Fantasy Baseball: What Is Logan Forsythe's Value in Los Angeles?
There has been no shortage of hype this offseason surrounding the 2017 Los Angeles Dodgers' lineup. The excitement has reached new heights now that Los Angeles has sent pitching prospect Jose De Leon to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for versatile infielder Logan Forsythe.
He’s not exactly Brian Dozier (not quite, anyway), but Forsythe is no slouch -- he’s enjoyed a mini-breakout with the Rays over the past two seasons, slugging a career high 20 home runs in 2016 along with 76 runs scored and 52 batted in.
With Forsythe apparently entrenched as the Dodgers’ every day second baseman and leadoff hitter, fantasy owners are looking at a potential late-round bargain with terrific plate discipline and a promising runs scored ceiling atop a stacked Dodgers lineup.
But what do the underlying numbers say about Forsythe’s potential as a fantasy asset?
Is the On-Base Hype Real?
Forsythe gets a fair amount of hype for his batting eye (and rightly so -- more on that later), but his status as an on-base percentage (OBP) maven is perhaps a bit overstated.
His .359 OBP from 2015, Forsythe’s first season as a full-timer with the Rays, was indeed a top-40 mark across all of baseball that year. The thing is, that number wasn’t generated by a major increase in walk rate (8.9% that year compared to a career 8.1% clip) but rather by a somewhat fluky .281 batting average. In 2015, Forsythe posted the highest soft-contact percentage since his rookie year along with a career-best .323 batting average on balls in play (BABIP), so it’s no surprise that he regressed to a more modest .264 batting average and .333 OBP in 2016.
Still, that regression was fueled a bit by a 22.4% strikeout rate, the highest season-long mark that Forsythe’s posted in the majors. If he inches closer to his career 20% strikeout rate, a .270 batting average and .340 OBP seem to be in play.
In any case, while Forsythe doesn’t seem like a truly excellent average and on base asset, the smart money is on him producing marks in these categories that will be plus values for fantasy owners.
Whether these marks translate to the kind of run scored production that would make Forsythe a true draft day steal is, of course, largely dependent on the lineup that surrounds him. And the move from Tampa Bay to Los Angeles seems like it should help, in theory.
That said, as mediocre as the Rays were last year with runners in scoring position (a .756 OPS in such situations, 16th in the league), the Dodgers were actually worse (.742 OPS, 22nd in the league).
Now, these numbers aren’t foolproof indications of the quality of a given offense -- after all, the San Diego Padres were sixth-best in the majors with their .777 OPS with runners in scoring position, yet they finished well into the bottom half of the league in runs scored -- but they should give us some pause when assuming that Forsythe’s counting stats will simply be amplified by default. There is, of course, a lot in play here that is not in Forsythe’s control.
There are, however, two factors well within Forsythe’s control that will likely make or break his season as a potential fantasy bargain: whether his recent power breakout is sustainable, and whether he can turn his selective plate approach into tangible fantasy production. Fortunately for us, these two issues seem to be linked.
Forsythe’s plate discipline numbers since his mini-breakout with the Rays in 2015 show that he is good at making contact both in (Z-Contact%) and out (O-Contact%) of the zone, though one may be able to argue he's almost too selective.
|Forsythe in 2015||24.2%||57.7%||40.4%||70.7%||89.1%||83.4%|
|2015 League Average||30.6%||66.9%||46.9%||64.9%||86.7%||78.8%|
|Forsythe in 2016||22.1%||58.7%||39.6%||64.7%||85.4%||79.4%|
|2016 league Average||30.3%||66.7%||46.5%||63.9%||86.3%||78.2%|
Forsythe's ability to lay off of non-strikes is downright stingy, but the well below average zone swing percentage (Z-Swing%) does suggest that perhaps Forsythe is too selective at times. After all, a player like Joey Votto, in many ways the prototypical selective power hitter, routinely tallies an above average zone swing rate -- he recognizes and pounces on the pitches that are worth hitting.
But perhaps Forsythe is making strides in this area after all. The fact that in 2016 Forsythe showed a slight dip in overall contact percentage yet a career high in both hard-contact rate (36%) and home run to fly ball rate (14.7%) could suggest one of two things -- he got lucky on fly balls in 2016, or he’s on the verge of some sort of approach breakthrough.
Forsythe’s isolated slugging splits seem to suggest the latter.
|Season||Pull ISO||Center ISO||Oppo ISO|
Look at the tremendous spike in opposite field power. Indeed, Forsythe hit 8 of his 20 homers to the opposite field last year, which could indicate that he’s expanding his range at the plate.
A continuation of this trend in 2017 (along with some growth, however marginal, in Forsythe’s in zone swing rates) would go a long way toward indicating that he is developing his approach in a manner that will be beneficial for his fantasy production.
Value In Context
There are a lot of variables in play for Forsythe in 2017, some of which are outside of his control, but if he falls low enough in drafts, he could prove to be a nice low-cost fantasy asset.
But that “if” is not a given -- Forsythe’s rank in the FantasyPros expert consensus has risen nearly 60 spots since his move to Los Angeles.
Indeed, Forsythe is trending dangerously close to no longer being a low-cost, high-yield flier. There’s plenty of promising fantasy value in the range he’s currently being ranked, alongside players like Ender Inciarte, Devon Travis, Keon Broxton and Curtis Granderson.
Let's look at how Forsythe's Steamer projections compare to those players.
|Ender Inciarte Steamer
|Devon Travis Steamer||203.7||13||67||54||7||.274||.319|
|Keon Broxton Steamer||206.5||15||60||50||29||.222||.305|
|Logan Forsythe Steamer||210.6||18||76||60||9||.258||.329|
|Curtis Granderson Steamer
There's some nice potential for steals production from Inciarte and Broxton, and the prospect of power upside with Granderson always looms. Still, it’s clear enough that, given his potential to out pace the Steamer average projections here, as well as his ample ceiling in runs scored, Forsythe seems like the best overall value in the group.
But if the helium on Forsythe and the Dodgers’ lineup continues to mount and Forsythe begins creeping into the mid-teen rounds on draft day, sensible owners might want to look elsewhere. At his current cost, though, he's still a good deal.