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2017 Season Preview: Logan Forsythe

MLB: Boston Red Sox at Tampa Bay Rays
Logan Forsythe
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

With the additions of Colby Rasmus and Mallex Smith, the Rays outfield has depth and potential that could make it one of the best outfields in the Majors next season. Even with the additions to the outfield, I believe the infield will be the strength of the team next season.

Mark Suleymanov wrote up a season preview of Matt Duffy which is sure to inspire confidence that SS will be fine next season. I’m going to focus on Duffy’s double play partner, Logan Forsythe, for whom I predict a stellar 2017.

Background

Forsythe was the 16th overall pick in the 2008 draft, chosen by the San Diego Padres. He spent three years with their major league Padres before being traded to the Rays before the 2014 season.

Forsythe slashed .241/.310/.349 and produced a 1.5 WAR over the three seasons he played for the Padres. Since becoming a Ray Forsythe has slashed .262/.334/.419 and produced a 6.3 WAR -- and that’s despite have a very underwhelming 2014. Over the last two seasons, “Frosty” has been a source of consistent production from the second base position.

Let’s look at his 2016: He put up 2.8 WAR with a career high with 20 home runs and .180 ISO. With those career- high power numbers, however, also came a career high 22.4% K%. The strikeout rate isn’t too concerning if he can continue to hit the ball as hard as he did in 2016 (with a 36% Hard% batted ball percentage), and not sacrifice his walks.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays
Forsythe
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The 30-year-old saw a drop-off in his glove work:

Logan Forsythe Defense

Year Innings UZR/150 DRS RngR
Year Innings UZR/150 DRS RngR
2015 1073.1 2.3 8 1.6
2016 1028.1 -5 1 -1.1

His UZR/150, DRS, and RngR all saw fall-offs from 2015. Although we could reasonably expect continued decline defensively as he ages, Forsythe has never been a liability on the field as he proved with one defensive run saved last season.

Overall, Forsythe had a very good 2016, although he didn’t quite perform as well as he did in 2015. He’s still one of the better 2B in the American League, and I would expect him to remain in that tier next season.

Projecting 2017

Steamer is projecting Forsythe to slash .254/.328/.405 over 98 games with 12 homers and 43 RBIs (102 wRC+). These projections seem pessimistic to me for multiple reasons.

Forsythe did see a significant dips in offensive production after returning from his shoulder fracture last season. He hit .308/.398/.523 with a 154 wRC+ before his injury and .252/.315/.423 with a wRC+ of 102 after returning from injury on June 10th. A .377 BABIP aided his hot start, but I believe he is better than the 103 wRC+ he put up after returning.

2016

2015

It’s encouraging to note in these charts are that Logan’s exit velocity against LHP was off the charts. This is shown in his 40% Hard contact and 52.3% Med contact. If he can maintain hard contact against LHP, I expect his BABIP to increase from the .286 he had last season against them.

Another reason I think he will outperform those projections is his plate discipline.

Logan Forsythe Plate Discipline

Year O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact%
Year O-Swing% Z-Swing% Swing% O-Contact% Z-Contact%
2015 25.40% 55.30% 40.40% 68.90% 90%
2016 21.50% 56.60% 39.70% 66% 83.80%

The table shows that Forsythe swung at fewer pitches outside of the zone by about 4% which is encouraging as far as his pitch selection is concerned. The largest difference between years was his Z-Contact% which dropped by roughly 7% in 2016. That is a bit concerning because it could be an indicator that he is losing bat speed.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I believe there is reason to think that Forsythe will outperform his streamer projections because I think more time away form the fractured shoulder will help him to improve his Z-Contact%. That along with improved pitch selection with a similar or increased .ISO has me predicting something along the lines of a 3.0 WAR with a wRC+ of 116.