We’re just barely into the New Year, the time where I like to take an early look at ADP and sift around for potential bargains. Baltimore Oriole Trey Mancini had a nice rookie campaign in 2017, hitting .293 along with 24 home runs. In 2018 he followed with the same home run tally but saw his average drop to .242. Going into his third full year on a rebuilding Baltimore squad, Mancini seems to be an afterthought in drafts right now. His current NFBC ADP sits at 221 with a max pick of 291. Is there value to be had here? Let’s take a look.
High Drives, Hard Hits, and Barrels … Oh My!
|Year||PA||Hard Hit%||Barrel %||HD%||VH%|
Barrels are closely correlated to the highest value hits. So we love to see them when looking at hitter profiles. Mancini’s barrel rate of 11.8% was excellent and good for top nine percent in baseball last year. He was also 12th on last year’s Statcast leaderboard for barrels per batted ball event among hitters with at least 400. The names ahead of him? The good ones like you’d suspect including Story, Goldschmidt, Carpenter, Cruz, Betts, etc. And behind him? More good hitters including Machado and Rendon among others. Point being Mancini is in some really good company here. High Drives or HD are xStat’s version of the highest quality batted balls and typically account for around ten percent of all batted balls. Mancini’s mark of 14.8% is excellent. His hard-hit rate of 40% in each of the past two years is excellent too.
Batted Ball Profile
I’ll cut right to the chase here. Overall, it’s an unexciting batted-ball profile with a low launch angle and lots of ground balls. A particularly high amount of dribblers too. He certainly has power as we saw above. But Mancini will need to cut down on the grounders to make more use of his power. There’s another thing that stands out when you look at his profile compared to 2017.
The first thing to notice was that 2017’s .293 average was by no means a fluke. In 2017 Mancini’s BABIP and BACON (batting average on contact) was very much in lock step with his expected marks. But in 2018 we saw a noticeable deviation. His BABIP was notably 31 points lower and his BACON mark was also 25 points lower than the expected mark. Considering this along with his 2016 AAA BABIP of .351, it wouldn’t be surprising if we saw positive regression headed his way next year in batting average. His expected average (xAVG) of .261 also indicates that he got a bit unlucky last season. Steamer has his average hitting that mark in 2019. I think his true talent level is closer to the .293 in 2017 than last year’s .242, and he has at least a reasonable chance at hitting in the .270 range next year. If 2017 was any indication we also can’t rule out the possibility of a .290-type average as a potential ceiling.
Last year’s spray chart. Now here is something to appreciate. Another thing that Mancini has shown that certainly supports a higher BABIP is the ability to drive the ball the opposite way. He has a surprisingly handsome spray chart showing home run power to all fields. And considering the comfortable confines of Camden Yards (pictured above), you really don’t need to be all that creative to imagine the possibility of 30 home runs here.
Mancini vs. Mazara
Sounds like a court case worthy of our attention. One thing that struck me when perusing early offseason drafts was the discrepancy in ADP between Nomar Mazara and Mancini. Intuitively I thought of them as very similar players. But maybe I’m missing something. Let’s take a closer look at their 2018 seasons and see how closely they compare.
Well, how about that? It turns out they are similar. Perhaps even eerily so. They are both nearly identical in launch angle, average exit velocity, and in several batted ball categories. Nearly even in expected BABIP and batting average too. A slight edge to Mancini in the expected home runs column. So both players are very similar, and yet Mazara is going nearly 70 picks earlier with a 152 NFBC ADP. Let’s see what Steamer projections have to say about the two for 2019.
A bump in R and RBI for Mazara. The interesting thing here is that Steamer has Mazara projected at a decent increase in wOBA next year at .343 compared to his career-high mark of .324 last year. The 26 home run projection would also be a career-high for Mazara who hit exactly 20 in each of his first three seasons. Mazara is the younger of the two and has the bigger prospect pedigree (he was ranked 2nd in the Rangers system back in 2015) so perhaps there may be more theoretical upside with him. He also has a 100-RBI season under his belt (2016), so I certainly can’t discount that. Regardless, I’m inclined to take the big discount with Mancini.
There is some appeal here in a guy who could flirt with 30 home runs along with a .275 average. Think of something similar to what Stephen Piscotty did last year as a potential ceiling outcome for Mancini. Considering his current low ADP, there is very solid ROI potential here. Keep an eye out for “Boom-Boom” Mancini in the later rounds.
(Graphic by Justin Paradis)