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On Jurickson Profar’s Possible Breakout

By: Brad Williamson 

Topic: Baseball, Jurickson Profar, Analysis

One of the most hyped prospects in recent memory, Jurickson Profar was supposed to be a sure thing. Now, many have relegated him to irrelevance, but should we keep our eye on him? Before we get into any statistics I’d like to review his time at the major league level:

2012: He makes his debut at the age of 19, batting .176 (.167 BABIP) with a homer (in his debut at-bat) and two RBIs over only nine games. Not really enough to go on, but many have done much worse.

2013: He plays in 88 games during this season, batting .234 with 6 homers and 26 RBIs. Not the greatest numbers, but not bad at only 20 years old. He shows enough improvement that the Rangers feel comfortable getting rid of Ian Kinsler with the goal of replacing him with Profar.

2014-2015: He now misses two entire seasons due to shoulder issues.

2016: He finally returns to play in 90 games, logging 272 abs and batting .239 with 5 homers and 20 RBIs.

2017: He struggles with playing time, possibly feeling the pressure of being a bust. He logs only 58 abs across 22 games and does almost nothing with them.

2018: In his age-25 season he is finally healthy and granted playing time. And look at the line he produces: 524 abs across 146 games, batting .254/.335/.458 with 20 homers, 77 RBIs, and 82 runs. He also goes 10/10 in stolen base attempts and finishes with only 88 strikeouts to 55 walks. During this season he is also playing all over the field and still manages to maintain focus. Not bad at all.

2019: He remains healthy but is traded to none other than the Oakland As. He plays in 139 games, logging 459 abs, batting .218/.301/.410 with 20 homers, 67 RBIs, and 65 runs. He is again efficient if not prolific on the base paths, going 9/10 in stolen base attempts and again finishes with a decent 75 strikeouts to 50 walks. With a BABIP of only .218 that can explain the low average, his 2018 and 2019 years are mirror images.

2020: He signs with the Padres and will have a path to playing time, but how will he do? Let’s see if we can answer that!

We’re going to look at some stats dating from 2017 to 2019. I didn’t want to only include his two best years, but I didn’t want to stretch the timeline too far back. Therefore, I’ve included 2017 statistics to both display his growth in certain areas and ensure the data set is unbiased. Let’s start with plate discipline and contact skills. Here is a chart showing his O-Swing% (this is the percentage of time he swings at pitches outside the strike zone compared to total pitches outside the zone) versus his Z-Swing% (percentage of swings at strikes compared to total strikes thrown), along with his overall Contact%:

 

The graph gives a broad view, but here are the exact values: O-Swing% (30.8%), Z-Swing% (68.9%), and Contact% (82.2%). And here are the league’s values over the same period of time:

It appears his plate discipline is about average, but remember this is with his horrendous numbers from 2017 that I’ve included; he would be well above average in all three metrics if we were looking at only 2018 and 2019. He also isn’t terrible at any one thing, so nothing appears to be holding him back from continuing his gradual improvement.

Next is a graph showing how hard he hits the ball:

Again, the exact values are as follows: Soft% (21.1%), Med% (42.0%), and Hard% (36.9). And the League’s values:

He once again appears pretty average, so where does he hit the ball?

These stats are Pull% (43.9%), Cent% (31.0%), and Oppo% (25.1%), whereas the league’s averages are:

Again close to the averages with nothing sticking out too much. He pulls the ball a little more than the average hitter, but it doesn’t look like he’s unable to go the other way or hit it up the middle. But can he hit it in the air?

His GB% (42.6), LD% (21.9%), and FB% (35.5%) are once again aligned with the averages. Look:

Throughout all the huge expectations, injuries, battles for playing time, and moves, these averages begin to look better. Will he continue his growth now that he is healthy and is guaranteed playing time, or is he already what he’s going to be forever? I say we’re in for a breakout, and it could come quickly. Let us know what you think!

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