Batter’s Box: Wig Wam Pham

If you’ve been riding the Tommy Pham train then you’re probably wondering if or when it will end. And if Pham is out there on the waiver wire, you might be...

If you’ve been riding the Tommy Pham train then you’re probably wondering if or when it will end. And if Pham is out there on the waiver wire, you might be looking at him thinking “I think I should pick him up?” Especially after last night’s 2-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI performance. You probably know what I’m about to say though, right? Here’s the thing: most of what Pham is doing is an illusion, don’t trust him. Here’s the big, gigantic red flag with Pham: he’s hitting a lower hard hit rate than 2016 (36.3% this year compared to 42.7% last year) when he hit nine home runs (as many as he has now) in 35 more games than he’s currently played. And on top of that, he has a 34.6% HR/FB rate. That’s right, a 34.6% HR/FB rate, and he plays most of his games in a pitchers park. That’s absurd, and there’s no way that’s keeping up, especially with his hard hit rate. That HR/FB rate is going to plummet soon, and with it, his power numbers and his batting average. I expect Pham to be somewhere around a .250s hitter the rest of the season with a shot at ending the year with 20 home runs. If you want to ride the streak for now, I get it, but be warned, it will end.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:

Mallex Smith (OF, TB) – 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Mallex has been one of my favorite prospects for years and I’m so happy that he’s finally getting a consistent gig with the Rays. I genuinely think that, if he was given a full season, Smith could basically put up Billy Hamilton numbers, I think he’s that fast. His average has been on fire lately, hitting .352, and it looks like he’s fixed his strikeout problem a bit (one of his biggest issues). That .352 average is going to come down as his absurd .444 BABIP comes down, but I think he could hit in the .260s the rest of the way and steal a ton of bases (like if he has a full-time gig from here on out, he might steal 30 bases). If you need steals, Mallex is your guy.

Jose Pirela (2B/OF, SD) – 2-5, 1 RBI, 2 SB. Pirela is a long-time minor league guy who’s suddenly been lighting it up lately. He’s got a .425 BABIP which means that that .351 average is going to come way down, but overall, he’s a tough guy to project, because he’s had 30 steal seasons in the minors and nine steal seasons, he’s interesting, but I’m not trusting him. If you want to ride the streak for a bit, go ahead, but I’m not trusting him as of yet.

Ian Happ (OF/2B, CHC) – 1-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. People were excited about Happ when he came up, but he’s been really rough lately, hitting .221 on the year so far, and I don’t think he’s going to get that much better. That .246 BABIP should come up a bit, so maybe he hits in the .230s or .240s? But otherwise, he’ll probably end the year with close to 20 home runs, and with an average that low, I’m not interested unless you’re in an exceptionally deep league. There are better options out there.

Jason Kipnis (2B, CLE) – 2-4, 1 RBI, 1 SB. Kipnis has been hard to own with his .237 average but he’s been picking it up lately, hitting .320 over the past week. Overall, Kipnis’ stats look alright, his hard hit rate is down to 2015 levels, which isn’t great, but the average should come up with his BABIP. Overall I’m thinking Kipnis is a .260s hitter the rest of the way with a good shot at doubling his home run total and stealing a few bases. He’s not nearly as awesome as he used to be, but he’s useful.

Jonathan Schoop (2B, BAL) – 2-4, 1 RBI. Schoop has been absolutely crushing the ball lately, hitting .292 with 14 home runs, and it’s fair to wonder how legit this is. Schoop has a reputation for being a free swinger, something that came along when he finished 2015 with a laughable 2.8% walk rate, but this year’s been different. He’s cut his chase rate down from 43% last year to 34.5% this year. He’s cut his whiff rate down from 16.2% last year to 13.1% this year and with all that, his walk rate has steadily risen and his strikeout rate has steadily fallen (albeit in small amounts). Schoop’s approach is getting better, he’s always had great power and now he’s finally learning to not swing at everything he sees. I honestly think Schoop could be a .270s hitter the rest of the way and end the year with 30 home runs. If you can get that out of your second baseman, I think you’d be happy.

Andrelton Simmons (SS, LAA) – 3-4, 2 R, 1 SB. Andrelton Simmons looks to be on his way to a career year, and in all honesty, I don’t see any reason he can’t do it. Name a positive trend and Simmons has it: a career-high walk rate, a .289 BABIP, a career-high hard hit rate and a corresponding career-high HR/FB rate (which is still a reasonable 9.6%), a drastically increased pull rate, it’s all there. Simmons is playing great and I don’t see any reason he can’t keep it up. Could he get to 20/20 this year? I don’t think it’s a guarantee, but I also don’t think it’s that far fetched, and if he does that while batting in the .270s/.280s? I’ll take that.

Martin Maldonado (C, LAA) – 3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI. I’m only including Maldonado here because of the amazing night he had on Wednesday. I don’t really think there’s much fantasy relevance here, even in a position as desperate as catcher.

Jedd Gyorko (2B/3B/SS, STL) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Jedd Gyorko just keeps going. He’s been awesome this year, we’ve always known he had power, but the average has been the most surprising thing. Unfortunately, that average won’t likely keep up, as he still appears to be the .250s/.260s hitter he’s always been, but thanks to an elevated BABIP, his average has been great. He’s still someone you should continue owning, but if you can sell someone on the average, I’d do it.

Delino DeShields Jr. (OF, TEX) – 1-4, 2 RBI, 1 SB. Similar to Mallex Smith, DeShields has been hitting for a great average and stealing a ton of bases. Unfortunately that average won’t keep up, he’s still striking out a ton, he’s just been fortunate enough to have a .418 BABIP. I have no problem riding the streak with him, but know it’ll end (and personally I like Smith more).

Josh Bell (1B, PIT) – 2-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Keep an eye on Josh Bell. His power has been pretty good, but that average has been awful, which in uncharacteristic of him. His strikeout rate has gone up, which isn’t good, and his walk rate has gone down, but I think that .251 BABIP has a lot to do with it too. Look for him to keep the power up but raise the average soon, and when that streak starts, grab him.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan, also a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music, watch way too many movies, and collect way too many records.

2 responses to “Batter’s Box: Wig Wam Pham”

  1. Jimbo says:

    ROS – J Bell or T Frazier?

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