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Mookie Betts 2018 Outlook


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On 11/2/2017 at 11:56 AM, KingJoffrey said:

Your argument about him getting 100 R and 100 RBIs is arbitrary.  It's like me saying "Dee Gordon is the only player to have a .300+ BA and more than 50 steals so he should be drafted in the top 10.

 

The fact is that he finished 26th overall.  It's not "mediocre" compared to baseball as a whole but it's mediocre for a guy you want to blow a 5th round pick on.  I am no expert on math but last time I check 26th does not equal 5 or 6.

 

On top of that a lot of his rank is predicated on things that may not repeat.  The counting stats, well the Red Sox overall offense was below average last year in terms of OPS.  They had a phenomenal avg in RISP situations.  That won't repeat itself.  HanRam, Pedroia, Moreland, J Bradley jr.  Benny and Devers are promising but it's too soon to jump to conclusions.

 

His 26th overall performance was easier to swallow because some of his elite groupset got hurt ...Trout/Harper.  But his 26th ranking was also based on his health.  Partner Trout or Harper with any number of pickups and the overall combined value would probably blow away Betts.

 

So for me I'd rather grab an elite pitcher with the cost of Betts and then gamble with a young speed/power combo for cheaper money.  I'd rather have a scarcity position with unlimited upside like Correa or Turner.

 

That is simply what I'd rather do.

 

I think if you want to give the best comparison to Betts in 2018, you can look at Bryce harper in 2017.

 

Going into 

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Here's a complete list of the games where Mookie has failed to record at least one Run, RBI, or SB:   5/9 5/1 (entered as a defensive replacement, only had 2 AB) 4/26 4/24

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On 10/28/2017 at 8:15 AM, EmbargoLifted said:

Could you imagine if he got the 20-30 basehits that his xAVG suggested he should have had ? 

 

He would have likely replicated his 2016 season (better BA, R, SB, RBI #s). 

 

What tends to happen to players with his kind of peripherals is that they rebound harder .. next year he's going to get a ton of luck and hit .330+ 

 

I'm very curious to what model for xBABIP and xAVG / peripheral base you're using that would suggest Mookie should've hit between .296 (+20 Hs) and .312 (+30 Hs). 

 

I'm going to be very clear on two things here: 

1.) I absolutely believe that part of Mookie's problem was injury related and that with his natural talent I'm optimistic about a rebound, 

but also, 

 

2.) Mookie's problem is 2017 was absolutely not luck. 
 

Maybe luck played *some* factor in Mookie's game, perhaps he should've earned a .270-.280 type BABIP, but there's GLARING red flags to me in Mookie's peripherals. Again, they're red flags that could be attributed to struggling through injury, but they do not suggest to me that any xAVG or xBABIP formula should be suggesting Mookie simply got unlucky. 

 

A couple of contributing factors: 

 

1.) The most Pop-Ups in all of baseball. Pop-ups are equivalent to strike-outs essentially in their ability to become hits. I'm desperately awaiting a day where I can find a good way to make a list of K+PU% easily as I believe it has perhaps a greater benefit to even K%, but 35 Pop-Ups is essentially an extra 5% of Mookie's PAs that he has no chance of getting hits in. 

 

2.) The 14th Lowest Oppo% among qualified hitters, which represented a 5.2% Decrease (25.2% to 20.0%) from 2016 which was accompanied by a similar 4.7% increase to his Pull%. 

 

3.) A loss of the outer third of the plate, which seems to accompany the change in Pull/Oppo. Mookie went from slugging .484 on pitches on the outer third of the plate in 2016 to Slugging .302 in 2017. That's a very poor SLG to have on an entire third of the plate inside the strike zone. 

 

Many of these factors, particularly the loss of plate coverage, I've come to largely attribute to injuries. 

 

So again, I am projecting a rebound for Mookie, but I'm also hedging it based on the fact that I do think his peripherals in 2017 largely support the average he produced. It wouldn't surprise me at all if he made a minor adjustment and fixed all of his issues and hit .310 because his Contact Skills are truly elite, but calling what happened to Mookie in 2017 "luck" I believe is purely inaccurate. 

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On 11/22/2017 at 10:23 PM, Moonshot said:

 

 

I think if you want to give the best comparison to Betts in 2018, you can look at Bryce harper in 2017.

