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Thursday, September 13, 2018

2018 FANTASY BASEBALL POSTSCRIPT: GREGORY POLANCO OUTFIELDER PITTSBURGH PIRATES

It was yet another year of unfulfilled expectations for Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Gregory Polanco in 2018 as his first half was marked by some horrendous batting slumps and then was followed by him missing the last month of the season due to a deep knee bone bruise that overshadowed a decent second half with the bat.  Then once Polanco was officially done for year with the knee injury, he surprisingly underwent surgery to remedy a dislocated left shoulder in the middle of September.  Having made his debut at the age of 22 back in 2014, Polanco looked destined to be the next version of his then-teammate Andrew McCutchen in terms of possessing five-tool ability and in the process reaching a top-tier status in yearly fantasy baseball leagues.  Alas, it has been nothing but a bumpy road since that time for Polanco as ongoing injuries, inconsistent offensive numbers, and a reputation for not being the hardest worker have made him one of the more volatile players to own in the game.  With that said, Polanco's talent is still obvious and 2018 was a decent overall season as he hit 22 home runs, stole 12 bases, and collected 81 RBI.  Polanco has established a 20-25 home run baseline to go with 10-15 steals which is certainly quite valuable in today's fantasy baseball but there are also negatives in terms of a batting average that has yet to top the .258 he hit in 2016.  The average red flag is certainly being dragged down by a putrid .218 career mark versus lefties but his .263 output against righties is certainly nothing to write home about.  Digging into the numbers a bit more, Polanco is a very rare and strange case of a player who has good speed and who also draws walks (excellent 11.4 BB/9 in 2018) but who for some reason can't reach .300 in the BABIP realm.  With strikeouts not overly concerning either (generally in the 20.0 range in his career), Polanco is actually doing what he should be doing in terms of his approach at the dish but the batted ball luck has not been there.  That could certainly change in 2019 and with some good health, Polanco may finally put forth that upper-level campaign we all have waited for.  While the odds say that won't happen, Polanco can still be a decent OF 2 capable of a 23/12-ish output in homers/steals to go with decent counting numbers in runs and RBI.  Any average uptick would then be treated as a bonus.  If you can snag Polanco at an OF 3 price (and you should be able to given the negative narrative surrounding his stock), then you did well.
2019 PROJECTION:  .263 24 HR 86 RBI 84 R 14 SB  

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