Fantasy baseball is all about predicting the future. But this isn’t a game for psychics. Our game is about using past numbers and thoughtful analysis to try and predict future success.
I rely on projections this time of year, such as Steamer and ZiPS, but these resources don’t tell the whole story. Sometimes we have to look beyond projections and use our gut a bit to find the next breakout player.
I don’t say this flippantly. Trea Turner is one of the best players in fantasy and could top the ESPN player rater if he stays healthy. Justifiably, Turner is being drafted in the first round. So finding a player who can give you similar numbers in the twelfth round is extremely valuable.
When comparing Turner and Margot, I do recognize Turner hit the major leagues running, quite literally. In his first 73 games Turner hit 13 home runs, stole 33 bases and hit .342. Turner demanded our attention.
Turner followed up those gaudy 2016 numbers by swiping 46 bases in 95 games last year, while giving you double digit home runs and a solid average.
Margot is a year younger than Turner and has taken a bit more time to reach his potential. Positively speaking, Margot still has a lot of room to grow. He had a solid rookie season last year, but few would say that Margot’s numbers suggest he can hold a bat to Turner. However…
The first thing to note is Margot’s speed. The guy is fast. Statcast measured Margot as the 10th fastest guy in baseball, a hair faster than Turner. Sure, stealing a base requires more skill than just speed, but Margot, in theory, has the raw ability to take a base whenever he wants to.
Margot also plays for the San Diego Padres. This may not seem like a good thing, but trust me, it is. Manager Andy Green lets his players run, which is a rare thing these days.
In 2017 the Padres were in the top third of teams for attempted steals. That is valuable, because more and more teams are holding back their players. Margot should be given the opportunity to run if he wants to. All of this suggests Margot will have 30 or more steals in 2018. Last year only 6 players stole 30 bases.
I believe Margot has the ability to hit for power as well, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see Margot hit 20 home runs this year. Margot showed a fair amount of improvement last year from the first half of the season to the second. His slugging went from .392 to .424 while slightly decreasing his strike out rate.
These numbers are slightly behind Turner’s, but if Margot can stretch his second half over the whole season, or continue to improve slightly, Margot could hit a few more over the fence than Turner in 2018.
In addition, Margot is hitting leadoff for an improved Padres team so his counting stats could also jump some from last year.
In 2017 we all watched Elvis Andrus go from being drafted outside the Top 200 to finishing a Top 20 payer. I believe Margot can accomplish the same thing.
At this time next year we won’t be talking about Margot as a regression candidate but as a player who finally arrived. Not quite Trea Turner, but not far off.