2016 Fantasy Baseball Deep Sleeper: Stephen Piscotty
Evan Tarracciano digs deep to give a detailed analysis of Stephen Piscotty.
With the baseball season fast approaching and Spring Training upon us, fantasy owners are beginning to compile their rankings and projections for 2016. Sorting through established players and household names is one thing, but leagues are never won by big-named stars performing at their expected statistics. Instead, crowns are donned by the owners who were able to sift through the first 200 players selected and draft upside “deep sleepers” (ones who are able to greatly outperform their ADP and provide exceptional value to their owners). Which players qualify for that distinction this season? Read on and find out.
Player: Stephen Piscotty
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
2015 Statistics: .305 AVG / .359 OBP / .853 OPS / 7 HR / 39 RBI / 2 SB in 233 Abs
Current ADP: 214 (Fantasy Pros)
Given Piscotty’s track record of success in the minor leagues coupled with his pedigree, it is rather surprising the Cardinals waited so long to promote him last season, especially given their injury situation and the unfortunate passing of Oscar Taveras. Now expected to be the team’s right fielder on Opening Day, Piscotty will bolster an already impressive array of hitters in St.Louis. His 6-foot-3, 210 lb. frame, coupled with his altered swing suggest that an uptick in power is a forgone conclusion. His HR total between the minors and MLB last season was 18, so breaking the 20 mark is definitely within the realm of reason. Now considered a focal point for the team along with fellow outfielder Randal Grichuk, Piscotty’s breakout season is here.
- Expected spot in the order – Most sites expect Piscotty to be slotted second in the batting order behind Matt Carpenter and in front of Matt Holliday. Given Carpenter’s exceptional ability to get on base – coupled with the bottom of the Cardinals lineup already being quite strong – Piscotty will have plenty of chances to greatly out-produce the numbers he posted during last season’s rookie campaign. Over the course of a full season he will have every opportunity to approach 75 RBI.
- Age and maturity – Perhaps the most obvious factor that Piscotty has in his favor is his youth. Still just 25 years old, he is entering the prime of his career, and has already shown the ability to succeed at the major league level. While his numbers from last season may not seem extremely gaudy by anyone’s standards, consider that his total statistics between Triple-A and MLB would be 18 HR, 80 RBI and 7 SB, coupled with an average sitting well into the mid .280’s. Piscotty has an outside chance to post a 20/10 season, and that kind of production is rarely found at his current ADP.
- Job security – Currently the right field position is Piscotty’s alone, and the team has no plans to platoon him. The remaining outfield depth between Tommy Pham, Carlos Peguero and Anthony Garcia is no threat at all to his job, which means that, barring injury, Piscotty will receive 650-plus at-bats. Given that his ADP is currently over the 200 mark, owners would be wise to factor in this stability.
- BABIP regression – Piscotty posted a .372 BABIP (Batting Average on Balls In Play) mark in 2015 over the span of 63 games. Although the “average” hitter’s BABIP is around .300, each player should be considered separately based upon a number of different variables, such as speed and contact rate. In the minor leagues Piscotty never posted a BABIP above .313, which suggests that his .305 AVG last season is due for a correction.
- Strikeout rate – Although Piscotty had a fantastic debut in 2015, owners do have to consider that his strikeout rate climbed with each step of his ascension through the minor leagues, culminating in a 21.9 percent rate in 2015. The increased number of whiffs can be easily explained by his tradeoff of contact for power.
- Age vulnerability of the surrounding lineup – While the Cardinals have several young players amidst their projected lineup (Randal Grichuk – 24, Kolten Wong – 25 and Piscotty – 25), they do have a bevy of talent on the decline, most notably Yadier Molina (33), Matt Holliday (36) and Jhonny Peralta (33). All three of the elder statesmen missed portions of last season due to various ailments, and while injuries cannot necessarily be predicted, age isn’t a positive variable. The Cardinals historically have been able to “weather the storm” of injuries largely in part due to having an outstanding minor league system with a bevy of talent. Unfortunately, the team’s relevant depth has largely already been promoted. The Cardinals minor league system has been ranked in the bottom half of the league by respected analysts such as Keith Law, and if major injuries occur again, the team won’t be able to provide above-average talent to supplement their roster.