Will Jimmy Paredes' Production Continue?
Jimmy Paredes has been fantasy baseball waiver wire gold for the Baltimore Orioles through the early stages of the MLB season. The super utility man has been scorching hot, slashing to the tune of .311/.341/.503. But are these numbers sustainable?
Unless Paredes has the difficulty mode set to "rookie", it's unlikely. But just how much of his early success is fluke, and how much of it is authentic?
By the Numbers
Although the small sample size rule is in effect here in analyzing the numbers, there are certain things we can look at in further detail to get a better look at the forecast. In 58 games and 225 plate appearances during his two stints in a Baltimore uniform, Paredes is slashing .308/.338/.500 with an OPS+ of 132. Either there's something in the water at Camden Yards, or the hitting instructors in Maryland do one heck of a job, as Paredes joins the likes of Chris Davis and Steve Pearce as hitters who have performed well beyond their previous tenure as Orioles.
Given his BABIP sits at a robust .393, regression is of course in order, and the Paredes parade will dwindle from the heights of the Macy's Day Parade, to that of your garden-variety -- yet respectable -- hometown Labor Day parade. In essence, his play will come down to earth from its current standing, but there will still be the occasional firework, and there will still be value.
The fact is, Parades has posted an encouraging 26.7 line-drive percentage. This number is essential to posting high BABIPs -- as well as batting averages -- as it correlates with the rate at which he hits the baseball hard. There's typically a connection between line drives and base hits, as they are more difficult to field than ground balls or fly balls, and thus have a higher probability of rendering a base knock.
By the Pitch
Another way to explain Paredes' early breakout -- and help forecast the remainder of his season -- surrounds the pitches he's seeing, and how he's responding to them. We'll take a look at PITCHf/x (courtesy of FanGraphs.com) in order to see what pitches he's hitting well, and which offerings may present him some trouble in the coming future.
For some background on this statistic, zero is average, positive produces value, and negative provides for below league average value. No surprise here, but Parades is hitting the fastball well, posting 3.0 fastball runs above average.
With regard to the breaking ball, he's posted positive values across the board, with 3.6 slider runs above average and a 1.4 curveball runs above average. Given historical context, it's possible that Paredes could post positive value with the respective breaking pitches as he has had success with the offerings previously.
A pitch that Paredes has struggled with during his big league stint has been the changeup, with a career total of -6.2 changeup runs above average, and this will likely be a cause for struggle moving forward.
In summary, he'll likely still hit the fastball well, performance against the slider will regress to a healthy degree, the change-up will be the bane of his existence, and he should remain stagnant or slightly improve his performance against the curveball. This, of course, all depends on how pitchers choose to attack him.
Some Regression Due
Lastly, we can take a look at Paredes' plate discipline, contact and swing percentages. Other than a sky-high BABIP, this is probably the best tool in forecasting regression.
FanGraphs defines Z-Swing% as the rate at which a batter swings at pitches inside the strike zone. His Z-swing% is in a much better place thus far this year, at a career high of 79.6%, up from 71.9% last year. By swinging at more pitches in the strike zone, he is selecting higher quality pitches, thus rendering his chances for a well hit ball greater. This would help explain his success thus far. Unless Paredes has made permanent changes to that swinging tendency, then we will see that rate fall closer to his career average and his batting average on balls in play will follow in trending south.
Paredes' value doesn't come from him channeling the likes of George Herman Ruth, but from his super-utility versatility and the pop and speed that comes along with it. I say everything to say this: The Paredes parade will not continue, but this year may turn out to be a bit of a revelation for the 26 year old. The Orioles have a good, versatile piece that they should be able to plug and play if his stick continues to perform above career average.