by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s easy to overlook the Padres’ Ryan Schimpf, who was viewed as a relative non-prospect entering 2016. Need led to opportunity, and it’s possible that Schimpf never looks back. Just look at the numbers he was able to post:
276 At Bats
.217 Batting Average (60 Hits)
20 Home Runs
1 Stolen Bases
.336 On Base Percentage
.533 Slugging Percentage
.260 Batting Average on Balls in Play
His age (he’ll turn 29-years old in April) and batting average make him easy to overlook, as well as the thinking that he can’t maintain this type of power pace. They are all fair concerns, albeit ones that aren’t necessarily accurate.
In regards to his age, would he be the first player to develop later in their career? He’s not old and given some of his production in the minors you could argue that he deserved an opportunity earlier. That argument is not one that should hold much water.
His on-the-field production, though? Let’s take a look at the two concerning numbers:
Playing half his games in Petco Park it would be justified to expect a regression. He has hit 20+ HR every year since 2012, so it would be unwise to expect it to simply disappear (35 total HR in ’16). While he did hit for more power on the road, you can also point to his HR/FB at home as being a more believable mark:
Then you have his fly ball rate, which sat at an almost unbelievable 64.9%. He’s going to be an extreme fly ball hitter, that’s something he has shown throughout his minor league career (0.62 GO/AO, compared to a 0.38 in the Majors last season), but a few less fly balls would be a fair expectation.
A lower HR/FB + Fewer Groundballs = Fewer Home Runs
That’s not to say he’s going to disappear completely, but 25 over a full season is a better expectation than his 40+ HR pace he set a year ago.
The extreme fly ball approach and a drop in power is going to lead to further concerns for his batting average. That said his 31.8% strikeout rate isn’t indicative of his upside, and while his 11.3% SwStr% is elevated it doesn’t support that bloated of a mark. He showed an ability to draw a walk (25.5% O-Swing%, 12.7% walk rate), further helping us to expect an improvement. It’s going to remain part of his game, but 20-24% is a better expectation (he was at 17.4% at Triple-A prior to his recall).
Throw in an improvement on a .260 BABIP, even with the extreme fly ball rate, and you get something in the .250+ range. It’s not going to be a great mark, but it also won’t be a crippling one.
Assuming he wins the job (which you can say isn’t a given), Schimpf should be in the same range as Jonathan Schoop (.267 with 25 HR in ’16, though with the potential for a lower average). We all know that has value, with Schoop currently being the 15th second baseman being selected in NFBC drafts compared to 25th for Schimpf. At that price point, grabbing Schimpf makes tremendous sense.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, MILB.com, STATS
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