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Know the Role: Baez, Peraza and Gyorko

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening — whichever is applicable to you. Like most growing up during the late 80’s into the 90’s, console gaming provided countless hours of entertainment. I cut my teeth on Nintendo during my infancy. When the 16-bit conversion took place my allegiance switched to the Sega company; as Sega Genesis filled my heart with happiness during the long winter nights. As technology advanced, so did the gaming consoles. Before too long those 16-Bit consoles began to look like Pong circa 1972. The first 32-bit system to hit the US was the Sega Saturn. Shortly after its release I was the proud owner of the unit, and for a very brief moment, was the cool kid in the neighborhood.

Every year we place a premium value on certain players for being the flashy new unit on the market. These players aren’t always rookies, per se, but they are typically younger, offer more appeal than other options within their organization, and/or showed significant growth the previous season. If current ADP holds true, this SS crop features several players who are receiving this  preferential treatment.

Javier Baez, Jose Peraza, and Jedd Gyorko have many things in common. All three players have multiple position eligibility; Baez and Gyorko qualify at 2B, 3B and SS, while Peraza has SS and OF with 2B as a fallback in 10 game minimum leagues (Yahoo). All three players showed flashes of promise last season.

Baez had a divisional series for the ages with highlight reel plays and clutch hitting. Gyorko knocked 30 balls over the fence in fewer than 450 plate appearances, and Peraza managed to swipe 21 bags while hitting .324 in just under 250 at bats. Lastly, all of these similarities have all three being grouped together as the aforementioned group of shortstops who are being over drafted in the early stages of 2017.

Javier Baez is currently the highest drafted player of the trio with an ADP of 116. He has the most upside of the trio with real 20/20 potential. On the downside, his path to playing time could be the most obstructed. Zobrist seems like the most logical odd man out, but at 35 he’s not quite over the hill, and his plate approach makes him the Cubs best option to leadoff.  While either Zobrist or Bryant could move to the OF in more of a permanent manner, the Cubs seem more than content to go with the Almora/Jay combo more often than not. Factor in the return of Kyle Schwarber and the task of matching last seasons 450 PA seems daunting.

From a talent standpoint I have the utmost confidence in Baez, but the 116th overall price tag (with reaches as high as 62) seems to have that promise already factored in. Though the 450 PA may seem like a stretch, there is certainly a potential path. Between being a late inning defensive replacement, Joe Maddon’s preference for days off, minor bumps and bruises, and the occasional Kyle Schwarber outing behind the plate (yes I’m a Schwarber the Catching Project believer), I think the 450 PA is obtainable.

Since we’re playing the assuming game, let’s factor in some increased HR and SB. I’m not exactly comfortable going the full 20/20, but how about 20/18 with a .270 AVG. Over the course of 450 PA is that more valuable than what the likes of  Carlos Santana, Justin Turner or even the production of what Dustin Pedroia can give you? Maybe so from a player perspective, but for the overall team makeup I’m not so sure. All three (on average) are going after Baez, and I feel they each have a much higher floor.

Baez is currently being drafted higher than the Cubs current SS, Addison Russell at 139. Despite James Krueger’s less than promising outlook earlier this week, I still prefer Russell to Baez. The  talent, insurance to nearly every Cub hitter, and multiple position eligibility provide value for Baez. I just don’t see that value being among the top-125 Overall.




Given the sky is falling narrative of “SB are scarce”, it’s no surprise to see Jose Peraza generating interest. Peraza has stolen 60 or more bases two times in the minors, and his 31 attempts in 256 PA suggest the Reds have no hesitation to give him another shot at it. With that being said, his ADP of 139 could be the most shocking ADP of the early draft season for me. Unlike Baez, Peraza’s upside seems rather limited. He has no power to speak of. The .324 AVG from 2016 has a BABIP induced feel to it, leaving stolen bases as the only category where plus production seems plausible.

