Fantasy Baseball

The Villar Village: Travis Shaw

In this latest installment of the Villar Village, we will examine one of the namesakes’s teammates -Travis Shaw.  Usually, when a hitter is shipped out of Boston, it is a bad thing.  The friendly confines of Fenway Park, the AL East roadtrips (aside from Tampa) and the Boston lineup loaded with quality hitters to boost the hitter’s run production all gone – instantaneously decreasing the hitter’s fantasy appeal.  This is not the case with Travis Shaw.

Shaw leaves a crowded situation in Boston, where Pablo Sandoval – with a slimming waist-line and bloated contract – was going to push for playing time.  With Sandoval, the addition of Mitch Moreland, and prospects Sam Travis and possibly Rafael Devers making their push from the minors, it is unclear how much playing time Shaw would receive even if was the starter at a corner infield spot to begin the year.  Even if Shaw was able to overcome this challenge, he was likely ticketed for a lineup spot in the bottom third of the order.

Now, with this trade, Shaw appears to be locked in as the starting third baseman on an improving lineup, which needed a quality lefty bat.  Shaw is leaving behind a ballpark with a 93 HR park factor for lefties and going to the third-best HR park factor for players with any handedness – a 120 HR factor for lefties in Milwaukee.

Last year, the Milwaukee lineup was entirely devoid of quality left-handed hitters so let’s take a trip down memory lane to 2015, when Adam Lind called Milwaukee home.  I know you need to wash the bad taste of 2016 of your mouth, where Lind was utterly atrocious in Seattle, but in 2015, Lind was a quality fantasy, strong-side platoon bat.  Across 571 PA, Lind hit 20 HRs, scored 72 Rs and drove in 87 while triple-slashing .277/.360/.460.

Admittedly, Lind is not a perfect comp for Shaw.  Lind has been slightly better than Shaw in his command of the strike zone and patience at the dish.  Plus, his peak on offense is almost certainly higher than whatever we will see from Shaw.  On Shaw’s side, he’s more athletic than the plodding Lind.  It is in the Statcast data, where we can see the similarities between Shaw and 2015 Lind:

Player Max EV Avg FB/LD Dist Avg Dist Avg HR Dist Brls/BBE Brls/PA
Lind (2015) 109.8 93.8 221 401 9% 5.6%
Shaw (2015) 113.3 91.3 233 405 9.3% 5.6%
Shaw (2016) 112.3 93 230 407 8.8% 4.9%

As you can see, Shaw compares closely to Lind in these categories and in some, he even compares more favorably.  Shaw also may have a little more power upside in Milwaukee than Lind because of his flyball tendencies – Shaw has 44% FB% on his career while Lind is a career 35.8% FB hitter and was 35.1% in 2015.  Let’s pencil Shaw in for 23 HRs considering the baseline Lind provides plus more flyballs.

While this might be in Shaw’s favor in the power department, it falls against him in the average department, where a worse strikeout rate will also place him behind Lind.  With a few more balls leaving the yard in Milwaukee, let’s project Shaw for a .258 batting average, which would be his average last year if 8 more of his flyball outs turned into home runs.  If we keep the walk rate flat at 8%, he is at a .320 OBP.

Shaw can make up for the loss of average, not only with a few more home runs, but also with some stolen bases.  Shaw was 5 of 6 on the bases last year and we know that Milwaukee is not afraid to let their players run.  Let’s be conservative and say Shaw steals 8 bases although I would have no issue putting him at 10+ when accounting for volume and the situation.

This gives Shaw a projected line of .258/.320/.460 23 HR, 8 SB with 130-140 Rs+RBI.  This approximates somewhat similarly to the line that Andrew McCutchen gave fantasy owners last year, which while disappointing for McCutchen still was 181 overall and would place Shaw (NFBC ADP: 318.60) as the 16th 3B and a useful bench piece with both 1B and 3B eligibility.  Plus, I think this projection is somewhat conservative given the benefits of Milwaukee, Shaw’s age (26), and the potential for more speed on the basepaths because Milwaukee wants to run, run, run.

Travis Shaw – welcome to the Villar Village!




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