6 HR. 19 PA. 4 games (edit on 4/11: 7 HR in 6 games now). That's Trevor Story's first week of baseball so far as a I write this on April 9. Maybe he will hit two more this weekend. Nothing would be surprising at this point.
So, what do we do with this? He's obviously not going to hit over 200 HRs (his current pace is at 243!) and scouts only gave him above-average power grades, so how do we, as fantasy players, evaluate his rest-of-season prospects?
Well, let's start with the scouting report. Dan Farnsworth over at Fangraphs said this:
Story was once touted as the heir to Troy Tulowitzki‘s shortstop, until a couple years of stagnant offensive development took away some of the shine on his prospect status. He is a hugely athletic guy that has the raw physical tools to provide value in every category, but his execution has been the source of his struggles. His hitting has been limited at times by his contact rate, while his defense could play at shortstop but fits better at third or second base due to inconsistency.
At the plate, similar to Forrest Wall above, Story can get stuck with his weight on his back side as he strides, then has nowhere to go with his upper body but lunging forward when he’s fooled by a pitch. He has a great fly-ball path that will help him tap into his raw strength, but his hands also can rush forward as he starts his swing, making him hook around or over a lot of balls instead driving them in the air. He did an excellent job cutting down on the strikeouts in 2015, and has a good enough eye to continue walking as he gets to the big leagues.
I have to admit I don’t get how Story can be thought of as less than a future major league starter. Even if you think he won’t hit for a high average and the strikeouts come back with a vengeance, he has enough power and patience to get on base at least at an average clip. His power is mostly to his pull side only, but he has a decent swing that could allow him to hit drives to all fields with only slight adjustments. Throw in an average arm and the ability to play the infield, and Story is still a very valuable asset.
He gave him 50/50/50 (hit/power/run) most likely scenario grades, with a ceiling of 55/55/55. That's not close to the 70 power he has shown this week, but gives you an idea of the perceptions of him. Kiley McDaniel, Fangraphs' previous prospect guy, gave Story 40/40/50 grades at the end of 2014.
None of those numbers are exciting and paint him as merely an average MLB hitter with the bat. In general, that would mean a 0.260 average and 15-18 homers, with league average baserunning. At the shortstop position, those numbers are actually useful in fantasy, but not top-5.
I have a vested interest in Story, as you may know from such articles as "Did I Make a Huge Mistake? Breakdown of a Trade." So, I want to get to the bottom of this and find a reasonable comp for the rest of Story's season. That negative Fangraphs article provides Javier Baez, Josh Rutledge, and Clint Barmes as comps. Those are obviously not inspiring names, but the jury is still out on Baez.
I'm going to offer another, more optimistic and yet still realistic comp.
|Trevor Story||2016 Depth Charts Proj.||15||52||56||14||7.50%||28.20%||0.183||0.248||0.31||0.431|
|Brandon Crawford||2016 Depth Charts Proj.||14||59||66||6||8%||20.80%||0.149||0.245||0.312||0.394|
While they aren't a perfect match, their 2016 Fangraphs depth chart projections (a blend of ZiPS and Steamer) for HR, R, RBI, AVG, OBP, and SLG are very close. The projections actually like Story's power more, mostly because Crawford did not show much power (10 HR or fewer) before 2015. Story's got more strikeout risk and more speed, but all-in-all, I think they are a good match offensively. Therefore, I think Crawford's 2015 season is a good representation of the best-case scenario for Story's 2016.
With Story's hot start, he only needs 15 home runs to get to 21, which exactly matches his projected total before this hot streak, so it is very realistic. Otherwise, that 0.256 average that Crawford put up is right in line with (Professor) Farnsworth's 50 hit-tool grade (0.260 average). Story can easily beat the steals total and is already at the K% mark. Moving forward, I am evaluating Story based on a Crawford comp. Crawford can go through cold streaks and is mostly reliant on power for production, but he was the #8 SS on ESPN's player rater last year. I think that is very achievable for Story this year. Given his added speed, a #7 or #6 finish isn't out of the question.
Whether you are trying to sell high on Story or trying to snag him from an owner that got him for peanuts in the draft and is looking to get some value for him, you should consider Crawford to be Story's likely value going forward. I would certainly trade Story for a top 5 SS option straight up, like Tulo (a good buy low), Lindor, or Seager. Below the top 5, I think I might hang on to Story to see where this goes. Like I said above, he will likely finish in the top 10, so you aren't taking much risk in keeping him if you can't get one of the top 5 guys.
My friend Joe recently sold Story for Tulo and a 2017 20th round draft pick. That's a good value and exactly the kind of trade I would be looking for. Tulo is down and struggled a little last season, but he's only 31, plays in a good ballpark and lineup, and has an incredible track record of elite performance. It is easy to forget how good he was in 2014 before getting hurt. There will always be an injury risk there, but the floor is very high when he's healthy and he could still be a top 3 SS easily.
My point is that you shouldn't be too excited about Story's hot start. "Well, duh," you say, "everyone knows that." Be ready for the return to reality, which might even be harsh, but still expect Crawford-levels of production the rest of the way. Pitchers will certainly throw new stuff at him and he will have to adjust. He could go the way of Joc Pederson last year, where pitchers dominated him in the second half after he looked like an all-star in the first.
But, it's ok to be excited! I know I am. This first week has been a blast and I can't complain about the ride Mr. Story has taken me on so far. If you want to keep him, believing that the scouts under-sold his power like they once did with Goldschmidt or J.D. Martinez, I wouldn't blame you.
Finally, I will leave you with this fascinating roto forum from January about Story. The third commenter looks very smart right now, while the fifth one already looks pretty silly. Another comp mentioned in that thread is Ian Desmond. That's actually a great one and I wish I had thought of that. The power/speed/strikeouts combo is a pretty good match there. I think Desmond has a little more power and speed, but still a good comp. Tschus!
P.S. I promised no surname puns and I delivered. You are welcome.