FACTS/FLUKES: P. Alonso, Darvish, Greene, Segura, C. Dickerson

Alonso enjoying stellar rookie season … Pete Alonso (1B, NYM), who led the minors in homers in 2018 (36 HR), found himself on the 2019 Opening Day roster following a strong spring and injuries to Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie. Alonso seized the opportunity and hasn’t looked back, batting .254 with 34 HR through 389 AB of his debut campaign. Can he keep it going?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  HR  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====
2017#  45  .291   N/A   2    4   82   N/A     N/A    136/N/A   N/A
2018^ 478  .229   N/A  25   11   68   N/A     N/A    142/N/A   N/A
2019  389  .254  .280  34   11   70   107  41/19/40  180/161   31%
#Double-A MLEs
^Double-A/Triple-A MLEs

It sure looks like he could:

  • Given his combination of elite xPX and lots of flyballs, it’s no wonder he’s among the MLB leaders in HR. At first glance, his lofty hr/f seems unsustainable, but his Statcast measured average flyball distance of 347 feet (6th in MLB in 2019 minimum 50 flyballs hit) suggests any potential regression could be very minor.
  • A subpar ct% caps his BA potential, but there’s nothing fluky about the BA he has amassed to this point in 2019.
  • He has displayed plus patience at the MLB level, just as he did in the minors. That helps make up for some of the strikeouts and gives him a boost in OBP leagues.

Though he entered 2019 as the team’s top prospect, according to our Mets Organizational Report, there was speculation at the time that his initial stay in the majors might be short-lived. However, a rip-roaring start, including a .292 batting average and 9 HR in 106 April AB, helped solidify his status as the team’s everyday first baseman. The shaky ct% could lead to some streakiness in the BA department, but the power is real, and he has a shot at possibly threatening the 50-HR plateau.

 

Darvish rebounds … After being limited to just 40 IP in 2018 due to injury, Yu Darvish (RHP, CHC) was a wild card coming into 2019. The 32-year-old’s performance through the end of May (5.02 ERA and 6.0 Ctl in 61 IP) was downright putrid, but he has since righted the ship, posting a 3.90 ERA and 1.5 Ctl over his last 60 IP. Do the underlying metrics back the resurgence?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  Ball%  SwK  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  =====  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===
2014  144  3.06  3.18  3.1  11.3  3.7  62%  35.8%  11%  36/23/41  35/79    9%  136
2015  Did Not Pitch
2016* 127  3.42  3.21  3.1  10.9  3.6  58%  35.2%  13%  40/20/40  30/75   12%  119
2017  187  3.86  3.68  2.8  10.1  3.6  59%  35.3%  13%  41/22/37  29/72   15%  125
2018   40  4.95  4.15  4.7  11.0  2.3  55%  38.5%  11%  38/23/40  31/70   18%   87 
2019  121  4.46  3.86  3.8  10.5  2.8  61%  36.0%  13%  46/21/34  27/70   21%  110

Yes, he has made significant changes:

  • The dramatic Ctl upgrade has been driven by a heightened focus on getting ahead in the count and pounding the strike zone. His 31.7% Ball% since the end of May supports the recent massive Ctl gains (1.7 xCtl).
  • His SwK is still in fine shape, so the strikeouts should keep coming at an elite clip.
  • It’s also worth noting that his fastball velocity has climbed to 95.3 mph in July (up from 94 mph), becoming a much more effective offering (19% SwK and .191 BAA in July). While that is certainly a minuscule sample and the SwK on four-seam fastballs isn’t likely to stick, it’s worth keeping an eye on, especially given how opposing batters feasted on the pitch earlier in 2019 (.314 BAA, .706 SLG and 6 HR through May).
  • He has induced more groundballs overall in 2019, but that hasn’t been the case in June/July (42% GB%). Though home runs have been a major issue, his hr/f is ripe for regression.

Darvish’s horrible first two months of 2019 had many of his fantasy owners jumping ship, but those who stuck with him have been rewarded in recent weeks. If he continues to pound the strike zone and limit free passes, he could be very valuable down the stretch. However, his F health grade in the 2019 Baseball Forecaster and inability to log more 145 IP in three of the past four seasons can’t be ignored.

 

Greene having a career year … Shane Greene (RHP, ATL) is in the midst of his best season yet, converting 22 of 25 save chances while sporting a dazzling 1.18 ERA in 38 IP prior to the July 31 trade that sent him to Atlanta. Is this level of performance sustainable?

