Much like real estate, location can affect value. Kolten Wong missed most sleepers or buy lists as a free agent. After his agreement to a two-year contract with Milwaukee, Wong's suddenly fantasy relevant again due to fantasy players searching for a scarce commodity: stolen bases. Trying to assess any Cardinals player last year due to the COVID-19 scheduling issues they endured, Wong still produced a respectable .265/.350/.326 slash line, not the power of course, but his on-base rate of 35 percent may factor into his future batting order spot with the Brewers.
All told, Wong played in 53 games during the truncated season with 26 runs, one home run, 16 RBI, and five stolen bases. He's a very good contact hitter and turned in the lowest swinging strike percentage of his career with a 6.2 percent rate in 2020. Despite a slight drop in his Z-Contact (in the strike zone) percentage to 90.7, it's still near elite. Wong's also one year removed from hitting 11 home runs with 24 stolen bases posting a .285/.361/.423 slash. While this may represent his best season over his career, there's still plenty of value to be mined from Wong in Milwaukee.
Noting Wong never rates well in Statcast data, he registered 154 batted ball events in 2020 with one barrel, an 86.5 MPH average exit velocity and 26.6 hard hit percentage. As noted above, Wong actually owned a less aggressive approach than normal with decreases in his zone swing percentage (down 2.8 percent) and his chase rate (down 2.2 percent). Contact percentages in each category still rose. Wong also reduced his swing rate overall and cut his whiff percentage to its lowest point at 16.2 percent.
Although fantasy owners can reap the benefits of Wong hitting near the top of the batting order with Milwaukee, a rebound in extra-base hits would make him a steal. In 2019, Milwaukee ranked seventh in the majors with 103 stolen bases and attempted 128 over the season. Since the start of the second half of 2019 combined with last year, here are Wong's numbers in the expanded sample:
- Wong 2H 2019-through-2020: 115 games, 438 plate appearances, 53 runs, five home runs, 40 RBI, 15 stolen bases; .305/.381/.411, 8.4 BB%, 14.8 K%, .105 ISO, .344 wOBA
One cannot forget 2019 featured a breakout year by Wong which may not return in full, yet it cannot be ignored once a player displays a skill he can carry it forward. Many would take this applied to a full season, but extrapolating results from a sample rarely project out in complete symmetry.
During the last three seasons, Wong's numbers reveal a solid baseline of plate approach along with some factors to weigh for 2021:
- Wong Last Three Years: 328 games, 1,164 plate appearances, 128 runs, 21 home runs, 113 RBI, 35 stolen bases; .269/.349/.393, 8.4 BB%, 14.9 K%, .125 ISO, .322 wOBA
Taking these numbers into account, here's Wong's spray chart from this time frame with his new ballpark in Milwaukee as the backdrop:
While all of the listed field outs of fly balls or line drives may not occur in his new home, even a fourth of the ones illustrated leaving the park insulate a potential return to double-digit home run. Especially when viewing his numbers as a player in Milwaukee featuring a .308/.373/.482 slash with 20 extra-base hits (12 doubles, two triples, six home runs) in 217 plate appearances. Intriguing to say the least.
Judging all of this information as a whole, here are Wong's projection sets:
If Wong reaches his THE BAT X numbers, 2021 would be a huge boon to his fantasy owners. He could even score more runs with fewer RBI if he hits near or at the top of the lineup. A first rule in real estate remains location, heading to Milwaukee enhances Wong's value and here's hoping others in your league ignore it, especially if one needs late stolen base insulation.
THE BAT X and THE BAT courtesy of Derek Carty
ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen
ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborski