FACTS/FLUKES: Kepler, D. Castillo, Abreu, Miley, Galvis

Kepler has 30-HR season in sights... When Derrick Boyd checked in on Max Kepler (OF, MIN) during the offseason, he mentioned that Kepler's "skills point to an R$ spike." Boy, has he been right about the R$ spike. Those owners that that took a shot on Kepler's skills have been rewarded with a .266, 17 HR, 44 RBI, and 47 R performance in 237 at-bats in 2019. Does he have the skills to sustain his breakout and possible 30 HR season?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA   vL    vR   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ====  ===  ===  ====
2016  396  17  .235  .257  .595  .792   11   83  47/16/36   103  114  103   15%
2017  511  19  .243  .256  .453  .828    8   78  43/18/40   104  107   93   12%
2018  532  20  .224  .249  .745  .720   12   82  38/16/46   112  104  120   10%
2019  237  17  .266  .292  .825  .925   11   83  36/18/46   126  141  108   18%

Yes, even with a small xPX dip, his career-high skills (92 BPV) make a 30-HR season possible: 

  • Adding HctX to his FB% bodes well for power. Even with a slight xPX dip, his 7.7% Brls/PA ranks 81st in the majors. Sustaining his FB% growth is a good sign for potential power, and his 94.5 mph exit velocity on FB/LD is above average (93rd) in MLB. His power metrics support his first 30 HR season. 
  • After some bad fortune with his hr/f in 2018, his HctX and 330 feet average fly ball distance (316 feet in 2018) support most of his improved hr/f (13% career hr/f) in 2019. 
  • Kepler hasn't sacrificed ct% for power. His above-average ct% pairs well with his HctX bump, and his xBA says that he can provide an above-average BA in 2019. 
  • He continues to improve vL, as he has increased his ct% vL from 68% in 2017 to 76% in 2018 and 87% in 2019. While his 102 PX vL is down from his 117 PX vL in 2018, his ct%, 0.50 Eye, 48% FB%, and 38% hard-contact rate vL support his growth vL. Monitor his ct% vL, as it slipped from 79% in the first half of 2018 to 71% in the second half of 2018. 

With harder contact, a sustained FB%, an increase in his average fly ball distance, and a hr/f bump, Kepler's skills support his first 30 HR season. Maintaining his ct% with increased HctX points to a BA that could finish better than league average. Gaining ct% vL with some power supports his ability to keep his improvements vL, and he will need to avoid a ct% slide vL that occurred in the second half of 2018. With his above-average skills, he can post a career-high R$ and pass his UP: 30 HR from the 2019 Baseball Forecaster in 2019. 

 

Castillo picks up saves... With a strong finish in August and September of 2018, Diego Castillo (RHP, TAM) was a late-round LIMA target in 2019. Through 31 IP, his six saves, 36 strikeouts, 2.05 ERA, and 1.11 WHIP have added $12 R$ to rosters. Does he have the skills for more ninth-inning chances? 

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F    H%  S% hr/f  BPV 
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  === === ====  === 
2017^  72  3.52  3.25  2.6  10.0  3.9  N/A  N/A     N/A     35  71  N/A  133
2018   57  3.18  3.30  2.9  10.3  3.6  48%  14%  45/18/36   24  71  12%  132
2019   31  2.05  3.45  3.5  10.6  3.0  51%  14%  50/15/35   27  87  12%  123
^-AA/AAA MLEs

His skills are solid, as he tries to improve his FpK: 

  • He can miss bats, as his 98.2 mph velocity has sustained from his 97.7 mph velocity from 2018. He throws his slider (19% SwK) the most, and he pairs it with a two-seam fastball (6% SwK). His SwK supports close to his current Dom going forward. 
  • Increasing his GB% is a good sign, and his two-seam fastball (54% GB%) has boosted his GB%. While he can post a helpful ERA, his 77% career-S% does not expect his sub-3.00 ERA to last. His ERA for the rest of the season may be closer to his xERA. 
  • His below-average FpK carries risk, as his Ctl has not been as sharp in 2019. His 3.1 career Ctl says he can improve, but his FpK has doubts. 

