Here is the final installment where we will be looking at some players in each division set to either progress or regress in 2018. As we know, in the world of fantasy baseball, it is important to look to the upcoming season and be ahead of the curve. Whether it’s to avoid paying for a player who will take a step back, or draft a player who is a bargain. Sabermetrics and advanced stats have given us many tools to evaluate players and try to predict how their seasons will play out. However, all analytics are not created equal. There are so many statistics nowadays that figuring out what to look at can be a daunting task. While there is still no one particular metric that is foolproof, there are some that can point us in the right direction. We recently ran through the AL East, NL East, AL Central, NL Central and AL West. Now let’s take a look at the NL West 2018.
NL West 2018 Fantasy Progression and Regression
PROGRESS – Corey Seager was expected to be good since he was drafted in the first round out of high school. He hasn’t disappointed and he is just going to get better. Seager is ready to take his game to the next level. From 2016 to 2017 his BB% increased by 3%. His FB% has gone from 29.3 to 33.1 and his hard hit rate has gone from 39.7 to 44.0. Still only 23, he will get stronger with age. If the patience sticks, and he continues to improve his flyball rate, the sky is the limit for Mr. Seager.
2018 Prediction: .310/.390/.530, 30 HRs, 100 Runs, 90 RBI
REGRESS – Cody Bellinger has power and even a little speed. However, there is a regression coming, although it may not be as bad as you think. Bellinger has an extreme uppercut swing. He also stands straight up in his stance which means he needs to drop his back leg to drive to the ball. This generates power but also leaves himself open to holes in his swing. While Bellinger should maintain his 47.1% FB rate and his 43% hard hit rate, his HR/FB rate of 25.2% could drop a bit. He is also an extreme pull hitter which means teams will be employing extravagant shifts on him. He is not going to be bad this year but the regression in his slash line is real.
2018 Prediction: .250/.330/.500, 30 HRs, 80 Runs, 85 RBI
PROGRESS – Taijuan Walker will realize his potential this year with the help of the humidor. Walker had trouble keeping the ball in the yard at home with a 1.4 HR/9. He also had a 4.18 ERA at home as opposed to a stellar 2.92 ERA on the road. His GB rate also increased to nearly 50% last year. Between the humidor at home, an increasing GB rate, and development of his secondary pitches, the 25-year-old is ready to break out.
2018 Prediction: 180 IP, 15-10, 3.20 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 175 Ks
REGRESS – Jake Lamb can hit righties. He just can’t hit lefties. Last year he had an abysmal .144 average and only hit 5 home runs in 156 PA vs. lefties. While Lamb did improve on his BB/K rate, he also hit the ball softer. The humidor can only hurt Lamb. His HR/FB has been over 20% the past two years and that should drop to possibly 12-15%. While he is not an extreme flyball hitter, he is an extreme pull hitter. Unless he either learns to hit lefties or starts spraying the ball around more, Lamb is in for a regression this season.
2018 Prediction: .240/.340/.450, 25 HRs, 75 Runs, 85 RBI
PROGRESS – Ian Desmond has had ups and downs in his career. Last year was a down one as he started the season on the DL with a broken hand. As a regular at first base, with a few starts in the outfield mixed in, he should be able to get back to his comfort level. Last season Desmond’s K% was generally the same as the previous season. His HR/FB rate was low at 13.2% considering he plays in Coors Field. That should improve and his FB rate should improve as well as that dipped to 10% below his career average. All things considered, Desmond should get back to the 20/20 guy we envision him as.
2018 Prediction: .290/.340/.480, 25 HRs, 20 SBs, 85 Runs, 90 RBI,
REGRESS – Wade Davis got his big contract. Fortunately enough for the Rockies, they have depth in the bullpen. Davis benefited from the Cubs stellar defense last year. His BABIP was only .262 which is 25 points lower than his career average. He is also trending in the wrong direction with his BB rate and HR/FB rate at 4.3/9 and 12% respectively last year. They were both career highs. Pitching in Coors Field should increase the HR/FB rate and the BABIP should normalize leaving Davis as a middle of the road closer.
2018 Prediction: 65 IP, 30 SVs, 3.30 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 80 Ks
PROGRESS – Manuel Margot had a solid rookie season last year and showed a good mix of power and speed. As he continues to play, he will have to hit the ball harder than his 25.4% Hard Hit rate. His FB rate was respectable at 36.3%. His BB/K of 0.33 was also good for a rookie. All of these things should improve. At only 23 years old Margot is already a fixture at the top of what should be an increasingly potent Padres lineup.
2018 Prediction: .275/.340/.450, 20 HRs, 30 SBs, 85 Runs, 55 RBI
REGRESS – Eric Hosmer is a solid hitter and was brought in to give a veteran presence to what is mostly a young Padres locker room. While he improved his BB/K last year to a career high of 0.63, he also does not hit the ball in the air. Hosmer’s HR/FB of above 21% the past 2 seasons will not be sustainable in Petco and should normalize to about 14-17%. He only hits the ball in the air about 25% of the time which is not optimal. That being said, he should still have a decent slash line, but his home run total should drop along with the RBI and SLG%.
2018 Prediction: .275/.335/.430, 18 HRs, 70 Runs, 75 RBI
PROGRESS – Brandon Belt was having a decent season from a power perspective last year before a concussion in August sidelined him for the rest of the year. The power increase is real and his slash numbers suffered due to bad luck. His BABIP was .284 which is 50 points below his career average. He still has an excellent BB rate at over 14% the past two years. Belt’s power should be sustainable as his FB rate has maintained at 46% the past two seasons. A healthy Belt and an improved lineup should make for a very good year.
2018 Prediction: .275/.380/.520, 25 HRs, 80 Runs, 90 RBI
REGRESS – Hunter Pence used to be a model of health. He played in at least 154 games from 2008-2014. The past three years have not been kind to him on the health front. His career is on the downswing as he will be 35 in April. The past three years Pence has had his HR/FB decrease along with his hard hit rate. He has also had his FB% below 30% all 3 seasons. The BABIP, once at a consistent .320, was at .301 last season. Don’t expect anything but a further decline in BABIP due to his lack of speed now and lack of quality contact.
2018 Prediction: .255/.310/.360, 12 HRs, 50 Runs, 60 RBI