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Ronald Guzman - 2019 Fantasy Baseball Sleeper

Texas Rangers first baseman Ronald Guzman was regarded as another one of the powerful young lefty bats in Texas (see: Joey Gallo and Nomar Mazara), even though he had never hit more than 16 home runs in the minors (2016 in Double-A/Triple-A). While the power was not there in the minors, Guzman did have a .298 batting average in Triple-A in 2017 and topped an .800 OPS for the first time.

Given an opportunity to perform in the big leagues in 2018, Guzman matched his minor league high with 16 home runs in 428 plate appearances and had 36 extra-base hits in total. There are many that will point to his batting averaging dipping to .235 as a red flag ( his six home runs in just five games against the Yankees as a fluke), but the 6'5 Dominican still showed enough to maintain the first base role in Dallas. A .695 OPS in the second half was not what fantasy owners wanted to see, but there is still a lot of raw talent with the 24-year-old.

A prospect with boatloads of raw power and a track record of strong batting seasons in the minors, can Guzman be an impact player in the majors this season?

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Why Should You Buy Guzman In 2019?

Guzman saw his 2018 season end relatively meekly, but his seven home runs over the last two months show that there is power potential there. A .242 batting average in Sept/October was the second-best month in terms of batting average for Guzman in the big leagues and his minor league track record shows that his average should rise in 2019 as well. Furthermore, there are batted ball statistics that show Guzman is on track to break out in 2019.

His batted ball profile from 2018 was strong, as he had a 33% hard hit ball rate and his soft hit ball rate sat at just 17.6%. He also had a 21.7% line drive rate, in line with line drive rates in the 20s throughout the minors. His 37.5% fly ball rate was an improvement on his 36.9% rate from 2017 in the minors, but his 16% HR/FB rate may prove to be unsustainable. A 14% swinging strike rate (and 72.3% contact rate) led to many of Guzman's issues in 2018, mainly his .306 OBP and 28.3% K rate.


Is Guzman A Slugger To Own?

The main positive for Guzman is the young core in Texas and the hitter's friendly ballpark in Texas. Free-swinging sluggers like Guzman are not discouraged in their all or nothing mentality (Joey Gallo is a safe bet for 40+ home runs and 200+ strikeouts for example), so Guzman will have an opportunity to learn. Furthermore, Guzman had a 24.2% K rate in his first run at Triple-A in 2016 before seeing his K rate drop to 16.1% in 2017. 

Guzman is basically unowned in all leagues according to NFBC, as his ADP is 389. Guzman is not a finished product by any stretch of the imagination, but, as we saw last season, he can be a cheap source of power that will be widely available. Maybe he is nothing more than a streamer for a few weeks during the season, but his power could win you a matchup or two in that time span.

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