FACTS/FLUKES: Abreu, T. Rogers, Biggio, Keuchel, Verdugo

Abreu returns to 30+ HR territory... With better health in 2019, Jose Abreu (1B, CHW) returned $25 worth of R$. In 634 at-bats, the slugger hit .284 with 33 HR, 123 RBI, 85 R and 2 SB. As he enters his age-33 season, can he provide another strong season?

Year   AB  HR  xHR    BA/xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  Fbd^  EV*
====  ===  ==  ===   ========  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ===  ====
2015  613  30   26  .290/.276    6   77  47/21/32  33   115  136/116  329  92.8
2016  624  25   29  .293/.263    7   80  45/21/33  33   106  103/ 93  323  92.5
2017  621  33   30  .302/.293    5   81  45/18/37  33   132  135/122  329  93.2
2018  499  22   26  .265/.276    7   78  44/21/35  30   109  127/103  325  93.6
2019  634  33   37  .284/.273    5   76  46/22/32  33   107  117/104  335  95.6
^ average fly ball distance
* average exit velocity on fly balls

While some metrics have declined slightly, his 30-HR power with a favorable BA should play well: 

  • Even with his HctX and xPX remaining near his 2018 levels and a lower FB%, his increased average fly ball distance and increased exit velocity on fly balls backed a strong xHR. He squared up plenty of pitches, as his 9.1% Brls/PA ranked 16th in MLB. With above-average power skills, he should make another run at 30 HR. 
  • His ct% continues to dwindle, but his consistent LD%, 33% career h%, and xBA say he makes enough HctX to finish with an above-average BA again. 
  • Most of his ct% decline came against RHP, as his ct% vR dropped from 80% in 2018 to 74% in 2019. His 117 PX vR was consistent with his 2018 PX vR, and his 103 OPS+ vR does not offer a high ceiling. 

As the calendar flips to 2020, Abreu's power is holding steady. Although his xPX and FB% are not at their peaks, he barrels enough pitches to create plenty of hard contact on fly balls, and his power skills say he's got another 30 HR effort left in him. His batting average can help a roster too, as his .280 career xBA claims he has the skills for a BA repeat from 2019. At his current 77 ADP, he offers a mix of power, BA, and counting stats, which can fit well as a foundational 1B on a roster. 


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Rogers sharpens skills... With his first double-digit R$ finish, Taylor Rogers (LHP, MIN) provided 30 Sv at a cheap price in 2019. In 69 IP, the southpaw posted two wins, 30 Sv, 90 K, a 2.61 ERA, and a 1.00 WHIP. When looking for a closer (ADP 121), how are his skills?

Year  IP   ERA/xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  Ball%   SwK   Vel   G/L/F    H%/S%  HR/F/xHR/F 
====  ==  =========  ===  ====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ========  =====  ==========
2016  61  3.96/3.45  2.3   9.4  4.0   36%    8.1  92.6  51/20/28  37/71   14%/ 12%
2017  56  3.07/4.31  3.4   7.9  2.3   35%    9.0  93.2  45/24/31  30/81   12%/ 15%
2018  68  2.63/2.98  2.1   9.9  4.7   33%   11.6  93.4  45/26/30  28/73    6%/ 11%
2019  69  2.61/2.82  1.4  11.7  8.2   31%   11.3  94.8  51/18/31  32/80   15%/ 16%  

His elite skills (202 BPV) provide plenty of support:

  • Rogers gained a tick of velocity on his fastball, and his slider (17% SwK) and curveball (15% SwK) missed plenty of bats. Even though his Dom may slide, as his SwK points to an 8.8 xDom in the 50th percentile, his 9.8 career Dom is a reasonable expectation. 
  • Refining his Ball% and 68% FpK in 2019 are encouraging signs. Although his 1.4 Ctl could move towards his 2.3 career Ctl, his 0.98 xWHIP, 95th percentile in xwOBA allowed, and 93rd percentile in Hard Hit% allowed support a WHIP that can lower ratios. 
  • Inducing more ground balls aided his efforts, as his two-seam fastball (59% GB%) did most of the heavy lifting. With an xERA under 3.00 for two straight seasons, he has the skills for another sub-3.00 ERA season.  
  • His LI increased to 1.50 in 2019. Even as a lefty, his ninth-inning chances should continue. 

