FACTS/FLUKES: Turner, J. Osuna, Ramos, Wheeler, Brault

Turner continues to do it all... Trea Turner (SS, WAS) and his owners caught a tough break when he suffered a fractured finger in the fourth game of the season, knocking him out of action for a month and a half. He has once again been one of the most valuable players in the game when on the field, though. Let's see how his skills compare to those of recent years.

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  =======  =======
2016* 638  18/57  .313  .276    7/78   43/25/32  38   111  109/122  203/36%
2017  412  11/46  .284  .268    7/81   52/15/34  33    87   94/85   183/51%
2018  664  19/43  .271  .253    9/80   49/18/33  31    93   82/79   158/26%
2019  391  13/29  .302  .276    8/78   46/22/32  36   100  106/83   164/31%  

Turner possesses a well-rounded and very consistent skill-set:

  • As is the case with many hitters, his contact rate has dipped slightly in 2019, but he has increased his line drive rate, and gotten a nice bump in hit rate. He may not project as a .300 hitter, but always beats his xBA, and should continue to be an asset in the category.
  • He's not running as often as he did a couple years ago, when he looked like he could potentially get to 60-70 steals, but still has a steady green light, and has been successful on 84% of his career attempts. He remains one of the premier stolen base sources in the league, and that's not all he can do.
  • The power grades out as average or slightly below, but as he showed in 2018, a full season of at-bats can yield about 20 homers.

Turner offers elite speed, and unlike many of the other top stolen base threats, he provides plenty of production in other categories as well. He also provides a BA boost, and delivered 19 homers and 103 runs in 2018, and if not for the missed time this year, may have topped those numbers, as even with just 600 at-bats, he'd be on pace for 20 homers and 45 steals. Turner is one of the most attractive assets in the league, and can again make a strong case for top five consideration in 2020 drafts.

 

Osuna steps up... Jose Osuna (OF, PIT) wasn't a target of many owners this past spring after posting an uninspiring .231/.263/.417 line in 338 plate appearances over the past two seasons. He has shown dramatic improvement, though, and has been getting pretty consistent playing time lately. Let's take a closer look at his skills.

Year    AB  HR    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f
====   ===  ==  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2016*  473  11  .254   N/A    6/82      N/A    29   N/A   97  N/A   N/A   
2017^  251   7  .231  .283    5/80   53/18/29  26    96  106   65   14%
2018^  408  10  .258  .272    6/80   47/24/29  30    94   96   79   12%
19 AAA  83   2  .268   N/A   11/69   47/12/41  35   N/A  N/A  N/A   13%
2019   148   8  .297  .304    7/81   44/22/34  32   109  137  113   20%
*MLEs
^Includes MLEs

Osuna's quality of contact is much better in 2019:

  • He didn't get the ball in the air very often the past two seasons, and his power metrics graded out as below average. He is hitting more fly balls in 2019, and a high percentage of them are clearing the fence. 
  • He may not have the power to sustain his current home run per fly ball rate, but his power numbers have surged across the board. In addition to those shown in the chart above, Statcast shows that Osuna's Hard Hit % is up to 40.3%, after checking in at 36.5% in 2018 and 31.8% in 2017.
  • He struggled with strikeouts during his time in the minors this season, but since rejoining the big league team, his contact rate is right in line with his recent history. He's probably not a true .300 hitter, but xBA has always been solid, and he's squaring the ball up better in 2019, so he may very well continue to help owners in the category.

Osuna has been a pleasant surprise for both the Pirates and his fantasy owners in 2019, as his power has taken a significant step forward. A 23 percent hit rate against RHP contributed to a .595 OPS against them the past two years, but as noted recently by Stephen Nickrand, Osuna has been crushing righties this year, with a .319/.379/.637 line and a 171 PX in 91 at-bats. Both the home run per fly ball rate and batting average are likely to fall off some, but it appears he'll be a decent source of power, and his consistent 80% contact rate should continue to lead to a strong BA.

 

Ramos continues to produce at high level... Wilson Ramos (C, NYM) got off to a pretty slow start with the Mets, hitting .241/.318/.314 through his first 154 plate appearances. But he has really been rolling for the past three months, quietly putting up a .313/.370/.472 line with 11 homers across his last 276 plate appearances. How do the skills look overall?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA  bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  =======  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====
2015  475  15  .229  .240    4/79   55/20/25  26    93   81/84    16%
2016  482  22  .307  .280    7/84   54/20/25  33   120  105/97    21%
2017* 236  13  .252  .258    5/84   52/18/30  25   113   94/106   21%
2018  382  15  .306  .266    8/79   55/20/25  36   114  107/90    20%
2019  389  13  .288  .268    9/86   61/19/21  31    96   59/56    19%
*Includes MLEs

Ramos can be counted on to help in the batting average category:

  • He has his contact rate up to a career high level, and it's all the way up to 92% in his 152 second half at-bats. At a position where a lot of players really hurt your team's average, his ability to be an asset in the category is extremely helpful.
  • He has always hit the ball on the ground a lot, but is doing so more than ever in 2019. In fact, his fly ball rate ranks lowest in all of baseball among batters with 400 or more plate appearances. 
  • When Ramos does get the ball in the air, it is leaving the park at about a 20% rate for the fourth consecutive season. However, while he still ranks in the 76th percentile in exit velocity (per Statcast), that's well off last year's mark (92nd percentile), and several other power indicators (like PX and xPX) show that he's not hitting the ball quite as hard as he did the past three years.

