2018 Breakout Watch: Wil Myers

With a further emphasis on not hitting ground balls, can Wil Myers crack the top 5 Fantasy Baseball first baseman in 2018?

According to ESPN, Wil Myers finished 13th among first baseman behind surprising seasons from Travis Shaw (9th), Cody Bellinger (8th), and Marwin Gonzalez (12th) whose position flexibility has him qualifying as a first baseman. Myers did not have a bad year by any means, 30 home runs, 80 runs scored, 83 more driven in, and 20 stolen bases with a .243 average is a good fantasy season. Yet, there is room to improve.

The Change

Myers K% rose from 23.7% in 2016 to 27.7% in 2017. A 3.3 percent increase in Swing% could be the culprit, but I actually like the more aggressive approach going forward. His 80.3% Contact% in 2016 (.259 BA) could be an aberration but within his scope of ability. An increase in swinging strike rate (10.6% in 2017) could be an early warning sign and is something to monitor in 2018.

I think the 2.6 percentage point increase in SwStr% in 2017 is linked to adjusting to a change in approach. Another full offseason of preparing to not hit ground balls could exasperate an already positive trending batted ball profile.

Myers intended and succeeded in hitting fewer ground balls. 2017 saw his FB% rise to 42.9% while his GB% fall to 37.5% both is career bests. While 2018 might not see the same growth, he clearly has made an adjustment to hit more fly balls.

The shift in batted ball profile should follow into 2018, and with an aggressive approach creating a lot of swings early, Myers could take advantage of, presumably, an influx of early count fastballs.

Typically an early count swinger, Myers aggressiveness could play large dividends next season. In 2017, he hit 13 of his 30 home runs off of four-seam fastballs. The aggressive approach lead to a whiff on 6.8% of four-seam fastballs and exposed him to sliders. He whiffed on 14.3% of the sliders he saw.While this is an obvious and exploitable flaw, it should be noted that he had a combined .279 BA on four-seam fastballs and sliders. The combination of aggressiveness and swing change has already paid dividends with 50% of contact made on fastballs were fly balls.

While this is an obvious and exploitable flaw, it should be noted that he had a combined .279 BA on four-seam fastballs and sliders. The combination of aggressiveness and swing change has already paid dividends with 50% of contact made on fastballs were fly balls.

Fantasy Impact

His career 144 wRC+ on fastballs furthers my hunch on a potential breakout. That number dipped to 111 in 2017, but should find its way back to a career mark of 144 in 2018. I think the potential is there for Myers to cross into the 40 home run tier while also contributing 20 stolen bases. Just looking at fastballs, Myer’s 2016 HR/FB of 33% might be an anomaly, but it’s again within his realm of talent. The Padres’ offense is getting better around Wil Myers, but without a clear understanding of who’s going to make the roster, it would be hard to predict run totals.

Myers isn’t going to sneak past anyone in drafts. You are more than likely going to get 25+ home runs, 15+ steals, and a .240 batting average on the low-end, and on the tip-top of the high-end, you would get the 2012 version of Ryan Braun. If you agree with me, Myers might be worth the reach as he fully immerses himself in the Elevation Evolution.