Is It Legit 8/15: A Short Stop at Shortstop

Myles Nelson examines two of the hottest shortstops in baseball.

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

There are two AL East shortstops who have been on fire lately, and while they have been some of the most added players in baseball over that time, they are still widely available. Everyone’s looking for waiver wire upgrades this time of year, so it’s time we take a deeper dive into two of the hottest shortstops in baseball. All ownership figures refer to ESPN leagues.

Willy Adames – 39 AB | 3 HR | 4 SB | .410 AVG | 1.134 OPS – 16.9% Owned

Let’s start by talking about the exciting rookie Adames. The Rays were hoping for this kind of production from him, as he’s been consistently listed as one of their organization’s top prospects. Our own prospect guru Brennan Gorman said we should expect batting average, home runs, and steals from him, and that’s hard to find on the waiver wire this late in the season. The most intriguing part of Adames’ game currently is his running, as he swiped a bag in four consecutive games. Tampa Bay is letting their players run (they are second in stolen base attempts since the All-Star Break with 29), so I expect Adames to keep getting the green light going forward. While I’m certainly not expecting a steal every game, I would expect a handful of steals moving forward, especially since half the battle of stealing a base is just attempting to do it. While there are certainly other speedsters readily available like Adalberto Mondesi or Travis Jankowski, they haven’t shown the bat skills or steady playing time that Adames has.

We should talk about his bat though. Over the past two weeks, he’s hit .410 with a 1.134 OPS, and slugged 3 home runs in that stretch. He’s hit .253 on the season so far with a .337 BABIP, a number that’s actually in line with what he did in the minors and isn’t too farfetched considering his speed. There are good and bad signs moving forward for Adames though. His plate discipline is pretty poor, posting a strikeout rate of 30%, much too high for someone who isn’t a power hitter (for reference, if he qualified for the batting title he would have the 5th worst strikeout rate in the majors, right between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton). He also has an xBABIP of .282, basically meaning that around 7 of his hits in play should have been outs, and he doesn’t walk enough to be able to make up that difference if his luck runs out. On the bright side though, his last pop up came on July 2nd, and his hard hit rate has skyrocketed in the second half, from 22% in the first half to 37.5% here in the second half. Those are the kinds of things that can turn a groundball out or a lazy flyball into a single through the hole or a double in the gap. With the Rays penchant for running, Adames is definitely someone I’d be willing to take the risk on, hoping that he can continue to hit well and subsequently get those steals. LEGIT

Aledmys Diaz – 70 ABs | 7 HR | .314 AVG | 1.024 OPS – 22.9% Owned

As for Diaz, he’s looking more and more like the 2016 version of himself, the shortstop who slugged .510 and hit 17 home runs in 111 games for the Cardinals. That Aledmys Diaz had a hard hit rate of 31.5%, leading to a HR/FB ratio of 12.6%. This 2018 Aledmys Diaz is doing almost exactly the same, with a current hard-hit rate of 32.3% and a HR/FB ratio of 14.4%. He’s also lifting the ball more as of late, posting a 45% FB rate since the All-Star Break that would represent a career high for him. Diaz has always made contact, never striking out more than above 14%, but last year he was plagued by weak contact more than anything else. He’s been more aggressive at the plate this year, lowering his walk rate all the way down to a pathetic 3.8%, so if you are in an OBP or points league you might want to think twice, but his ability to make contact and his increased exit velocity show that we could be looking at a shortstop is back to slugging over .500 for the rest of the season. He’s a smart risk at this point of the season for teams looking for extra pop, especially at a middle infield position. LEGIT

Myles Nelson

VP Operations. Creator of the PL Wacky Leagues (Blind Draft, Grand Theft, WorstBall).

4 responses to “Is It Legit 8/15: A Short Stop at Shortstop”

  1. Joe says:

    What are your thoughts on these 2 compared to Torres in 12 team h2h pts league rest of way? He’s been starting to hit that rookie tailspin and i don’t want to cut him but come playoff time winning requires some bold moves.

    • Myles Nelson says:

      There are definitely some troubling signs for Gleyber Torres. His GB% has jumped since the break, with a decrease in both LD% and FB%, and he’s also not hitting the ball as hard either. His BABIP has plummeted to .154, so there’s some bad luck involved too, but we want Torres hitting the ball in the air, not on the ground.

      The good news is he’s walking more lately, so hopefully he’ll maintain that good eye at the plate and it will help him swing at the pitches he wants moving forward, and not just at anything near the strike zone. I’d be hesitant to drop him if you can stash him, but if you need production, don’t feel guilty dropping him.

  2. theKraken says:

    Adames has never hit .300, stole 15 bases or hit 15 HR in any season. Speed has never been considered part of his profile – Fangraphs has a 45/40 on it… which is bad. I have never heard him described as a speedster. His success rates were also poor in the minors. I have always thought that Adames made his name by being part of the David price trade more than anything else. He is projectable with the bat, but I would be super pumped if my opponent was using him in the playoffs in a 20 teamer.

    • Myles Nelson says:

      Yep, he’s definitely been one of the guys who’s probably a better real-life prospect than a fantasy one. However, we have to respect that the Rays are giving their players the green light and Adames was 4/4 in SB attempts recently. Paul Goldschmidt, for example, was never said to have plus running speed, but he’s stolen 18+ bases 4 times in his career, and in today’s speed environment, even getting one stolen base from a player can make a huge difference in a weekly matchup. Also, a number of players have come to the pros and had more power than they did in the minors, and again, I’m not expecting serious power from him either. But if you are hurting at shortstop, and could pick up a guy who could conceivably hit .280 the rest of the way with 5 home runs and 5 stolen bases? Are you really going to do much better on the waiver wire at shortstop at this point in the season?

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