FACTS/FLUKES: Lindor, Gsellman, Mazara, Renfroe, Pressly

Lindor's skills support his elite status... In his first full season in the majors, Francisco Lindor (SS, CLE) batted .301 while continuing to display the power-speed combo that made him a rookie sensation in 2015. How did his skills compare?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%   Eye  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO  HR/SB
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ====  ========  =======  ====  =======  =====
2014# 507  .248          7   79  0.36                   67/           104/29%   9/23
2015* 619  .298  .275    7   82  0.45    92  51/21/29   92/ 75   13%  139/17%  14/20
2016  604  .301  .282    9   85  0.65    95  49/22/28   77/ 74   10%  121/13%  15/19
#MLEs
*Includes MLEs

Mostly the same, but there are a few subtle signs of growth:

  • Lindor's steady Eye improvement has been encouraging, and he posted the best bb% and ct% of his career in 2016.
  • However, his power output regressed in 2016, as his PX moved back in line with his xPX, which makes sense, given his low FB%. But thanks to his high AB total, he was still able to compile 15 HR with full skill support.
  • His Spd skill remained elite, and he has an 82% stolen base success rate in the majors, though SBO shows that he hasn't been tapping into it as much as he did in the minors. There's SB upside should he ever start running more often.
  • It's a small sample, but if you're looking for reason for further optimism in 2017, Lindor posted a 17% bb%, 1.31 Eye, 124 HctX, 32% FB%, and 109 xPX in 84 AB in September 2016. It may be nothing, but you never know when a young player might be turning a corner.

At 23, Lindor has already blossomed into a near-$30 player with strong skill support and very little downside risk, and we may not have seen his best work yet. He remains an exciting young player that you can roster with confidence.


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Is Gsellman the next great Mets starter?... Though he didn't come as highly-touted as the other arms in the Mets' rotation, Robert Gsellman (RHP, NYM) impressed in his 2016 debut, posting a 2.42 ERA over seven starts and one relief appearance. Was he as good as he looked?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===
2015#  92  4.01  3.82  2.5  4.2  1.7            30/69                   48
2016* 160  3.60  3.66  2.5  6.6  2.7  54/23/23  31/73    4%  61%  10%   81
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
16MLB  45  2.42  3.52  3.0  8.5  2.8  54/23/23  33/80    4%  61%  10%  103
#MLEs
*Includes MLEs

Not quite, but there were still things to like:

  • Gsellman's xERA was a full run higher than his ERA, as he got some serious help from S% and hr/f. He was good, just not the budding ace that his ERA made him out to be.
  • That said, his Cmd was very good, he had a strong GB% and above average FpK, and he struck out a higher than usual number of hitters. For a rookie pitcher, this was a very positive first exposure to the majors.
  • Given his Dom history, we will need to see a larger sample before we can fully buy into that 8.5 mark he put up in the majors. He did reportedly add a slider to his repertoire in 2016, which might explain the sudden jump in strikeouts.

Gsellman was given a 7B rating and #3 starter upside by BaseballHQ.com's minor league analysts, and at 23, he's still very much in growth mode. Exercise patience while you track the evolution of his Dom and SwK, and be prepared for the possibility of a shift to the bullpen or an assignment back to Triple-A along the way.

 

Do Mazara's skills suggest any further power upside in 2017?... Nomar Mazara (OF, TEX) was a pleasant surprise in 2016, earning extended playing time in the majors thanks to injuries and production that led to a 20-HR season. Can we expect anything more in 2017?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  HR  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f    vL
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====  ====
2014#  85  .293         3    8   73                  152/
2015# 490  .272        11    8   78                   85/
2016  516  .266  .254  20    7   78    91  49/21/30   84/ 77   16%  .548
------------------------------------------------------------------------
16-1H 282  .287  .269  11    7   82    84  44/25/31   79/ 71   15%  .577
16-2H 234  .239  .241   9    7   74   100  55/16/29   91/ 84   18%  .465

Not without some skill improvement:

  • Mazara's PX/xPX were below average, and his low FB% put a ceiling on his HR output. His hr/f was above average, which leaves him hard-pressed to find a way to hit more HR without first raising his fly ball rate.
  • The differences between his first and second halves in 2016, particularly his sharp drop in ct% and transition to more ground balls and fewer line drives, suggest that pitchers made adjustments against him as the season wore on.
  • He struggled pretty badly against lefties, a problem that only got worse as the season went on. He also posted a paltry 22 PX vs. LHP, compared to a 100 PX vs. RHP.

