Back on the first episode of the Show to be Named Later, I made some predictions for players who would break out in 2020. Now, sitting nearly halfway through the shortened season, we'll take a look at all of the guys and see how they have been doing. Each player profile will feature four things:
We will do this again at the end of the season to review.
Keston Hiura- very high xwOBA and Exit Velocity, lots of hard hit balls, sure to be great in 2020 if he can solve his fielding woes
115 PA .240/.304/.462 101 wRC+ 7 HR 16 RBI 6.1% BB 33.9% K -2.2 UZR 0.2 fWAR
.214 xBA .441 xSLG .318 wOBA .310 xwOBA .445 xwOBACON
Certainly a disappointing start to the season for Keston Hiura. I expected him to start off great, but him, along with Christian Yelich, have struggled to find footing for the Brewers. GM David Stearns needs to be aggressive this deadline if his team wants to compete, especially having lost Lorenzo Cain to him opting out. Hiura is still a future stud, but this season, it hasn't been there. He is hitting the ball 2 mph slower and isn't finding the sweet spot enough. Hiura's home run totals are there, but not much else.
Shogo Akiyama- has demonstrated high walk rates and good average in the NPB, expect him to have little trouble adjusting, my main concern does come with strikeouts, but i trust him to make contact and have plenty of XBH
75 PA .224/.307/.284 64 wRC+ 0 HR 3 RBI 1 SB 9.3% BB 24% K 0.2 UZR -0.1 fWAR
.238 xBA .344 xSLG .266 wOBA .299 xwOBA .346 xwOBACON
This one was really bad. I expected Akiyama to win National League rookie of the year, and barring the mysterious disappearances of Dustin May and Jake Cronenworth, along with a sudden hot streak for Akiyama that propels his average to the .300's and his wRC+ up to 120, he won't even get recognition, something he very much has not deserved given his performance through his first 75 MLB PA's. Akiyama is not alone in being a Japanese stud that is struggling, as Yoshi Tsutsugo is somehow putting up an even lower OPS than Akiyama, and Shohei Ohtani is not only below the Mendoza line as a hitter, but has a 37.80 ERA in his 1.2 innings. Akiyama is more alarming than Hiura, because Akiyama hasn't proved anything at this level yet, so there's at this point, a decent chance he never turns into anything.
Franmil Reyes- if he can bring up walks and bring down strikeouts, he can certainly hit dingers. He hit 37 last year, but can become a star if he brings strikeouts down to a normal level. Near or at the top of all the batted ball charts
109 PA .293/.349/.505 127 wRC+ 6 HR 18 RBI 7.3% BB 28.4% K -0.5 UZR 0.5 fWAR
.275 xBA .527 xSLG .357 wOBA .376 xwOBA .508 xwOBACON
Franmil Reyes is mashing the baseball. He has improved on his ridiculous exit velocity and he's barrelling the ball an obnoxious 14.5% of the time. Reyes has only hit 6 home runs, but I expect more to come. He has somehow brought his numbers up despite the strikeout rate staying the same and the walk rate getting lower, he's riding a great BABIP, so expect the AVG to go down, but teams will have to pitch around him if he keeps hitting the ball as hard as he is right now.
Austin Hedges- the .176/.252/.311 is not representative of his hitting ability, if it is, he’s the next Jeff Mathis, if it isn’t, he’s a breakout player that could be better than Roberto Perez was last year. Padres team era was 4.60 last year, it was 4.14 when hedges caught, and he’s good at throwing runners out too.
56 PA .149/.216/.340 50 wRC+ 3 HR 5 RBI 7.1% BB 26.8% K 0 Runs Extra Strikes -0.1 fWAR
.220 xBA .405 xSLG .262 wOBA .297 xwOBA .387 xwOBACON
Austin Hedges has a higher wRC+ in 2020 than 2019! But the framing has been just 46th percentile and the Baseball Prospectus fielding numbers have not come out yet, so at this point, we really don't know if his defense has been that bad, it hasn't been great though. The offense, which I for some reason thought would take a massive step forward, has not, yet somehow, the Expected Statistics point to an improvement, mainly in the exit velocity suddenly jumping 3.6 mph. Results based defensively, the cERA has jumped up to 4.31, but the that's still better than both league and team average ERA, and Hedges has caught 5 of 10 attempted base stealers in 2020, so that's a plus, however, this season has not been much of an improvement for Hedges. With Francisco Mejia on the IL, Luis Torrens will get the chance to catch on Hedges' off days, given that Hedges is now elevated to that number 1 catcher role, but Mejia should be back within the next week, cutting Hedges playing time a little bit unless he shows something. Hedgey still has a lot to prove despite hitting home runs at a similar rate to Franmil Reyes this season.