 

Going into 

 

To add to the above I've had this very same though a number of times, if only based on pure talent and the fact that, in a "terrible" year, they still produced a 20/20 line with good counting stats that by no means sank your team, even if it wasn't nearly what you'd get out of other top picks. 

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On 11/5/2017 at 3:43 PM, KingJoffrey said:

Never did I argue about Trout being better than Betts.  The argument is whether or not Trout is better than Betts FOR HIS COST. Not everyone plays in draft leagues.  I feel you are better off spending the extra money for Trout and others of his kind like Altuve then you are spending a little less money for Betts.   The risk/Reward ratio on betts is not favorable.

 

So the top 12 is unreliable?  You are actually arguing my point.  You're right the top 12 IS unreliable.  That doesn't mean the correct course of action is to gamble.  That actually increases the value of consistent players who find themselves on  or close to that list.  A lot of those players from 2016, like Jonathan Villar.  Well that goes to show you not to invest too much into unproven commodities.  

 

Can Betts improve? of course he can.  But so can 2 dozen other players at a similar or lesser  cost and many of whom also have good advanced metrics  or could improve simply due to more luck with injury.

 

When it comes to making predictions, fantasy baseball, or any other game that involves making future prdictions based on historical data.  Well "the trend is your friend".  Right now the trend in fantasy baseball is a lack of quality SP, a lack of depth at some key positions (C) and a lot of OF and 1B coming out of the woodwork to put up MVP type numbers.  No way am I going to gamble $45 on a player that could be replaced by a $1-$5 player on draft day (or free off the waiver wire).

 

I'm not sure where you are getting that Betts isn't realiable. He was a top 15 hitter on the player rater. you can automatically toss out a handful of guys you don't even consider above him (Pham, Merrifield, Ozuna, Andrus, Gordon). 

He was #1 on the player rater in 2015. 


The risk/reward is favorable. How many guys were top 15 in 2016 and 2017? 6. Trout, Altuve, Goldschmidt, Arenado, Votto, and Betts. 

 

Coming into 2017, Betts was a career .303 hitter with a career BABIP around .312 and .ISO around .196-.198

 

He hit .264 with a .268 BABIP. Even considering last year, his career average and BABIP are .292 and .303


He doesn't have to improve, he only has to normalize. If (he didn't, but if he did) he bats .292 last season to go with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 101 runs, and 26 stolen bases then we aren't even having this conversation. Plus, if the average rebounds to where it's always been, then counting stats get bumped too. 

 

Any player at any position can be replaced by a $1 to $5 player on draft day, or off the wire. That's an extremely weak argument. The problem is, you can't afford to take those risks if you aren't loading up on floor also. 

 

Betts was still a big time contributor in steals, which is one of the more scarce stats to fill, especally without sacrificing another cat. Not many guys are top contributors at SB without hurting you elsewhere (usually in HR, AVG, or RBI). 

Trout is so much better than everyone, he should be $5-$10 more than anyone. The first bats off the board should be Trout, Altuve, Arenado, Goldschmidt. After that, it blows wide open. Betts, Turner, Harper, Blackmon, Votto, Stanton, there's a whole slew of guys worth talking about at the 5 spot. How many of those guys are realistic shots to go 100/25/100/25/.300? 

What bump Betts, Turner, and Blackmon give you is they are going to chip in SB's, with Betts and Turner significantly adding in SB's. Harper seems to always be banged up. Blackmon is aging. Votto also aging. Stanton was a stud, but how repeatable? All of them are worth consideration there. Turner is still relatively unproven, but proven enough for me to take him @ 5. 

What you get is a guy who's a virtual lock to be a top 10 bat, but with the upside to be the #1 bat. Same as all the rest of the guys we're talking about, but with virtually no risk. The dude had an "unlucky" 2017. Tack a .290 average on to that stat line he put up (which is way more than reasonable) and this isn't a convo. 

 

You pass Altuve so you can throw a dart and Whit Merrifield late? You pass on Trea to snag Didi Gregorious? I know you don't draft Votto so you can roll with Justin Smoak for a dollar. Hey, and if you don't buy Clayton Kershaw, you can get yourself Robbie Ray, Luis Severino, Alex Wood, Gio Gonzalez, Chase Anderson, and James Paxton. A whole top 20 pitching staff instead of 1 arm! 

