Michael Massey never set the minors ablaze per se, but he showed why his hit tool was graded above average, and solid command of the strike zone. He may not have been a top prospect in any MLB ranking, but he was a solid asset in Kansas City’s farm system, and he showed it upon his call up in mid-July. He came up with the club and immediately became a popular fantasy baseball waiver wire pick up. However, after a hot start, he’s cooled off significantly, leaving fantasy baseball managers wonderwing what to do about the 24-year-old second baseman. In this week’s second base player spotlight, we’ll take a look at Michael Massey, analyzing his hot start, his recent slump, and his fantasy value the rest of the way.
Massey’s hot start after his call up displayed a lot of things that we saw from Massey in the minors. He makes good, hard contact, has a good feel for the strike zone, and has the ability to hit for a decent average at the major league level. Take a look at his numbers from his 12 games with the Royals:
Courtesy of FanGraphs
What was also impressive during that stretch is that he posted an average exit velocity of 91.8 miles per hour, a 16.7 percent barrel rate, and a 38.9 percent hard hit rate. When you look at Baseball Savant, those numbers over a full season rate incredibly well, as his exit velocity is on par with Julio Rodríguez and José Abreu. His barrel rate is a hair below Austin Riley, and his hard hit rate matches Alex Bregman, albeit farther down the leaderboard compared to the other numbers mentioned. After a hot start, things started to turn for the worse.
Here are his numbers over his last 13 games:
When he does make contact, his batted ball metrics are on par with his numbers from the first 12 games of the season, especially in terms of average exit velocity, barrel rate, and hard hit rate. However, the issue lies in that the operative word there is when. The contact rate has dissipated of late, he’s leaving the zone more, and whiffing more, and that trio is the textbook recipe for increasing your strikeout rate immensely.
Just to lay this out a bit more, over his last 13 games, he has a 40.7 percent swinging strike rate, and a 19.6 percent swinging strike rate, not to mention a contact rate of just 63.7 percent. For the 2022 season as a whole, these numbers look like Luke Voit, Javier Báez, and Adolis García.
|Massey (Last 13 G)|
Courtesy of FanGraphs
Do I expect Massey to strikeout at this clip for his entire career, including the stretch run of 2022? No. As he grows more comfortable at the game’s highest level, he should settle in, likely with a strikeout rate in the mid-20s. He hasn’t shown top-end max exit velocity this season, but he has shown the ability to make consistent hard contact, which we love to see!
As for his fantasy value the rest of the way, I do have some reservations, and I don’t love that he has four straight starts with multiple strikeouts. However, his ability to make hard contact will lead to good things sooner rather than later, and he can run into a ball every now and again. He does have two stolen bases in 27 games this season, and in his minor league career, he went 29-for-33 in stolen bases attempts. If he can regain his feel and command for the strike zone, I feel much better about rostering him down the fantasy stretch. If you are in a shallower league, I’m likely dropping Massey if there is an upgrade available on the waiver wire, because if this slump continues, he isn’t winning any of us a fantasy baseball championship.
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