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Should We Slow Our Roll on Keon Broxton?

(Photo/Roy Dabner)

 

Slowly but surely Keon Broxton is rising up people’s draft board. According to NFBC, he is being taken as the 39th OF at 182 overall, right in front of his teammate Eric Thames. About a month ago you could have gotten Broxton at around the 200th pick. But his slow progressive rise up draft boards can be attributed to a mass quantity of hype after being labeled as a sleeper by many other fantasy sites.

 

The Positives

I am not here to crap on Broxton, truthfully.  I want to do the opposite. I want to give my opinion of the positives and negatives of Broxton’s profile. From there I want you to decide how you feel about him heading into the new season.

 

When you glance at Broxton, what leaps out is that seductive power/speed combination. He was able to hit 9 home runs and steal 23 bases in only 233 at bats. The 23 stolen bases leave him ranking 23rd for most steals in the majors. While his power output was good in 2016, I don’t believe it will continue at such a rate. He had an inflated HR/FB ratio of 25.7% which is 9th highest among players with 200 AB’s. He was around the likes of Nelson Cruz (8th) and ahead natural fly ball hitters such as Chris Davis and Chris Carter. Overall, you have a line drive hitter who could see some of his home run power turning into extra base hits.

 

I was impressed by  Broxton’s quality of contact last season. He had a soft contact rate of just 13.3% which is well above average. His soft and hard contact percentage were both 43.3% meaning when he was making contact it was hit hard. So hard that Broxton was able to rank 7th in exit velocity among players with 100 batted balls. This contact management in 2016 shows that Broxton’s power may be legit. He is never going to be a 40 home run player, but 15-20 is well in the range of possibilities.

 

In 2017 he carried an eye-popping BABIP of .373, which would be the 11th highest of all major leaguers with over 200 AB’s. League average is consistently around .300 for BABIP but there is always certain player whose tools allow them to carry a higher BABIP. Players like Keon Broxton, who have shown an ability to make quality contact and players that tend to have speed. He has shown both of these qualities in an abundance. While in the minors, Broxton was able to post a BABIP of over.355 in both Double-A and Triple-A.  He may not possess a .373 BABIP in 2017, but he should maintain one higher than league average based on his tools and his minor league track record.

 

The Negatives

 

The K percentage is a major red flag while evaluating Keon Broxton. Of players with over 200 PA’s Broxton was the second worst with a 36.1 K%. The high K% really shows in his low average at .242. Although his BABIP is high and somewhat sustainable, as previously mentioned, it still will regress. When it regresses, you will see a drop  in his average, which is not ideal. Steamer, Depth Charts and Zips all have Broxton pegged for an under .220 hitter, which can really crater your full team average in fantasy.

 

The other day I was listening to the brilliant podcast titled The Sleeper and the Bust from Rotographs by Paul Sporer and they brought up the stat that Broxton only was able to hit .178 on four-seam fastballs while slugging .308 against four seam fastballs. That is honestly astonishing; most young players you see coming up have the ability to hit fastballs but struggle with the off speed pitches such as curveballs, change-up, or sliders.

 

Lastly, I’m concerned about Broxton’s playing time. The combination of swing and miss stuff and his inability to hit a fastball in 2016 can lead to prolonged slumps. To start the year, Broxton’s playing should be fine, but if he slumps midseason we could see a Lewis Brinson call up. Brinson is being pegged as unanimous top 25 prospect in the majors by most prospect publications such as MLB.com and Baseball Prospectus. Brinson looks to be the future center fielder for the Brewers, and if he continues tearing up Triple-A like he did in 2016, it can threaten Broxton’s playing time.

 

Final Thoughts

 

To me, Keon Broxton is an enigma. Somedays I love him and some days I hate him. At pick 180, you are still picking people who you are expecting to help your team, they are not total flyers. So it really comes down to are you comfortable taking a shot that Broxton turns into a Starling Marte clone with more homers and a worse average? Or will you play it safe and take a shot at a more proven commodity like Dexter Fowler (191 ADP) or Rajai Davis (199 ADP).

 

 

 

Statistics via Fangraphs

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