Fantasy Baseball

The Utility Knife: Brandon Drury

In fantasy baseball, tools and the potential upside that they carry come first – we love to dream on 20HR/20SB types with power and speed.  Upside is perceived on a much higher level, much more cherished than floor and utility.  However, particularly in H2H leagues, floor and utility are often overlooked despite having ample value to teams especially with higher risk profiles.  This year, one of my favorite players with multi-position eligibility is Brandon Drury, who also has a pretty safe floor and sneaky upside.

Drury will have 2B, 3B  and OF eligibility in Yahoo! formats.  He is competing for at-bats at 2B this spring, but new Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen endorsed Drury as one of the Diamondbacks best players and that they were going to find a way to get him at-bats.  With that statement, Drury seems like a near certainty to improve upon on last season’s 499 PAs, seeing a majority of the playing time at 2B while mixing in at 3B and OF potentially.

Drury has a strong-average floor of about .275 based on his batted ball and contact profiles.  In fact, Drury could even improve his strikeout rate in his second full season, he was mostly a mid-to-low teens strikeout rate player in the minors.  This is one area of upside, if he can get his strikeout rate down closer to 15%, his average could tick closer to .300.

An all-fields approach plays into Drury’s hands as he has substantial opposite field power.  This really came through in the second half when Drury was able to triple-slash .296/.352/.469 with an increase in Oppo% from 17.9% to 27.2%.  In the second half, Drury was also able to up his walk rate to 8.1% from 4.6% in the first half.  Greater selectivity will provide Drury with more opportunities to add to his run total during the season and also lead to swinging at better pitches.

In the month of September, Drury was red-hot, triple-slashing .357/.417/.633 with a 40% Hard Contact rate. This hard contact rate produced results – Drury hit 6 of his 16 homers during the month.  As a prospect, Drury was seen as a league-average type power prospect and his 18-19 HR full-season pace seems to support that.  However, Drury plays in a plus park for RH power (19% RH HR Park Factor) and power is often the last thing that a hitter develops – see teammate Jake Lamb.

It is easy to see how Drury could begin generating more power from his frame – adding a bigger legkick would allow him to generate more power from his lower half.  The Diamondbacks prospects, particularly similar middling power types like Drury, have a history of making the necessary adjustments to add more power.

That adjustment may also be unnecessary – Drury compares favorably in Statcast data to Neil Walker, who was on a 30 homer pace last year:

Walker 92.8 394 7.0%
Drury 92.8 406 6.2%

Now, this is not to indicate that Drury is a 30 homer bat currently, but rather that Drury is a 20 HR bat with upside for more in the power department if he can make an adjustment.  With upside in both the power and average departments, in a plus lineup and ballpark and without any real downside, Drury is an extremely useful bench piece with eligibility at three spots.

My projection for Brandon Drury: 585 PA, 65 Rs, 21 HR, 72 RBI, 2 SB .285/.350/.445


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