Mark Canha- if he gets playing time, he can use his advanced discipline to get on base, probably should bat either 1 or 2 in oakland’s order, provide baserunners for chappy, olson, and semien. 81st %tile xwOBA last year, the dude can walk
122 PA .281/.410/.458 145 wRC+ 3 HR 19 RBI 14.8% BB 26.2% K 1.2 fWAR
.252 xBA .473 xSLG .373 wOBA .371 xwOBA .438 xwOBACON
While Robbie Grossman has outperformed Canha this year and is breaking out himself, Canha, by OPS+, has outhit every other Athletic, including Matt Chapman, Matt Olson, and Marcus Semien. While Olson famously is putting together a strange season where half of his hits so far have been home runs, and Semien is struggling to follow up his 2019, Chapman is hitting just fine, yet Canha's OPS+ is better. His walk rate has increased, and while it's not the highest or second highest on his team or this list, he's still shown that he's a player and has impressed to the tune of an 8 way tie for 12th most fWAR amongst hitters so far this season.
Ryan Cordell- another elite glove, where if the bat improves, can become a super productive player for 2020
4 Plate Appearances all year, 11 innings of CF and 0.3 UZR in those 11 innings, 1 SB 0 CS
Ryan Cordell has barely played. He's practically been replaced when his own team traded for Billy Hamilton, a move that I didn't understand. When Cordell has played in the field, he's clearly been good, already earning 0.3 UZR, however, I'm gonna say I whiffed on this one, but not until I give you a video of Ryan Cordell making a great catch in an exhibition game against the Yankees.
Tim Locastro- he’ll get more playing time this year, and as the fastest guy in the league, AND somebody who can get on base with the beanball, he’s sure to make a huge impact.
23 PA .238/.304/.382 85 wRC+ 0 HR 2 RBI 1 SB 0 CS 0 HBP 8.7% BB 30.4% K -0.3 UZR 0.0 fWAR
.191 xBA .306 xSLG .294 wOBA .250 xwOBA .312 xwOBACON 29.9 ft/s 6 Bolts 99.3 %tile Speed
Locastro has yet to be beaned in 2020, and has stolen just one base. He needs to get more involved with what the Diamondbacks are doing before I can make a full recap of his season, but so far, it hasn't been great. The speed is still there, but he's got a .304 OBP, he needs to start getting beaned again.
Christian Walker- hit almost 30 homers last year and drew lots of walks, can take the next step and become a household name in 2020 with his high discipline and hard hit rate.
114 PA .286/.342/.429 109 wRC+ 1 HR 11 RBI 7.0% BB 21.1% K 0.5 UZR 0.4 fWAR
.305 xBA .549 xSLG .330 wOBA .382 xwOBA .462 xwOBACON
Christian Walker is hitting the ball really hard, however, he's not barrelling the ball well, something he excelled at last season. The batting average is up because there are more line drives, and thus a higher BABIP (because Line Drives in general have a much higher BABIP than Grounders or Fly Balls), but he needs to get back to elevating the ball and hitting home runs, which is going to eventually determine how good his season is, so far, it's been Baseball Savant good, but not so much improvement on his actual concrete numbers. His walk rate has gone down, but so has the strikeout rate. His defense is still good at first base, and I think the power will be there soon enough.
Donovan Solano- after a few seasons out of the bigs, he hit .330 with the Giants in 268 PA’s
99 PA .363/.404/.495 149 wRC+ 6.1% BB 15.2% K 1 HR 16 RBI .421 BABIP -0.3 UZR (2B) 0.8 fWAR
.296 xBA .464 xSLG .381 wOBA .345 xwOBA .381 xwOBACON
All of you, I told all of you, you didn't listen, and you weren't ready. Donovan Solano has been tremendous so far in 2020, he's put up the second best AVG in the NL so far, and if it weren't for awful defense at third base for 42 innings-which isn't his primary position-he'd be above 1 win over replacement level. The Giants, riding on the backs of Solano and the current Major League fWAR leader, Mike Yastrzemski, are currently IN A PLAYOFF SPOT! The team that I called the worst in baseball in my preseason predictions is currently in a playoff spot halfway through their season. It's going to be a dogfight, as they only are in it by .005 percentage points over the Mets, and the Rockies, who own the second WC right now, are just 3 percentage points behind the Giants. The D-Backs are right there as well, and the Nationals, Phillies, Reds, and Brewers can't be counted out yet. I don't expect the Giants to hold on and make the playoffs, I expect the Rockies and Reds to be the Wild Cards and the Nationals to jump the Mets and Marlins, but seriously, you never know.