You gotta spend that money on someone. Not many better guys to target than a dude with a 100/20/100/20/.270 floor. Still roll the dice on those $1 guys as speculative adds for the bench, but you don't buy those guys at auction to start in your lineup. The thing is, you buy betts who is a high floor stud, or you end up with Christian Yelich and George Springer for the same cost. You spend the same money, you take up two bench spots. There goes 1 of your $1 guys you wanna throw a dart on. 

You rather roll out Yelich and springer, or Betts and see if you can't catch lightning in a bottle with guys like judge, bellinger, pham, benintendi, santana, etc? One of those guys works out, you are much better off. If they don't? You're still probably about the same. ./rant

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I think the whole Boston lineup felt pressure after the David Ortiz retirement.  Hanley had a terrible season probably partially because of his injury.

I think these guys are primed for a bounce back season and I see Betts going in the second half of the first round and somebody being real happy.

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It just goes to show that a bad season for Betts still equates to 24 HR, 26 SB, 100+ R and RBI.

 

Going forward, he has a ton of potential to improve his average with his profile, and those counting numbers should stay about the same. I'd still be counting on him as a top 5 pick and to be a true 5 category stud all year.

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19 minutes ago, Sidearmer said:

It just goes to show that a bad season for Betts still equates to 24 HR, 26 SB, 100+ R and RBI.

 

Going forward, he has a ton of potential to improve his average with his profile, and those counting numbers should stay about the same. I'd still be counting on him as a top 5 pick and to be a true 5 category stud all year.

Makes me laugh how some guys (not you) wrote Harper off after his bad year, but are willing to say Betts is OK.

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25 minutes ago, BlueJaysIn2030 said:

Makes me laugh how some guys (not you) wrote Harper off after his bad year, but are willing to say Betts is OK.

betts does have the security with the sb 

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5 minutes ago, colepenhagen said:

betts does have the security with the sb 

Yeah, I guess... But did anyone really peg Harper for a 20/20 year after his monster HR campaign? People were simply expecting him to repeat a 40HR performance, and when he didn't they were mad that he gave us a 20/20 season instead. I mean, it's really apples and oranges, but the expectation from people that Harper would fail and Betts won't when both had injury-riddled bad seasons is funny.

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37 minutes ago, BlueJaysIn2030 said:

Makes me laugh how some guys (not you) wrote Harper off after his bad year, but are willing to say Betts is OK.

 

Harper had more issues. His .243 average was much worse than Betts at .264. The stolen bases weren't a guarantee. Harper has always been injury prone. So I definitely could understand why there were more concerns with Harper's situation.

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4 hours ago, sngehl01 said:

He doesn't have to improve, he only has to normalize. If (he didn't, but if he did) he bats .292 last season to go with 24 homers, 102 RBI, 101 runs, and 26 stolen bases then we aren't even having this conversation. Plus, if the average rebounds to where it's always been, then counting stats get bumped too. 

 

Again, I'm pet peeving here -- but it sounds like your quantifying "normalizing" by just regressing to his career average BABIP. His batted balls were worse, at least by my standards of analysis/the peripherals I use and he does need to improve that aspect -- even if it's just getting healthy, to hit .292. 

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1 hour ago, BlueJaysIn2030 said:

Makes me laugh how some guys (not you) wrote Harper off after his bad year, but are willing to say Betts is OK.

 

I would love for everyone to take a look back in that thread a few years back regardless. I was very pro Harper even at his "lowest". 

 

@taobball brought up this point recently, and I've really been trumpeting it all off-season, his bad year was not that bad. He was the 26th overall player.  Ending up with that level player in round 1 is certainly not ideal, but he was still quite good for your team. If this last year was his floor, its pretty high. Most top 12 picks are not top 12 players at the end of the year.  

 

Based off NFBC drafts data and using the ESPN Player Rater (using based off easiest for me to access and I have some degree reliability with both) , only 2 players drafted top 12 finished top 12 (Altuve, and Goldy).  Arenado was close, feel free to throw him in. 

