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Aaron Altherr is breaking out

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The young Phillies outfielder is off to a hot start in 2017. Why do I think he can keep it up all year? Find out here.

MLB: Seattle Mariners at Philadelphia Phillies Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Aaron Altherr got everyone excited about his potential with a great run in 2015, where he racked up 5 homers and 6 steals in just 161 PAs, with a good walk rate. He was hyped in fantasy leagues going into 2016, but sadly he was hurt in spring training (torn wrist tendon sheath) and missed much of the season. When he came back, he hit 4 homers and tallied 7 steals, but with a 0.202 average and 0.293 slugging in 227 PA.

With the Phillies’ acquisitions of Howie Kendrick and Michael Saunders in recent years, corner outfield spots were in short supply going into 2017. This pushed Altherr to a backup role and off the fantasy radar.

But then, good news (unless you are Howie Kendrick)! Kendrick hits the DL and opens up a spot for Altherr. Let’s see what he’s done with this opportunity!

Oh, how about a 0.343/0.425/0.671 triple slash, with 5 HR and 3 SB in just 80 PA. Gander at his 11% walk rate, career-low 25% strikeout rate, and other goodness.

Before we get to the sauce for that other goodness, I should address the fact that he is running a 0.422 BABIP. That’s going to come down some. However, everything else I’m going to show you tells me a return to a 0.320 BABIP or so won’t do much damage.

Now for the sauce:

  • His ground ball % has dropped from 51% last year to a much better 42%.
  • His fly ball % has increased more than 11% (good for home runs and power in general)
  • His hard hit rate has jumped from a blah 29.5% to a stellar 42%
  • His pop up rate dropped from about 3% to 2%
  • He shaved almost 2% from his swinging strike rate
  • He’s chasing less and making more contact
  • The Phillies have batted him mostly in the 2, 3, and 4 spots in the lineup
  • If Statcast is your thing, he’s in the top 40 in average exit velocity and the top 75 in barrels per batted ball event.
  • Also, he’s spraying the ball all over the field, with power in all directions.
Courtesy of baseballsavant.com

While I don’t think he’s going to hit over 0.300 all year, everything else seems legit and a 20/20 season is well within his reach if he stays a starter all season. I expect a 0.240-0.250 average with a good OBP and a total of 23 HR and 18 steals when the season is over. That is certainly a mixed-league relevant outfielder. If it’s not too late, go out and grab Altherr. Tschus!