Weighing a player's potential while factoring his outlier season comes with some trepidation. Once someone displays a skill, there's an argument he owns it. However, it being repeatable does not always translate. For instance, Jorge Polanco hit 22 home runs with a .295/.356/.485 slash line in 2019. His underlying data suggested some good luck ensued evidenced by a .267 expected batting average, .457 expected slugging and only an 88 MPH average exit velocity (25th percentile among his peers). For an illustration, check out his zone profile from the breakout campaign:

Small sample sizes do not tell a full story, and the challenges last year's truncated schedule created havoc when trying to assess along with project players for 2021. Polanco represents one of these cases. In 2020, regression came calling resulting in a .258/.304/.354 slash line with 22 runs, four home runs, 19 RBI and four stolen bases in 55 games spanning 226 plate appearances.

Beneath the surface statistics, his plate discipline remained stable and he actually increased his contact rate and Z-Contact (in the strike zone) percentages while reducing his swinging strike percent. Also playing through an ankle injury, it's possible Polanco should receive a mulligan for last season.

Transitioning to Statcast, Polanco produced 177 batted ball events in 2020 with five barrels (2.8 percent), an 86.6 MPH average exit velocity and 33.3 percent hard hit rate. His expected numbers aligned with his in-season results. He finished with a .263 expected batting average, .381 slugging percentage and .304 expected weighted on-base average. While the 22 home runs in 2019 look appealing, a repeat of this type of power production proves challenging.

In an effort to be fair, expanding his sample size could yield different results. First, his numbers from the second half of his breakout season plus last year:

-    Polanco 2H 2019-through-2020: 123 games, 535 plate appearances, 72 runs, 13 home runs, 56 RBI, four stolen bases; .262/.325/.407, 7.7 BB%, 17.4 K%, .140 ISO, .315 wOBA

Decent but not nearly enough to put him in the top three tiers of shortstops across the fantasy landscape. Projection systems revert to the last three years to canvass a larger amount of data, so here are his numbers from them:

-    Polanco Last Three Years: 288 games, 167 runs, 32 home runs, 140 RBI, 15 stolen bases; .286/.344/.444, 7.8 BB%, 16.7 K%, .158 ISO, .336 wOBA

Much more alluring, right? Well, if converting these results to a 500-plate appearance sampling, it would look like this:

-    500 plate appearances, 65 runs, 13 home runs, 55 RBI, six stolen bases

Use this representation as his baseline for 2021. His projections prove a bit more favorable:




If targeting Polanco, use the ATC line as the most likely outcome and hope he attains THE BAT X numbers which incorporate Statcast's data. Just do not take Polanco hoping 2019 reappears, it's the obvious outlier based on recent results.

Statistical Credits:



THE BAT and THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty

ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen


ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski