Once again, Big Dick Nick Madrigal is a hot topic of conversation. I wrote many words about my concerns about Nick Madrigal’s profile HERE. Since then the conversation has continued on the interwebs about this divisive prospect. The reasons are obvious, Nick bucks the trend of what we know as a successful baseball player in the Lord’s Year of 2020. My concerns about Madrigal have almost always centered around will he impact the ball hard enough to take advantage of his obvious special attributes (carrying a ~3% strike out rate through multiple levels of the minors is some insane shit that ain’t happening everyday). Impacting the ball hard isn’t JUST about home runs. It’s about the ability to make the pitcher attack you more carefully, which hopefully turns your selectiveness into more free passes to 1st base. OH FUCK WE LOVE THOSE!!!
Now, I follow Keith Law (I know, I know) and he has very real concerns that this is super low end power, so I thought, the only way for me to try and figure this out, would be to go to Fangraphs and grab a sample of what not hitting the ball that hard looks like….
Here is a graph, of Qualified Hitters (qualified simply means that you had enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title, so defacto, everyday players) over the period of 2017-2019. I searched for the lowest % of hard hit rate and grabbed the bottom 30 (out of a total of 234 hitters that came up when I ran the sample).
As you can see, the weighted average walk rate of the group (weighted by plate appearances) is 6.51%. That’s not terrible necessarily, although it is well below the median for this group of players which is 8.8% (basically Marcel Ozuna’s walk rate over the period). Below is what Big Dick Nick’s OBP would look like assuming that walk rate, a sparkling 3% K-Rate in the majors (BIG IF TRUE) and average BABIP.
Not bad at all. The median BABIP for the qualified hitters group that I pulled over the last 3 years is .334, so almost right in the middle of the group (ONE LARGE CAVEAT….this is Qualified Hitters only, meaning, there are many LESS Qualified hitters, ie, the median OBP for the AL as a whole during this period is only .321, so this looks even better when scooping out the part-time players, as you imagine it would).
One last thing…
I’m a mere mortal, so I do not have batted ball data from Big Dick Nick in the minors these last two years that tells me the Hard Hit %, but what I do have is his HR/FB%, which is atrocious….with the bouncey ball in AAA, it was 3.6%, so let’s take the previous table from above and remove anyone with a 7.5% HR/FB% or higher (I’ll give Nick some credit that the ballparks are small in MLB and the blessed ball carries).
Doesn’t move the needle, much, here’s Big Dick Nick’s update OBP
Just scanning Fangraphs 2B in 2019, Adam Frazier put up what might look like a Madrigal-esque season, .336 OBP, 10 HR in 608 PA (I hope Nick hits for that much power) and plus defense at 2B (per Fangraphs defensive ratings he was 4th among MLB 2B) for a 2.2 fWAR season.
Nick Madrigal might end up being a unicorn, but if he’s not, he looks like he’ll be a dependable league averageish contributor, which is just fine.