handyandy86

Mike Yastrzemski 2020 Outlook

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This is probably a name that isn't going to have much interest for standard 10 or 12 team mixed leagues, but in deeper leagues I think he's someone worth talking about.  I just recently made a deal for him in my dynasty league, and was a little surprised at the amount of negative feedback I got on it.  It seems like the vast majority of people don't believe in what Yaz did in 2019.  Even among fantasy 'experts' there seems like a wide range of expectations for him in 2020, with some ranking him closer to 200th overall, and others closer to 400th overall.

My feeling after doing research on Yastrzemski is that 2019 was not a fluke.  The easy thing to do is look at someone that spent 5 years / until their age 28 season in the minors, and then suddenly broke out, as something that won't repeat itself.  But digging deeper I think there is more here than just luck.  First off, there is evidence that Yaz made a swing change during the off-season prior to 2019.  Unfortunately there is no Statcast or launch angle data for MiLB, but in his lengthy minors career, he had never hit more than 15 HR in a calendar year.  Then suddenly in 2019, Yaz amassed 33 HR total between AAA and MLB.  

Part of that HR increase I'm sure you can chalk up to the juiced ball, but again, I think there's more to it than that.  This article below didn't go into much detail, but speaks about working out with former Vanderbilt teammates in the off-season before 2019, with the main purpose being to re-tool his swing to barrel up the ball better, and keep his bat in the zone longer.  He makes some adjustments, adds some new drills to his routine, and then is suddenly raking:

https://www.nbcsports.com/bayarea/giants/mike-yastrzemski-has-seen-power-surge-first-season-giants

And while we don't have any previous data to compare to, Statcast data from 2019 shows the profile of a very good hitter.  The first thing that jumps off the page for me is his 18.5 degree Launch Angle.  There's no definitive data on what the "ideal" LA is, but however you slice it, 18.5 degrees is very close to optimal for hitting the ball in the air, and expected hit results.  Based on his complete lack of HR's previous to 2019, and knowing his 2019 LA was 18.5 degrees, I would expect that part of his swing change was to add more loft to his swing.  

Statcast also shows that he was just hitting the ball hard, and getting the barrel on the ball often.  42.9% Hard hit rate puts him in roughly the upper 75% of qualified batters.  His 11.2% Barrel rate was almost double the league average of 6.3%.  His Statcast expected slugging percentage (xSLG) was .510 compared to his actual SLG of .518 - the two numbers being almost identical continues to show that the outcomes Yaz saw directly aligned with his batted ball profile.

To further dispel the idea that his power surge was mostly due to the juiced ball, his average HR distance was 406 feet.  While not necessarily elite, that's in the top 100 of MLB hitters, and identical to the average HR distance of players like Nolan Arenado, Moncada, Schwarber, and Josh Donaldson, just to name a few.  This isn't a guy that was getting lucky hitting chip shots down the line - he was hitting the ball on average just as far as some of the most respected power bats in the game.

It's still very early for 2020 obviously, but the early projection is that he will be hitting lead-off for the Giants, which we all know brings a nice increase in AB's and run scoring opportunities.  The lineup behind him is hopefully just good enough to provide some production, but the team is also shallow enough to easily provide him full-time AB's.  Not many leagues go by individual OF positions, but for those that do, he's already qualified at LF and RF, and played a handful of games in 2019 in CF, with Steve Duggar slated to start there in 2020.  Yaz has above-average sprint speed and while he's not an amazing defender, he will hopefully see enough time in CF to qualify there in 2020 as well, giving full LF/CF/RF eligibility.

I don't really like making projections, but I think the current Steamer projection of a .243 AVG with 19 HR, 71 R, 64 RBI is very light.  I would expect more like a .260 AVG with 25 HR, and the possibility he goes over 30 HR (especially dependent on the level of juiced ball used in 2020).  Hitting lead-off even for a bad team, with a .330ish OBP, I'd expect at least 85 R, with the possibility for more.  R and RBI numbers will be heavily dependent on where he hits in the lineup, but based on the garbage SF has at the back half of their batting order, I can't see Yaz anywhere outside the 3 batting spots.  Hitting 2nd or 3rd would of course give more opportunity for RBI, while lead-off more opportunity for R.  

Anyone else feel confident in Yaz going into 2020? 

