Welcome back to our fifth edition of Turning Two. We've now discussed candidates for 50 HR, .350 BA, 300 K, and 20 W for the 2017 season. This week's topic is a bit easier but still a noteworthy accomplishment: pulling off a 20/20 campaign.
For those that don't know, 20/20 means 20 home runs and 20 steals. In fantasy baseball having a player that can be a valuable asset in multiple categories is essential to constructing a roster. It results in a more balanced team with better odds of competing in Roto leagues. Plus since everyone these days, including me, excluding Ben, can hit over 20 HR, the real fantasy gold is finding players that will add that rare speed along with the pop.
Nine players enjoyed access to the 20/20 group in 2016: Mookie Betts, Mike Trout, Wil Myers, Jose Altuve, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, Ian Desmond, Jean Segura, and Melvin (formerly BJ) Upton. We've got four new candidates to join the club in 2017, none of which have completed a 20/20 previously, so there's plenty of new blood to read over. Let's get started.Editor's note: Get 50% off any MLB Premium Pass. Draft guide, cheat sheets, 200 days of DFS access, and over 20 premium tools. Dominate your leagues all year long! Sign Up Now!
Turning Two: Who Will Join the 20/20 Club?
Keon Broxton, MIL (OF)
After three separate MLB stints before the All-Star break in 2016, Broxton finally showed some serious promise after his last call up on July 26. For the season combined between Triple A and the majors, he hit 17 HR and stole 41 bases, after going 10/39 in the Pirates minor league system in 2015. The dude can flat-out fly. The 41 SB would have ranked fifth in the MLB. Broxton showed an impressive ability to draw walks, owning a .354 OBP. This should help keep him near the top of the lineup this season, and give him plenty more opportunities to pile on those stolen bases.
Obviously the power department is the main concern with Broxton reaching the 20/20 threshold this year. Nay-sayers will point to his ridiculous strikeout tendencies. His 36.1 K% was second worst in the league among hitters with at least 200 PA. However, he did show improvements in that area during his torrid streak after July 26. From the time of the last call up, to injuring his wrist on September 15, Broxton hit .294 and dropped his strikeout percentage by almost 12 points. Plus when he wasn't striking out he was absolutely tearing the cover off the ball, hitting an absurd 50.6 Hard% after July 26, and a still impressive 43.3% for the season. Combine this hard hitting with the fact that he plays in Miller Field, a top 10 park for HR, and 20 bombs is definitely within reach. He has hit ISO percentages over .200 multiple times throughout his minor league career, so as his plate discipline improves, the long balls will come. Forget 20/20, Broxton is a 20/40 candidate in 2017.
Ben: No question about Broxton’s speed, swiping 23 bags in only 75 games last season. His .188 ISO shows he has more power in the tank, but he strikes out a TON. He had a 36.1% strikeout rate last season with a 14.7% SwStr%. When he hits it he crushes it; he had a 43.3% hard-hit rate, with a soft hit rate of only 13.3%. If he does manage to hit over 20 HR, it will come at the expense of his average. His 14.8% walk rate will keep his OBP afloat.
Javier Baez, CHC (2B/3B/SS)
I am a big fan of Baez in 2017, especially after the show he put on in the playoffs and what he's been doing during the World Baseball Classic for Team Puerto Rico. The dude is so fun to watch. He had a productive 2016 in a super utility role for the World Champion Cubs, finishing with 14 HR and 12 SB in 450 PA. Unlike Broxton, the HR side of the 20/20 prediction will be the easy part for Baez. He's always had massive raw power, hitting 37 HR in 2013 and 32 in 2014 across multiple levels of Minor Leagues and a short MLB stint, and has significantly dropped his strikeout percentages since his first taste of big league pitching.
However, in order for Baez to reach 20 SB he is going to need a full seasons worth of PA. At first glance that may seem like a long shot, but I believe it will happen in 2017. First off, he mashes southpaws (.311 BA and 124 wRC+ vs LHP in 2016) which should result in automatic playing time considering the entire OF is left handed batters. Secondly, as previously stated, the kid plays everywhere. He played six different positions last year, and excelled defensively at second base, posting the third best defensive runs saved (11 DSR) mark at the position. Ben Zobrist posted a measley -3. This means Zobrist should see plenty of time in the OF when Jon Jay and Jason Heyward prove yet again to be below average hitters, opening up time at second for Baez. Thirdly, Joe Maddon is still the manager in Chicago. If anyone can get a guy like Javier Baez at bats, its Maddon. He also has a way of getting SB out of guys, too, such as 17 SB from Anthony Rizzo and 13 SB from Kris Bryant in 2015.