As seen his his elite skills, Rogers's ascent in 2019 was a fact. His secondary offerings provide enough swings and misses for strikeout an inning. He can pair elite ratios with those strikeouts. Even if his 80% S% from 2019 regresses towards his 76% career S%, the lefty's ability to throw consistent strikes and limit hard contact point to a favorable WHIP. His ERA should also lower ratios, as his ground ball growth and xERA say he has the skills to post an ERA that finishes in the 2.00's. Add in his increasing LI, and the southpaw is a mid-tier closer buy. 

 

Biggio chases 20/20 season... When we last checked in on Cavan Biggio (2B, TOR) in the first half of 2019, he flashed some speed and power. In his 2019 MLB debut, his .234, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 66 R, and 14 SB in 354 at-bats provided help in four categories. As owners hope for more contact in 2020, can he post his first 20/20 season?

Year   AB  HR/SB  xHR    BA/xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ===   ========  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  =======
2018* 449  22/17  N/A  .233/ N/A   16   64     N/A    31   N/A  150/N/A  104/18%
2019  354  16/14   15  .234/.220   17   65  25/28/47  31    89  119/151  109/12%
*-Double-A MLEs

His xPX supports 20 HR, but his Spd may fall shy of the mark: 

  • His strong xPX is worth monitoring as he goes to work on HctX. Biggio's xHR say he deserved the HR output, and he averaged 329 feet on fly balls. Although his 4.9% Brls/PA ranked 148th in MLB, his heavy FB% and 14% xHR/F could push him over 20 HR with increased at-bats.
  • Even with a strong LD%, his ct%, FB%, and xBA warn of some BA downside. According to Statcast, his Hard Hit% finished in the 56th percentile. Luckily, his strong bb% can support a favorable OBP. With an xBA in the 17th percentile and a heavy FB%, his projected BA could be headed for a below-average result. 
  • Although his overall Spd does not look too impressive, he posted a 119 Spd with a 100% SB% in ten SB attempts in the second half. With a sprint speed in the 81st percentile and a double-digit SBO, he can post a SB total in the high teens. 

When your draft reaches the middle rounds (133 ADP), Biggio can provide contributions across the board. His fly ball tilt and xPX say he has enough to reach 20 HR in 2020. Even with a bb% that provides an OBP floor, his lack of contact and below-average HctX call for another below-average BA result. With his early success rate on the base paths, his SBO and sprint speed back a SB result in the higher teens. If owners can plan around the possible BA downside, his four-category contributions are worth a look. 

 

Keuchel joins White Sox rotation... After spending his 2019 season in the National League, Dallas Keuchel (LHP, CHW) signed with the Chicago White Sox in December. In 113 IP in 2019, his eight wins, 91 strikeouts, 3.75 ERA, and 1.37 WHIP only contributed $2 worth of R$. How are his skills holding up? 

Year   IP   ERA/xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  Ball%   SwK   Vel   G/L/F    H%/S%  HR/F/xHR/F 
====  ===  =========  ===  ===  ===  =====  ====  ====  ========  =====  ==========
2015  232  2.48/2.80  2.0  8.4  4.2   37%   10.7  89.6  62/19/20  28/79   14%/ 13%
2016  168  4.55/3.65  2.6  7.7  3.0   37%    9.9  88.6  57/19/24  31/67   16%/ 16%  
2017  146  2.90/3.32  2.9  7.7  2.7   38%   11.3  88.7  67/15/18  26/78   21%/ 16%  
2018  205  3.74/4.07  2.6  6.7  2.6   38%    8.6  89.3  54/22/24  31/73   11%/ 11%
2019  113  3.75/4.14  3.1  7.3  2.3   38%    9.4  88.4  60/20/20  30/78   24%/ 22%
*Includes MLEs

