Even terrible teams sometimes have some shining stars. In the NBA, players like LeBron can drag a team like the 2007 Cavs to the NBA finals. Unfortunately, more than one or two good players are needed to make a competitive team in the MLB (look at the Angels). While he doesn’t get a lot of recognition in Oakland, the sky is the limit for our 2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Brent Rooker.
2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target: Brent Rooker
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A .353 average. 9 homers in 22 games (7.5 at bats per homer). Leads the MLB in SLG and OPS. 251 OPS+. Am I describing:
The answer is actually D; none of the above. The player in question? You probably haven’t even heard of him before this year. This player is Brent Rooker of the Oakland A’s.
Rooker’s home in Oakland is the reason why he is flying under the radar despite his insane start. If a player in New York, LA, Philly, Boston, or any other large market area had this kind of production to start the season, you wouldn’t be able to stop hearing about him.
While it may feel like every single hit by guys like Fernando Tatis Jr. gets some sort of attention from the MLB, Oakland is likely the least marketable team in baseball. They play at a miserable field, have a tiny fanbase, and have been historically awful to start the season. They might not even have a home in Oakland for much longer.
However, Brent Rooker is in no way responsible for this dreadful situation in Oakland. Yes it’s early, but a 1.245 OPS is almost unprecedented. Only three players have ever had an OPS higher of 1.245 in a season. These players? Babe Ruth, Barry Bonds, and Ted Williams, arguably the three best hitters of all time.
In fact, there are only three retired players who have posted an OPS of over 1.100 in a season and aren’t in the hall of fame. Rooker is having an unprecedented start to the season, and his OPS+ is at a startling 251, a full 151 percent higher than league average.
Of course, it’s early. The all star break isn’t for another two months. Rooker could very well have a miserable summer, with his start being considered an outlier.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) May 2, 2023
Brent Rooker's Advanced Stats
However, if you’ve read any of my other articles, you’d know I can’t make a full assessment of a player without diving into their underlying stats. Rooker’s underlying stats suggest that this version of him is here to stay.
First, let’s look into his barrel percentage. I love barrel percentage, as it shows how often a guy is squaring up the ball over the course of the season. While a player could get unlucky or lucky over a two week span, the barrel percentage will usually tell the full story of how well a player is hitting.
Rooker’s barrel percentage? Just a mere 24.1 percent, good for the 98th percentile. The league average is 6.8 percent. This is by far the highest percentage I have came across for a player in this series. Rooker is barreling up the ball about once per game, assuming he gets four at bats. While pitchers could figure him out, this torrid start isn’t just through bloop singles, it’s through line drives and homers.
A big problem for young players is the fact that they don’t walk a lot. However, you don’t have to have this concern with Rooker. He has only struck out two more times than he has walked (16 to 14), and is in the 95th percentile for walk rate.
Brent Rooker is just one home run shy of Rafael Devers for the American League lead. pic.twitter.com/vv0zee5rbK
— Jack Byers (@JackByersRivals) April 30, 2023
Rooker's Hot Start Is Not a Fluke
Speaking of the percentiles, let’s take a look at all of Rooker’s. His average exit velo and hard hit rate is in the top 20 percent, with both being at 81. He walks a ton, (9th percentile), while barely swinging and missing (8th percentile whiff rate). Finally, his 100th percentile xwOBA, 96th percentile xBA, and 99th percentile xSLG shows that Rooker’s red hot start isn’t a fluke, and that his results are expected based on how well he is hitting.
The only drawback to Rooker’s performance so far is that he is still in the very young stages of his career. However, he is showing such an advanced approach that I wouldn’t be too surprised to see him at the top of these percentiles at the end of the year too.
— MLB Network (@MLBNetwork) May 1, 2023
What Would You Need To Give Up To Get Rooker?
Rooker’s trade value is rising quickly. About a week or two ago he was an unknown, but people are starting to catch onto his advanced skill set. This could lead to a higher asking price, but it should still be low due to how little people still know about Rooker.
Stuck in a horrendous situation, Brent Rooker is a fantastic player. His ability to hit for both average and power while also drawing many walks makes him an easy 2023 Dynasty Baseball Trade Target.
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