Player Profile: Brett Lawrie

“The man who knows it can’t be done counts the risk, not the reward.” Elbert Hubbard

Lawrie's intensity can lead to injury but this year it can help win fantasy titles

Lawrie’s intensity can lead to injury but this year it can help win fantasy titles

What a difference a year makes. In NFBC drafts up to March 26th last year Brett Lawrie was taken on average at pick 75.92 and Eric Hosmer lasted twenty selections after at 95.73. Unfortunately for Lawrie, the fantasy community has seemingly forgotten the promise he displayed two years ago and he has dropped to 151.7 in NFBC drafts while Hosmer has ascended to pick 51.26 in 2014. You may be asking yourself, why am I reading about Hosmer when this is a Brett Lawrie profile? The answer lies within the numbers and how each player is perceived. After 2011 Lawrie was a much hyped third baseman that burned owners in fantasy early in 2013. He was injured for some of that time and the Blue Jays tinkered with their lineup trying Lawrie at second base. Needless to say this did not help him in his development. But his second half offers hope. In order to achieve my hypothesis on the similarities between the two corner infielders, I need to look back in order to look forward.

Entering last season Eric Hosmer had 1058 at bats in the major leagues before re-establishing himself as a fantasy asset. Meahwhile, Lawrie entering this season has 1045 at bats in the majors. So even though Lawrie had his at bats spread over the course of three seasons, he is at about the same developmental point that Hosmer was last year. For comparisons sake, here are their seasons and averages using their first 1000+ at bats:

Player

AB

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG/OBP/SLG

Eric Hosmer

1058

131

33

138

27

262/319/411

Brett Lawrie

1045

140

31

119

29

269/328/427

I was surprised to see almost how identical their numbers were over almost the same amount of professional at bats. More shocking was that Lawrie had the higher slash lines between the two players. It is true that Lawrie did not have the full sophomore slump that Hosmer did. But this suggests they are at similar career arcs. Just remember, for Hosmer this was going into 2013 and for Lawrie it is for this year. To further illustrate my point, and for a basis of forecasting Lawrie for 2014, here are both players numbers from the chart averaged out to reflect playing a 150 game season:

  • Eric Hosmer 150 G Averages – 70 R, 18 HR, 74 RBI, 14 SB 262/319/411
  • Brett Lawrie 150 G Averages – 76 R, 17 HR, 65 RBI, 16 SB 269/328/427

Be it circumstance or researching luck, during each player’s low points in batting average another similarity emerged. In 2012 Hosmer struggled batting against right handed pitching even though his career numbers are strong against them. So of course, in 2013 Lawrie fell victim to the same problem though his was against left handed pitchers as he bats right handed. See the chart below:

Player

Year

Splits

AVG/OBP/SLG

LD%

Eric Hosmer

2012

vs RHP

238/315/385

20.4

 

Career

vs RHP

282/341/457

20.7

Brett Lawrie

2013

vs LHP

219/269/344

20

 

Career

vs LHP

280/328/411

22.7

The correction that Hosmer experienced in 2013 against right handed pitching enabled him to hit 291/353/451 with a LD% of 22.4. I am not saying that Lawrie will achieve the same in 2014 against left handed pitching, but last year was an outlier batting against southpaws and a return to his career averages against them allows for growth in his batting average. Taking a look at Lawrie’s peripheral numbers from the last three years:

Brett Lawrie

LD%

FB%

HR/FB%

BB%

K%

ISO

2011

16.9

44.9

17

9.4

18.1

287

2012

20

29.8

9

6.2

16

132

2013

17.4

34.1

9.6

6.8

15.4

142

Career

18.6

33.5

10.7

6.9

16.1

158

Unfortunately, they do not. While he has reduced his strikeout rate, his walk rate has dropped as well. He hit more line drives in 2012 but fewer fly balls and he has not matched his rookie season HR/FB% though that is a small sample size. Being that Lawrie’s numbers above create an enigma, taking a look at his first and second half splits from last year illustrates why I am bullish on Lawrie this year:

  • Lawrie 1H – 39 G, 11 R, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 2 SB 204/261/361
  • Lawrie 2H – 68 G, 30 R, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 7 SB 283/346/417

More importantly here are his peripheral stats to show his growth in the second half:

Brett Lawrie

LD%

FB%

HR/FB%

BB%

K%

BABIP

First Half

13.5

35.1

12.8

5.6

23

234

Second Half

19.3

33.6

8

7.5

11

304

Lawrie seemed to trade power for any type of patience in the first half. However, the increase in line drives, fly ball and home runs to fly balls returning to career levels surged in the second half. It is apparent in his walk and strikeout percentages that Lawrie may have made adjustments that will serve him well going forward. Better contact and any improvement against left handed pitching will only help him in 2014.

Here are some of Lawrie’s projections for this upcoming season:

Lawrie Projections

R

HR

RBI

SB

AVG/OBP/SLG

Steamer

75

18

67

13

274/336/451

Oliver

73

16

68

13

266/331/423

ZiPS

64

16

62

12

266/326/436

CBS

76

16

63

6

275/328/429

Taking into account that 2013’s second half was in line with many of his career numbers, I do not think it is just a case of small sample size hot streak. That being said, I am not going to base his 2014 projection solely upon that 68 game stretch. It remains to be seen if he can maintain the K% that Lawrie displayed in that second half but with the Blue Jays entering camp healthy, this is an offense that is going to score runs. Presently he is slotted to hit seventh in the lineup but that will not hinder his production if healthy. At their current ADP’s, Lawrie this year is the better buy than Hosmer though I like both to have strong years in 2014. What makes Lawrie valuable is that he is going to come cheap this year and if healthy, he will out perform his present ADP. If you believe in Lawrie like I do, this will be the year he rewards owners who looked past the perceived risk.

  • My Lawrie 2014 Projection – 77 R, 19 HR, 70 RBI, 16 SB 274/338/431

Greg Jewett is a staff writer for Roto Analysis and you can follow us on Twitter @RotoAnalysis and @gjewett9

Statistics courtesy of Fangraphs.com and Baseball-Reference.com. NFBC ADP’s courtesy of NESN.com and the Rotosaurus.com for 2013 NFBC ADP’s.

Brett Lawrie picture credit: http://www.nextsportstar.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/brett_lawrie.jpg.size_.xxlarge.promo_-300×336.jpg

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2 Responses to Player Profile: Brett Lawrie

  1. R February 6, 2014 at 23:33 #

    Very well done analysis. I’m huge on Lawrie’s value this year. In a keeper league and hoping to ignore 3B early and jump on Lawrie around round 10-11. Have some guys in the league who were big on the Lawrie hype the last few years. Hopefully they remember getting burnt and lay off.

    • Greg Jewett February 9, 2014 at 09:01 #

      R, thanks for reading and the positive feedback. I agree and he is available in my home AL only league so I hope to get him as a bargain keeper as well. Definitely can justify waiting to get him in drafts this year.

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