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2 hours ago, handyandy86 said:

My feeling after doing research on Yastrzemski is that 2019 was not a fluke.  The easy thing to do is look at someone that spent 5 years / until their age 28 season in the minors, and then suddenly broke out, as something that won't repeat itself.  But digging deeper I think there is more here than just luck.  First off, there is evidence that Yaz made a swing change during the off-season prior to 2019.  Unfortunately there is no Statcast or launch angle data for MiLB, but in his lengthy minors career, he had never hit more than 15 HR in a calendar year.  Then suddenly in 2019, Yaz amassed 33 HR total between AAA and MLB.   ...

Anyone else feel confident in Yaz going into 2020? 

I'm keeping him in a 16 team dynasty I have him in for sure.

It should be noted that the many years in the minors were with the Baltimore organization.  As soon as they basically gave up and sold him off to SF the Giants quickly made adjustments with him and promoted him to the majors.  His grandfather, the Yaz, said in a local interview that made all the difference.  The O's didn't seem to know what to do with him and SF, which Yaz felt was a far superior organization, immediately did.  That that move to SF made all the difference.

Makes you wonder how many minor league guys never make it just because they were in a poorly run/coached minor league systems that didn't know how to help them reach their potential.

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55 minutes ago, The Big Bat Theory said:

I'm keeping him in a 16 team dynasty I have him in for sure.

It should be noted that the many years in the minors were with the Baltimore organization.  As soon as they basically gave up and sold him off to SF the Giants quickly made adjustments with him and promoted him to the majors.  His grandfather, the Yaz, said in a local interview that made all the difference.  The O's didn't seem to know what to do with him and SF, which Yaz felt was a far superior organization, immediately did.  That that move to SF made all the difference.

Makes you wonder how many minor league guys never make it just because they were in a poorly run/coached minor league systems that didn't know how to help them reach their potential.

Hopefully they can fix Gausman too

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4 hours ago, handyandy86 said:

I don't really like making projections, but I think the current Steamer projection of a .243 AVG with 19 HR, 71 R, 64 RBI is very light.  I would expect more like a .260 AVG with 25 HR, and the possibility he goes over 30 HR (especially dependent on the level of juiced ball used in 2020).  Hitting lead-off even for a bad team, with a .330ish OBP, I'd expect at least 85 R, with the possibility for more.  R and RBI numbers will be heavily dependent on where he hits in the lineup, but based on the garbage SF has at the back half of their batting order, I can't see Yaz anywhere outside the 3 batting spots.  Hitting 2nd or 3rd would of course give more opportunity for RBI, while lead-off more opportunity for R.  

Anyone else feel confident in Yaz going into 2020? 

 

Lifelong Giants fan here and I had to pause at your 25-30 HR projection because I asked myself: when was the last time any Giants player hit over 25 HRs? 

Answer: Pence hit 27 in 2013.  Huff hit 26 in 2010.  Then Bonds in 2007 but we'll leave that era out.

So since the Bonds era that's two times in 11 years, or 18% of the time, that any member of the Giants has hit over 25 HRs. 

Digging deeper, no one has hit 30 HRs for this team since 2004(!) when Bonds hit 45 at age 39 😲 and, I kid you not, hit .362 with a .609 OBP with a 37.6% BB% and a 6.6% K% 😳.  Seriously, I had to read those stats over three times.  He put up 11.9 WAR that year. 🤮

 

This is to say that it's amazing how power-starved the Giants have been for over a decade.  It's also useful to note that it takes a video-game season by Bonds to break the 30 HR threshold for the Giants.  So building on your post, I like the projection for Yaz of .260/.330-20-75-75 with potential for more counting stats depending on where he hits in the lineup and the possibility of a handful more HRs, though 30 seems distant.

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Not a shallow league target, but definitely a deep league name to know. I worry about a sub .250 avg and middling power, like the steamer projections list. But all deep league targets are all flawed where he is being drafted, so upside (as listed above) worth betting on, depending on team makeup.  If you are drafting a bunch of other risks, might not be a good fit. But if you've gone conservative, could be a worthy gamble over other OF going around him.  Does seem to have a solid job, and roster resource even has him leading off, so that's a plus. 

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34 minutes ago, En Votto Veritas said:

 

Lifelong Giants fan here and I had to pause at your 25-30 HR projection because I asked myself: when was the last time any Giants player hit over 25 HRs? 

