Champ or Chump: Avisail Garcia and Andrew Benintendi

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Owners in weekly formats have set their last lineup for the season. The transaction wire for daily formats has likely fallen silent with most of the teams settled into their final place in the standings as well. There are probably a few leagues out there with races going until the final day, but rooting for your guys is likely the best move you can make in that scenario.

With that said, we'll conclude the season with a look at two hitters in this column and two pitchers in the next with an eye toward 2018. Contrary to popular belief, the offseason is not the time to watch football. It's the time to get ahead of your fellow owners so that you're ready for March. The first step toward your 2018 fantasy baseball championship is avoiding the players below.

Ownership rates provided are from Yahoo! leagues.

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Avisail Garcia (OF, CWS)

Garcia has been a batting average machine this season, slashing .330/.379/.507 with 18 HR and five stolen bases. He has three CS and a career success rate of 53 percent, so owners looking for steals will be disappointed. Owners looking for anything else are also likely to be disappointed.

Garcia's .330 average is largely the result of a .392 BABIP, a number way too high to sustain moving forward. He may be able to sustain a slightly elevated mark with his extreme ground ball profile (52.5% GB%) and general refusal to pop-up (5.6% IFFB%), but he will not hit .361 on grounders again. His career BABIP on grounders is only .270, and his average exit velocity on ground balls is actually down this year relative to last (86.1 mph vs. 87.5 mph). His flies have also overperformed relative to their career average (.200 vs. .155), so massive regression is likely.

Garcia also has a plate discipline problem his 19.9% K% is currently masking. He whiffs a lot (16.4% SwStr%) and has difficulty discerning strikes from balls (40.4% chase rate this year). His 59.2% Swing% is high enough to end most PAs before he has a chance to K, but he is likely to return to his career K% of 22.8% at best barring a drastic change in his approach. More strikeouts will translate into a lower average, destroying his one fantasy-relevant ability.

The 18 HR don't look too bad, but Garcia is a poor bet to provide power. His 27.3% FB% is actually higher than his career rate (25.8%), suggesting that he completely lacks the ability to lift the baseball. It's kind of a shame, as his 95.2 mph average airborne exit velocity and league average rate of Brls/BBE (8.8%) suggest that he could be a legitimate power guy with more airborne batted balls. Guaranteed Rate Field is also great for homers, granting Garcia untold potential if he started lifting the ball more often. Garcia's Pull% on fly balls is low however (9.3% this year, 12.7% career), suggesting that he is more than one adjustment away from realizing this promise.

Nobody told the White Sox this, as they have consistently hit Garcia in the middle of their order. Those spots usually go to power guys for a reason, and it is likely that the team changes course with an entire offseason to think about it. Somebody is going to overpay Garcia based on his 2017 production. Don't let it be you.

Verdict: Chump

Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS)

Benintendi was a wunderkind this past draft season, ultimately rewarding those who took the plunge with a .275/.357/.433 line, 20 bombs, and 19 steals. Going 20/20 is nice and all, but this season represents more of a ceiling than a floor.

Let's start with his speed. Benintendi has gone 19-for-24 on his SB attempts for a success rate of 79%. That's excellent, but his success rate across three levels last year was nowhere near as good (17-for-26, 65%). Boston is historically a conservative organization with the running game, so a couple CS in April next season could result in a red light. Even if it doesn't, this season is Benintendi's best in terms of raw SB totals as he never put up gaudy numbers on the farm.

Benintendi's power prospects are also dicey in the short term. He hits a reasonable number of fly balls (38.9% FB%), but pairs them with a mediocre 11.3% HR/FB. The latter number isn't a fluke, as both his average airborne exit velocity (91.5 mph) and rate of Brls/BBE (5.7%) are below average. Benintendi's minor league track record also supports this conclusion, as he was limited to eight big flies over 263 PAs at Double-A last year. He pulls a fair number of his flies (21.5%), so he could grow into more power as his frame fills out. However, this is unlikely to happen in 2018.

Benintendi's batting average is the most sustainable part of his profile, but also not terribly exciting in fantasy. His .304 BABIP suggests a largely luck-neutral campaign, especially considering that he carried a .308 BABIP at Double-A last year. His 21.8% LD% is almost exactly league average, and his 10.2% IFFB% is a shade high for somebody offering little power production. His .279 BABIP on ground balls may also prove unsustainable, though we need more data before determining so for a fact.

The best part of Benintendi's game is his plate discipline, giving him a significant value boost in leagues using OBP. His 7.5% SwStr% and 28.8% chase rate support his 10.9% BB% and 16.7% K%, allowing him to make the most of whatever his BABIP happens to be. He walked a lot in the minors while seldom striking out, so there is no reason to think that this will change anytime soon.

Boston's power-starved lineup has hit Benintendi third all season long, but it is likely that the major market team finds somebody significantly better for the role over the winter. This could knock Benintendi toward the bottom of the lineup, severely hurting his counting stats relative to this season. Add in the inflation commonly associated with Red Sox players, and you get a guy unlikely to appear on many championship rosters in 2018.

Verdict: Chump

 

More Player Outlooks

 

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