2017 Fantasy Baseball: This Year’s Jonathan Villar

by Joe Bond
This Year's Jonathan Villar

If you draft this year's Jonathan Villar, you will find yourself in quite a good spot to win your league.

Just for reference, Villar essentially went undrafted in standard leagues. He then had himself a season good enough to finish No. 5 on the ESPN Player Rater. That season included a .285 batting average, 92 runs scored, 19 home runs and a whopping 62 steals.

Every season we get players like this. Players who seemingly come out of nowhere to become complete studs and game changers. They are tough to predict because they are usually guys who have not done it before and/or we don’t expect to get full playing time.

In Villar’s case, he was both. Not only had he not shown this type of production, he was not expected to stay as the team’s shortstop with Orlando Arcia sitting in the minors.

Still that breakout player will come. Below I am going to list four players who I believe can do it.

Check out this year's Kyle Hendricks too.

This Year's Jonathan Villar

Tim Anderson, SS, Chicago White Sox

Tim Anderson’s game is eerily similar to Villar’s. They are both super speed guys, with moderate pop, which gives them the potential of 20 home runs.

The steals did not come for Anderson last year after he was called up, but he did in fact steal 10 in just 12 attempts. I have to imagine they will let him run more this year with a success rate that high. So, those of you that got excited about the 49 steals in double-A, should still be excited.

The crazy thing is how similar their batted ball profiles are. GB/FB, FB%, hard hit contact rates are all right comparable. The only thing that stands out is Villar had a HR/FB rate of 19 last season, compared to Anderson’s 12. The 12 is more in-line with what Villar has done in years past. So this is just one more thing to point to a Villar type breakout season for Anderson.

Keon Broxton, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

Let’s start by looking at the raw numbers. Nine home runs and 23 steals over 75 games (244 plate-appearances). It is easy to see why he could match Villar over the course of a full season.

No, I’m not saying simply double his stats by doubling his games and that is what you are going to get. That is a common mistake a lot of people do. However, I look at the fact that he only had 244 plate appearances. Villar when he had similar PA, had very similar numbers. Let Broxton jump up to 600-plus appearances and we have a full breakout on our hands.

Lost in all this is Broxton’s batting average. He hit a paltry .242 last season, mainly thanks to a poor 36.1% strikeout rate. Good signs are his K-rate did improve slightly every month, so perhaps we can see his average improve to .270-plus range like we did in the second half of the 2016 season.

More good news is there is talk in Milwaukee that the manager wants to bat him near the top of the lineup. This just means more plate appearances and chance that he will be this year's Jonathan Villar.

Jose Peraza, SS, Cincinnati Reds

Peraza’s draft stock is soaring now that Brandon Phillips is no longer a Red. I’m less excited about him having this major breakout than most it seems.

Sure, the speed is there, he truly has 50-60 steal potential in a full season. The average is likely there too. No, now .324 like he had in 2016, but a more realistic of .280 is still good. This is thanks to a low strikeout rate and hitting a good number of line drives.

What I worry about with him is the power. He never hit for power in the minors and last year in 256 plate appearances hit just three home runs. His low number of fly-balls hit, combined with a 5-percent HR/FB ratio does not make me think we are suddenly going to get this power surge from him.

Do I think we get a complete Jonthan Villar type breakout from him? No, I do not. However a good average with steals nearing 60 is not completely out of the question. That is enough right there to include him in this discussion.

Heran Perez, 3B, Milwaukee Brewers

Wow another Brewer? Let’s just say this team likes to run, so it should not be a surprise to anyone that the same team that has Villar has two more players on this list.

Before we go any further, let me say that this one is my reach pick. I’ll explain why below.

Perez in just 430 plate appearances last season shocked us all by stealing 34 bases and hitting 13 home runs. Hit batting average was solid too at .272.

So, there are two issues at play here. One is the power surge last year. His HR/RB rate increased from 1.4% in 2015 to 11.5%. Wondering what it was before that? Zero. That’s right zero.

The other issue is playing time. He has been a career utility player and that is unlikely to change in 2016.

Now why I think there is a chance he could be this year's Jonathan Villar? Perhaps the power is for real. I mean, how many 24-25 year old do we see figure it out then? A lot. Also if there are injuries getting a full season of plate appearances is feasible.

I’m not betting on these things to happen, but in the last rounds of your draft if he is around I say give him a chance.

Again predicting breakouts to find this year's Jonathan Villar is not easy. These four have the best chance of anyone to do it though.

Be sure to check out our Rankings, Position Preview and much more in the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Draft Kit.

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