Ben: Baez continues to make strides in his approach at the plate, but I think Broxton has a better shot at 20/20. Baez only walked at a 3.3% rate while striking out 24% of the time last season. His hard hit rate fell under 30% for the first time in his career, but his contact rate has risen each season up to 62.4%. His SwStr% has fallen each year, to a low of 14.4%. I could see him making a leap in the HR department, but he won’t get on base enough to approach 20 steals.
Anthony Rendon, WSH (3B)
Rendon had an excellent bounce-back year in 2016, earning him the NL Comeback Player of the Year Award. His final line looked a lot like his 2014 season, when he earned Rookie of the Year and MVP votes. He recovered from a slow start to hit .270/.348/.450 with 20 HR and 12 steals. In 2014 he almost became a 20/20 member, hitting 21 HR with 17 steals.
In his two healthy seasons, Rendon has posted an ISO of .186 and .180, leading to two 20-HR seasons. He does an effective job laying off bad pitches; his 22.8% outside-swing rate was well below the league average of 30%. His 6.4% swinging strike rate was also below the league average of 10%. As he enters his prime seasons the 20 HR number shouldn’t be the issue. It will be whether he can reach 20 steals or not. Though his strikeout rate rose from 15.2% to 18.1%, his walk rate rose from 8.5% to 10.0%. If he can cut his strikeout rate down a bit next season, those added times on base will help him reach the 20 SB plateau. Hitting in the middle of the order will limit his chances, so he will need to improve on last season’s 12-for-18 effort on the base paths.
The biggest question for Rendon will be whether or not he can stay healthy. He’s healthy heading into this season, and he has shown he can be very productive when his body is ready. However, injuries have plagued him multiple times in his career. Only time will tell if he stays healthy enough to push for 20/20.
JB: Rendon will get you 25 HR, especially since I believe he suffered some awful luck in his splits versus LHP that will even out this year. However, the speed looks to be just a shell of the 2014 Rookie performance when he stole 17 bases. Whether or not it is fallout from the 2015 knee injury, Rendon's speed just isn't what it needs to be to reach 20 SB in his normal amount of attempts, as evident by his -0.4 wSB last season.
Odubel Herrera, PHI (OF)
After surprising the Phillies with his production in 2015 after the Rule 5 draft, Herrera proved he was no fluke in 2016. He made notable improvements in his approach last season, slashing .286/.361/.420 with 15 HR and 25 steals while playing in 159 games. We knew after 2015 that he had wheels, but the increase from eight to 15 HR was nice to see from the 25-year old outfielder.
Herrera increased his OBP last season thanks to his increased walk rate, which was up from 5.2% to 9.6%. He also decreased his strikeout rate from 24% down to 20.4%. Though his average dropped a tad last season, he made up for that by making better contact with the ball. His ISO jumped from .121 to 134, and his hard-hit percentage improved from 26.6% to 27.2%. Hitters who push the ball to the opposite field don’t tend to be big power hitters, and Herrera finished fourth in the league last season with a 35.8% opposite field batted ball percentage. However, Ian Desmond, Corey Dickerson, and Justin Turner all had a oppo% over 30% and managed to hit over 20 HR last season.
If he continues to make improvements in his approach, Herrera is certainly capable of tacking on an extra five HR while stealing 25 or more bags. He is a lock to play every day, and will continue to hit high in the order (and could work his way back to the leadoff spot with his above-average OBP) for the Phillies.
JB: Herrera took a massive step forward last year after showing plenty of promise in his rookie season. He is a great OBP asset, which is why he will reach 20 SB again in 2017. The burst of power he enjoyed seems like a natural progression but I don't see enough room for another spike in HR, considering his .128 ISO over his first two seasons. No one with an ISO under .150 reached 20 HR in 2016.