FACTS/FLUKES: Bellinger, Peralta, Hosmer, Bumgarner, Musgrove

Will power return for Bellinger? ... Coming off a huge second half of 2017, Cody Bellinger (1B, LA) was a borderline top 30 pick in 2018 drafts. His final line was likely disappointing for his owners, but he still exhibited an attractive power/speed combo, and finished strong, with eight home runs, eight steals, and a hit-rate aided .316 average over his final 192 plate appearances. Now going just inside the top 50 in early NFBC drafts, is he worth investing in for 2019?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA/xBA    vL   bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX/PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  =========  ====  =======  ========  ==  ===========  ====  =======
2016* 410  23/7   .248/NA     N/A   10/75      N/A    28    NA/124/NA   N/A   86/8%
2017^ 547  43/16  .272/.266  .903   11/69   35/18/47  32  120/183/178   25%  122/13%
2018  557  24/14  .260/.250  .681   11/73   40/20/40  31  108/128/129   15%  138/10%
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
18 2H 265   9/9   .283/.250  .552   11/75   43/22/35  35  112/105/100   13%  139/12%
*MLEs
^Includes MLEs

Bellinger can clearly contribute in a variety of ways:

  •  The power he displayed in 2017 looks like an outlier at this point, and his power metrics and fly ball rate slipped further during the second half of 2018. He's still just 23 years old, so growth is certainly possible, but 40-plus homers looks like a long shot.
  • Both his Spd score and his 89 percent success rate between Triple-A and the majors the past two seasons (including 14 of 15 in 2018) show he's a legitimate threat on the bases. The 20-SB potential hinted at in the Baseball Forecaster seems well within reach—he just needs a more consistent green light.
  • He strikes out a fair amount, but rebounded from a sub-70 percent ct% in 2017, and appeared to sacrifice some power for improved contact during the second half of 2018. His BA/xBA history suggests he's unlikely to really move the needle in either direction in terms of batting average.
  • After crushing lefties in 2017 (12 HR, .297 ISO in 155 AB), Bellinger took a step back this past season (6 HR, .150 ISO in 186 AB). The samples are too small to draw any definitive conclusions, but while he's unlikely to bounce all the way back, he doesn't appear to be in danger of falling into a platoon role, either.

Bellinger didn't quite live up to the lofty expectations set for him last year, as he was unable to duplicate the monster power production he displayed in his rookie campaign. That being said, he still offers plenty of pop, and appears likely to contribute another 25 to 30 home runs during the upcoming season. Meanwhile, Bellinger tapped into his stolen base potential late in the season, and given his high success rate, may be poised to take a step forward in steals. Add it all up, and Bellinger looks like a solid, across the board contributor, and a reasonable target at his current ADP.

 

Should we buy into Peralta's power surge? ... Not only did David Peralta (OF, ARI) deliver his typical strong batting average in 2018, but he also showed some surprising pop. He clearly wasn't affected by the humidor in Arizona, as he posted a .341/.393/.595 line with 16 home runs at Chase Field, while blowing past his previous career high of 17 home runs. Was the power explosion legit, and should he be expected to do it again?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  =======  ====  =======
2014* 531  13/7   .271  .282   5    84  48/21/31  30   110  104/90    10%  110/8%
2015  462  17/9   .312  .286   9    77  52/21/27  38   118  133/115   18%  123/10%
2016* 206   4/2   .244  .269   5    76  51/21/28  30   107  107/99    11%  116/8% 
2017  525  14/8   .293  .278   7    82  55/18/26  34   106   86/80    12%  115/8%
2018  560  30/4   .293  .280   8    78  51/20/29  33   139  124/120   23%  107/3%
*Includes MLEs

Peralta's skills look mighty fine, but such a big leap is usually followed by some regression:

  • All of his power metrics increased significantly, and he ranked in the top 30 in both maximum and average exit velocity, according to Statcast data.
  • A very high percentage of his fly balls left the park, but his mediocre hr/f track record, along with his low fly ball rate indicate that repeating the feat will be very difficult.
  • He couldn't quite maintain the ct% gains he made in 2017, but his BA/xBA history, along with a 34 percent career hit rate provide confidence he'll continue to hit for a high average.
  • Though he possesses above average speed, he hasn't been especially active on the base paths, particularly in 2018, when he attempted just four stolen bases. His 73 percent career success rate is respectable, but he can't be counted on for more than a handful of steals.

