Stolen base scarcity drives up player's values entering 2021 drafts. Outfielder capable of producing 20 home runs with 20 stolen bases used to populate the landscape. However, they've become a highly sought after commodity in a shrinking market. Assessing Trent Grisham based on last year comes with consternation.
For starters, he's a frustrating player to own in any points league or head-to-head format due to the volatility of his production tied to possible streakiness in his profile. Check out his 10-game rolling chart in the majors displaying weighted on-base average (wOBA), isolated power (ISO), Z-Contact (in the strike zone) percentage and strikeout rate at the onset of his career:
A player displaying results like an EKG promotes headaches when setting lineups. This resonates in his splits cutting 2020 into two halves:
- Grisham's first 30 contests: .261/.369/.514, .252 ISO, .377 wOBA
- Grisham's last 29 contests: .240/.333/.394, .154 ISO, .319 wOBA
This illustrates his upside and risk all in one. When gleaning his overall numbers, he scored 42 runs with 10 home runs, 26 RBI and 10 stolen bases in 59 games spanning 252 plate appearances. Enticing upside with power and speed, solid on-base percentage for a leadoff hitter in a robust lineup. His 12.3 walk percentage and 25.4 strikeout rate align with league expectations at his lineup spot.
In fact, beneath his surface numbers, Grisham owns an eight percent swinging strike rate with a 78.8 contact percentage, 83.8 Z-Contact rate and minuscule 20.4 O-Swing (outside the strike zone) percent. Yet, it's tough to get over hitting only three home runs his last 131 plate appearances after launching three homers on August 22nd. This coincided with his last 29 game swoon noted above.
Transitioning to Statcast to discern the quality of contact, Grisham recorded 153 batted ball events with 17 barrels (11.1 percent), an 88.3 MPH average exit velocity and 41.8 hard hit rate. His expected numbers suggest some bad luck in a potential consolidation of his skills last season with a .264 expected batting average, .480 expected slugging and .367 expected weighted on-base average (18 points above his actual).
Confusion lies in his zone swing rate rising but his zone contact declining. He also chased fewer pitches while increasing chase contact. Keeping his swing percentage stable, Grisham's whiff rate increased by two percentage points. His ground ball rate jumped up along with his line drive percentage generating fewer fly balls in his batted ball data. While his barrel rate almost doubled, his solid rate fell to 3.9 percent.
One positive to hang a hat on, his power appeared real with eight of his 10 home runs falling under the no-doubt category (out of any MLB park). Another high point to his profile, Grisham finished in the 95th percentile in Statcast's speed metric. Outs above average should insulate his batting average from a total collapse.
Before exploring his projections, a look back before viewing the future. At the top two levels of the minors, Grisham produced the following numbers:
- Triple-A: 159 plate appearances, 13 home runs, 30 RBI, six stolen bases; .381/.471/.776
- Double-A: 688 plate appearances, 20 home runs, 72 RBI, 17 stolen bases; .242/.362/.406
Perhaps he's who he showed us. As for the projection sets, here's how five sites foresee his 2021 campaign:
There's been speculation he may not leadoff versus southpaws which would affect his final counting statistics. It remains to be seen. Taking into account his Double-A numbers, which line up with the projections, getting Grisham at a discount may be tough to do with everyone trying to find stolen bases in the rounds he gets drafted. Be sure to roster some batting average leverage in case he hits the .240's reflected above. This year may provide more answers to a profile with so many questions.
THE BAT and THE BAT X courtesy of Derek Carty
ATC courtesy of Ariel Cohen
ZiPS courtesy of Dan Szymborsk