by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Tyler Saladino is a player who has been on our radars for some time, though were we simply too early to the party? For those who have previously bought Rotoprofessor’s Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide (a highly recommended investment! Learn more about it by clicking here), you know he was on our Sleeper List last year when we said:
“All eyes are going to be on Tim Anderson and when he arrives, but Saladino could offer a little bit of under-the-radar appeal for as long as he’s starting. He showed plenty of speed (33 SB) last season and could see his average rise (23.0% line drive rate, .269 BABIP). Finding cheap SB isn’t quite as easy as it once was so don’t overlook him.”
Fast forward 12 months and we can say almost the same thing, instead replacing Tim Anderson with Yoan Moncada. Saladino has the inside track at the starting second base job, until Moncada is deemed ready to take over, now that Brett Lawrie has been released. He also is once again falling under the radar, though this season he shouldn’t necessarily be.
In 319 PA last season Saladino showed his potential upside by hitting .282 with 8 HR and 11 SB. You could argue that his power number is a little bit inflated, despite a believable 11.8% HR/FB, as he drives the ball into the ground a lot (51.3% groundball rate) and has never shown 15+ HR power before (that’s the pace he was on over an entire season).
The rest of the numbers, though, are solid. He made enough contact (19.4% strikeout rate), a number he could continue to improve upon given his 7.7% SwStr%. He also showed an ability to hit any type of pitch, further strengthening the case for improvement (Whiff%):
Considering his .329 BABIP there’s every reason to believe that he can at least maintain a .270 average (with the obvious potential for more). Saladino has also consistently shown speed, swiping as many as 39 bases in a season (2012) and having 33 between Triple-A and the Majors in ’15.
Depending on your format he has eligibility at 2B and SS, and if you only require 10 games played he also can be slotted into 3B. That versatility, with the average and speed, makes him incredibly valuable for the first few weeks (or months). It’s also not impossible that a trade of Todd Frazier ultimately clears room for both Saladino and Moncada in the lineup, and would make him a potential 25+ SB threat that no one is talking about.
Considering the lack of speed around the game, that makes Saladino an ideal late round flier in all formats.
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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Make sure to check out our 2017 Rankings:
|Starting Pitcher||#1-20 |02/27/17