NLC, Players to Target

Players to Target – Kolten Wong

Kolten Wong came into 2015 with a lot of hype and was a disappointment finishing as the 12th best 2B according to ESPN’s player rater. He took a step back in both HRs and SBs compared to 2014 even though he had almost 200 more PA in 2015. Kolton Wong finished 2015 with 11 HR, 71 R, 61 RBI, 15 SB, .262 AVG and .321 OBP and I think there is upside across the board for him.

Kolten Wong’s major carrying tool has always been his hit tool and it’s been surprising that in 1108 MLB PA he has only hit .250. Last year was his best when he hit .262, but there is definitely room for improvement. He was a LD hitter last year with a rate of 22.5%. The major league average in 2015 was 20.9%. Given that he has a good LD rate and has some speed, it is very surprising that his BABIP was only .296 last year. That seems low and it wouldn’t surprise me if that BABIP jumped by 20-30 points in 2016. It also would not surprise me if his batting average jumped by 20 points. Wong is only 25 years old and has already shown strides in raising his BA. If he can fix some of his platoon issues he could raise his BA into the elite levels over the next few years.

Even though he took a step back in power and speed, he should enjoy a bounce back in both. It’s easy to see why the SB total dropped. He was successful on 20/24 attempts in 2014 and 15/23 attempts in 2015. Generally regarded as a good baserunner, the opportunity for 20 steals should be there for Wong. I would expect his power to rise a bit too. After 12 HRs and a 11% HR/FB in 2014 he had 11 HRs and a 7.2% HR/FB in 2015. Busch Stadium is slightly below average when it comes to HR for LHBs but that shouldn’t explain a well below average HR/FB. It’s likely that he just had an unlucky year in that regard. I don’t see Wong getting to 20 HRs anytime soon, but I’d expect him to approach 15-16 HRs this year.

Now the bad news. Wong is projected to hit at the bottom of the Cardinal’s order. This does not bode well for his run and RBI total. There is some risk here. Mike Matheny has shown that he will stick with his veteran guys in their preferred batting spot even if they are actively hurting the team (see Matt Holliday and Jhonny Peralta at the end of 2015). Right now the number two spot is likely between Wong and Stephen Piscotty. Piscotty’s on base skills should win him that spot. That likely relegates Wong to 7th or 8th in the order which puts a cap on just how high his run and RBI totals can reach.

Steamer is giving Wong 12 HR, 60 R, 56 RBI, 16 SB, .264 AVG and .316 OBP. I’ll give Wong 15 HR, 68 R, 60 RBI, 21 SB, .279 AVG and .320 OBP. Wong won’t be without risk, but there is certainly upside and considering how many owners he burned last year, he should come at a discount.

 

HR R RBI SB AVG OBP
Steamer 12 60 56 16 0.264 0.316
Spauny 15 68 60 21 0.279 0.32

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