Answer: Pence hit 27 in 2013.  Huff hit 26 in 2010.  Then Bonds in 2007 but we'll leave that era out.

So since the Bonds era that's two times in 11 years, or 18% of the time, that any member of the Giants has hit over 25 HRs. 

Digging deeper, no one has hit 30 HRs for this team since 2004(!) when Bonds hit 45 at age 39 😲 and, I kid you not, hit .362 with a .609 OBP with a 37.6% BB% and a 6.6% K% 😳.  Seriously, I had to read those stats over three times.  He put up 11.9 WAR that year. 🤮

 

This is to say that it's amazing how power-starved the Giants have been for over a decade.  It's also useful to note that it takes a video-game season by Bonds to break the 30 HR threshold for the Giants.  So building on your post, I like the projection for Yaz of .260/.330-20-75-75 with potential for more counting stats depending on where he hits in the lineup and the possibility of a handful more HRs, though 30 seems distant.

 

That's a valid point, but I think a big part of that is the roster construction of the Giants teams of the last decade+.  Oracle is a poor HR park for sure, which doesn't help.  But the organization as a whole seems to very much be focused on adding "well rounded" or line-drive hitters, and has completely ignored the fly-ball revolution that's taken place.  Buster Posey, Longoria, Crawford, Belt, etc have been some of the most tenured bats over that time span, and none of those guys are power hitters by any stretch of the imagination.  

I'd be more alarmed if you saw power hitters going to SF and struggling heavily, but we don't really have that to compare.  I just sorted by HR for all Giants hitting stats in the last 10 seasons, and Yastrzemski is 18th on the list already in only 411 PA!  That's combined HRs over 10 years, not single seasons.  Brandon Crawford is 4th on the list with 98 HR in 4,718 PA, just for reference.

With 21 HR in only 411 PA, if Yaz leads off and plays the whole season healthy, I'd have to think 25 HR in 650+ PA is a pretty reasonable target.  And 30 is what I was implying as more of a ceiling.  Also FWIW, right field line is the shortest HR ball at Oracle at 340 feet, which helps it play a little more friendly for Yastrzemski's lefty swing.

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56 minutes ago, handyandy86 said:

That's a valid point, but I think a big part of that is the roster construction of the Giants teams of the last decade+.  Oracle is a poor HR park for sure, which doesn't help.  But the organization as a whole seems to very much be focused on adding "well rounded" or line-drive hitters, and has completely ignored the fly-ball revolution that's taken place.  Buster Posey, Longoria, Crawford, Belt, etc have been some of the most tenured bats over that time span, and none of those guys are power hitters by any stretch of the imagination.  

I'd be more alarmed if you saw power hitters going to SF and struggling heavily, but we don't really have that to compare.  I just sorted by HR for all Giants hitting stats in the last 10 seasons, and Yastrzemski is 18th on the list already in only 411 PA!  That's combined HRs over 10 years, not single seasons.  Brandon Crawford is 4th on the list with 98 HR in 4,718 PA, just for reference.

With 21 HR in only 411 PA, if Yaz leads off and plays the whole season healthy, I'd have to think 25 HR in 650+ PA is a pretty reasonable target.  And 30 is what I was implying as more of a ceiling.  Also FWIW, right field line is the shortest HR ball at Oracle at 340 feet, which helps it play a little more friendly for Yastrzemski's lefty swing.

Actually Yaz hit 21 homers in only 371 plate appearances last year according to Yahoo's stats.  Which is even more impressive. 

And nice point about the Giants skipping the juiced ball / flyball revolution.  Time to catch up before the juice is removed.

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Posted (edited)

Yaz's power is for real, even if its the worst ball park for it. Should repeat over 20+ HRs with a full season.

Batting average regression is my worry.. He struggled with elevated fastballs. The .207 BA with 32% K vs 4 Seam fastballs is a red flag. Good low-ball hitter, but see him getting challenged with the hard stuff more this year IMO.

That is 371 ABs and 411 PAs. FYI.  With questions about if the ball will be jucied again. He's not really someone i'm targeting personally. Doesn't mean he isn't worth a late round flier.

Edited by Slatykamora
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3 hours ago, Slatykamora said:

Yaz's power is for real, even if its the worst ball park for it. Should repeat over 20+ HRs with a full season.