 

I think he could get injured, but otherwise I see a big bounce back coming and think he's relatively safe too. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Sidearmer said:

 

Harper had more issues. His .243 average was much worse than Betts at .264. The stolen bases weren't a guarantee. Harper has always been injury prone. So I definitely could understand why there were more concerns with Harper's situation.

I guess. I mean, we're talking about .243 with 24/24 and like 90rbi. That's pretty good, and was still a top 30 player  

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All really great points being brought up here. With regards to the increase in popups along with the increase in pull%  it certainly appears that Betts got into some bad habits last year as a hitter. 

5 hours ago, Brooklyn Dude said:

I think the whole Boston lineup felt pressure after the David Ortiz retirement.  Hanley had a terrible season probably partially because of his injury.

I think these guys are primed for a bounce back season and I see Betts going in the second half of the first round and somebody being real happy.

I think this was a big part of Mookie's struggles last year too. Perhaps Betts being moved around in the lineup may have been at least what caused him to struggle to a degree. Just speculating but perhaps the Red Sox lack of power after losing Ortiz and their lineup tinkering led to Mookie getting into those bad habits as a hitter in order to make a conscious effort to hit for more power. Now of course it didn't work and its also apparent that Mookie, like most exceptional hitters, are at their best when they are willing and able to use all fields. I've said this before but to me I still think its pretty telling that several of the Red Sox hitters fell off dramatically last year - notably XB, Betts and Hanram. I'll be very interested to see what the Red Sox do in the off-season to address their power struggles. 

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29 minutes ago, DidiFan said:

All really great points being brought up here. With regards to the increase in popups along with the increase in pull%  it certainly appears that Betts got into some bad habits last year as a hitter. 

I think this was a big part of Mookie's struggles last year too. Perhaps Betts being moved around in the lineup may have been at least what caused him to struggle to a degree. Just speculating but perhaps the Red Sox lack of power after losing Ortiz and their lineup tinkering led to Mookie getting into those bad habits as a hitter in order to make a conscious effort to hit for more power. Now of course it didn't work and its also apparent that Mookie, like most exceptional hitters, are at their best when they are willing and able to use all fields. I've said this before but to me I still think its pretty telling that several of the Red Sox hitters fell off dramatically last year - notably XB, Betts and Hanram. I'll be very interested to see what the Red Sox do in the off-season to address their power struggles. 

 

I agree and said so before.  Betts was trying way to hard to become Ortiz and hit homers at every at bat when he was moved back in the third spot (Ortiz's old spot).  He changed his whole swing and everything because he felt that was what was being required of him.  And yet another reason John Farell was a really bad manager.

 

He isn't Ortiz, he is Mookie.  He has to hit like Mookie and not try and hit like Big Papi and he will be fine.  That's why the Sox need to get another power hitter in their line-up whether Abreu or even Hosmer who is kind of power-lite.  But someone else for the third spot.  Once that is done then Mookie can be Mookie again.

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4 minutes ago, The Big Bat Theory said:

 

I agree and said so before.  Betts was trying way to hard to become Ortiz and hit homers at every at bat when he was moved back in the third spot (Ortiz's old spot).  He changed his whole swing and everything because he felt that was what was being required of him.  And yet another reason John Farell was a really bad manager.

 

He isn't Ortiz, he is Mookie.  He has to hit like Mookie and not try and hit like Big Papi and he will be fine.  That's why the Sox need to get another power hitter in their line-up whether Abreu or even Hosmer who is kind of power-lite.  But someone else for the third spot.  Once that is done then Mookie can be Mookie again.

 

This is the last bit that I haven't mentioned yet, but how do you feel about his patience? Because I gotta be honest, I wanna see him be WAYYYY more aggressive at the plate. He has one of the lowest Swing%'s in baseball and one of the best contact rates. I just wanna see him swing more. 

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5 hours ago, taobball said:

 

Again, I'm pet peeving here -- but it sounds like your quantifying "normalizing" by just regressing to his career average BABIP. His batted balls were worse, at least by my standards of analysis/the peripherals I use and he does need to improve that aspect -- even if it's just getting healthy, to hit .292. 

Sure, I agree. But I'll trade multiple years of production as an indicator over one down year. You are correct. 

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16 minutes ago, sngehl01 said:

Sure, I agree. But I'll trade multiple years of production as an indicator over one down year. You are correct. 

