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Champ or Chump: Jorge Polanco and Steven Duggar

I tried to give up the prospect beat in this space last time, but then the Giants summoned Steven Duggar from the minor leagues. He had some buzz during Spring Training, so he probably warrants a closer look even if he's a little older than the average prospect (age 24).

Jorge Polanco also returned from the minors recently, though the 25-year old is hardly a prospect. Instead, he's a boring veteran who nonetheless put up a solid fantasy campaign in 2017. A PED suspension left a very sour taste in his owner's mouths though. Can fantasy owners expect a return to form?

Let's find out!

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers received five total writing awards and 13 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association, tops in the industry! Congrats to all the award winners and nominees including Best MLB Series, NFL Series, NBA Writer, PGA Writer and Player Notes writer of the year. Be sure to follow their analysis, rankings and advice all year long, and win big with RotoBaller! Read More!


The Fantasy Jury is Out

Jorge Polanco (SS, MIN) - 13% Owned

Polanco has a .250/.351/.313 line with a steal in 37 PAs for the Twins last season, but the sample is way too small to draw definitive conclusions from. Let's look at his 2017 numbers and see if they are sustainable instead.

Polanco hit .256/.313/.410 with 13 homers and 13 steals (five CS) in 544 PAs last season. His most noteworthy skill was a refusal to strikeout (14.3% K%, 5.8% SwStr%) while walking at a reasonable rate (7.5% BB%). Sadly, that's about it for the positives in his fantasy profile.

The numbers suggest that Polanco tried to join the fly ball revolution last season, but it didn't really work. His FB% increased all right (42.8% vs. 39.7% career), but not by enough to make much difference. Meanwhile, his IFFB% also increased (10.3% vs. 7.8%) while his average airborne exit velocity remained mediocre (89.1mph vs. 89.3mph in 2016). Polanco is also allergic to barrels (2.6% Brls/BBE last year, 2.5% in 2016), suggesting that he's just not cut out to be a power guy.

His FB% increase was minuscule, but the fact that it came out of his LD% (19.3% vs. 23.3%) dragged his BABIP southward (.278 vs. .297 career). His BABIPs by batted ball type remained virtually unchanged, as his grounders posted a .245 mark (.247 career), flies an .099 mark (.092 career), and liners .671 (.682 career). Polanco doesn't have the track record to automatically assume that he can go back to his previous LD% rate, meaning that he likely projects as a below average BABIP guy moving forward. At least he doesn't care about the shift (.327 in 112 PAs last year).

Polanco can run a little (27.5 ft./sec Statcast Sprint), but last year's 72% success rate in 18 total attempts doesn't really move the needle that much. A higher percentage could encourage more total attempts, while a ton of attempts could allow Polanco to steal a bunch of bags even if his success rate isn't good. As it stands, there's not much upside here.

Polanco has bounced around the Twins lineup since returning from his PED suspension, hitting first once, second once, fifth twice, sixth thrice, and eighth once. He might have fantasy value if he locks down a favorable slot in the batting order, but it's not currently trending in that direction.

All told, Polanco is a nice injury replacement because he has a chance to contribute anything. Unfortunately, it's more likely that he contributes nothing to a fantasy roster. He shouldn't be Plan A, or even Plan B unless you play in a deep league.

Verdict: Chump

Steven Duggar (OF, SF) - 1% Owned

Duggar is hitting .273 with no power over his first 11 PAs in the Show. That's obviously a small sample, so let's look at what he accomplished on the farm.

Duggar debuted in the High Minors for Double-A Richmond in 2016, logging 276 PAs and a .321/.391/.432 triple slash line with a homer and nine steals. The steals weren't terrible, but the seven CS that came with them were. His plate discipline proved to be his best selling point, as he struck out 18.5% of the time against a BB% of 10.1%.

Duggar's BABIP (.397) was astronomical, though several peripherals suggest that he will be a high-BABIP guy. First, he hit a ton of line drives (26.6% LD%) while generally avoiding fly balls (27.1% FB%), giving him an ideal batted ball profile for a batting average play. His 9.8% IFFB% isn't special at first glance, but remember that the stat is calculated differently on the farm. You need to halve it to get a major league equivalent, suggesting that Duggar rarely pops out.

A 27.1% FB% makes it hard to expect much power, especially when paired with a 2% HR/FB. Double-A Richmond is where homers (0.640 HR factor from 2014-2016) and offense in general (0.888 for runs scored) go to die, but it still seems unlikely that Duggar will turn into a power guy.

Duggar lost most of the 2017 season to injuries, bouncing around levels like a pinball when he was able to play. He somehow never managed to go back to Double-A, but made a cameo at the Triple-A level for Sacramento. There, he slashed .261/.370/.413 with two homers and three steals (two CS) over 54 PAs. Patience again proved his calling card (14.8% BB%, 22.2% K%), and his power metrics looked much better in the small sample (44.1% FB%, 13.3% HR/FB).

Duggar had 356 PAs for Sacramento this year, slashing .272/.354/.421 with four bombs and 11 steals (four CS). His plate discipline remained strong (11% BB%), but his strikeouts increased substantially (28.9% K%). On the bright side, his FB% reached the league average (36.7%). Like Richmond, Sacramento is not a hitter's park (0.781 HR factor, 0.756 runs factor). It's still tough to project much power with a 5.2% HR/FB though.

Duggar also increased his LD% to an insane 29% rate. That produced a .392 BABIP despite the FB% spike. He also limited his pop-ups again (10.4% IFFB%) and flashed some speed, so he may have the skills needed to sustain a .330 BABIP at the highest level.

Duggar doesn't have the most exciting projection. His floor is probably a one-dimensional OBP guy, though his batting average could be strong too if he can get the Ks under control. He could also swipe a handful of bags, but probably not enough to be a real difference maker in the category. However, the Giants have used him as their leadoff man since his call-up. That adds runs scored to his profile, creating a package that should probably owned in at least some formats.

Verdict: Champ


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