After wrapping up the NL Central Boom and Bust candidates, we wrap up the last two divisions between the NL East and AL Central. This week we will focus on the NL East, starting with the boom candidates. For my boom candidates, I chose 3 players in all very unique circumstances. One player came out in 2020 and lit it up in the shortened season but completely busted in 2021. Another player showed great signs in 2021 of what he could do for a Marlins lineup that really need a difference maker. The last player was knocking on the door to the bigs and finally got his opportunity after being traded to the Nationals.
Alec Bohm – (PHI – 3B)
In 2020, we saw the first rounder in the 2018 draft out of Wichita State get the call up to play 3B for the Phillies and absolutely light it up! Across 44 games, Bohm posted a .338 BA with 11 HR’s and a great K/BB ratio. Based off his minor league career, it was a little surprising to see him have instant success but the power was not a surprise at all with the exit velocities he was posting in the minors. 2021 was a much different story however for Bohm. He posted 15HR’s with a .247 BA and a .305 OBP. His barrel percentage dropped from 10% to 6%. If you look only at the two years however from a production standpoint instead of looking deeper into numbers, this is a player you will miss greatly on.
In 2021 we saw Alec Bohm post a 92 MPH exit velo with a hard hit percentage at 49.5. These were both way above league averages. One area we have always seen him struggle with however is with his launch angle. In 2020, we saw his launch angle sit around 4.8 degrees. In 2021, we saw it raise to 5.6 but he still posted a ground ball rate above 50% which has been a key component to his struggles. This however was not the reason for his main struggle, which was his batting average against fastballs. Between 2020 and 2021, Bohm’s BA dropped .150 points against the fastball and he had a whiff rate 7% higher in 2021. He was very much an anomaly to most big league hitters where he posted a much higher BA against off-speed/breaking balls but this was not uncommon for him where he posted a .364 BA against breaking balls in 2020.
What to take away from all of this information. Hitters can make adjustments against the fastballs much easier then off-speed/breaking balls. Over his 597 plate appearances, he has posted a BA above .300 between the two years so there is little reason to believe that it will change and if he can bring his BA against fastballs up to .250 in 2022, he should easily bat .280. When it comes to Bohm’s power, his launch angles has been his kryptonite but he slightly raised it in 2021. If Bohm could raise his launch angle over 7 degrees, I believe he easily could post a 25 HR season.
Prediction: 280 BA, 22 HR’s, 75 RBI’s, .335 OBP
Jazz Chisholm – (MIA – 2B)
Lets just say, I could not avoid to talk about a player that raised his home run trot from 20 seconds to 25 seconds. When it comes to Jazz, he is a very exciting player to watch and a lot of expectations sit around him being involved in the Zac Gallen trade. During the 2020 season, we only saw a small sample size but he was not impressive at all. He showed his aggressiveness at the plate and due to his short stint in AAA, it was a wake up call for him on the caliber of pitching. In 2021, we finally saw Jazz start to break out during his first full season. He posted a .248 BA with 18HR’s and 23 SB. Some would say that this was his breakout season which is very fair, but I do believe there is much more for him to offer going into 2022.
In 2021, Jazz only played 124 games due to some minor injuries and spending a little time in AAA. If Jazz were to continue on his pace in 2021 and play a minimum of 150 games, he would have put up 22 HR’s and stolen 28 bases. Jazz also raised his exit velocity in 2021 by 3MPH and his hard hit rate by 12%. One number that climbed for Jazz in a negative way however was his groundball percentage which jumped 13% from 2020 which was very unlike his previous numbers in the minor leagues that sat around 35% from A ball up to AAA. If you His launch angle also dipped below 10 degrees which was a clear indicator on why his ground ball percentage climbed.
Expect to see Jazz continue his path on his exit velo and hard hit rate climbing after his first full year of development in the bigs as well as gaining a little bit of weight/muscle. Between the extra exit velo, lowering his groundball rate and getting a full 150 games in during the 2022 campaign, look to see him bat .260, 25 HR’s with 30 SB. Jazz will never hold a high OBP due to his aggressiveness but expect it to climb to .320 in 2022.
Keibert Ruiz – (WAS – C)
Now many of you will question why we are talking about someone that is expected to have a productive 2022 so I will keep this short. In AAA across 72 games, Keibert posted 21 HR’s with a .310 BA and a .377 OBP. There is no surprise that he would get called up and after being traded to the Nationals, it was very clear his path to the bigs was all set. With his amazing contact skills, it was expected it would easily convert over when he would have his debut. This however was not the case in most people’s eyes because in his small sample size in 2021, he batted .273 with 3 HR’s across 96 plate appearances and 29 games.
I look at that small sample size quite differently however then most people. If you average his numbers if he were to play 150 games, Keibert would have hit between 15-16 HR’s with 76 RBI’s and 52 runs scored. This is a very positive way to look at the small sample size we saw from him but based off his batting average and OBP combined with his other stats, he would have been the 7th best ranked catcher in a points league and top 10 in roto leagues. Based off what he was able to accomplish in the minors however, there is reason to believe that this would be the floor for him. Keibert posted an exit velo that was 2MPH harder then what he posted in the bigs and based off his great plate discipline and ability to make contact, there is no reason to believe that his HR’s and slugging won’t climb higher. Expect Keibert in 2022 to post a .275 BA, 19 HR’s, 75 RBI’s and 65 runs scored. This could easily push him around the top 5 range for catchers if Varsho doesn’t out-produce him.