Hitters on the Rise: Albies, Segura, & Rosario

With our auction calculator update, I going to look at three top-rated batters.

Ozzie Albies

In my recent Launch Angle podcast, I had a tough time deciding if I’d draft Ozzie Albies or Jose Altuve in a new 2018 league. I decided I’d go with Altuve but being that I had to think about it, I needed to see if I buy Albies’s ascension into a possible first or second round talent.

Others and myself had an idea Albies was going to be good but just not hit for so much power. If someone would have told me to predict six and 13 for Albies’s home runs and stolen base totals, I would have swapped them. Last year, he had 15 HR and 29 SB. The season before, it was 6 HR and 30 SB. I figured the speed was safe (and it is) but his power may come later. I was right, he isn’t hitting for more power, he’s utilizing his it better.

First, here’s his StatCast 20 to 80 power grades.

Ozzie Albies StatCast Power Grades
Stat 2016 2017
Max EV 40 45
Avg EV 50 50
Max Dist 50 50
Avg Dist 55 60
Barrels 50 63

While some small improvement exists, most of the values are the same except for Barrels.

This improvement comes down to him raising his launch angle from 15.0 degrees to 17.3 degrees. His groundball rate is down from 41% to a nearly ideal 35%.

Besides raising his launch angle some, pitchers aren’t afraid of him yet. With Albies normally hitting second in the lineup, pitchers are just pounding the strike zone with fastballs.

His Zone% is up from 47% last year to 49% this year. Because of the extra strikes, his walk rate has dropped from 9% to 5%.

I believe pitchers are more afraid of Freddie Freeman right now and don’t want to walk Albies who can then steal a base. Of the six players with 13 HR, Albies is the only one who hasn’t been intentionally walked this season.

I’m having a tough time putting a value on Albies but his gains are coming from two areas where they are most likely to stick, plate discipline and launch angle.

The one aspect of his game which worries me a bit is potential plate discipline changes as pitchers begin to attack him differently. I’m glad I get another 120 games to base next year’s decision on. If his owners want to move him, I believe one owner is willing to move one of their hitters taken in the first or second round. Aim high.

Jean Segura

When I saw Segura 10th, I was surprised. I went and looked at his stats and went back to check his ranking. Still 10th.

The deal is that he hasn’t changed much from last season. His 2017 slash line: .300/.349/.427. And in 2018: .314/.337/.434. He’s the same hitter but his value upswing is from three tough to predict factors: health, lineup positioning, and stolen base success.

Health: Segura has played in 41 of the Mariners 42 games. 187 PA, the league’s 20th highest total. The extra at-bats have helped him accumulate 29 Runs and 28 RBIs which ties into the next factor.

Lineup Position: With the addition, of Dee Gordon, Segura moved down from the leadoff to the second spot. While he generated 80 Runs last season, his RBI total was only 45. With the move down, his mix is even (29/28) so far.

Stolen Base Success Rate: His success rate at stealing bases is at a career-high level.

Jean Segura’s Stolen Base Success Rate
Season SB Success Rate
2012 7 88%
2013 44 77%
2014 20 69%
2015 25 81%
2016 33 77%
2017 22 73%
2018 11 92%

Before this season, he averaged a 76% success rate but as a 28-year-old, he’s at a career high. Right now, a stolen base total under 30 might be a disappointment.

Segura’s been a sneaky good play and he might be a good trade target for owners needing middle infield help.

Eddie Rosario

Like Segura, Rosario hasn’t changed much with 2017 triple slash at .290/.328/.507 and this year it is at .296/.323/.553. A small power increase can be seen and explained.

This improvement is from raising his launch angle from 13 to 21 degrees which dropped his groundball rate from 42% to 34%. While he’s posted a 16% FB% the last couple of years, the extra flyballs mean more home runs.

Additionally, Rosario has seen a boost in his counting stats by hitting higher in the lineup. To start off last season, he was buried at the bottom and didn’t move up until after mid-season. He only hit in the top 5 spots in 51 of this 145 games (35%). This season, his total is 35 of 37 games (95%). This upward movement has helped to increase his counting stats.

Rosario has been sneakily good and his owner might not even know. While he has more value in an AVG instead of and OBP league, he’s a perfectly acceptable 2nd or 3rd outfield option.



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Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won three FSWA Awards including on for his MASH series. In his first two seasons in Tout Wars, he's won the H2H league and mixed auction league. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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Anon
Member
Anon

I too worry about Albies’ plate discipline, but while his chase rate is high, it’s not that high as he’s 35th of 168 qualified hitters in chase rate (ranked highest chase rate to lowest, ie, Joe Mauer is 168th). He’s actually ranked one spot ahead of Jose Altuve who has always been aggressive and willing to chase outside the zone and he’s done OK.

Two corrections:
– the Albies chart says 2016/17 when I think it should say 2017/18
– Albies has been hitting leadoff starting not long after Acuna was called up

Sleepy
Member
Sleepy

Third correction:
– using the 20-80 scale, the values on the right side of the chart should all be 90s

Ashman
Member
Ashman

Fourth correction: typo in “I was right, he isn’t hitting for more power, he’s utilizing his it better.”

Unless “it” is some advanced metric that will shatter all mysteries of the baseball universe.