Nolan Arenado: Buy Or Sell?
Back in 2010, I gushed about Nolan Arenado. A little known prospect at the time, his ability to make contact was special and resulted in many hard hit balls to the opposite field. At the time, he was a bat first guy with awkward movements at third base. Today, Arenado has the defensive metrics of an elite third baseman with a triple slash line of .269/.302/.408. With a wRC+ of 80, Arenado’s bat has been 17% less potent than Mark Reynolds, a player released this season.
An even better comparison may be Matt Dominguez, a former top prospect who was exiled from Miami and became the starting third baseman by default for the Houston Astros. At 23, Dominguez was unowned in most formats and has been a waiver wire hot potato for owners hoping for a quick boost during one of his hot streaks. He has been 10% more valuable on offense than Arenado this season.
So what does this mean for the value of Nolan Arenado in dynasty formats?
First, Arenado has been the elite contact player I expected him to be. A 13.7% strikeout rate is impressive considering the uptick in strikeouts league wide over the past few years. With experience, the number should continue to drop unless the Rockies decide to drastically alter his approach.
On the flip side, his propensity for contact has also kept his walk rate down to 4.4%. His .296 BABIP is about what it should be considering Arenado’s lack of speed. From scouting players like Arenado, it’s safe to say the combination of excellent contact and few walks has resulted in his giving at bats away against Major League pitching.
If his improved defense is any indication, Arenado will set sights on improving in that area. Remember, this is a player who was “destined to move to first base” by most. In this instance, a proven track record of improvement in a weak area bodes well for the future.
The most positive spin I can place on Arenado’s season is to play Player A vs. Player B.
Player A: .269/.302/.408 with a .296 BABIP — obviously Arenado
Player B: .282/.313/.431 with a .324 BABIP
Player B was bantered about as one of the elite young hitters in the game with Bryce Harper and Mike Trout after a torrid start. He’s a year-plus younger than Arenado which makes him better over the long haul, but normalize the BABIP and the offensive totals are similar. That player is Manny Machado.
If Machado enters the off-season as the overvalued hero, I’ll happily deal for the undervalued Arenado for what I perceive to be a fraction of the price. Antsy owners may be willing to pull the trigger with a little coaxing. Once a player who’s supposed to be the next big thing proves not to be, patience runs short. Buy low in all formats and be willing to pay more in 5×5 where Arenado can’t ding your OBP.
3 Feb 2014 / Mike Newman /
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