FACTS/FLUKES: Machado, Verlander, Forsythe, Osuna, S. Castro

Checking on Machado's encore ... After a massive 2015 breakout, Manny Machado (3B, BAL) was the center of first-round debates entering 2016. His $30+ season at age 22 made the case for a top-10 pick; yet an incomplete MLB track record and a pair of previous knee surgeries introduced some risk. Machado has thrived this year with a career-high BA and 30+ HR pace, though he's yet to steal a base. Do the skills place him as a first-round fixture?

Year   AB  HR/SB   BA    xBA  h%  HctX  bb%  ct%  GB/LD/FB   PX  xPX  hr/f  Spd  SBO%
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ==  ====  ===  ===  ========  ===  ===  ====  ===  ====
2012  191   7/ 2  .262  .252  29   113    5   80  46/14/40  110  100   12%  147    5%
2013  667  14/ 6  .283  .277  32   101    4   83  47/21/32  107   73    8%  122    9%
2014  327  12/ 2  .278  .262  32   100    6   79  49/20/31  106  101   15%  112    2%
2015  633  35/20  .286  .279  30   120   10   82  44/18/38  127  122   18%  113   15%
2016  441  26/ 0  .306  .293  33   123    9   82  37/20/43  147  123   17%  103    3%

Despite a lack of SB, Machado's an anchor:

  • Machado makes plenty of hard contact, as his contact rate (ct%) and hard-contact index (HctX) are both well above average. Expected batting average (xBA) suggests he'll continue to flirt with .300.
  • He's getting more loft on the ball, as his FB% continues to head upwards. With excellent raw power in place (PX, xPX, hr/f), Machado's a legit 30-HR source.
  • The speed game has vanished, however, due to lack of aggressiveness on the basepaths. Spd and age hint at SB upside, but he hasn't attempted a steal since May 10.

Machado's encore to 2015's breakout season has been impressive. His excellent plate skills and plus raw power at such a young age make him keeper league gold, though a lack of steals will likely prevent another $30 season. But with SS/3B eligibility and two years of top-notch production and skills, Machado looks like a first-round cog entering 2017.


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Verlander inching back? ... After looking like a shell of his former self in recent seasons, Justin Verlander (RHP, DET) showed flashes of his Cy Young days with a 2.68 ERA in the second half of 2015. His 3.42 ERA this year has been better than average, but should fantasy owners give up on chasing the vintage Verlander?

Year  IP   ERA   xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK   Vel  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ===
2012  238  2.64  3.35  2.3  9.0  4.0  42/22/36  29/78    8%  61%  12%  94.3  121
2013  218  3.46  3.75  3.1  8.9  2.9  38/23/39  33/76    7%  65%  11%  93.3   94
2014  206  4.54  4.27  2.8  6.9  2.4  40/20/41  33/68    7%  64%   9%  92.3   66
2015  133  3.38  4.04  2.2  7.6  3.5  35/20/46  28/72    7%  63%  10%  92.8   92
2016  160  3.42  3.71  2.4  9.5  4.0  36/19/45  28/72   10%  63%  12%  93.2  121

While not quite vintage, Verlander's been impressive:

  • Verlander's recovered some fastball velocity, and his 11.0% swinging-strike rate (SwK) on this pitch is a career high. He's also generating more whiffs on the changeup (14.4% SwK in 2016; 7.6% in 2015), which makes the Dom spike well deserved.
  • First-pitch strike rate (FpK) says he's able to consistently get ahead in the count, which should keep Ctl in favorable territory.
  • His luck factors have been fairly neutral, as a career-high hr/f has been washed out by another sub-30% h%.

From a pure skills perspective, Verlander's 2016 campaign hasn't been far off from his 2011-12 peak. His strikeouts have surged thanks to renewed velocity and an ability to miss bats, and it hasn't come at the expense of his control. At 33, we can't expect peak Verlander again, but with BPV comfortably above the triple-digit plateau, this version isn't too shabby.

