FACTS/ FLUKES: Andrus, Nova, Glasnow, Harrison, Gonzales

Can Andrus get his SB groove back?  ... Elvis Andrus (SS, TEX) has been a reliable source of 25 SBs who improved his draft stock with a big bump in power two seasons ago. But he suffered a fractured elbow last April and wasn't the same offensive threat when he returned to the lineup. A full season of ABs will help his counting stats, but is a repeat of 2017 achievable?

Year   AB   BA    xBA  bb%  ct%  HctX  GB/LD/FB   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO  HR/SB
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ====  ========  =======  ====  =======  =====
2015  596  .258  .266    7   87   104  47/21/32   67/ 70    4%  107/22%   7/25
2016  506  .302  .289    8   86    95  48/24/29   80/ 68    6%  140/21%   8/24
2017  643  .297  .289    6   84   104  49/20/32   97/ 80   12%  115/22%  20/25
2018  395  .256  .255    7   83   104  50/19/31   67/ 59    6%  131/ 8%   6/ 5 

Andrus is a decent bet to return to 20 SBs, but don't expect the HRs to return.

  • Andrus' plate approach (ct%, bb%) didn't budge from the prior year.
  • The 2017 HR total is an anomaly driven by an inflated hr/f that was double the level seen three of the past four years.
  • Aside from luck, Andrus' GB% and subpar PX levels tell us power isn't his game.
  • Andrus still has good speed and last season's SB total was a product of a low SBO%.

It's hard to believe that Andrus, 30, is starting his 11th big league season in Arlington. It's worth noting that he swiped at least 20 bases in each season until last year, when he failed to reach double digits. And he averaged almost 600 ABs between 2010-2017 with an xBA that stayed within a range of .257-.289. The biggest wildcard is the extent to which Andrus gets the green light to run, but 15-plus SBs and a .270ish BA are reasonable to expect with some speed upside.

 

Nova's sleeper spotlight goes dark ... It wasn't long ago that Ivan Nova (RHP, CHW) was a popular sleeper pick. His strikeout rate was up, walks were down and he'd moved to Pittsburgh where he could be further molded by Ray Searage. But the breakout never happened, and Nova and his middling track record move to the South Side.  Is there any reason to expect anything different?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  HR/9
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ==  ====  ====
2015   94  5.07  4.50  3.2  6.0  1.9  55%   8%  49/19/32  30  66   13%   1.2
2016  162  4.17  3.74  1.6  7.1  4.5  62%  10%  54/19/28  32  71   16%   1.3
2017  187  4.14  4.30  1.7  6.3  3.6  64%   9%  46/23/31  31  73   16%   1.4  
2018  161  4.19  4.38  2.0  6.4  3.3  57%   9%  46/20/34  30  73   15%   1.5 

Nova's skills profile leaves little reason to think he'll develop further:

  • Nova's game is Ctl and Cmd, but the steep drop in FpK is worrisome.
  • The lack of Ks is a liability in today's game, and Nova's Dom significantly below the AL avg.
  • HRs have been Nova's Achilles heel and the move from PIT to Guarantee Rate Field (+17% LHB HR) doesn't help.

Simply put, there's not a lot of reason for optimism when it comes to Nova. And not much upside. While the solid Ctl helps maintain an average-ish WHIP, there's no sign the lack of strikeouts and HR track record will cease to make the 32-year-old anything but an innings eater.

 

Is this Glasnow's post-hype moment? ... Tyler Glasnow (RHP, TAM) dominated all levels in the minors, but he hasn't repeated that success in the big leagues. A trade to Tampa last summer landed him a starting role, where he pitched fairly well. Is this the year Glasnow realizes his potential?

