Player Profiles – Mitch Haniger & Aaron Judge

It’s tough to make a change to your fantasy roster in April, you feel committed to the guys you’ve drafted. All you hear time and time again to not worry about a slow start in April, there’s still plenty of baseball left, however the flip side of that coin is you miss out on the guys who get hot in April by standing your ground.

I’m of the mindset that I hold my guys in April, I have enough confidence in my drafting and projections to hold tight and not let the first 4 weeks faze my team. That being said, I may regret not taking the risk on the players we’re going to talk about below.

Today I want to highlight two players, rookies no less, who have been making a huge splash the first three weeks into the season.

Mitch Haniger – Seattle Mariners – 77% owned

I’d clap too if I were on a hot streak like his…

Last November when the Diamondbacks traded Jean Segura & Mitch Haniger to the Mariners for Tijuan Walker & Ketel Marte, Haniger seemed to be an afterthought in the deal. The two focal points were Walker and Segura. So far, in this early 2017 season, Haniger is making the Mariners seem like savants. In 62 at-bats, his stat lines looks like this:

Hits Doubles HRs RBI SBs AVG OBP SLG%
20 5 4 15 2 .323 .432 .597

My first thought is, wow, that’s unsustainable. His .390 BAbip seems to agree with my initial reaction. But when you dig a bit deeper, you see what Mitch Hangier did last year in the minors over 458 at-bats:

Hits Doubles HRs RBI SBs AVG OBP SLG%
147 34 25 94 12 .321 .419 .581

Now, full disclosure, that was across two levels of AA and AAA ball, but that paints a picture that shows his fast start isn’t just that. A fast start. This seems to be in line with his past performances. Those numbers above don’t include the 5 home runs he hit in his 109 at-bats in September for the Diamondbacks last year (30 home runs across all levels in 2016).

I suspect his BAbip will come back down to earth a bit here in the coming weeks as .390 is unsustainable. However, I don’t think this breakout season is a fluke. Hanigers ownership (77%) shows he’s owned in a majority of leagues, but if owners start to cut-bait after a bad week or two, I’d jump all over him. He might even become a trade target if you’ve got the pieces to move.

Aaron Judge – New York Yankees – 70% owned

How can you not love this guy?

Not since Adam Dunn (6’6 285 lbs) or Kyle Blanks (6’6 287 lbs) have we seen a bohemith like Aaron Judge. The kid is bigger than your typical NFL Defensive End (Judge is 6’7 282 lbs).  He’s also got the Michael Strahan smile. What’s not to love about this kid?

Let’s cover the eye-popping stuff first. As mentioned above, he’s huge. Looking at Statcast numbers, he has 6 of the top 15 highest exit velocity hits this season. He’s the ONLY player in the top 15 more than once…and he’s on there SIX FREAKING TIMES. So we can all agree, he hits the ball really hard when he makes contact. On Wednesday he hit a 77 mph curveball for a home run in Yankee Stadium that travelled 448 feet, with an exit velocity of 115.5 mph. That’s the second hardest hit ball in Yankee Stadium history (in the Statcast era -since 2015) behind only prodigious masher Giancarlo Stanton.

“Oh my….I mean that was absolutley waffled”

Stanton is a good watermark for Judge. His minor league numbers don’t show a great hitter, but he has room for improvement in his swing and approach. His numbers over 47 at-bats in 2017 look good…

Hits HRs BBs Ks AVG OBP SLG%
13 5 6 15 .277 .358 .660

Taking a look at his 2016 minor league numbers they seem to mirror what he’s been doing so far this seasons. In 352 at-bats in AAA last season…

Hits HRs BBs Ks AVG OBP SLG%
95 19 47 98 .270 .366 .489

The numbers above are a “best-case scenario” in terms of a triple slash line. He looks very much like a .270 hitter, or slightly worse, but the power potential in that huge frame can’t be ignored. I would project his triple slash to look very similar to what Giancarlo Stanton does. A career .266 hitter with prodigious power.

As it sits now, Judge’s ISO numbers (career .244 ISO) don’t get close to what Giancarlo provides (career .272 ISO). He may blossom into that kind of power hitter playing half his games in the bandbox that is Yankee Stadium.

His ownership sits around 70% right now. Some of you may still be able to snag him. The majority of us don’t have that opportunity now, but if my team projects way under on power, Judge is a low-cost trade option that could pay huge dividends in the power department. Worth the risk.

Love it? Hate it? Wanna debate it? I’m a master debater. @TheMayor_FBB