While Peraza’s path to playing time has fewer superstar roadblocks than Baez, it’s no less daunting. Adam Duvall’s 2016 likely bought him a half-season of struggles. Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler have the right mix of age and tools to generate an extended look from the organization. Zach Cozart offers no value to the organization as a bench player. Frankly, the clearest path to playing time would actually be at 2B, but would Brandon Phillips refusal to be moved prompt the Reds to bench him?

Organizationally it would make the most sense as Phillips is not in their long-term plans, and a benching could make him reconsider his stance on being traded. Then again, a benching wouldn’t do much for Phillips trade value and would lower the Reds potential to unload him. With all that being said, even if Phillips is moved, are we sure Dilson Herrera wouldn’t be given the first look at the job?

Once again like Baez, the 138 ADP is paying for any type of upside Jose Peraza may have. Even if we were to project a .295 AVG with 45 SB, couldn’t Ender Inciarte (195), Jarrod Dyson (295), or Ben Revere (342) come close to those numbers? At that point in the draft I don’t have a problem rolling the dice with a pick, but players like Carlos Gomez (154), Brandon Belt (166), or a slew of high upside arms would be much more appealing for me than Peraza.

Jedd Gyorko is the odd man out in this trio in many ways. At 28, Gyorko’s prospect status has disappeared. Unlike the others, Gyorko’s ADP of 238 just barely cracked the Top 250. Despite the highest ADP among the group, Gyorko is the only one who currently is being projected as a starter. Rosterresource.com has Gyorko as the starting 3B over Johnny Peralta for the 2017 Cardinals.

With a 30 HR season in the books, a starting job, and a fairly inexpensive ADP, it would appear that Gyorko should be a desired commodity. Yet, as I sit here typing today, I find myself to be rather dismissive of Mr. Gyorko.

Overall his plate approach is palatable; both his BB% (8.4) and K% (21.9) are around league average. Last years power surge didn’t exactly come from nowhere; Gyorko hit 23 HR as a rookie in 2013, and he totaled 30 home runs in 2012 between AA and AAA. However, his GB/FB rate of 1.01 isn’t that of your prototypical power threat, and the 24.4% HR/FB rate would suggest a regression of sorts should be expected.

The ground ball tilt mixed with his cement feet make batting average a problem area. While one could easily suggest last seasons .244 BABIP is cause for hope, look no further than  2015 when he posted a .247 AVG with a .290 BABIP. The lack of batting average potential really makes Gyorko the rare empty HR guy. So if you attempt to spin a best case scenario, you’re looking at a 25 HR guy with 65 RBI once you factor in batting order and inability to post a plus average.

Gyorko’s biggest improvement last season was vs. RHP. He managed a .836 OPS compared to a career .695 mark. His ability, or inability, to sustain this could ultimately determine his role with this team. Johnny Peralta’s is 34, Kolten Wong has never managed sustained success, and Matt Adams is currently a bench bat. The likelihood of even two of these three doing enough to demand playing time is rather slim. So once again, unlike Baez and Peraza, Gyorko likely has full control over what happens to him. I just find myself having little to no faith that he doesn’t play himself out of the job.

*****

The graphics and gameplay of the Sega Saturn were everything a perspective gamer could have wanted. It was amazing what type of possibilities a CD formatted gaming system had over the blow and play 8-bit cartridge. Not long after the Saturn, Sony released the Playstation,  and Nintendo 64 would soon follow. I still attest to this day that the Saturn offered the best graphics and gameplay of the group; they just so happened to be the first out of the business as well.

About 6 months or so later I was a proud owner of an N64. My parents paid a premium for that Sega Saturn. That premium returned short-term excitement and plenty of costly long-term regrets to follow. Paying that same premium on draft day is taking on quite a bit of risk. For your sake I hope you’re picking the right unit.

 

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Josh Coleman
Father of four SP1 children. Replacement level husband to a top tier wife. I love my family, value my friendships, and spend as much time as possible (too much according to the aforementioned Mrs. Coleman) dedicated to the pursuit, of another Fantasy Championship. I'm the oddball at the bar who prefers Fantasy Baseball to Fantasy Football.

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