help rosters. 
  • Moving away from his four-seam fastball for a sinker and cutter approach along with some HR/F regression has helped lower his ERA. While a 21% career HR/F expects a few more HR allowed, his 3.40 xERA supports a better than league average ERA result. 
  • After posting a 45% H% versus LHH with a 1.271 oOPS and 1.1 Cmd in 2019, he has a 29% H%, 3.3 Cmd, and .526 oOPS against LHH in 2020. 

Burnes' strong 2020 showing is not just a simple swing in fortune. The right-hander has changed his pitch mix to counter some of the elevated HR/F from 2019. Even with a small SwK dip, he misses more than enough bats to back a double-digit Dom. With some better H%/S% and HR/F fortune in 2020, his skills also support a better than league average ERA result. As he goes to work on his Ball%, he has improved his Cmd against LHH. Even if his ratios increase slightly during the final three weeks, his above-average skills are real. 

 

Belt riding hot streak... The evergreen forecast from many Baseball Forecaster editions for Brandon Belt (1B, SF) was UP: 30 HR. He has recently warmed up with five HR since August 16. Through 93 at-bats in 2020, he is hitting .333 with 6 HR, 17 RBI, 17 R, and 0 SB. Is the underlying power still there for support?

Year   AB  HR  xHR    BA/xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  Fbd^  EV*
====  ===  ==  ===   ========  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ===  ==== 
2016  542  17   31  .275/.259   16   73  26/28/46  35   108  134/163  321  92.0
2017  382  18   24  .241/.258   15   73  30/23/47  28   113  140/154  330  93.3    
2018  399  14   24  .253/.235   11   73  24/29/47  31   112  100/146  317  91.4
2019  526  17   27  .234/.238   13   76  28/23/49  28   107   95/139  325  91.7
2020   93   6  N/A  .333/.293   15   71  25/32/43  42   147  188/217  320  92.2
^ average fly ball distance
* average exit velocity on fly balls

You bet, as his elite xPX and HcX support the power, even if a h% swing lowers his BA: 

  • Belt's HctX increase and elite xPX more than support his hot streak. His 11.9% Brls/PA ranks eighth in MLB, and it pairs well with a Hard Hit% in the 95th percentile. His power is real and supports a run at double-digit HR.  
  • A consistent bb% continues to boost his OBP. With a strong LD% and a healthy HctX, he has the skills for a helpful BA. Even if his inflated h% moves closer to his 33% career h%, he can still finish with a BA near .300. 
  • After worries about his home park, he's faring better at Oracle Park in 2020. In 36 home at-bats, he's hitting .447 with four HR.   
  • His below-average 82 Spd doesn't support many SB, and his SBO has decreased to 0%. 

Belt brings the thump and the power. While he started slowly the first two weeks of the season, his power since mid-August is a fact, as it is backed by an elite xPX and HctX. He has even had more success at Oracle Park in 2020. His above-average 0.59 Eye and steady bb% elevate his profile in OBP leagues. While his current h% may not last, his LD%, xBA, and HctX support a helpful BA result. Although his below-average Spd does not offer support, his above-average skills (90 BPV) and his first double-digit R$ season since 2016 are a fact. 

 

Porcello hurting ratios... With a move to New York in the offseason, Rick Porcello (RHP, NYM) looked to rebound from his 5.52 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 174 IP in 2019. The rebound has not happened, as he has one win, 33 strikeouts, a 5.54 ERA, and a 1.46 WHIP in 33 IP. Are there any positive signs lying below the surface?