Adam Frazier- he has potential as a slap hitter because he puts lots of balls in play. If frazier has BABIP luck and become a .300 hitter, he can be an asset for the future with his stellar glove.
100 PA .200/.240/.347 58 wRC+ 4 HR 9 RBI 4% BB 19% K .208 BABIP 1.4 UZR 0.0 fWAR
.258 xBA .399 xSLG .250 wOBA .300 xwOBA .349 xwOBACON
The key for Frazier was for his BABIP luck to be there, and he hasn't helped the cause. First: he's striking out 19% of the time versus 12% last year. Second: line drive rate is down a full 3 and a half percent. Third: Infield fly ball rate is skyrocketing. It turns out that not every slap hitter is capable of the Fletcher role, Frazier is not "the league average hitter who can't hit", he's the "well below average hitter who can't hit trying to be David Fletcher," and he's not David Fletcher. The Pirates season has been dreadful, Frazier hasn't helped them dig out of their hole offensively, but his defense has been excellent as predicted.
Bryce Harper- yeah this one was coming
96 PA .320/.453/.667 192 wRC+ 7 HR 19 RBI 17.7% BB 17.7% K 0.3 UZR 1.4 fWAR
.319 xBA .697 xSLG .453 wOBA .467 xwOBA .532 xwOBACON
Bryce. Harper. Is. Back. His 2020 performance so far has been incredible, OPSing over 1.100 and having his numbers backed up by Statcast. He's raking right now, but unfortunately for him, the Phillies have struggled to win games thanks to an abysmal bullpen, that as of 8/23, had a higher ERA than Al Horford's points per game, which is a stat that sums up Philly sports right now. The front office made a shrewd deal, acquiring Red Sox relief ace Brandon Workman as well as decent reliever Heath Hembree in exchange for Nick Pivetta and prospect Connor Seabold, but Work has looked shaky in his first two appearances for Philly. Harper is putting up the numbers, as is J.T. Realmuto, along with Didi Gregorius, Phil Gosselin, and prized prospect Alec Bohm, however the team needs their bullpen to get better if it wants to make a run this year. I don't think they'll sneak in to the playoffs, but I wouldn't be surprised if they do, and Harper will be a massive piece of it, as he has been so far.
Yandy Diaz- he’ll get more PA’s this year and hits the ball really hard. He’s got incredible statcast numbers and can truly rake.
113 PA .315/.442/.413 148 wRC+ 2 HR 8 RBI 18.6% BB 12.4% K 0.9 fWAR
.268 xBA .366 xSLG .377 wOBA .351 xwOBA .326 xwOBACON
Who would've thought that Yandy Diaz would have only 1 barrelled baseball through a healthy month of his season. Despite him not hitting the ball as hard, Diaz has managed to avoid strikeouts in the 93rd percentile of all hitters this year AND walk at a clip that only Carlos Santana, Paul Goldschmidt, Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Hicks, and Brandon Nimmo have eclipsed this season. His .098 ISO is the exact opposite of what you would have expected, and one may say that he is getting BABIP lucky, which I could agree with, until you see that his LD% has skyrocketed and he's hitting Fly Balls just 12.8% of the time, so maybe it's not BABIP luck, and it's actually BABIP skill that Diaz previously hadn't shown. Diaz does need to step up his power game, but this season hasn't been a disappointment. The Rays need Diaz's power to return to go over the top. Having just swept the Yankees, Tampa sits in first place, but with tons of pitchers on the injured list, they need their bats to continue to hit, Diaz is not an exception.
Tanner Rainey- pumps gas with a high spin rate. Bullpens are going to play a huge role in 2020 and beyond, and he has a chance to be not only the Nats best reliever, but an all star level player.
