In this edition of the SQUINT Projection Project, we are going to examine the first base situation in Colorado. Depending on which site you use, you will receive a different idea of who is penciled in at first base for the Rockies in 2018.
Using Roster Resource, we see that Ryan McMahon is already projected as the strong-side platoon option at first base. FanGraphs and the Steamer/Depth Chart projections have Ian Desmond as the starting first baseman however.
With this disparity among sites and the fact that Roster Resource does not provide projections, something the majority of fantasy baseball owners are looking for, means that Ryan McMahon is a perfect player to examine in our SQUINT universe.
With quite a few first basemen still available on the free agent market, coupled with the fact that the Rockies are attempting to "go for it" with their recent reliever acquisitions, there's a chance the team opts to sign a proven veteran for the position. Of course, in the Squint universe, none of this matters. We aren't here to examine the 80% likely outcome, rather, we want to take a look at the 20% +/- outcome, which could pay huge dividends (depending on acquisition cost) for the 2018 fantasy baseball season.
In our current baseball universe, Steamer has Ryan McMahon projected for 26 games played and 107 plate appearances.
In our current baseball universe, this means that Ian Desmond is projected to be the primary first baseman for the Rockies in 2018. This by itself isn't an outlandish idea, Ian Desmond is a very good ball player when healthy and is more than capable of holding a big league job.
Ian Desmond is also versatile, having played both shortstop and the outfield during his big league career.
The outfield situation in Colorado is where this begins to get interesting. Currently, the same FanGraphs/Depth Chart projections slot Raimel Tapia into left field for 490 plate appearances. They also have David Dahl projected for 420 plate appearances in right field, with backup outfielder Gerardo Parra projected for the remaining time in both the corner outfield spots.
Here's what we know:
- Lacks power for corner outfield position
- Strong contact and line drive ability in the minor leagues
- Strike out rate has jumped considerably during MLB exposure
- Projected to be a below average hitter in 2018: 82 wRC+
- Was hyped by the fantasy community coming into 2017 (NFBC ADP: 126 - next OFer taken after Andrew Benintendi)
- Lost the majority of the season to injury (Rib Cage & Back Spasms)
- Performed poorly in 17 games at AAA - more than likely injury/timing related
- During 2016 cameo (63 games) displayed slightly above average power, but overall line was aided by a .404 BABIP. While Coors helps in this department, difficult to see that sustaining over an entire season.
- A better overall hitter than Raimel Tapia and more deserving of one of the corner outfield spots, if healthy.
- Is able to play the outfield, as evidenced by 2016 season with the Texas Rangers.
- Hand injury early in 2017 tanked power for the majority of the season.
- Speed was still an asset while Desmond was on the field - 15 stolen bases | 4 caught stealing
- GB/FB spiked, presumably due to hand injury not allowing him to get under the ball. Expect some regression towards his career mark of 1.68 GB/FB.
- Assuming health, will be a full-time player somewhere for the Rockies.
- Drastically improved his contact rate in 2017 (18.0% +/- K%) - Prior minor league K% = 26.75%
- Maintained an ISO well above league average (.210 in AA & .239 in AAA)
- Received 24 plate appearances in the big leagues and didn't do much at the dish.
- Will likely start the year in AAA, but could be one of the first big prospects to be recalled in 2018.
- Is currently projected by Steamer for the following:
107 PA | 3 HR | 13 R | 13 RBI | 2 SB | .284/.341/.452
McMahon is also a versatile player, with the ability to play 1b, 3b and now 2b. While the Rockies are covered at two of those positions, an injury early in the season could be another path to playing time.
Let's assume, like Jake Bauers, who we profiled yesterday, that Ryan McMahon is recalled in Mid-May, 2018. Like Bauers, this would increase McMahon's projected plate appearances (the driver of any projection) from 107 plate appearances to around 485 plate appearances.
To build our SQUINT Projection, we must determine certain inputs, such as:
- Plate Appearances
- SB% - success rate
- BB% - walk rate
- IBB% - intentional walk rate
- K% - strike out rate
- BABIP - batting average on balls in play
- GB% - number of balls in play hit on the ground
- LD% - number of balls in play that are line drives
- FB% - number of balls in play hit in the air
- HR/FB - number of fly balls that leave the park
2018 SQUINT Projection: Ryan McMahon
485 PA | 17 HR | 61 R | 76 RBI | 8 SB | .281/.342/.465/.807 | 0.184 ISO | 0.348 wOBA
In my recently completed 50-round, 15-team mixed, Draft & Hold league, Ryan McMahon was selected in the 24th round, 359th overall. Assuming McMahon comes within a stones throw of our SQUINT Projection, this particular pick could pay off quite well for the owner willing to take the gamble with what is essentially a reserve round draft selection.
Stats Courtesy of FanGraphs