For the most part, what we saw of Chicago’s Nick Madrigal in 2020 was a spitting image of his time in the minors. Sure, there were a few things that stuck out, but the overall snapshot of his player profile rang true in 2020: Madrigal is a high-contact, high average guy with next-to-no power, with stolen base upside.

He stole just two bases in 2020, but an early injury certainly didn’t help his case, and there was minimal reason to risk re-injury or further harm after the fact. He missed about three weeks in August but came back and was fine. Now, he did get surgery after the season, but all reports are that he’s fine and will be ready for the start of the regular season. In fact, through his first five spring games, he’s hitting .286 with just one strikeout. He has yet to attempt a stolen base this spring.

So, with that in mind, does Madrigal have relevant fantasy value, or any, if he doesn’t run and post a decent amount of stolen bases? I’ll answer it this way. He better freakin’ run. And a lot.

His batting average should remain high, considering he makes a ton of contact and hardly strikes out. His worst year in the minors was back in 2018 in High-A ball when he struck out 4.7 percent of the time across 107 plate appearances. Last year in the majors, shoulder issues and all, Madrigal struck out just 6.4 percent of the time.

If he would have had enough at-bats to qualify, here’s where some of his plate discipline metrics would have ranked in Major League Baseball:



League Rank
















Courtesy of FanGraphs

While Madrigal is excellent in terms of the quantity of his contact, the qualityof the contact leaves a lot to be desired. The quantity is great, the quality is not.

In 2020, he posted a zero percent barrel rate, with an average exit velocity of just 84 miles per hour. If he had enough at-bats to qualify, he would have had a higher average exit velocity than only Victor Robles (82.2mph), Hanser Alberto (82.3 mph), and Didi Gregorious (83.8).

Barring an unforeseen, and honestly uncharacteristic shift, Madrigal will never be a home run guy at the big league level. Sure, over the course of a full season, he’ll run into a couple longballs, but it certainly won’t be many at all. Now, with Madrigal’s batted ball profile, we don’t want more fly balls. In 2020, of players that had at least 50 batted balls, only five players had a lower exit velocity on fly balls and line drives than Madrigal.

The easy comparison for Madrigal is Los Angeles’ David Fletcher , who is another high contact/average guy in a good lineup. However, Fletcher has a little bit more potential in terms of home runs but gives up some speed compared to Madrigal. Additionally, Madrigal only has second base eligibility, whereas Fletcher has a couple of positions to his name. If you look at the two, the projections tell the story, but their respective ADP poses an interesting question to fantasy baseball managers.



















Projections courtesy of ATC and ADP data by NFBC

Is Madrigal worth the earlier pick?

Madrigal has more upside, but Fletcher has a track record to his credit. Fletcher will also hit near the top of the Angels’ lineup, whereas Madrigal will likely have to work his way up the order. If Madrigal doesn’t run, the only thing he will provide to your team is batting average, and perhaps runs if he’s able to ride a high batting average to the top of the lineup. Even just inside the top 200 picks, that’s a rather early draft investment for a one category guy.

There are only three instances in which you can justify selecting Madrigal earlier than his current ADP:

  1. You firmly believe that he will hit over .300 with at least 15 stolen bases.
  2. You need his batting average to even out guys like Joey Gallo or Gary Sánchez on your team
  3. You are desperate for stolen base upside

Other than that, it’s tough to justify Madrigal at his current price, especially being buried at the bottom of the Chicago lineup.


Statistical Credits:

ATC Projections Courtesy of Ariel Cohen