George Bissell

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: Mondesi Mash

Thursday, September 20, 2018


Forecasting future performance, especially from a relatively unproven young hitter with a limited major-league track record, can be an exercise in futility. It’s remarkably easy to get sucked into the proverbial hype machine solely because of a stellar second-half performance. At this time last year, I recall spending nearly every waking moment touting a 24-year-old switch-hitting shortstop, who hit .316/.377/.553 with 27 extra-base hits (10 home runs) and seven stolen bases in just 234 plate appearances over the final two months. His name? Jorge Polanco. He radically overhauled his approach at the plate and appeared to be on the precipice of superstardom. Spoiler alert: It didn’t happen.

 

There were some unforeseen variables -- most notably an 80-game suspension after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance in March -- which derailed Polanco from reaching the lofty expectations his late-season charge spawned. However, his extreme struggles illustrate the broader point that stratospheric second-half numbers -- especially from a young hitter -- can be a cruel mirage, rather than a harbinger of sustainable fantasy success.

 

With that critical caveat out of the way, it’s time to start seriously debating the potential range of outcomes for Adalberto Mondesi in 2019. There are some glaring warts in his overall profile, most notably an alarming sub-70 percent contact rate. However, it’s impossible to ignore the hype swirling around the Royals' burgeoning fantasy superstar. Simply put, he’s going to be one of the most expensive, highly-sought hitters in fantasy baseball next spring.

 

The 23-year-old switch-hitting shortstop went 2-for-4 with a solo home run, a double and a stolen base against the Pirates on Wednesday. He connected on a 94-mph heater from veteran right-hander Chris Archer, launching a 421-foot solo shot to right-center field in the third inning. Not only is he slashing .288/.314/.485 with 10 home runs, 30 RBI and 26 stolen bases in just 65 games since being recalled from Triple-A Omaha on June 17, but he’s gone deep six times in his last 19 games dating back to August 28. To put those numbers in context, he’s the first hitter in major-league history to record at least 10 homers and 25 stolen bases in fewer than 250 plate appearances in a single season. The only recent season that comes remotely close from a production standpoint belongs to Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton, who racked up nine homers and 23 steals in 244 plate appearances back in 2016. The striking similarity between them is persistent contact issues at the highest level.

 

The pivotal question for Mondesi is whether he can maintain a respectable batting average, while also hitting for double-digit pop over a full-season. It’s an extremely tall order, but if manages to replicate this recent level of production, he will evolve into one of the most electrifying four-category fantasy monsters in the entire game. Just to be clear, it’s important to remain cognizant of the extreme contact issues in his profile. His floor is deeper than the Mariana Trench if he’s struggling to get on base and his power completely evaporates. Yet, his realistic 15-homer, 40-steal floor insulates enough of the risk to justify an early round selection in fantasy drafts next spring. In the last five years, only six hitters have produced that level of power and speed production in a single campaign. The range of potential outcomes is wider than the Grand Canyon and Mondesi is a virtual lock to be among the most polarizing hitters in fantasy baseball this offseason.


No More Wheeling and Dealing

 

The Mets officially shut down Zack Wheeler for the remainder of the season on Wednesday. The 28-year-old right-hander enjoyed a breakout campaign, going 12-7 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 179/55 K/BB ratio in 29 starts this year. With New York out of the playoff picture, it makes sense to avoid risking the long-term health of the oft-injured righty over the final two weeks of the regular season. He racked up a career-high 187 1/3 innings between Triple-A Las Vegas and the major leagues this year after missing nearly two full seasons, tossing just 87 1/3 innings over a three-year period (2015-2017) due to arm injuries.



American League Quick Hits: Jose Abreu was released from a Cleveland hospital after suffering an infection in his right thigh. There is no timetable for his return to the White Sox lineup … Michael Kopech underwent Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery on Tuesday … Sean Manaea underwent successful surgery on his left shoulder on Wednesday … Trevor Bauer (leg) will be activated from the disabled list Friday and start the Indians' series opener against the Red Sox … Yankees activated Aroldis Chapman from the 10-day disabled list … Eddie Rosario will have an MRI on his right quad … James Paxton (illness) and Felix Hernandez (hamstring) will throw bullpens sessions on Friday … Trevor Cahill (back) threw a bullpen session on Wednesday … Eduardo Nunez exited Wednesday's game against the Yankees with soreness in his right knee, and will not play on Thursday … Adrian Beltre went 2-for-4 with his 475th career homer -- tying Stan Musial and Willie Stargell for 30th on the all-time list -- in the Rangers’ loss to the Rays … Tommy Pham went 3-for-5 with two homers in the Rays’ blowout win over the Rangers … Luis Severino tossed seven innings of one-run ball in the Yankees’ win over the Red Sox … Luke Voit went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs in that one … J.D. Martinez went 3-for-3 in the loss … Carlos Carrasco struck out 11 batters in a no-decision against the White Sox … Jason Kipnis slugged a walk-off grand slam to lift the Indians past the White Sox … Kyle Seager went 2-for-4 with a homer and two RBI in the Mariners’ blowout win over the Astros … Willians Astudillo finished 2-for-4 with three RBI in the Twins’ victory over the Tigers … Mychal Givens notched his eighth save of the year in the Orioles’ narrow win over the Blue Jays … Stephen Piscotty went 2-for-3 with a homer and five RBI in the Athletics’ lopsided win over the Angels … Shane Bieber will pitch out of the bullpen on Friday against the Red Sox.

 

National League Quick Hits: Rockies manager Bud Black told reporters that Trevor Story (elbow) is considered “day-to-day” and will head to the team's spring training facility to receive treatment on Thursday … Giants manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Brandon Belt is heading back to San Francisco to undergo an MRI on his knee, and could undergo season-ending surgery soon … Kyle Freeland will start on Sunday against the Diamondbacks in place of Jon GrayChris Archer struck out eight batters over seven innings in the Pirates’ win over the Royals … Felipe Vasquez nailed down his 35th save of the year in that contest … Freddie Freeman went 3-for-3 with a homer and three RBI in the Braves' win over the Cardinals … Touki Toussaint struck out eight batters over 5 2/3 innings to earn a win in that contest … Zach Eflin whiffed nine batters over five scoreless innings in the Phillies’ win over the Mets … Rhys Hoskins went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in that one … Amed Rosario went 3-for-4 and stole two bases in the loss … Robbie Ray and three Diamondbacks relievers tossed a combined one-hitter against the Cubs … Yasiel Puig blasted a pinch-hit three-run homer in the Dodgers’ win over the Rockies … Walker Buehler racked up a career-high 12 strikeouts over six innings and Kenley Jansen recorded his 36th save of the year in that contest … Taijuan Walker (elbow) will begin a throwing program on Monday … Chad Kuhl underwent elbow surgery on Wednesday.






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