Akil Baddoo Deserves the Same Love as Jazz

Akil Baddoo and Jazz Chisholm Jr. are comparably strong young players.

I wanted to choose Jazz Chisholm Jr. for my fantasy team after all the hype last year, but I prefer to wait for a similar player in Detroit: Akil Baddoo.

Don’t get me wrong—I think Jazz has potential. Plus, my uncle plays the cornet at Preservation Hall in New Orleans, so he would appreciate the name.

No, there is another reason I won’t choose Jazz. It’s because he’s being drafted by Round 8. That’s not so early that I’d cry in my coffee if he didn’t perform at an elite level. But there are other players that I can draft with more confidence in that round.

I could let others draft Chisholm and take Baddoo, the leadoff hitter for Detroit, 110 picks later. He is woefully undervalued by comparison. Baddoo should probably be equally touted, but he isn’t.

It’s a tragedy.

 

Transferring Skills from Minors to Majors

 

Baddoo and Chisholm both barely dipped a toe in Triple-A. Baddoo made his minor league appearances between A-ball and High-A. Chisholm made the most plate appearances in Double-A. If I compare the last time both players had over 100 PA in the minors, this is the result.

Level bb % ISO Avg/OBP/SLG
Jazz Chisholm Jr. AA 11.3 .223 .204/.305/.427
Akil Baddoo A+ 9.2 .179 .214/.290/.393

 

We could point to Chisholm’s line and say that he has the edge. He played at a higher level where he showed more patience and power. What is more telling, however, is how skills transfer to the major league level. That is where this gets more interesting. In 2021, Chisholm had 507 plate appearances compared to Baddoo’s 461 plate appearances.

Take a look:

MLB (PA) bb% ISO AVG/OBP/SLG
Jazz Chisholm Jr. 507 6.7 .177 .248/.303/.425
Akil Baddoo 461 9.8 .177 .259/.330/.436

 

Not only was Baddoo capable of transferring nearly all of his minor league skills to the major league lineup, but he also seemed to grow more patient. To further this point, check out the season line for both players below. Notice that both players brought their K% down through the summer, and Baddoo had significant gains in BB%, particularly in May.

It’s true that both Chisholm’s and Baddoo’s patience leveled out, but Baddoo was clearly beginning to show more patience by the end.

Data Visualization by @Kollauf on Twitter

 

Balanced Splits as Leading Indicator for Improvement

 

Baddoo’s patience did come with declines in power in comparison to Chisholm. This is something to keep an eye on as these players continue to develop. Still, even though there is more power in Chisholm’s bat, by the end of 2021 Baddoo showed significant gains in hitting both lefties and righties.

Data Visualization by @Kollauf on Twitter

 

In terms of power, it’s true that Chisholm can hit the ball harder, but their xSLG percentage is nearly a match (.409 for Chisholm and .403 for Baddoo). Both players bat from the left side, and both players have similar hitting zone strengths. Overall, Baddoo’s .766 OPS was higher than Chisholm’s OPS of .728.

 

Speed, WAR, wOBA, and wRC+

 

I realize that I may be committing the sin of cherry-picking stats, but let’s keep going.

WAR wRC+ wOBA
Jazz Chisholm Jr. 1.6 98 .312
Akil Baddoo 1.9 108 .329

The stats above are often highly regarded, and they highlight the similarity further. They even show Baddoo in the lead.

We might point to speed as the difference since we know the ideal player hits home runs and steals bases. The league average sprint speed according to Baseball Savant is 27 feet/second, and an elite runner has a sprint speed near 30 feet/second.

Chisholm’s sprint speed sits at 29.1/second and Baddoo’s sits at 28.9/second.

 

Conclusion

 

I realize a quick comparison may not be enough to turn Akil Baddoo into Jazz Chisholm Jr. in our eyes, but think of the excitement surrounding Chisholm before the middle rounds of drafts. I’m not trying to take anything away from Chisholm. He’s a great young player.

But I’d like us to consider the possibility that Baddoo should be equally valued. He’s jazzy. He’s only 23. And Detroit is letting him figure it out in the major leagues with a young core arriving around him with names like Riley Greene and Spencer Torkelson.

Part of this exercise is examining how well minor league skills transfer to the majors, and if you’ve read anything that advises against drafting Baddoo, sources usually rely on lackluster results in the minor leagues. But he’s so young. The majors are his minor leagues, and it should be fun to watch him reach his full potential.

 

Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)

Josh Thusat

Joshua is a professor of English, but he's also an avid baseball fan who puts his research skills to work for fantasy baseball gamers. In addition to Pitcher List, Josh writes for FantasyPros. He teaches in the Chicagoland area.

2 responses to “Akil Baddoo Deserves the Same Love as Jazz”

  1. Stosh says:

    Haven’t even read the article yet, but that is some badass Bitches Brew artwork of Akil.

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