Can Trevor Story Be a Fantasy Baseball Hero?
This is turning out to be quite a good story.
Colorado's 23-year-old shortstop Trevor Story is tearing it up this spring and, as a result, is the leading candidate to be the team's starting shortstop on Opening Day. He has the opportunity, thanks to the suspension of Jose Reyes, who may not play at all for the Rockies this year after domestic violence allegations against him.
Story leads the Rockies in both homers (4) and RBI (10) and has a slash line of .321/.424/.857 and an OPS of 1.281. Yes, these are just spring training numbers, so that caveat of course applies. But the youngster is doing some serious damage and has almost certainly earned himself the starting gig.
I mean, look at this oppo-boppo shot from a few days ago.
— Colorado Rockies (@Rockies) March 14, 2016
That is some straight-up, legit power the other way, the kind of power that will play well in Denver's thin air. And it's not like Story has been a stranger to the longball during his minor league career.
|2014 - R||.419||.163||97||1||107||11.3||26.8|
In 575 plate appearances between Double-A and Triple-A last year, Story hit 20 homers, although his overall production was better at Double-A. Throughout his career, he's been known as a guy with good pop for a shortstop but one who has trouble making contact, as evidenced by his strikeout rate. However, last year saw an improvement in that area, going from 34.6% of plate appearances in 2014 to around 24.5% last season.
And as FanGraphs' Jeff Sullivan noted, just a quarter of the balls that left his bat last year were on the ground. Three-quarters of everything he came into contact with was either a line drive or a fly ball. For the rest of his minor league career, that ground ball rate was anywhere from 30% to 35%,
If you are a Rockies player and you play half your home games in a stadium where the outfield has more open space that most state parks and last year served up the fifth-most homers per game, according to ESPN Park Factors, hitting a lot of fly balls is a good thing.
And this is not some scrub who has suddenly backed into a great spring. Story is the Rockies' number 11 prospect, according to MLB.com, in a system that is widely regarded as one of the very best in baseball. He's a legit prospect with potential.
So if you're preparing for a full-season fantasy draft, what should you do about Story? While I certainly wouldn't plan on making him my starting shortstop just yet, he is a Colorado middle infielder with homer ability. And one should never ignore Rockies hitters who will get lots of at-bats.
I wouldn't wait too long before taking a flier on him late in the draft. Right now, his average draft position is in the 310 to 320 range overall and is going 20 to 26 among MLB shortstops. Stash him on your bench late and see if he turns into something useful.
And pray for a high HR/FB rate.