Thursday, February 23, 2012

Burning Question

I haven't received any emails yet....that's my fault. I have done no promotion for this blog. Probably a good idea to have some fantasy baseball material up first before traffic picks up. Know what your getting with this site. So with this post I'll tackle a burning question that I see appearing on other fantasy websites. I'll probably do a self Q&A from time to time when the emails aren't pouring in.

Question- Brett Lawrie is a young talent who is shooting up the draft boards. Is he being hyped up too much, setting the stage for a bust?

Answer- You should always be weary of unproven players that are going for a steep price (see Jason Heyward), but in this case the praise is warranted.

Lawrie wasn't rushed to the big leagues like Heyward, who only played in 3 games at AAA. He received a sizable level of plate appearances at each stop throughout the minors. At each stop he produced.

The biggest concern most people have with Lawrie is the power. Was last seasons power breakout legit? Well he received a 65 out of 80 from scouts on the hitting scale as a prospect, with power being his best attribute. As a 19 year old coming straight out of high school, Lawrie hit 13 homers in 372 at bats in A ball. He saw the homer total drop off to 8 in 554 at bats in AA in 2010, but he was still hitting the ball with authority. 59 extra base hits is the key number there. And of course there was last season. Lawrie smacked 27 homers in 450 at bats between AAA and the big show. At 22 years old he's still got room to grow as he starts to enter his physical prime and adjusts to major league pitching full time. Consider 20 homers a floor for Lawrie this season.

The other numbers he needs to be a roto force should be there. He posted a superb combined .329 average last year, but we probably shouldn't expect that again. He has shown a solid eye at the plate in his young career with respectable walk and strikeout rates, but not batting title elite. I think .285 is a safe mark for Brett. The speed has been very consistent, and I expect him to swipe 25 bags. Finally the RBI/R marks should be strong. 7 of the 9 hitters in the lineup (including Lawrie) have had an .800+ OPS recently. The other 2 players, Snider & Arencibia, have the potential to. Wherever he winds up in the batting order there will be runners on, and guys to drive him in.

I would say a couple of veterans in the same tier as Lawrie carry more risk than he does. A 20/20 season looking like a floor from hot corner absolutely justifies his status of going in the 5th round.


  1. I don’t trust sophomore year players at all. The Braves Heyward was supposed to have a monster year and he may have been the reason why they didn’t make the playoffs.

  2. I mentioned Heyward in this post because they have similarities of being young guns who were hyped up, but it's difficult to fully compare them.

    Heyward logged 449 AB in A ball at 18 years old and hit 11 HR. As previously stated Lawrie hit 13 in 372 AB at 19 years of age. Heyward was able to get into 12 games of R ball at 17 getting accustomed to professional baseball. Lawrie leaped right into A ball from high school. So in their first sizable plate appearances at any level, Lawrie actually came out ahead IMO.

    Heyward went on to mash at A+ and AA, albeit in less than 200 PA at both stops. 3 games at AAA, then started 2010 with the Braves. Lawrie got lengthy playing time at AA & AAA and produced well, so it's likely those numbers were more sustainable than Heywards. Although the #'s wouldn't be as gaudy.

    Now at the major league level it's the opposite. Heyward played in a full major league season as a rookie, and Lawrie only 43 games. Lawrie's power and speed levels likely would have tapered off, but being conservative in all likelihood would have surpassed the HR and SB total of Heyward over a full season as a rookie.

    So here's what you need to know. At A Ball and only 43 games with the Blue Jays, Lawrie reigned king. At High A and AA Heyward was the man, but was that production sustainable? Perhaps minor league pitchers started making adjustments, and his stats suddenly don't look as shiny. Same thing can be said for Lawrie at the major leagues this year. But knowing he produced at A, AA, AAA, and MLB with ample playing time rather than Heyward with only ample playing time at A ball suggests to me the potential for better stats over his first full season.