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Total Speed: Profar is Already Missing a Tool

Jurickson Profar finally got some decent time in the majors during the 2013 season because of an Ian Kinsler injury. Plenty of hype surrounded the 20-year-old since he was a generally considered the game’s top prospect going into last season. He is still a young with plenty of room for growth, but I am worried about speed limiting his fantasy potential.

Before I delve into the numbers, all of Profar’s value will hinge on his playing time. Last season, the best prospect in baseball didn’t have a position with Ian Kinsler at second and Elvis Andrus at shortstop. The lack of an everyday position never opened up until Kinsler got hurt. Once Profar was given a chance to start, he didn’t exactly excel at the plate. He hit .234/.308/.336 with 6 HR and 2 SB. Most of the switch hitter’s struggles came against left-handed pitchers with a .188/.291/.250 line.

For 2014, his hitting should improve. Steamer projects him at .246/.320/.384 which would still make him a below average hitter. While not a huge improvement, people have got to remember he will only be 21 and hopefully contributing at a premium position. At this point in his career, the words of scouts need to believed when it comes to his hitting ability.

The biggest concern I have with him is his speed. Consider these 2013 numbers:

Any way a person looks at these values, the speed is just not good. I decided to look a little more at available data. I timed the one time he hit into a double play and it took him 4.35 seconds to sprint to 1B from the right side. That time rates at a scouting score of 45, or just above league average speed. Also, I went to the Fan Scouting Report to get an idea on his speed. He rated above average for both his first step reaction (67) and sprint speed (65). I don’t give 100% trust the Fan Scouting Report since it seems to possibly over value highly touted prospects (see Batter Nine You Sucky)

I have been working on my own speed metric. **  Currently, the metric takes a weighted value of ground balls and bunts turned into hits, line drives turned into extra base hits and SB success rate. Its final value will be on the 20 to 80 scouting scale. Profar came in with a score of 27. He ranked 261 out of 276 hitters (min 300 PA).  Here are the values (named Total Speed for now) behind the low score compared to the league average.

Name Total Speed LD XBH% GB BABIP SB%
Jurickson Profar 27 12% 0.170 33%
League Average 40 17% 0.239 67%

He is below average in all metrics. He doesn’t beat out many ground balls, doesn’t take the extra base on line drives and is ineffective in stealing bases. Nothing he currently does points to continued success on the base paths. For comparison, in 2005 The Fans thought highly of Betancourt’s speed, but Total Speed rated him worse than Profar at 26.

Can Jurickson Profar improve? Sure, but generally speed only declines as a player ages. I think he will hit fine, but his lack of speed at a young age will limit his upside (less infield hits, less doubles to triples). If he is able to get to 10 SB with a near league average success rate, I will be impressed. The future is bright for young Mr. Profar, but don’t see him turning into a five tool player.

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** While FanGraphs has a couple of speed indicators, UBR and Speed Score, I wanted a metric which was  both transparent and reasonable. With Speed Score, I don’t like the having Runs scored being  part of the equation. With UBR, I have no idea which component is causing the low scores.

So I created my own metric using three inputs and here are its current three components

I weighted the values by trial and error to get the final value. For example, the line drive double and triple value needed to be lessened because the ability to hit the ball hard had too much weight. I am still working on finalizing the metric, but here are the values from the last fives season to examine. Let me know if anything is out of place.

Finally,  I named my new metric Total Speed, but would like to come up with a better name. Any suggestions.