 

Forsythe keeps pace ... Logan Forsythe (2B, TAM) exploded with a near-$20 season in 2015 after numerous seasons of mediocrity in part-time duty. The magnitude of a breakout like Forsythe's usually screams regression the following year, but the 2016 Baseball Forecaster said that it "should be gentle." Were we right?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  HctX  h%  GB/LD/FB   PX  xPX  hr/f  Spd  OPSvR  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ==  ========  ===  ===  ====  ===  =====  ===
2012  315  .273  .258    8   82   116  32  36/29/35   74  107    7%  145   .603   49
2013  220  .214  .250    8   75   100  26  42/28/29   80  105   13%   94   .593   12
2014  301  .223  .224    8   76    83  27  41/19/40   80  100    6%  107   .596   19
2015  540  .281  .255    9   79   108  33  40/20/41  109  106   10%  112   .728   59
2016  345  .281  .272    8   77   120  33  42/25/33  114  119   15%  111   .787   49

Forsythe has kept rolling:

  • Forsythe continues to show decent plate skills, while career-highs in HctX and xBA suggest his BA is legit.
  • While Forsythe may not be able to hold this season's hr/f spike, underlying PX/xPX suggests he can make a push for 20 HR—particularly if FB% recovers to 2014-15 levels.
  • Once a major liability vs. RHP, Forsythe's skills have become passable against them this season (77% ct%, 106 PX), which has led to everyday playing time.

Now with two years of solid production—and the underlying skills to back it up—Forsythe deserves to be mentioned among mid-tier second basemen going forward. His plate skills are in great shape, he has above-average power, and his ability to hit RHBs has elevated him from a platoon role. The 29-year-old Forsythe lacks that sexy upside, but there's nothing wrong with rostering these skills up the middle.

 

Osuna's early dominance ... Though his 2016 role was unknown until late March, Roberto Osuna (RHP, TOR) was a highly coveted target thanks to a 2.58 ERA in his rookie season as TOR's closer. Osuna's stayed in that role this year with even better numbers (1.83 ERA, 0.86 WHIP). Still just 21, how bright is Osuna's future?

Year  IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK   Vel  BPV
====  ==  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ===
2015  70  2.58  3.41  2.1   9.7  4.7  34/20/46  25/77    9%  63%  15%  95.6  131
2016  52  1.89  3.26  1.9  11.0  5.8  32/17/51  26/83    6%  69%  17%  95.7  157

Extremely bright—there's a lot to like here:

  • His Dom and Ctl are both in elite territory, and they get plenty of support from underlying SwK and FpK, respectively.
  • Not surprisingly, Osuna's BPV is firmly among the best you'll see over a full season.
  • Osuna's extreme fly ball rate is somewhat of a double-edged sword—it's likely kept h% in favorable territory, but there's considerable HR risk if his hr/f ever spikes.

Osuna's slider is a nasty pitch (29% SwK), and he pairs that with upper-90s heat to form a rare combination of missed bats and first-pitch strikes. In fact, he's one of just three pitchers with a 17% SwK and 69% FpK this season (Kershaw, Doolittle; min. 30 IP). It remains to be seen what Osuna's long-term role may be, but these BPIs lay the foundation for an exciting career ahead.

 

Castro unable to breakout ... It's been an odd career path for Starlin Castro (2B, NYY), who put up a career-high $28 in 5x5 value as a 21-year-old in 2011, but has since eclipsed the $20 mark just once. 2016's been another ho-hum year, as Castro's flirting with a .260-ish BA with mediocre counting stats. Is this what he is?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  ct%  h%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX  xPX  hr/f  Spd  SBO  HR/SB
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ==  ====  ========  ===  ===  ====  ===  ===  =====
2012  646  .283  .271   85  32    99  47/21/32   87  100    8%  158  23%  14/25
2013  666  .245  .249   81  29   105  51/20/29   75   99    6%  116  10%  10/ 9
2014  528  .292  .271   81  34   102  45/22/32  107  105   10%   94   6%  14/ 4
2015  547  .265  .251   83  30    87  54/17/29   70   75    8%  110   8%  11/ 5
2016  431  .260  .265   79  30    94  50/21/29   92   86   14%  102   3%  14/ 3

Castro's skills continue to flounder:

  • Castro's striking out a bit more this season—BA is right in line with xBA, as his h% has settled near league average.
  • We're skeptical that Castro's power spike can last. He rarely hits fly balls, his hr/f is easily a career-high, and his PX/xPX combo remains below league average.
  • The elite speed from early in his career has vanished, as Castro rarely runs with NYY. Tough to expect much more than a handful of SBs going forward.

Though we can't forget about Castro's early-career success, he simply hasn't shown the skills needed to sniff another $25-$30 season. 2016's power spike looks fluky, he's been shy on the basepaths, and his plate skills (bb%, ct%, HctX) are mediocre at best. Without a green light on base, Castro's YTD numbers seem like the right baseline.


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