A.J. Pollock Replacement Options

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With all apologies to Christmas, there is an argument for this being the most wonderful time of the year and my body would agree with that as I’m actually healthy and not battling the double play combo of the Flu & Pneumonia like I was during the most recent holiday season. That aside, this is the first time in several months where we get to see baseball games that actually count and start to see whether all the hot takes related to the off-season will come true or are totally wrong.

One team that made a major splash in the off-season was the Arizona Diamondbacks and there has been a lot of speculation of whether or not they will be contenders this year. It was expected that A.J. Pollock was going to be a major part of this process.  A.J. Pollock was expected to be a major part of this process until he fractured his elbow.

This is also making a major impact on Fantasy owners as well. In many leagues, Pollock was drafted in the 2nd and 3rd round and now players that owned him, are scrambling to find ways to replace him. Here are some possible A.J. Pollock replacement options ranked by how likely they are to help this year. These are all players that have seen a recent uptick in Fantasy Ownership but are owned in less than 50% of leagues (based on ESPN) and are ranked based on how likely they are to help your team this year.

5 – Socrates Brito, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks

It’s fitting that Brito is on this list as he is someone who will be getting more playing time as a direct result of this injury.  Coming into this year, his track record in the majors is very limited (34 PA) but  he did hold his own, batting .303 while scoring five runs.

Still, I wouldn’t go banking on these similar type numbers over the course of an entire season. The .303 AVG he hit was aided by a .385 BABIP and he only walked in 2.9% of plate appearances. Looking at his minor league numbers, he may give you strong contributions in the stolen base category but expecting anything beyond that is likely asking too much.

4 – Brock Holt, OF, Boston Red Sox, 14.8% (Also 2B & 3B Eligible)

Going into last year, it appeared that Holt was going to regress as his .281 AVG was aided by a .349 BABIP. However, he managed to replicate this for a second consecutive season as his BABIP and AVG were nearly identical last season (1 point difference in each). One other encouraging thing is that he improved his walk & strikeout rate last season as well.

Even with a longer established track record of BABIP inflated batting averages, there are better options out there than Holt. At best case, he will somewhat help with your batting average and throw in a few stolen bases. However, Holt will come nowhere near replacing the power that Pollock was likely to provide this year.

3 – Jackie Bradley Jr. OF, Boston Red Sox

To paraphrase Eminem, will the real Jackie Bradley Jr. please stand up. The reason to ask this question is because the last two seasons have shown us two different versions of Bradley as a hitter. The 2014 version was absolutely awful and only received 423 PA due to his strong defensive abilities. While the 2015 version did have its drawbacks (.249 AVG), he also provided 10 HR and 43 RBI in only 255 PA.

While 2015’s results were promising, expectations would need to be tempered. At this point, it’s unclear how much of his 17.9% HR/FB rate is sustainable, especially since his power numbers in the minor leagues were not very high. Also, he did still strike out at a high rate (27.1%) last year and he will need to improve this total before his batting average has a chance to go up.

2 – Kevin Kiermaier, OF, Tampa Bay Rays

If only defensive metrics were measured in Fantasy Baseball, Kiermaier would already be on the rosters of several more fantasy teams. With that being said, he is a widely available option that is capable of providing some power and speed (10 HR/18 SB). One other concern however is that his batting average was not that great last year (.263) and that his walk rate trended in the wrong direction.

1- Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers

While Kiermaier is likely the safer option, Santana offers a stronger upside (granted that’s also with some bias thrown in as I’m a Brewers fan looking for glimmers of hope in what is likely to be a losing season).

Santana is one of several players who is getting an opportunity to demonstrate what they can do as the Brewers work to rebuild. Last year, he demonstrated the ability to hit for plenty of power (8 HR in 187 PA) and 20+ HR over the course of a full season is not out of question. However, with that power there is a trade-off between that and what could be a very poor batting average (he hit .238 last season despite having a .330 BABIP. The decision on whether or not to pick up Santana will come down to how much of your batting average you are willing to sacrifice in return for what should be some solid power numbers.

All ownership rates based on ESPN

All numbers cited found on fangraphs.com

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