Mazara's still very young, only 22, so time and talent are on his side as he attempts to counter the adjustments made against him. His skills say that he's more likely to repeat 2016's HR output than to build on it, but seeing as how as he's currently off to a hot start, keep an eye on his underlying power metrics (FB%, xPX, and hr/f) to confirm whether there's any true growth at work.

 

Renfroe needs to add plate discipline to his power... Considered one of the top power prospects in baseball, Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD) made his major league debut in 2016, batting .371 with 4 HR in a brief 35 AB stint with the Padres. Do his skills suggest he's ready to stick in the majors?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  HR  bb%  ct%   Eye  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ====  ====  ==  ===  ===  ====  ====  ========  =======  ====
2014# 224  .202         4    9   73  0.35                   82/
2015# 511  .231        15    5   70  0.18                  108/
2016* 568  .256  .244  25    3   75  0.11    81  43/13/43  124/125   31%
#MLEs
*Includes MLEs

There are some reasons to be wary:

  • Renfroe's growing power was on full display in 2016, even in his small MLB sample—a 43% fly ball rate and 125 xPX are a solid base to build on, though his hr/f will not be repeated over a full season.
  • But any excitement over his power has to be tempered a bit by his gradually eroding Eye. A batting Eye of 0.11 puts him at a greater risk of a sub-.250 BA and, given his low walk rates, a poor OBP, both of which could put his playing time at risk.
  • Renfroe did post an 86% contact rate in his MLB sample, which is encouraging, but it's highly likely pitchers will make adjustments as they get a longer look at him.

The 25-year-old Renfroe is currently in place as San Diego's everyday right fielder, and the fact that the Padres are in rebuilding mode should give him a longer leash in the event that he struggles at the plate. Look to his bb%, ct%, and Eye as potential indicators of how well he'll be able to continue tapping into his elite power.

 

Is Pressly worth targeting in MIN bullpen?... Ryan Pressly (RHP, MIN) tied for 4th in the AL in games pitched (72) in 2016, a sign of the 28-year-old's growing role in the Minnesota bullpen. Could he be next in line for saves if the opportunity arises?

Year  IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  GB/LD/FB  H%/S%  hr/f  FpK  SwK  BPV    LI
====  ==  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  =====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ====
2013  77  3.87  4.29  3.2  5.8  1.8  44/21/35  28/70    6%  46%   8%   40  0.70
2014  28  2.86  4.32  2.5  4.4  1.8  47/27/26  29/83   12%  59%   9%   36  0.81
2015  28  2.93  4.40  3.9  7.2  1.8  47/20/33  33/77    0%  59%   9%   48  0.93
2016  75  3.70  4.36  2.7  8.0  2.9  39/24/36  33/76   10%  57%  12%   87  1.19

The skills case is not as strong:

  • Leverage Index is another indication that Pressly has been getting higher priority work with each passing season. And in the second half of 2016, his LI rose to 1.46.
  • But xERA shows that, overall, his skills have been flat, and BPV suggests that he has not been closer-worthy.
  • And while he had strong gains in Dom, Cmd, and SwK in 2016, that growth was offset by a sharp reduction in GB% and a backslide in FpK, which casts doubt on his ability to repeat his 2.7 Ctl mark.

The Twins bullpen is hardly set in stone, as current closer Brandon Kintzler (RHP, MIN) is far from a lock (5.8 Dom, 109 BPV in 2016), and there are no strong internal candidates to replace him, so Pressly makes sense as a speculative option. But without further skill growth, he's unlikely to help you much in non-save categories, and might prove just as shaky if he were to win the 9th inning role.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.