Last week I went step-by-step through how I evaluate hitters using Willie Calhoun as an example. Today, it’s Lourdes Gurriel Jr.‘s turn. For a detailed description of the reasons behind each step, please check out the original article. As will become customary, I’ll start with his market and projected values and then move to my own secret sauce.
Note: At the time of writing a season length was not announced, I’ll be using full-season projections.
While the auction cost swing seems reasonable, the difference in draft picks, which is firmly in the flat part of the talent curve, is over 50 spots. Just going with the overall average, he’s a 10th round pick in a 15-team league.
One factor that may increase his value in some formats is that he could be qualified at second base (9 games). The market seems set.
He’s got a fairly wide range of FanGraphs projected auction values … sort of.
A $13 range extends from $15 with Steamer down to $2 with ZiPS with the $9 average value coming in just under the market cost.
Playing times must first be compared and ZiPS comes in nearly 100 plate appearances behind the other three with also the lowest projected OPS. On the other hand, Steamer has the highest projected OPS and PAs. If the ZiPs projection is removed, the average increases to $11.6. If Steamer is removed, $7.3.
All the projections have him under 600 PA and 138 games. These projections have some playing time upside. Roster resource has him tabbed as the starting left-fielder and hitting third, so if he performs, additional plate appearances won’t be an issue. A locked-in 95% role would be a huge boost over his projected 85% role. This is the biggest factor for a variance in his projected output.
I’ll start with his recent performance, personal projections, and comps.
And his batting profile.
Some stats stick out from the above profile.
- He has struggled against right-handed pitching and has been worse over his career with .767 OPS against righties and a .928 against lefties. He has a legitimate chance of ending up in the short-side of a platoon. That’s not what I’m looking for in a 10th to 12th rounder.
- Also, he completely fell apart in the second half with his strikeouts up and power and walks down. He had an Aristides Aquino like outburst with 10 HR and a .337/.381/.683 slash line in June. And not much else.
- The power profile projects him for ~30 HR if he gets full-season playing time.
- He has above-average speed and has the potential for double-digit steals.
- The comparable hitters are completely uninspiring beside Nick Castellanos. There is that chance Gurriel can take off, but the odds seem stacked against him.
- Almost none of the batted ball information is sitting still. It looks like he is trying to sell out for power (increase in exit velocity, increase launch angle, drop-in contact). While selling out, his max exit velocity and the angle he hits the ball hard stayed the same. When he wasn’t making solid contact, he was a weak groundball machine.
- The final graph gets to the core of his struggles. He couldn’t hit a fastball and pitcher attacked him because of it. He had a 13% SwStr% against four-seamers and a 9% SwStr% against sinkers. Those are horrible results. He did most of the damage against sliders (1.009 OPS, 10 HR) and changeups (.920 OPS) so he was hoping for offspeed pitches and pitchers moved away from them.
While his full-season projections are healthy and he states that he’s “working on his strike-zone recognition and his two-strike approach“, I’m out at his price. I’d take Willie Calhoun, who I profiled last week, who is going on average 30 picks later.
There is too much downside and I’d need Gurriel at a discount. He could end up in a platoon. He fell apart after June when his tinkering backfired. He’s never played a full MLB season.
It’s not that I don’t see the possible upside in Gurriel, it’s just there are better options available around him at his draft price. I’d rather pay for Kyle Schwarber who is going around the same time. Why not take a shot on Teoscar Hernandez who has the same traits (30 HR power, 10 SB, .250 AVG) but his being drafted 200 picks later? If Hernandez fails, no resources were wasted. I’m still hoping for talent anchors in the tenth round, not projects.