Batting average regression is my worry.. He struggled with elevated fastballs. The .207 BA with 32% K vs 4 Seam fastballs is a red flag. Good low-ball hitter, but see him getting challenged with the hard stuff more this year IMO.

That is 371 ABs and 411 PAs. FYI.  With questions about if the ball will be jucied again. He's not really someone i'm targeting personally. Doesn't mean he isn't worth a late round flier.

 

With questions about the juice level of the ball, he's exactly the kind of bargain / underrated power bat I want. 18.5 degree LA and solid average HR distance suggests he doesn't necessarily need a juiced ball to hit dongs. If the ball becomes more pitcher-friendly then HRs will come at more of a premium, and Yaz could really end up being a bargain. 

The kind of hitter I'm leery of is one that has a lower LA and lower percentile average HR distance. Just take LeMahieu for example. Jumped from a career high of 15 HR (and that was hitting at Coors!) to 26 HR in 2019 with the super-juiced ball. Look under the hood and he had only a 6.7 degree LA, and an average HR distance of 386 feet, which is in the range of bottom-15 in MLB (depending how many minimum batted ball events you filter by). You take some of the juice out of the ball and a lot of his HRs could evaporate. 

(Not to get too far off track, but another name that ranked near the bottom of MLB in average HR distance in 2019 was Alex Bregman. If you combine a less hitter-friendly ball with not having every pitch fed to you illegally, he could be in for a good bit of regression). 

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I get that he's likely slated for a leadoff role to start the season but I'd be shocked if he stuck there. It'd be more likely he settles into a 5 or 6 spot in the lineup IMO. His profile is nothing like a typical 1 or 2 hitter. If he's productive maybe he can get into cleanup but that lineup is horrendous, its not like that will lend itself to a bump in production. If he was in a better offensive lineup he would be pretty exciting but as of now he's just a guy to monitor / flyer in deep leagues.

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As per my thoughts on Evan Longoria, Yaz put up a .928 OPS on the road.  He's a quality sleeper if indeed there are no more home games in SF.

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How many SB’s does everyone think he can get in a full season? 

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1 hour ago, xyzzy said:

Didn't they move the fences in, in S.F.?

And he hit 21 homers in 371 ABs so even if more were on the road that means a lot more homers in fewer ABs in places not SF's pitchers' park.  If they move in the walls even a little this will help him.  Yes pitcher/hitter cat/mouse game in a sophomore season but not all hitters have sophomore slumps and the guy has legit power.

Once he got out from under that inept Baltimore organization's poor minor league system/coaching and gotten good coaching in SF he has flourished.  So much is in the coaching and organization more than what ball park someone plays in and we forget that often times.  Also it helps to have good baseball genes.

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On 4/11/2020 at 11:50 AM, xyzzy said:

Didn't they move the fences in, in S.F.?

Yes, in CF, but not drastically. 5 to 10 feet in different spots. The jury is still out on how much it'll boost offense.

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Posted (edited)
7 hours ago, hangin n wangin said:

This guy is pretty good. Had a weird feeling about him going in and it’s paying off.

 

Nice. It helps to be related to a former player these days, it seems. :P [...] NOTE, he goes to Coors for 4 games early next week. He'll regress, but if he keeps hitting well at the 1 spot, we should get a lot of runs and decent avg/ops, few HRs. anyone know if he can grab some bags?

Edited by tonycpsu
Removed Cool Story

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5 hours ago, aapox said:

Nice. It helps to be related to a former player these days, it seems. :P [...] NOTE, he goes to Coors for 4 games early next week. He'll regress, but if he keeps hitting well at the 1 spot, we should get a lot of runs and decent avg/ops, few HRs. anyone know if he can grab some bags?

No he has no real speed.  But he hit 21 homers in 371 AB's last year.  So his power is totally real so you will get more than a few homers.  21 homers while playing in SF is nothing to ignore.

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I'm in. Gotta root for the guy. Kicked around for years despite the Yastrzemski name then gets a chance and runs with it. Great story

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3 hours ago, Crusaderfan said:

I'm in. Gotta root for the guy. Kicked around for years despite the Yastrzemski name then gets a chance and runs with it. Great story

Yeah apparently the Baltimore coaches didn't know what to do with him all these years and then they just sell him off to SF.  Their coaches have him up in the majors within a few months.  What organization you are with matters.

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