Year  IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB   H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ==  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ========  ======  ====  ===  ===  ===
2014  79  3.78  3.37  3.3   9.3  2.8  50/22/28   34/75   13%  59%  11%  105
2015  84  6.88  4.79  2.9   5.4  1.9  44/23/33   33/56   14%  62%   7%   40
2016  60  5.82  3.87  3.3   8.8  2.7  48/21/32   33/53    6%  58%  13%   96
2017  68  2.66  4.07  4.5   9.7  2.1  47/18/35   27/82   10%  59%  10%   78
2018  63  5.12  4.16  2.7   9.2  3.4  41/21/39   33/68   16%  66%   9%  112
2019  38  1.18  3.52  2.8  10.2  3.6  54/ 9/38  20/100   14%  64%  11%  139

No, but this is a strong collection of skills:

  • A much improved slider (SwK up from 13% in 2018 to 19% in 2019) has contributed to an overall SwK and Dom uptick.
  • He has done a great job of keeping the ball on the ground, thanks largely to his sinker (73% GB%; 46% usage). That should help him get out of jams and avoid bouts of gopheritis.
  • He has maintained most of 2018’s FpK spike and Ctl gains, which was in doubt given his track record.
  • Greene has been substantially aided by a fortuitous H%/S% combo. Look for his ERA to move toward his xERA going forward.

There is no doubt that 2019 has been the best season of Greene’s career. However, the skills tell us that without the assistance of a healthy dose of H%/S% luck, he has merely been good as opposed to elite. The 30-year-old now moves to a much better team in Atlanta, so save chances figure to be a bit more plentiful, but his ERA and WHIP are likely to rise going forward.

 

Segura taps the brakes … Heading into 2019, Jean Segura (SS, PHI) had swiped 20 or more bases in each of the past six seasons and batted .300 or higher in each of the last three seasons. However, through 386 AB in 2019, he is batting .285 with 7 SB and is on track to come close his career high in HR. What’s going on here?

Year   AB   BA/  xBA  HR/SB  bb%  ct%  GB/LD/FB  h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =========  =====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  ======= 
2014  513  .246/.265   5/20    5   86  59/18/23  28    79    51/51    5%  161/22%
2015  560  .257/.253   6/25    2   83  59/17/24  30    71    49/48    5%  129/24%
2016  637  .319/.296  20/33    6   84  53/19/28  35   101   103/93   14%  143/25%
2017  524  .300/.279  11/22    6   84  54/19/26  34    96    73/66    9%  121/20%
2018  586  .304/.272  10/20    5   88  51/19/29  33    84    63/59    7%  123/18%
2019  386  .285/.292  11/ 7    5   88  53/19/29  30    96    79/67   11%  115/ 9%

A significant reduction in green lights has been the biggest change in his skill set:

  • His Spd is pretty much in line with 2017-18, but he has been much more selective on the basepaths, logging fewer steals and the best success rate of his career (2019: 88% SB%; Pre-2019: 75%).
  • Though his BA has slipped, his ct% and xBA are as good as ever, so there’s nothing to worry about there.
  • More balls have left the yard in 2019 due to an increase in hr/f, but his xPX remains well below-average. The offseason move to hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park (+24% RHB HR) has boosted his HR output, as 8 of his 11 HR in 2019 have come at home.

Segura has been a steady performer over the years, as his combination of high ct% and good wheels has typically led to a nice batting average and a substantial number of stolen bases. While the 29-year-old has again been a valuable contributor, the downturn in steals has hurt his value. Unless Segura becomes more active on the basepaths over the rest of 2019, he figures to fall well short of the 20-SB threshold for the first time since his abbreviated 2012 rookie campaign, and that would classify as a major disappointment.

 

Change of scenery could be a boon for Dickerson … A July 31 trade sent Corey Dickerson (OF, PHI) from a crowded outfield situation in Pittsburgh to a much more hitter-friendly home and potentially more playing time. He spent most of the first two months of 2019 on the injured list, but he has a shiny .315 batting average and 4 HR in 127 AB. How are his skills?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%  GB/LD/FB  h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO  
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  =======
2014  436  24/8   .312  .298   8    77  37/27/36  36   123  176/135   20%  122/13%
2015* 252  11/0   .296  .293   4    76  38/30/32  35   123  149/135   19%  118/2%
2016  510  24/0   .245  .256   6    74  38/17/45  29    95  144/119   14%   90/2%
2017  588  27/4   .282  .265   6    74  42/22/36  34   101  122/106   17%  117/5%
2018  504  13/8   .300  .284   4    84  38/27/35  34   106  100/101    9%  128/9%
2019  127   4/1   .315  .308   9    82  42/22/37  36   103  143/101   10%   83/3%
*Includes MLEs

Overall, this is a solid skill set:

  • He swapped power for contact in 2018 and seems to be sticking with that approach in 2019, so his BA could stay near the .300 mark.
  • His xPX has settled right around MLB average in recent years, but the move to Citizens Bank Park (+25% LHB HR) should give his power a jolt. Only 4 of the 17 HR he has as a member of the Pirates in 2018-19 came at home.
  • After being much more active on the basepaths in 2018, he has attempted to steal just once in limited 2019 action. According to Statcast, his sprint speed is essentially the same, but we wouldn’t expect more than 1-3 SB over the rest of 2019.

The Phillies acquired Dickerson to fill the hole in left field created by the absence of Jay Bruce (right oblique strain). As of now, Bruce is hopeful to return within two weeks, but oblique injuries can be tricky. It’s unclear exactly how playing time will shake out once Bruce is healthy, but if Dickerson winds up seeing a decent share of playing time, he could be useful down the stretch.


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