Blind résumé: Thoughts about 2014 SS rankings

Take a look at stat lines by two different shortstops since July 22.

Player A: 205 PA, .267/.348/.352, 1 HR, 25 R, 8 RBI, 17 SB (7 CS)
Player B: 209 PA, .241/.268/.322, 1 HR, 19 R, 13 RBI, 14 SB (8 CS)

Can you guess who they are?

Is it going to blow your mind? (Probably not — if you’re the owner of the more popular player, you’re well aware of his recent performance.)

Player A is the Houston Astros’ Jonathan Villar. Player B is the Milwaukee Brewers’ Jean Segura. July 22 is the day Villar debuted.

Like I said, Segura’s owners know he has been struggling, which raises a legitimate question: What should fantasy owners expect from Segura next year? I’ll guess most projections will split the difference between his first and second halves, but honestly, that may be too optimistic considering how long his struggles have lasted.

Meanwhile, Villar continues to fly under the radar for the lowly Astros. As you can see above, he has more stolen bases, more attempts and a better success rate across almost the same number of plate appearances as Segura. But that’s not anywhere near the most important part of this post. Look again at their on-base percentages from the sample:

Villar: .348 OBP
Segura: .268 OBP

Villar has gotten on base 8 percent more often than Segura has, which is a huge margin. Villar strikes out way too much — compare his 58 K’s to Segura’s 33 since July 22 — and that will likely weigh down his batting average. But his 10.8 percent walk rate is helping him get on base, which equates to runs and stolen bases.

The Astros batted Villar lead-off for 12 games, but he struck out in one-third of his plate appearances before they pushed him down to the bottom of the order. Eighteen games and a .313 batting average later, they moved him back up to the lead-off spot.

I’m probably alone in thinking Villar deserves any kind of hype for next year. He’ll be playing for a terrible team (which, really, won’t be as bad in 2014 as it was in 2013), so the potential for counting stats is not as promising. But a lead-off batter who can at least hit .250 and walk 10 percent of the time deserves a look, especially when the dude tries to steal basically every time he reaches base.

Villar is the poor man’s Everth Cabrera, and I think he will at least rival Cabrera’s performance next year, if not exceed it. Villar will be among the top of my bold predictions when I make them next year, but you can have the spoiler alert now: Villar is a top-10 shortstop in 2014 with top-5 upside.

As for Segura… I don’t know, man. Flash in the pan?

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