Of course, baseball is hard. Although Robles did club 17 homers in 2019, it came with an ordinary .255/.326/.419 slash line — an OPS+ of 91. That basically means Robles was 9% worse than a league-average offensive player. The two seasons that followed were even uglier, in part because Robles couldn’t make consistent contact or get on base.
But maybe there’s reason for optimism in 2023. Robles is off to a snappy .412/.487/.471 start, with a couple of steals. More importantly, he’s controlling his at-bats. He has already walked five times — this from a player who drew just 17 walks in 132 games last year — and he has struck out only three times. We know K/BB ratio stabilizes quickly and has meaning before April is through. Perhaps Robles is giving us some signal, not just noise.
I’m curious if the Nationals offer Robles a lineup promotion soon. He has been parked eighth and ninth all year, but this is not a deep roster. Producing players deserve better real estate.
Perhaps the most important number is 26 — that’s the age Robles turns in the middle of May. He’s still on the front nine of his career. Prospect development is not always linear. If you’re looking to chase some plausible upside, he’s widely available, rostered in a modest 5% of Yahoo leagues.
Is this the Alec Bohm year?
Speaking of prospect development timetables, I wonder if this is the awaited breakout season for Alec Bohm. If it does happen, I want you to know my buddy Joe Dolan saw it coming.
You probably know Joe if you’re a fantasy football player. He’s part of the dynamic crew over at Fantasy Points, he’s a regular contributor to the Sirius Fantasy channel (the Sunday show in season with Paul Kelly is terrific), and we’ve had him on Yahoo pods before. Good guy, smart guy.
Dolan is also a Phillies fan, and he texted me the “Bohm breakout season coming” note back in March. I tucked it in my pocket, grabbing a Bohm share here or there.
Early returns are juicy. Bohm is off to a .351/.415/.649 start with three homers. Most of his key Statcast sliders are pinned to the right, most notably his hard-hit rate (95th percentile). He has earned that juicy slash line.
Bohm was the third overall pick of the 2018 draft. His prospect ranking peaked before the pandemic season, with him charting 28th, 30th and 40th on the three main prospect boards. Last year, he was a league-average offensive player, with a .280 average (lovely) but just 13 homers and a .398 slugging percentage (below code for a third baseman).
Like Robles, Bohm is in his age-26 season. Bohm also has a better lineup around him and will soon be adding first-base eligibility in Yahoo.
To be fair, there’s also a cold water case. Another buddy of mine, Joe Sheehan, talked about Bohm in his Tuesday Newsletter (highly recommended), acknowledging Bohm’s hard-hit rate but also noting a drop in launch angle. With that, Bohm is still hitting a ton of ground balls. Let me give you Sheehan’s conclusion on this case:
"[Bohm is] still hitting a lot of balls on the ground, though, and his average launch angle has dropped to 7.3 degrees. What’s enabling him to get around that is hitting the ball very hard: 17 batted balls of at least 95 mph, a top-15 number. Bohm is hitting .385 on ground balls in a league that hits .244 on them. It’s not an unheard-of result — Billy Hamilton hit .393 on grounders in 2016, and other right-handed batters have been above .360 in recent years — but it will be hard to sustain. If Bohm is really going to break out, he has to get more balls in the air, as he did against Devin Smeltzer late in last night’s blowout."
Knowledge is good. It will be fun to see where the story goes from here. Bohm's roster tag is over 80%, so I want to be clear that he isn't being presented as a pickup. But he could be an interesting buy-high or sell-high, depending on how you interpret the early results.
It's almost last call for Andrew Chafin
We’re getting close to last call on Arizona lefty Andrew Chafin, who’s quickly marking his ninth-inning territory. Chafin has a win, two saves and 4.1 clean innings thus far, with seven strikeouts. He mowed down the Brewers 1-2-3 on Monday, putting Zac Gallen’s win in the bank. Arizona getaway, getaway.
Scott McGough was also in the early save running for Arizona, but he blew an opportunity last week and has worked as a setup man in his previous two appearances. Possession of the baton is 90% of the save battle.
Although the market has been active lately, Chafin is available in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues. I suspect the Diamondbacks might be a little underrated at the moment; perhaps they can play .500 ball. This is a situation worth chasing.