Ramos has put a slow start behind him, and been one of the most productive catchers in the league since late May. He offers a combination of a rock-solid batting average with decent power, and even chipped in with the first steal of his career in 2019. Despite the recent consistency in his home run per fly ball rate, he may have a hard time maintaining that level, and all of the ground balls further caps his home run upside. Even so, the 32-year-old still has plenty left in the tank, and should continue to produce through the rest of 2019, and should be an attractive target in drafts again next year.

 

Wheeler slowing down...  After putting up a 2.21 ERA across 14 second half starts in 2018, big things were expected from Zach Wheeler in 2019. By the time March rolled around, he had really gained some helium, and had an NFBC Main Event ADP of 64. He hasn't lived up to expectations, as he now has a 4.46 ERA through 25 starts, but is he better than this?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK/SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%/S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  =======  ====  ========  =====  ====  ===
2014  185  3.54  3.37  3.8  9.1  2.4  54%/10%  95.0  54/19/27  31/75   10%   92
2015   Did Not Pitch
2016   Did Not Pitch
2017   86  5.21  4.50  4.2  8.4  2.0  61%/10%  94.6  47/23/30  34/71   19%   64
2018  182  3.31  3.74  2.7  8.8  3.3  62%/11%  95.9  44/20/35  29/72    8%  108
2019  155  4.46  4.17  2.4  9.0  3.7  66%/11%  96.7  45/20/35  33/68   13%  120

Wheeler's skills are pretty impressive, though not elite:

  • He has whiffed 24% of the batters he has faced for the second straight season, and is striking out right at a batter per inning. However, over his last three starts, he has a nine percent K%, with just 7 K and 7 BB in 16 IP. 
  • During the recent three-game stretch, he boasts a weak six percent SwK on his four-seamer, a pitch he throws nearly 60% of the time, compared to a 12% mark on the pitch in his first 22 starts.
  • He has shown stellar control throughout most of the season, which comes with the support of an excellent FpK.
  • Wheeler was a little lucky that such a low percentage of fly balls against him cleared the fence in 2018. Not surprisingly, he's allowed more home runs in 2019, and has also had slightly less fortune with both his hit and strand rates.

Expectations were sky-high for Wheeler after his huge second half in 2018, but his xERA was more than a run higher than his ERA during that time, and the swing-and-miss stuff (11% SwK) was ok, but not great. His skills haven't been all that different in 2019, but he's been a little unlucky instead of a little lucky. Wheeler does appear to be wearing down over the past couple weeks, so there's a chance he may not be his usual self down the stretch. Most signs do point to a rebound in 2020, though, but he simply doesn't generate enough whiffs to evolve into the ace owners were hoping for this season.

 

Brault not a very attractive option... After working almost exclusively out of the pen in the majors in 2018, with middling results, Steven Brault (LHP, PIT) has made the transition back to a starter in 2019. He's lowered his ERA by more than half a run, but do the skills support the improved results? 

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%/S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  ====  ========  =====  ====  ===
2016* 105  5.42  5.93  4.9  8.0  1.7  48%  10%  91.0  45/26/29  37/71   15%   45
2017* 155  3.11  3.63  3.6  6.3  1.7  52%   8%  91.9  42/20/38  30/78    7%   64
2018   92  4.61  4.86  5.6  8.1  1.4  57%  11%  92.5  48/19/33  30/72   12%   20
2019   89  4.06  4.97  4.0  7.6  1.9  57%  10%  91.9  45/20/35  31/73    9%   53
*Includes MLEs

Not exactly. Brault isn't likely to sustain an ERA around 4.00 over the long haul:

  • He continues to dish out a heavy dose of free passes, and it all starts with a consistently poor FpK. His Ctl is going to remain a problem area.
  • He's getting a few less swings and misses this season, as his change-up, which had a 14% SwK prior to this year, is down to eight percent. Meanwhile, his four-seam fastball, which he throws about half the time, is also getting whiffs at just an eight percent rate, and batters are hitting .281 and slugging .479 against the pitch.
  • On the flip side, Brault has been having success with his slider in 2019, as he's limiting batters to a .183 average and .099 ISO on the pitch, while recording a strong 20% SwK.
  • He has benefited from a low home run per fly ball rate, and while his home park, where he has allowed just 3 HR in 44.2 IP, does help, he's giving up a lot of hard contact, ranking in the 40th percentile or worse in Hard Hit %, exit velocity, and xSLG.

Brault has been a serviceable starter to this point, but as shown by the ERA/xERA gap, he has been pretty fortunate. There's not a single 2.0 Cmd in the chart above, and walks are going to remain a major concern for the left-hander. Using Brault may make sense in the right matchup, but he's definitely not built for long-term success.


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