His below-average skills (85 BPV) are best left for the back end of rotations:

  • The lefty's below-average velocity doesn't help him miss many bats. Even with a change-up (17% SwK) and slider (15.5% SwK) that back some strikeouts, his SwK had a 7.6 xDom in the 50th percentile in 2019. 
  • He carries WHIP risk, as his Ball% and 1.38 xWHIP say he deserved his 1.37 WHIP. Monitor his FpK, as it dropped to 56% in 2019.  
  • Even with an elite GB%, take note of his 4.00+ xERA in 2018-19. Giving up harder-hit balls with an elevated xHR/F adds some ERA risk and points to a 4.00+ ERA in 2020. His 47% DIS% adds to the ratio inflation risk. 
  • His Cmd is not as strong against RHH. From 2017-19, the southpaw has posted a 2.1 Cmd, 2.3 Cmd, and 2.0 Cmd when facing RHH.  

The lefty could finish with another single-digit R$ in 2020, as his heavy GB% is his best asset. Unfortunately, his lack of velocity and low SwK limit his strikeouts, and his Cmd struggles versus RHH and Ball% could keep his WHIP inflated. His ERA isn't as safe either, as his xHR/F and xERA say that his ERA could finish in the 4.00's in 2020. Although his current price (268 ADP) isn't expensive, he's more of an innings filler at this point in his career. 

 

Verdugo eyes PT in Boston... Alex Verdugo (OF, BOS) was involved in a February 2020 trade that sent him to the Boston Red Sox. In 343 at-bats with the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2019, he hit .294 with 12 HR, 44 RBI, 43 R, and 4 SB. With the hope of returning from a stress fracture in his back, the outfielder will look for more playing time with his new club. What does he offer a roster?

Year   AB  HR/SB  xHR    BA/xBA   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ===   ========  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  =======
2017+ 433   5/ 8  N/A  .285/ N/A    8   87     N/A    31   N/A   63/N/A   87/N/A
2018* 420   9/ 6    2  .287/.265    7   84  62/16/22  32   121   73/ 68   93/ 7%
2019  343  12/ 4   10  .294/.296    7   86  49/23/29  32   129   89/ 91   85/ 5%
+-Triple-A MLEs
*-Includes MLEs

His ct% and his Hctx are his best skills, and he can add some power: 

  • Verdugo's ability to make consistent ct% provides a strong BA floor. With an above-average HctX and a jump in LD%, his xBA argues that his BA is a strength in his skills profile. His xBA jump hints that he could be a future .300 hitter. 
  • While his overall xPX and xHR point out that his power still needs work, his FB% increase and xPX increase offer encouragement. His 4.5% Brls/PA ranked 168th in MLB, and his 93.1 mph exit velocity on FB/LD finished 128th in the majors. With health and at-bats, he can inch his HR total to somewhere in the teens. 
  • His below-average Spd and single-digit SBO temper expectations for many SB. In successfully stealing four bases in five tries in 2019, he can match his 2019 SB total in 2020. 

When searching for mid-round batting average skills, Verdugo's ability to make contact can provide a boost. With a strong ct%, an above-average HctX, and a favorable LD%, his xBA points to a strong BA in 2020. It's not just empty contact either, as his FB% bump and xPX growth should offer a HR output that lands in the teens. While he has a little power, it's hard to count on many SB. With his below-average Spd and a lower SBO, plan on a few SB in 2020. With a shot at more playing time in Boston, he has a chance for his UP: .320 BA, 20 HR from the 2020 Baseball Forecaster if he comes back healthy. Check on the stress fracture in his back, as the injury may temper expectations for at-bats and counting stats.   


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