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Ender’s Game

What does the future behold for Ender Inciarte?

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In Ender's second season, he blew up in fantasy circles with a mostly unnoticed breakout campaign.  He's now in Atlanta, hitting in a significantly worse lineup, worse home park, and against the pitching staffs the NL East is comprised of.  On the flip side, he will likely be slotted into the leadoff spot, and be given ample opportunity to score more runs should he continue producing on the Braves.

Inciarte has a very very strong ability to make contact, and is also very very fast.  Now obviously the hit tool is what you need to work for speed to show up, Billy Hamilton has proven the inverse does not work.  So let's play the blind resume game, and see if Ender is worth investing in going forward.

G

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BB%

K%

ISO

BABIP

AVG

OBP

SLG

BsR

154

689

15

86

66

38

4.80%

9.70%

0.146

0.329

0.313

0.353

0.459

-3.7

132

561

6

73

45

21

4.60%

10.30%

0.105

0.329

0.303

0.338

0.408

3.3

These are two players who are fast hitters, with good contact ability.  One of them is Ender Inciarte.  The first player had the better season as far as power and speed, and also walked slightly more, and struck out less.  They had identical luck on balls in play, but the first player was also considered a worse base runner.

BABIP

GB/FB

LD%

GB%

FB%

IFFB%

HR/FB

IFH

IFH%

BUH

BUH%

0.329

1.33

18.10%

46.70%

35.20%

8.40%

7.40%

34

12.70%

3

50.00%

0.329

2.03

21.70%

52.40%

25.90%

8.50%

5.10%

18

7.50%

8

47.10%

The first player however hit far fewer line drives than the second player, and was actually below league average.  He did however put more balls in the air, and that allowed him to put more balls over the wall.  The first player also was slightly more successful on bunt and infield hit rates, but they weren't significantly different.

Pull%

Cent%

Oppo%

Soft%

Med%

Hard%

45.30%

35.50%

19.10%

19.70%

54.30%

26.00%

34.00%

32.80%

33.20%

20.10%

53.90%

26.00%

The first player was a far worse hitter when it comes to spraying the ball around the field, making him much more prone to shifts, while the second player had a true all fields approach.  Both players were rather punchless, and had identical hard hit rates.

O-Swing%

Z-Swing%

Swing%

O-Contact%

Z-Contact%

Contact%

Zone%

F-Strike%

SwStr%

36.70%

71.90%

53.00%

81.90%

94.60%

89.80%

46.30%

65.50%

5.30%

34.70%

60.90%

47.20%

82.80%

94.20%

89.80%

47.60%

62.00%

4.90%

Now things start to favor the second player when it comes to plate discipline.  He has a more patient approach chasing fewer balls, but also taking more strikes, and swinging less in general.  He also has the ability to make more contact on balls when he is forced to chase, but almost matches the strike zone contact rate of player 1.  Player 2 also gets fewer first pitch strikes thrown against him, likely because of the difference in approach, and he swings and misses slightly less frequently than player 1.  Lastly, I'm not going to put the chart here, but player 1 has a speed score of 5.9, and player 2 has a speed score of 6.0.

So for perspective player 1 had the 5th best strikeout rate in baseball, the 4th most steals (154 games), and tied for the 5th best contact rate in baseball, and had the 24th best speed score.  Player 2 had the 8th best strikeout rate, the 21st most steals (132 games), was tied for the 5th best contact rate, and the 19th best speed score.

Player 2 is Ender Inciarte, Player 1 is Jose Altuve.  The point of this article is not to say they are equally valuable, but to notice the incredibly similar offensive skill set.  Obviously the value Altuve provides at the keystone amplifies what he does, and Inciarte's hitting isn't as exciting as an outfielder.  But it goes to show you, that if the league is deep enough, you can uncover similar production, all over the diamond.  This is more of an argument that I think you shouldn't bother paying up for Altuve, when you can get his stats much more cheaply from one of the last picks in your draft.  Instead I would recommend you paying less for an Inciarte, taking a player like Schoop at second, and with the savings, buying a higher profile outfielder or first baseman who can drag your team to victory.

Obviously team construction is key when it comes to owning a guy like Inciarte, his stat line isn't going to make your eyes open wide, but he quietly produces nightly.  Last year Inciarte missed 4 weeks with a hamstring strain.  I previously have not heard of him being injury prone, and I followed him closely last year.  John Hart has ran a tight ship in Atlanta, and has clearly been a man with a plan so far.  Him actively going out of his way to acquire Inciarte is a good thing in my eyes.  I hope he can handle the NL East staffs, and if he can, I can see him dropping hits all over the big fields of the East similar to what he did in the West last season.  I wouldn't recommend making Inciarte a key part of any draft plan you have, but if the price is right, Inciarte could be a great player to acquire cheaply in 2016.