Fantasy “Experts” often disagree on players heading into a season. In this new series, the tradition continues as two analysts present their cases for whether a player will ascend to star status or wind up being a disappointment for your fantasy roster. One expert will offer the “pros,” and the other will counter with their “cons.” Once Brett Siegel and Brian Daring are done – hopefully, you (a now more informed fantasy GM) can make a better decision about the player discussed and decide who has won this Player Profile Clash.
Pro – Brian Daring
Raimel Tapia is the perfect hitter for Coors Field. He attacks its vast outfield alleys with his superb contact skills and elite speed with a rain of doubles and triples. You may not think of him as a power hitter, but that’s precisely what he is. Let’s look at his production in the last three full seasons he’s played – 2016 for AA Hartford, 2018 for AAA Albuquerque, and 2019 for the Rockies:
Batting Average: .323 / .302 / .275
Doubles plus Triples: 25 / 42 / 28
Home Runs: 8 / 11 / 9
Stolen Bases: 17 / 21 / 9
Consistency at every level every year. If you assigned two points for each double and three points to each triple for the Rockies in 2019, you have 61 points. If you set four points to a home run and divide that into 61, you have 15.25 home runs. That gives you a reference point for Tapia’s “equivalent power,” if I may coin that phrase. Add his nine actual home runs, and you have a total of 24.25 home runs–a power hitter.
Tapia’s ability to shoot those outfield gaps lie in his contact skills (83.4% contact percentage in 2020), plate discipline (8.3% swinging strike percentage in 2020), and speed (82nd percentile sprint speed in the major leagues in 2020). He also hits to all parts of the field, so he benefits from a lack of opposing shifts, keeping those outfield gaps open. In 2020, he only faced a shift 15% of the time.
If you want to see a picture of a young hitter improving from 2019 to 2020, look at his numbers:
BB% – increased from 4.7 to 6.8%
K% – decreased from 22.4 to 18.4%
O-Swing% (the percentage of pitches he swung at outside the strike zone) – reduced from 43.5 to 32.3%
Contact% – increased from 75 to 83.4%
Batting Average – increased from .275 to .321
So you’re looking at a .300 hitter just entering his age-27 season, the traditional peak for a major league hitter, with double-digit home runs, doubles, and stolen bases plus 5 to 10 triples who hits at the top of the Rockies lineup. What else do you want?
Con – Brett Siegel
Tapia is not only a terrible fantasy option, and he is a lousy baseball player too. Let’s examine the facts. First, we will look at the 27-year-old left-fielder as a real-life baseball player.
Let’s liken Tapia to other baseball players across the league in various metrics. According to this league percentile-comparison graphic, courtesy of Baseball Savant, we can easily see where Tapia excels and falters:
Tapia is a skilled fielder and base runner; however, those skills rarely result in defensive production. He is below average in Outs Above Average (a metric used to calculate how many outs he has saved). Tapia does have excellent plate discipline and rarely strikes out or swings and misses. However, Tapia’s game begins to fall apart when he does make contact – and that is anything but good. As a hitter, the Rockies’ left-hander is below the 12-percentile mark in Exit Velocity, Hard Hit %, Expected Slugging, and Barrel %. In other words, roughly 90% of the league does better than Raimel when they make contact. Tapia’s wOBA was league average at .333 in 2020, but his xwOBA was awful at 0.286. The difference between the two was the 7th worst in the league last year among qualified batters. A lot of people think he had a mini-breakout season in 2020. The stats suggest that last year he was lucky, over-performed, and due to regress in 2021.
Now let’s consider his fantasy value. I project Tapia to get 420 at-bats in 2021 (essentially what he got in his only full-season, 2019). I likewise forecast a stat line of .300-60-5-40-15. Tapia’s 162 game average is 472 at-bats and a .285-62-7-46-13 stat line. Please note the relative equivalency between the two lines (and to some extent, I suggest he is better than his total season average).
Using my projections, let’s see how Tapia looks for 2021. In DSE Roto 6X6, Tapia is outside my Top 1000 overall and is the 42nd ranked Left Fielder; in DSE Total points, I have Tapia ranked 507th overall, and he is the 50th best scoring player qualified at LF. In a 14-team league, you should never be rostering anyone beyond the Top 28 at any hitter/fielder position. The fact that 42 or more players qualified at LF will score more fantasy points than Tapia is all you need to know to avoid him.
In the end, the only reason you should consider taking a chance on Tapia is if you foresee him exceeding either my projections or his 162-game numbers by more than three times. I can safely say that proposition has probably never occurred in the last 100 years of MLB action.
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