 

 

In a lot of cases, sure, but that isn't the point I'm trying to make. The point I'm trying to make is that hitters are who they are and last year Mookie was bad in a lot of aspects, and in order to fix those things he has to incite change. Change for me is harder to bet on then just all things staying equal. The fact of the matter is that at least in terms of PU%, this has always been a problem for Mookie. As BBT alluded to above, he's messed with a few things in his swing, he's also been injured, and now things aren't going in the same way for him. So he has to make changes to get back to where he was as a player. Do I personally believe that he can do that based on his skillset and aptitude as a player? Sure I do. But that's more because I'm optimistic about his abilities as a player and have always been optimistic about his abilities as a player. To simply look at the previous two seasons however and say "well he's done this before so he's just going to *elastic* back to that" is just black and white and that's not the way I personally believe baseball analytics should be viewed. 

 

He needs to make an adjustment. Put simply: He's not going to be a top 5 player for me most likely. I'm not going to just say: Oh, well he did this before, so he's going to snap back in BA just "because." Betting on changes is harder than betting on everything staying the same. I absolutely love Mookie and don't think he deserves to slip too far, but I think there's some players that are clearly over him and I think there's another list including similarly skilled players like Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor who I believe you have to legitimately consider, because betting on players staying the same is usually better and safer than betting on players making adjustments. 

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4 hours ago, taobball said:

 

This is the last bit that I haven't mentioned yet, but how do you feel about his patience? Because I gotta be honest, I wanna see him be WAYYYY more aggressive at the plate. He has one of the lowest Swing%'s in baseball and one of the best contact rates. I just wanna see him swing more. 

 

If he moves to the top of the line-up his job is to take as many pitches in his first AB like most lead-off guys.  Also the Red Sox have had an approach that tries to make the pitcher throw as many pitches as possible.  Unless new manager Alex Cora and his new hitting coaches have a different philosophy I don't see Mookie suddenly swinging more.  And they may well have a different philosophy.  it is a time will tell situation since all the coaching staff has been turned over basically.

 

But yeah the TV commentators have mentioned that Mookie needs to be more aggressive too.

 

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1 hour ago, taobball said:

 

 

In a lot of cases, sure, but that isn't the point I'm trying to make. The point I'm trying to make is that hitters are who they are and last year Mookie was bad in a lot of aspects, and in order to fix those things he has to incite change. Change for me is harder to bet on then just all things staying equal. The fact of the matter is that at least in terms of PU%, this has always been a problem for Mookie. As BBT alluded to above, he's messed with a few things in his swing, he's also been injured, and now things aren't going in the same way for him. So he has to make changes to get back to where he was as a player. Do I personally believe that he can do that based on his skillset and aptitude as a player? Sure I do. But that's more because I'm optimistic about his abilities as a player and have always been optimistic about his abilities as a player. To simply look at the previous two seasons however and say "well he's done this before so he's just going to *elastic* back to that" is just black and white and that's not the way I personally believe baseball analytics should be viewed. 

 

He needs to make an adjustment. Put simply: He's not going to be a top 5 player for me most likely. I'm not going to just say: Oh, well he did this before, so he's going to snap back in BA just "because." Betting on changes is harder than betting on everything staying the same. I absolutely love Mookie and don't think he deserves to slip too far, but I think there's some players that are clearly over him and I think there's another list including similarly skilled players like Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor who I believe you have to legitimately consider, because betting on players staying the same is usually better and safer than betting on players making adjustments. 

 

And as bad as he was given all that, he was a top 15 bat. Hardly someone who cost you the league. 

 

Track record means more than a season. Any number of factors could have pushed the contract rates different directions. Pushing too hard at the plate, thumb injury, who knows. I'll be the guy who gets burned by him in 2018 I guess. 

 

The metrics may show why he ended up where he did. I'm giving the guy a pass and not going to be the least but upset to own him. 

 

I wouldn't put him as a top 5 player either. But he's a definite top 10 for me in a 5x5.  

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5 minutes ago, sngehl01 said:

 

And as bad as he was given all that, he was a top 15 bat. Hardly someone who cost you the league. 

 

Track record means more than a season. Any number of factors could have pushed the contract rates different directions. Pushing too hard at the plate, thumb injury, who knows. I'll be the guy who gets burned by him in 2018 I guess. 