Peralta was certainly a difference maker in 2018, and most of the batted ball data suggests that his success was well-deserved. That said, this was a huge step up in the power department, and his ground ball lean and less hitter-friendly park suggest 2018 is about as good as it's going to get. Peralta should put up solid numbers again in 2019, and is a nice target to help set a firm BA foundation. Just look for his home run total to end up around 20, rather than the 30 he connected for last year.

 

Is there hope for a Hosmer rebound? ... Eric Hosmer (1B, SD) suffered through a miserable first season with the Padres, as his batting average fell 65 points, and he failed to reach 20 home runs. He did show signs of life in September, when he connected for five home runs, while walking as many times as he struck out. But is it realistic to expect him to get back to his previous level of production?

Year   AB  HR/SB    BA/xBA    vL   bb%/ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX/PX/xPX  hr/f  Spd/SBO
====  ===  =====  =========  ====  =======  ========  ==  ===========  ====  =======
2014  503   9/4   .270/.259  .676    6/82   51/17/32  32   117/99/100    7%   82/5%
2015  599  18/7   .297/.290  .730    9/82   52/24/24  34   116/102/94   15%  107/5%
2016  605  25/5   .266/.263  .656    9/78   59/16/25  30   109/97/89    21%   77/5%
2017  603  25/4   .318/.298  .760   10/83   56/22/22  35    99/96/65    23%   91/3%
2018  613  18/7   .253/.266  .527    9/77   60/20/20  30    98/90/68    19%   86/7%
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
18 2H 302   9/4   .232/.253  .423    8/77   61/17/22  27    87/75/68    18%   97/6%

Hosmer's skills don't provide much reason for optimism:

  • For the second straight season, his HctX checked in slightly below average, and xPX was downright ugly. A high percentage of his fly balls continue to leave the park, but considering he had the second highest ground ball rate in the league in 2018, his power upside is limited.
  • His contact rate has bounced around the past few seasons, and a step back in that area, along with a low second half hit rate, led to his lowest batting average since 2012. His track record suggests his BA should rebound to some extent, but don't expect him to get back near the .300 mark.
  • He doesn't possess a great deal of speed, but ran slightly more often than usual in 2018, albeit with a 64 percent success rate. The handful of steals he's likely to provide is a little boost to this bland skill set.
  • A 21 percent hit rate suppressed his numbers against southpaws, but he's never been able to hit them very well. For his career, he's now put up a .253/.300/.369 line, with a 66 PX vs LHP, but his contract should help ensure he's in the lineup every day.

Hosmer has been very durable, having topped 650 plate appearances in five of the past six seasons, which enables him to compile respectable counting stats. He's shown flashes in other phases of his game over the years, but appears more likely to hit .260-.270 than to get back above .300, and hits far too many ground balls to bank on a return to mid-twenties home run totals. If anything, since Hosmer is playing in a park that suppresses LHB HR by 19 percent, his home runs are just as likely to go down as they are to rebound. Odds are, his numbers in 2019 will look a lot like 2018, with a slightly better batting average, which makes him a decent, yet very boring option at what is now a pretty shallow first base pool.

 

Can Bumgarner return to ace status? ... Madison Bumgarner (LHP, SF) missed most of the first half for the second consecutive season in 2018, this time after he broke a bone in his hand during a spring training game. His 3.26 ERA upon his return was in line with expectations, but the skills didn't support that level of success. So what's likely in store for Bumgarner in 2019?