Castillo has added saves to his LIMA skills, and his 1.44 LI supports more ninth-inning chances in 2019. He creates swings and misses with his slider, and sustaining his GB% can help ERA. With a favorable S% and his xERA, his ERA may finish closer to 3.00 than 2.00. Although his FpK is below average, his skills (123 BPV) are turning a profit at his 400+ ADP entering the season. Even though his saves may end up shy of his UP: 25 Sv from the 2019 Baseball Forecaster, his strikeouts, saves, and skills support an R$ in the mid-teens. 

 

Abreu sees power rebound... Some late-season injuries and a falling xPX placed some doubt on projecting power for Jose Abreu (1B, CHW) entering 2019. So far, the slugger's power production has rebounded. Through 273 at-bats, his .260, 16 HR, 53 RBI, and 35 R have led to $21 worth of R$. What do his skills suggest about a fourth 30+ HR season in his last six seasons?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA   vL    vR   bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ====
2014  556  36  .317  .307 1.098  .919    8   76  45/23/31  36   120  185  132   27%
2015  613  30  .290  .276  .658  .908    6   77  47/21/32  33   115  136  116   20%
2016  624  25  .293  .263  .840  .816    7   80  45/21/33  33   106  103   93   15%
2017  621  33  .304  .293 1.028  .866    5   81  45/18/36  33   133  134  123   18%
2018  499  22  .265  .276  .915  .769    7   78  44/21/35  30   109  127  103   16%
2019  273  16  .260  .276  .871  .794    6   74  43/21/36  29   104  140  129   21%

While his ct% is trending downward, his power skills support another 30 HR season: 

  • His HctX is down again, as 2017 looks like the peak. His xPX growth bodes well for power, and his average fly ball distance has improved from 325 feet in 2018 to 340 feet in 2019. His 96.7 mph exit velocity on FB/LD (27th in MLB) and his elite 12.8% Brls/PA (fourth in MLB) say he has the support for consistent power. With his FB% and 20% career hr/f, he can finish with 30+ HR. 
  • A falling ct% does not give hope to returning to his .300 BA from 2017. A sliding h% with a GB% profile could cut into his BA value. With his xBA, 30% career-h%, and HctX, he has enough skills to finish with a BA closer to his .265 BA from 2018. 
  • Losing ct% vR, from 80% in 2018 to 71% in 2019, could limit his upside vR. His PX has increased from 117 to 160 vR, and his 41% hard-contact rate vR says the power should continue. 

With an xPX increase, fly ball distance bump, and PX increase vR, it appears the dip in 2018 could have been injury-related. Abreu's xPX and career hr/f support another 30 HR season. The BA might not return to his 2017 levels, as his falling ct%, slightly above-average HctX, and xBA expect him to finish closer to his 2018 BA. His power skills and spot in the middle of Chicago's lineup should keep the counting stats coming, and Abreu can return to his 30 HR ways in 2019. 

 

Miley increases R$ in HOU... In 81 IP in 2018, Wade Miley (LHP, HOU) provided positive value with five wins, 50 strikeouts, 2.57 ERA, and a 1.21 WHIP. During the offseason, the southpaw signed with Houston. In 80 IP, his six wins, 65 strikeouts, 3.14 ERA, and 1.16 WHIP he resulted in $15 R$. Can he sustain his success in 2019?  