Year   IP   ERA/xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  Ball%   SwK   Vel   G/L/F    H%/S%  HR/F/xHR/F
====  ===  =========  ===  ====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ========  =====  ==========
2016  223  3.15/3.72  1.3   7.6  5.9   33%    8.7  90.2  43/19/38  28/73    9%/ 13%
2017  203  4.65/4.49  2.1   8.0  3.8   33%    9.9  91.1  39/21/40  34/73   15%/ 14%
2018  191  4.28/3.76  2.3   8.9  4.0   34%    9.1  90.4  44/20/36  30/68   14%/ 14%
2019  174  5.52/5.12  2.3   7.4  3.2   33%    8.4  90.5  38/20/41  32/64   13%/ 15%
2020   39  5.54/4.63  2.3   7.6  3.3   35%    6.3  90.6  38/27/35  37/60    5%/ N/A
*Includes MLEs

While some H% correction could help ratios, his below-average skills don't offer much hope:

  • His below-average SwK from 2019 has fallen farther in 2020. A sinker-first approach (4.4% SwK) has cut into his swing and miss. While his current SwK points to a 5.3 xDom in the 50th percentile, his 8.2% career SwK still points to a below-average 7.2 xDom. 
  • The right-hander's 32% career H% and 69% career S% argue for a little better luck (see xERA), but his Hard Hit% allowed is in the 32nd percentile in MLB. His xSLG% allowed is also below average in the 22nd percentile. With a 12% career HR/F, his current HR/F may tick up. Even with some fortune regression, his ERA may finish above 5.00. 
  • His change-up (54.5% GB%) is his only pitch with a GB% greater than 50%. 
  • Even with small bump, his Ball% has a 2.5 xCtl in the 50th percentile. His 2.1 career Ctl supports a strong control of the zone. 

While the switch to New York brought talk of a possible rebound, Porcello's profile doesn't inspire much confidence in that. His SwK and Dom are below average, and he does not offer many groundball-heavy pitches. Although a swing in fortune could help his results, the amount of hard contact he gives up with a HR/F tick could keep his ERA above 5.00. His strongest skill is still his Ctl, but his Hard Hit% allowed and xSLG% allowed could keep his WHIP above league average. His below-average skills claim his poor start is mostly a fact. 

 

Ramos falling short in 2020... During the offseason, Wilson Ramos (C, NYM) had a 2020 draft-day cost in the top-200 picks. In 101 at-bats, his .228, 2 HR, 8 RBI, and 6 R performance is not living up to his draft-day cost. Has he earned his 2020 results?

Year   AB  HR  xHR    BA/xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  Fbd^  EV*
====  ===  ==  ===   ========  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ===  ==== 
2016  482  22   23  .307/.280    7   84  54/20/25  33   120  105/ 97  323  93.5
2017  208  11   11  .260/.250    5   83  52/18/30  27   111   93/106  345  94.4
2018  382  15   16  .306/.266    8   79  55/20/25  36   114  107/ 90  332  93.9
2019  473  14   13  .288/.269    8   85  62/18/19  31    94   63/ 50  327  93.9
2020  101   2  N/A  .228/.205    7   77  49/19/32  28   103   51/ 77  320  91.3
^ average fly ball distance
* average exit velocity on fly balls

With a below-average xPX and a ct% decline, his skills (-18 BPV) say he has earned the slow start: 

  • Even with a FB% increase, his below-average xPX and some fly ball exit velocity loss does not bode well for consistent power. While his 4.5% Brls/PA is slightly below league average, his 18% career HR/F supports a boost to his 8% HR/F. 
  • His league-average HctX and a Hard Hit% in the 60th percentile in baseball have not offset his ct% loss. His xBA even points out that his BA could be worse. 
  • A slow start against RHP has brought down his profile. Although he has a 6% career bb% and 82% career ct% vs. RHP, his ct% vs. RHP has slipped to 76% in 2020. While a 23% h% has hurt his .490 OPS vs. RHP, he has a 31 PX vs. RHP in 2020. His .725 career OPS and 29% career h% vs. RHP support some improvement. 

Overall, Ramos' slow start is mostly a fact, as his below-average skills (-18 BPV) have him behind his pre-season projection. While he has been a BA asset at catcher most years, losing ct% with weaker contact has contributed to a poor xBA. Although he could see a swing in fortune against RHP, his batting average will most likely finish below league average. With below-average power and age, it's hard to see a big boost from the catcher over the last three weeks. His draft-day cost looks like a sunk cost that will fall short of a double-digit R$. 


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