It can be difficult to evaluate rookie players in fantasy, if for no other reason than they rarely play the full season. For a player like Nolan Arenado who gets called up a month into the year, counting stats will always look worse than similar players because of their April head starts.
One of the benefits of basing Z-score calculations on a per-game basis is that you can compare two players with different amounts of playing time. Of course, even the rookies that started on Opening Day are just a half-season into their careers, so I definitely do not recommend using these results to set your expectations going forward. However, it is fun to compare everyone on the same scale.
Here are the 2013 qualified rookie hitters through the games on Saturday, June 22 and using the eight-point roto tiers without batting average scaled by at-bats:
|Scott Van Slyke||24||2.04||-1.04||0.12||-0.25||-1.58||-0.70|
One of these players is not like the others. It has only been 18 games for Yasiel Puig, but what he has accomplished is still rather remarkable. The 4.30 zAvg stands out because it is based on a .435 batting average compiled over 74 plate appearances—and with a .511 BABIP—but his power, speed and run production numbers are all positive contributors, as well. Even more remarkable than Puig is how small his 11.31 zTotal advantage is over Trout’s full-season 10.55 zTotal last season.
Jose Iglesias has a 4.38 zAvg similar to that of Puig. His is based on 117 plate appearances but is also propped up by a .500 BABIP. In contrast to Puig, none of his other categories are significant positive contributors. For a prospect noted for his glove and decidedly not his bat, his regression will revert Iglesias into a less-useful Andrelton Simmons.
Yan Gomes has six home runs in 108 plate appearances this season. Combined with his totals in Toronto last season, he now has 10 home runs in 129 plate appearances. If Gomes can be a 30-home run player—and his career 16.7 percent HR/FB rate does not look anomalous, so it seems possible—it will be hard to leave him on the bench. Carlos Santana is better suited as a DH, in any case. Over a full season, if Gomes could maintain his 1.46 zTotal pace, he would outproduce A.J. Pierzynski from last season. In fact, Joe Mauer, Jonathan Lucroy, Wilin Rosario, and Buster Posey were the only four catchers to exceed Gomes’ current total in 2012.
Scott Van Slyke will have a difficult time finding room in Yasiel Puig’s outfield, but as a 26-year-old non-prospect, I was surprised to find that Van Slyke had eight home runs in 131 career plate appearances. Interestingly, he never exceeded 23 home runs at any stop in the minors, but he did hit 18 or more in each stop where he received 400 or more plate appearances. His 19.5 percent HR/FB rate would be elite, so I am more skeptical of his ability to continue to hit them at a similar rate. Since he has a sub-.300 on-base with a 6.1 percent career walk rate, I am skeptical that he’ll have much of a career in the majors at all.
Leonys Martin is the one stand-out basestealer in the crowd. His 12 steals in 184 plate appearances makes me believe a 10-40 season could be in his future. Unfortunately, Martin does not take many walks. Currently, his .337 on-base is fine, but it is propped up by his .283 average. Again, that will have a chance to remain high because of his speed, but will have to improve his plate discipline to before I’m ready to call him Brett Gardner.
You’re never surprised when rookies fail to deliver in fantasy, but the one notable poor performer is Jurickson Profar. Profar has 106 plate appearances, so there’s not much to go on, but only two home runs and no steals makes it hard to be an impact player in fantasy. Profar may be the No. 1 prospect in baseball, but remember that plus defense at shortstop is incredibly valuable. Profar would be tremendously successful if he did that and mirrored Starlin Castro’s development at the plate. Obviously that is valuable at a scarce position, but without the steals, Profar will have a ceiling as a low-end top-10 shortstop.