 

The metrics may show why he ended up where he did. I'm giving the guy a pass and not going to be the least but upset to own him. 

 

I wouldn't put him as a top 5 player either. But he's a definite top 10 for me in a 5x5.  

 

Like I said he's likely to be in my first round. The issue here is not one of projection for this year necessarily its explaining last year away. 

 

Again I'm pet peeving hard. Not at you in particular, more of a pent-up rage at the fact that I listen to people in certain formats talk about BABIP regression like it's that simple. "Oh player A went from x to y BABIP so we can predict that he goes back from y to x just because." If I didn't believe in the talent of Mookie i'd be far more harsh on him because some of the nasty habits he exhibited in 2017 are truly those that will tank your BA. I believe he has the natural ability and that his contact skill, which is elite and even rang true last year, will be enough for him to make those adjustments. 

 

Basically all I'm saying is that many opinions people will hear this offseason professionally even will say things like "OH, Mookie could have the exact same season he had last year and get lucky this time and hit .300," and I am not in that camp. I believe that if Mookie had the same batted ball events from last season to this he'd hit .260-.280 again. I do, however, believe in his talent to adjust his swing along side improved health and be better than he was last year. It's just I do think he has to be better than last year to return first round value, not luckier, as many suggest. 

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8 hours ago, taobball said:

 

Like I said he's likely to be in my first round. The issue here is not one of projection for this year necessarily its explaining last year away. 

 

Again I'm pet peeving hard. Not at you in particular, more of a pent-up rage at the fact that I listen to people in certain formats talk about BABIP regression like it's that simple. "Oh player A went from x to y BABIP so we can predict that he goes back from y to x just because." If I didn't believe in the talent of Mookie i'd be far more harsh on him because some of the nasty habits he exhibited in 2017 are truly those that will tank your BA. I believe he has the natural ability and that his contact skill, which is elite and even rang true last year, will be enough for him to make those adjustments. 

 

Basically all I'm saying is that many opinions people will hear this offseason professionally even will say things like "OH, Mookie could have the exact same season he had last year and get lucky this time and hit .300," and I am not in that camp. I believe that if Mookie had the same batted ball events from last season to this he'd hit .260-.280 again. I do, however, believe in his talent to adjust his swing along side improved health and be better than he was last year. It's just I do think he has to be better than last year to return first round value, not luckier, as many suggest. 

 

I get it. What it comes down to at the end of the day (for me) is the dude was what he was for years. I mean, say he doesn't 'positively regress' to his career average, fine by me. Call him a .280 hitter with 100/20/100/20 as his floors. That's damn good. I'm not saying he doesn't need to change his approach to get there. I'm saying the dude is a professional hitter, and there's no reason for me to assume 2017 is the new norm for him. I don't believe in luck, and I don't believe he needs to get lucky. 

 

I may not have communicated it clearly, but I don't think he was unlucky. I know I said he had an "unlucky" 2017, but that's why I quoted it. The BABIP line, which guys love to look at to see how lucky a guy is, was way lower than the career norm. The guys hard hit % was up. Ground balls were down. fly balls up, infield pop ups up. 

His .268 BABIP ranked 190th in the majors among guys with 400+ PA. The concerns about his batted ball profile are justified, but I think they'll be corrected also. Same thing with Machado (who ranked 191 in BABIP). 


Again, i think examining the end results we can see why Mookie did what Mookie did. I think examining the whole, it's safe to bet on a rebound (even if only a moderate one, not back to where he was before). 

Look at his line in a vacuum and it means one thing. Look at his line in relation to his other seasons, and it means another. 

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If you want to normalize, then normalize...

 

Lots of talk about Mookie's BABIP in 2017 being way down.  But if his avg isn't for real then neither are those counting stats.  His RISP stats were amazing, with an OPS over 1.000 vs an 800ish overall OPS.  IIRC, The entire Red Sox team was remarkable with RISP.  That ain't happening again.  If you want to normalize do you assume he gets over 100 R and 100 RBIs again?  Yes It's the Red Sox and they may go out and fix their lineup with 100 mill in Free agents.  But for right now the Sox lineup is filled with question marks for 2018.

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