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Breakout or Bust: Could Kevin Kiermaier Fully Emerge In 2017?

Sunday, October 9, 2016 5:49
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by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Lost among some of the other strong finishes was the September flourish from Kevin Kiermaier.  Over 112 PA all he did was hit .296 with 5 HR and 8 SB, highlighting the type of potential that was expected heading into the season.

Missed time limited him to 105 games (366 AB), but at the end of the day he made enticing strides:

  • Home Runs – 10 HR in 505 AB in ’15 to 12 HR in ‘16
  • Stolen Bases – 18 SB in ’15 to 21 in ‘16

Considering that he had roughly 140 fewer AB yet increased both his power and stolen base production, how can we not get excited?

The power appears to be for real, considering he had 25 doubles and 12 triples in ’15 (20 doubles and 2 triples last season).  At 26-years old it shouldn’t come as a surprise that some of those extra base hits began carrying over the fence and his 11.1% HR/FB is extremely reasonable.  That’s not to say that there isn’t at least a little bit of concern (25.0% popup rate), but then again he’s never going to be a 25+ HR hitter.  These numbers put him in the 15-20 HR range, which would be more than enough.

Remember, the speed shouldn’t come as a surprise as he had shown 20+ SB potential coming up through the minors.  Maybe last year’s number is a little bit elevated, but even if we want to assume a small step backwards it would put 25 SB in play.

Suddenly it’s believable to expect a 15/25 type player, which would automatically land him on fantasy radars.  The question, then, is if he will put up a strong enough average.  He managed just a .246 mark last season, though his basic marks would indicate an improvement is in his future:

  • Strikeout Rate – 17.9%
  • Walk Rate – 9.7%
  • Line Drive Rate – 20.6%
  • BABIP – .278

The control of the strike zone was hardly an aberration, with a 9.4% SwStr% and 27.9% O-Swing% (career marks of 9.5% and 30.2%, respectively).  When coupled with the expected increase in his BABIP, considering his line drive rate and speed, there’s suddenly a lot to like.  He actually hit .251 in the second half, and .296 in September.

While his defense gets the most attention, he’s quickly developing into a viable offensive alternative.  The upside is there to be usable in all formats next season, and definitely is a must own in five-outfielder formats.

Source – Fangraphs


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