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Can the biggest surprise sluggers of 2017 repeat it this season?
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Who were the most surprising hitters of 2017? You could enter the numbers into a spreadsheet, compare each player’s performance to his preseason projection and see which players most overachieved. I’m too lazy to do that. Maybe the 10 players below weren’t the exact 10 biggest surprises by some formula. But they were 10 of the most compelling players of 2017 because of their surprises. That makes them compelling for 2018. It also makes them 10 of the most important players for the upcoming season. Can they repeat their improbable production? The Steamer projections at FanGraphs say no: All 10 players are predicted to regress in their triple-slash lines. Bellinger was a prized prospect before the 2017 season, but nobody could have expected this kind of season. He started in Triple-A, and it took a series of injuries for the Dodgers to call him up in late April. All he did was set the National League rookie record for home runs while ranking fifth in the majors in isolated power. Given his rookie production and his age -- he didn’t turn 22 until halfway through the season -- he should be one of the game’s premier sluggers for the next decade. One reason to buy into him as a consistent slugger is that he pulls the ball. Take his Dodgers teammate Corey Seager, who hasn’t completely tapped into his power potential because he rarely pulls the ball in the air. Most home runs are pulled, so the big-time power hitters tend to be pull hitters. Here’s Bellinger’s hit chart: In the postseason, Bellinger struggled (hitting just .219 with 29 strikeouts and Womens Vincent Rey Jersey three walks) as pitchers fed him a steady diet of breaking balls. I think that was more the result of being tired after a long season than a fatal flaw that will be exploited in the future. Bellinger hit .260/.329/.625 against off-speed pitches in the regular season, so it wasn’t a concern before the postseason. Bellinger is the prototypical young slugger in today’s game: He had the eighth-highest rate of fly balls in the majors. That might prevent him from being a .300 hitter, but it won’t prevent Authentic Linval Joseph Jersey him from hitting 40 home runs in 2018. If Bellinger was a pleasant surprise, Taylor’s season was more of a shocking revelation. He also started the season in the minors and still produced a 4.8 WAR, learning a new position in the process. Taylor had hit one home run in 291 major league at-bats entering the season, but he mashed 60 extra-base hits in 514 at-bats in 2017. It wasn’t all because of the ball. Taylor was one of those who revised his swing. By the end of the World Series, he was at least able to joke about how many times throughout the season he was asked about his swing change. Here’s the interesting thing, however: Unlike teammate Justin Turner and others, Taylor actually didn’t start hitting a bunch more fly balls: His line-drive and ground ball rates were similarly Blake Griffin Authentic Jerseyclose to his career totals. Obviously, something clicked, as a combination of a better approach, swinging harder and barreling up more balls than he had in the past, but the power wasn’t simply the result of hitting more balls in the air. This was a different hitter from the one who previously struggled in the majors. You can see the projection forecasts a pretty big decline, primarily due to a regression on average on balls in play. With 142 strikeouts and 50 walks, Taylor didn’t have a great SO/BB ratio, but he isn't a wild swinger, with a chase rate (pitches out of the strike zone) of 25.2 percent, which ranked 30th out of 144 qualified regulars. Although I’m not completely sold on Taylor, I think that slugging percentage will be higher than the .411 projection (if less than his .496 number from 2017), and there’s a chance that he will cut down on the strikeouts, putting more Carlos Santana Authentic Jersey balls in play to make up for a lower average when he does make contact. The Dodgers are counting on him as their center fielder, and I believe he’ll hold the job. How can we even attempt a forecast on Judge? Most young players improve, but how can you project a guy to improve on 52 home runs? First of all, only nine players have had more than one 50-homer season, and only five of them had consecutive 50-homer seasons: Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa both had four in a row, Babe Ruth hit 50 consecutively two times, and Alex Rodriguez and Ken Griffey Jr. also had back-to-back 50-homer seasons. But we’ve had only a couple players with size and strength similar to Judge's -- and one of them is now his teammate. I’d throw in Frank Howard. Dave Winfield had the size but only three 30-homer seasons. With that short porch at Yankee Stadium, Judge can mishit a ball and still get it over the fence with brute strength. The obvious way for Judge to improve is to cut down on his strikeouts -- he had 208 of them last year in 678 plate appearances, a 30.7 percent rate -- so what if he eliminates 25 strikeouts? That cuts his rate to 27.0 percent and results in 20 more balls in play (assuming the same walk rate). If he produces at the same rate on contact as in 2017, his batting line would improve to .290 with 55 home runs and a .639 slugging percentage. If he cuts his strikeout rate to 25 percent (170 strikeouts), he would improve to .293, .647 and 57 home runs. Is that possible? Sure. George Springer struck out 33 percent of the time as a rookie, then dropped that to 24.2 percent his second season and all the way to 17.6 percent in 2017 -- cutting his strikeouts almost in half over three seasons.Now, what’s even scarier is if Judge does better when he makes contact. He hit .461 when he didn’t strike out last season. Maybe 60 home runs are possible. wholesale nfl jerseys cheap hockey jerseys basketball jerseys custom cheap nfl jerseys usa wholesale jerseys nfljerseys wholesale cheap jerseys paypal cheap nhl jerseys
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