12 G 12.0 IP 1-0 0 SV 0.75 ERA (16 ERA-) 2.72 FIP (59-) 3.44 xFIP (76-) 2.70 SIERA 13.5 K/9 3.75 BB/9 .053 BAA 0.583 WHIP 0.4 fWAR 1.0 bWAR
.171 xBA .302 xSLG .154 wOBA .254 xwOBA 40.9% K 2.50 xERA 99th %tile Whiff Rate
This is the one I'm most proud of. I shouted this one from the rooftops for so long, and it has come true. In his first 12 appearances, Rainey has given up 2 hits, 1 home run, and walked just 5 batters, bringing his BB/9 down from 7.08 last year, to 3.75 this year. He's not allowing hard contact like last year, with the Avg Exit Velo against moving from the 6th percentile to 41st, and the other percentiles are incredible, I'll show you a screenshot and a few GIFs because Rainey has been insane this season. As for the Nats bullpen, they need Rainey to keep performing at this all star level, and the emergences of Kyle Finnegan and Javy Guerra certainly have helped out, but Daniel Hudson needs to be better, and without Strasburg for the rest of 2020, Erick Fedde and Austin Voth need to step up to supplement the top 3 in that rotation. I believe that Washington is a playoff team, and Rainey is a huge part of that.
Jonathan Hernandez- his spin rate was well executed in 2019, and if he can up the raw rate and keep the same efficiency, his stuff will take him a long way
13 G 15.2 IP 3-0 0 SV 1.72 ERA (36-) 1.67 FIP (36-) 3.68 xFIP (83-) 2.80 SIERA 10.91 K/9 2.3 BB/9 0.702 WHIP 0.7 fWAR 0.6 bWAR
.159 xBA .287 xSLG .194 wOBA .228 xwOBA .290 xwOBACON 2.02 xERA
Funny how I didn't talk as much about Jonathan Hernandez as I did about Tanner Rainey, but they're now both performing like some of the best relievers in baseball. Spin Rate is still elite from Hernandez, but in 2020, it's the control that has made him in to a top notch pitcher in the American League right now. Texas sits miles out of the playoffs, but they obviously could still get in if everything goes right, which would include the continued emergence of Hernandez into an elite relief pitcher.
Lucas Sims- SPIN RATE SPIN RATE SPIN RATE, he’ll get plenty of Innings for the reds in 2020 and plenty of time to display his disgusting fastball/curveball combo
10 G 11.0 IP 1-0 0 SV 0.82 ERA (18-) 2.78 FIP (60-) 3.20 xFIP (71-) 2.62 SIERA 13.1 K/9 3.3 BB/9 0.636 WHIP 0.3 fWAR 0.3 bWAR
.123 xBA .230 xSLG .187 wOBA .224 xwOBA .262 xwOBACON 1.95 xERA
The three pitchers who I've tapped as breakout players so far have been three pitchers who have not only broken out, but have become elite relief pitchers. Sims is no exception, as despite his lack of upper 90's heat, his spin rate more than makes up for it, 2764 RPM average on his fastball as well as 3092 RPM average on his curveball, which nobody has gotten a hit on this season. Sims is now a key piece to a bullpen for a team with an elite starting staff, but disappointing hitting core and bullpen in general. The former first rounder in 2012 has taken the next step and is ready to put the world on notice.
Darwinzon Hernandez- absolutely disgusting statcast numbers, completely bonkers strikeout rate, just needs to walk fewer guys and pick his spots better and he’ll be a stud
Thanks to COVID-19, Darwinzon missed much of the first half of the Red Sox season, but returned to throw two scoreless innings, striking out 3, walking 1, and coming out of it with a win. I won't put his numbers up because it's too early to say anything, but with Hembree and Workman being traded, Hernandez is going to be handed a bigger role in the Boston pen.
Giovanny Gallegos- a guy who broke out last year, could become a household name in 2020 with his statcast numbers from last year. His 2.31 won’t be his best season, but there’s a huge potential for bust here too.
Gallegos, a member of the Cardinals who started summer camp hurt and then had to miss the time because, y'know, Cardinals, has tormented the Central divsion in his 4.2 IP
5 G 4.2 IP 1-0 1 SV 0.00 ERA (0-) 0.14 FIP (3-) 0.56 xFIP (12-) 0.72 SIERA 13.5 K/9 0.0 BB/9 0.214 WHIP 0.3 fWAR 0.4 bWAR
It's far too early to say anything about Gallegos season except for the fact that he's been utterly dominating the teams that he's faced. At the end of season check in, we'll give analysis on Gallegos