Year    IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   HR/9  hr/f  BPV
====   ===  ====  ====  ===   ===  ===  ===  ===  ========  ====  ====  ===
2015*  104  2.78  2.52  3.4   9.3  2.7  N/A  N/A     N/A          N/A  116  
2016#  140  2.82  3.03  5.5   9.1  1.7  61%  12%  48/21/32        10%   87
2017#  155  4.64  4.59  4.6   9.7  2.1  56%   8%  43/21/36        18%   72
2018   112  4.27  3.44  4.3  11.0  2.6  58%  12%  50/20/30  1.2   18%  110 
*MLEs
#Includes MLEs

There are good things happening here, but Glasnow has a couple of warts that can't be ignored:

  • Glasnow ramped up his velocity (96.6) and Ks last year. The Dom rate fell a tad when he moved into the rotation, but remained 10.3 as a starter.
  • Control continues to be the one of the biggest problems holding him back.
  • While he ramped up his GB%, Glasnow was also undone by HRs.

Glasnow fits the mold of a pitcher who can dominate opponents for much of a game and be undone with a walk and a homer. But keep in mind he's still just 25 and, like teammate Blake Snell, a slight improvement in Ctl and a little better job keeping the ball in the park could yield big results. In the meantime, xERA and a triple-digit BPV shows he has value now, but with upside.

 

Is Harrison being overlooked? ... Previously a reliable source of double-digit steals, Josh Harrison (2B, DET) had a disappointing final year in Pittsburgh that included missing five weeks with a broken hand and a bothersome hamstring injury. Now in Detroit, can he bounce back and be an under-the-radar speed source?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  =======
2015  418   4/10  .287  .263   4    83  41/25/34  34   104   77/96     3%  118/17%
2016  487   4/19  .283  .250   3    84  44/19/36  33    95   63/99     3%  149/19%
2017  486  16/12  .272  .260   5    81  36/23/41  31   107   89/120   10%  107/14%
2018  344   8/ 3  .250  .245   5    80  38/25/37  29    97   51/120    8%   99/4%

There's reason to think Harrison should rebound:

  • Harrison's average dipped, but his approach at the plate (bb%, ct%) is the same as previous seasons.
  • HR output fell by half thanks to fewer ABs and dips in FB% and hr/f. But the gap between PX and xPX suggests he should near his 2017 career best HR total with enough playing time.
  • Harrison's Spd and SBO% have been in decline the past two years, but last year's hamstring issues played a part.

It's fair to give Harrison an injury mulligan for last season. While there remains some question how much the 31-year-old will be given the green light on the basepaths under Ron Gardenhire, Harrison's bat is good enough to log full-time ABs for the rebuilding Tigers. And Harrison's xPX and Spd profile should produce double-digit HRs and SBs with a decent BA. 

 

Can Gonzales build on last year's gains? ... In his first full year back from Tommy John surgery, Marco Gonzales (LHP, SEA) posted a career high in IP and started 29 games with a respectable 4.00 ERA. Is there more to come from the 27-year-old?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F    H%  S% hr/f  BPV 
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  === === ====  === 
2015*  79  5.67  6.53  2.8   5.9  2.1  75%   3%  36/36/29   38  69  25%   38
2016  ------------------------------Tommy John surgery----------------------
2017* 120  4.52  4.60  2.5   6.6  2.6  60%  10%  45/23/32   39  69  18%   61
2018  167  4.00  3.71  1.7   7.8  4.5  66%   7%  45/25/30   32  70  11%  117
*inc. MLEs

Gonzales' skills suggest there's upside here:

  • He modestly outpitched his ERA, which was dinged a little by H%.
  • Gonzales' already solid Ctl took a good step forward, fully backed by FpK.
  • He bumped his Dom by more than a K/9, though SwK raises questions about his ability to maintain the K rate.

Gonzales, Seattle's Opening Day starter, isn't the kind of pitcher who will blow hitters away. His fastball tops out around 90 mph and he relies on deception, a mix of four pitchers and control to get outs. Like other control pitchers, he'll rely on H% and hr/f gods for success. But indicators suggest there's at least some improvement coming from the numbers he posted a year ago.


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