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ====  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2014  217  2.98  3.08  1.8   9.1  5.1  66%  12%  92.1  44/20/36  31  76   10%  137
2015  218  2.93  3.10  1.6   9.6  6.0  64%  13%  92.1  42/23/36  30  75   10%  150
2016  227  2.74  3.54  2.1  10.0  4.6  65%  12%  90.9  40/19/41  28  79   11%  140
2017  111  3.32  4.05  1.6   8.2  5.1  67%  11%  91.0  41/18/41  28  77   13%  123
2018  130  3.26  4.35  3.0   7.6  2.5  64%   9%  90.9  43/22/35  29  78   10%   77

Bumgarner certainly doesn't look like an ace at this point:

  • Even with diminished velocity, he was missing his fair share of bats in 2016-17, but his SwK slipped to a career low in 2018. The low mark included  whiffs on just 12 percent of his curves, his lowest since 2011 on the pitch, and a lowly five percent on his four-seam fastball offerings.
  • Normally very stingy with the free passes, Bumgarner's Ctl was barely better than league average this past season. His FpK remains strong, so don't expect further deterioration, but it's probably best to not assume a full rebound, either.
  • His ground ball rate is consistently around league average, but he gave up a few more line drives than usual in 2018 (20 percent career). Hard contact against him was also up, to about 42 percent, compared to a 29 percent career mark.

Bumgarner may not be completely deserving of his F Health Grade, as his injuries the past two seasons were pretty fluky, and not arm-related, but he shouldn't be counted on for 200-plus innings anymore. The bigger concern is the skills decline, as he's lacking the swing-and-miss stuff he once had, and didn't exhibit pinpoint control this past season. Bumgarner is still a hot commodity, as he's the 67th player off the board in early NFBC drafts, presumably due to his reputation and solid 2018 ERA. A return to form isn't out of the question, but most signs are pointing to him falling well short of his draft day cost.

 

Is Musgrove a mid-round value pick? ... Joe Musgrove (RHP, PIT) got a late start to 2018 due to a shoulder strain, but was back in a full-time starting role upon his return. All in all, it was a decent first year in Pittsburgh, as he compiled a 4.06 ERA in his 19 appearances. Is there reason to believe he can take a step forward in 2019? 

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl  Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK   Vel    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ===  ===  ===  ===  ====  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2016* 147  3.63  4.01  1.6  8.0  5.0  62%  10%  91.7  43/21/36  32  74   14%  120
2017  109  4.77  4.10  2.3  8.1  3.5  64%  12%  92.9  45/21/34  32  69   16%  106
2018* 132  4.17  3.61  1.7  7.6  4.4  68%  12%  93.0  46/20/34  31  66   10%  116
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
2H 18  75  4.20  3.75  1.4  7.7  5.3  72%  13%  92.9  46/21/33  29  63   12%  123
*Includes MLEs

Musgrove has the potential to deliver more value during the coming season:

  • He doesn't give out many free passes, and a stellar (and improving) FpK indicates that part of his game will continue to be a strength.
  • He's not a big strikeout pitcher, but his velocity, Dom, and SwK held up well during his transition back to a starting role. Also encouraging is that in his last six starts, he relied on his change-up a lot more (21 percent usage), recorded a 34 percent SwK on the pitch, and compiled a 38/3 K/BB ratio during that span.
  • He was a little fortunate that just 10 percent of his fly balls resulted in home runs, but an above average, and upward trending, ground ball rate should help ensure that the long ball doesn't become a major problem.

Musgrove's surface numbers were mediocre in 2018, but he displayed some signs that bode well for his prospects in 2019. He missed a lot of bats, especially late in the year when he altered his pitch mix. Furthermore, Musgrove continued to limit the walks, and improved his FpK, which should once again lead to a solid WHIP. Though he can't be counted on to shoulder a massive workload, the 3.50 ERA upside mentioned in the Baseball Forecaster doesn't seem far-fetched, and he could be a bargain at his current price (NFBC ADP of 256).


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