Year   IP   ERA  xERA  Ctl   Dom  Cmd  FpK  SwK    G/L/F   H%  S%  hr/f  BPV
====  ===  ====  ====  ===  ====  ===  ===  ===  ========  ==  ==  ====  ===
2015  194  4.46  4.16  3.0   6.8  2.3  61%   9%  49/21/30  32  68    9%   70
2016  166  5.37  4.12  2.7   7.4  2.8  60%   9%  47/23/30  33  65   16%   87
2017  157  5.61  4.90  5.3   8.1  1.5  54%   8%  50/23/27  34  70   19%   31
2018   81  2.57  4.24  3.0   5.6  1.9  58%   9%  53/24/24  28  79    5%   50
2019   80  3.14  4.00  2.4   7.3  3.1  57%  10%  51/17/32  27  80   16%   97

While his skills (97 BPV) have improved, there are reasons for doubt:

  • Throwing a change-up (20% SwK) and curveball (10% SwK) that miss bats has backed a small SwK bump. With a 9% career-SwK, he has a 7.6 xDom in the 50th percentile. 
  • Throwing his cutter, which has a 57% GB%, more often has supported his GB%. His curveball and change-up also have a 45+% GB%. His 72% career-S% and xERA have doubts about keeping his current ERA. With a FB% bump, fewer IFFB, and a 39% hard-contact allowed rate, his hr/f may stay above his 12% career-hr/f. He may finish with an ERA closer to 4.00. 
  • He has improved his FpK from 2017, but his below-average FpK and 3.1 career-Ctl add some doubt to his current Ctl. 

Miley's skills have supported a good deal of his double-digit R$, but there are indicators that say it may not last. With a below-average career SwK, we should expect a strikeout number near his 7.1 career Dom. Keeping his GB% is encouraging, but sustaining his current S% will be difficult. If regression happens, his ERA could finish closer to his 4.00 xERA. The lefty's FpK and career Ctl point out that his WHIP may move closer to his projected 1.25 WHIP for the rest of 2019. Even though his skills have improved, regression could push the lefty back to single-digit R$ territory.

 

Galvis offers across-the-board help... During 602 at-bats with San Diego in 2018, Freddy Galvis (SS, TOR) hit .248 with 13 HR, 67 RBI, 62 R, and 8 SB. As a free agent signing with Toronto, the shortstop was a late-round dart throw in most leagues. Through 247 at-bats, his .247, 9 HR, 27 RBI, 30 R, and 2 SB performance has contributed to a $10 R$. Should we expect more of the same production?

Year   AB  HR    BA   xBA  bb%  ct%    G/L/F   h%  HctX   PX  xPX  hr/f Spd/SBO
====  ===  ==  ====  ====  ===  ===  ========  ==  ====  ===  ===  ==== =======
2015  559   7  .263  .229    5   82  41/22/37  31    88   49   89    4% 139/ 7%
2016  584  20  .241  .253    4   77  40/23/36  28    83   95   80   13%  98/20%
2017  608  12  .255  .252    7   82  37/24/39  29    84   71   85    6% 125/12%
2018  602  13  .248  .239    7   76  41/22/37  31   112   85  118    8% 105/10%
2019  247   9  .247  .242    5   75  41/19/39  29    93   94   97   12%  84/ 6%

It appears so, as adding across-the-board value has deep-league value: 

  • After improving his xPX and HctX in 2018, his HctX and xPX have dipped again in 2019. His 91.8 mph exit velocity on FB/LD (238th in MLB) is below league average, and his 4.0% Brls/PA is 213th in the majors. When compared to his 8% career hr/f, his current hr/f could slide. With his current FB% and career hr/f, a HR total in the high teens is within range. 
  • He hasn't returned to his 2017 ct%, as he has lost ct% vL (76%) and vR (75%). With his below-average HctX and xBA, he could finish with another BA that is slightly below league average. 
  • His Spd is in decline for the third year, and his SBO is trending in the wrong direction. He posted a 57% SB% in 2018, and he has stolen two bases in three attempts in 2019. Without as many SBO, expect another SB total in the single digits.  

With his current power metrics and career hr/f, expect his hr/f to regress some. With a below-average xPX and HctX, Galvis could finish with a HR total in the teens. His declining Spd, HctX, and xBA illustrate that we can expect a BA close to his 2018 BA. His Spd is going in the wrong direction, and without many SBO, he could add a handful of SB for the rest of 2019. His across-the board contributions can add deep-league value, but his waning skills (14 BPV) cap his potential R$. 


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