Here at Scout Fantasy Sports, we formulate our own opinions and don’t listen to the herd. That’s why what we’re about to say is going to shock you: Minnesota Twins OF Byron Buxton will provide more value than Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge in 2018. Check out their profiles from our 2018 Fantasy Baseball Team Outlook series, written by Shawn Childs!
OF Byron Buxton, Minnesota Twins
The Buxton skill set still has some cracks in his approach (29.4 percent K rate), but his star looks ready to shine brightly. His bat was a disaster over his first 78 games (.195 with four HRs, 14 RBI, and 14 SBs over 236 at-bats). Over this span, Byron struck out 82 times in 263 plate appearances (31.1 percent). On July 4th, his swing started to come into form. He had ten hits over his next 21 at-bats with a home run, two RBI, and two SBs, but a groin injury pushed him on the DL for 17 days. In August, Buxton hit .324 with 22 runs, eight HRs, 22 RBI, and eight SBs to help Fantasy teams make a jump in the standings. His K rate dropped to 23.3 percent for the month while only taking five walks. Byron regressed in September (.270 with 17 runs, three HRs, 13 RBI, and five SBs over 100 at-bats). He had a 32.1 percent K rate over the last four weeks of the year. Buxton had the most success against lefties (.282 with four HRs and 13 RBI over 131 at-bats). He had a more balanced swing path in 2017 with a slight bump in his HR/FB rate (14.2). In his minor league career, Byron did a much better job controlling the strike zone (K rate – 21.1 and walk rate – 10.4). With an ADP of about 50 in the early draft season, Buxton does have risk due to his high volume of Ks. His AVH (1.632) is strong enough to deliver 20+ HRs, and his speed points to 50 SBs upside if given the full green light (29-for-30 in steals in 2017). Worth his price point as long as you can cover his batting average risk. If he gets to the top of the batting order, Byron should score over 120 runs in 550 at-bats. His aggressive style in the field does invite injuries. Difference maker skill set.
OF Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
Judge led the AL in runs (128), HRs (52), walks (127), and strikeouts (208). His bat was incredible over the first three months of the season (.326 with 27 HRs and 62 RBI over 273 at bats). Over this span, he struck out 28.7 percent of the time with a huge walk rate (20.3). In July and August, pitchers seemed to catch up with his game (.206 with ten HRs and 20 RBI). HIs K rate rose to 35.9 percent with continued success in walks (18.3 percent). Aaron caught his second wind in September (.311 with 15 HRs and 32 RBI over 90 at bats) with a nice rebound in his K rate (26.4). On the year, Judge finished with a 30.7 percent K rate and 18.7 percent walk rate. Both of these numbers were stronger than his minor league career (24.7 and 12.5). Even with four HRs and 11 RBI over 48 at bats in the playoffs, Aaron did whiff 27 times in 57 plate appearances. Over three seasons in the minors, Judge hit .278 with 56 HRs, 215 RBI, and 13 SBs in 1,297 at bats. In the offseason, he had minor surgery on his left shoulder. Strikeouts can be doom to a young hitter in the majors. His success sets a high bar, but Judge still has some downside risk. The key to his success last year was huge contact batting average (.461), which wasn’t supported fully at any level in the minors. I expect a big pullback in his batting average even with a 35/90 type season. Don’t overpay for a career year with really one edge category (home runs).
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