Taking A Deeper Look Into Michael Chavis
By Mike Kurland /@Mike_Kurland on Twitter
Right now these young guys are being called up at a crazy rate. I can’t recall the last time we’ve had so many call ups in such a short span. Not only are we getting all these exciting players coming up but they are also making a splash in the fantasy baseball community. One of the least hyped of the prospect call ups upon getting the call but one of the best producers of said call ups so far is none other than Michael Chavis.
Entering the year he was a back end of the top 100 prospects coming into the year and even outside the top 100 on some fantasy prospect lists as well. Man has he made people look foolish for that. He’s been on absolute fire and if you’re fortunate enough to still have him available in your league, he’s a must add and must start player.
The excitement for this kid has grown leaps and bounds as he continues to produce the numbers he has so far. It definitely doesn’t help when you play for one of the biggest market teams in the game in the Boston Red Sox. He is playing so well that it begs the question, is it real? Well there’s only one way to find out. Let’s take a look shall we?
When I said he’s been great I absolutely meant it. Since being called up on April 19th, he has set the fantasy world a blaze. He has 10 home runs already with 25 RBI and he has managed to sprinkle in 2 steals. He has a triple slash of .282/.382/.585. He has a walk rate of 12.2% but a K rate a bit higher than you’d like at 26%. Nevertheless, the results have been a great boost to fantasy owners that were quick scoop him up and play him. These are still just the surface numbers. Time to get our hands dirty and dig in.
Let’s start with the walk rate. The walk rate is really good at 12.2% but prior to 2018 he was typically a sub 8% walk rate guy. However, from 2017 to 2018 you see his first jump in walk rate. He went from 7.3% in 2017 to 9.4% in 2018. That’s a 2.1% jump which may of indicated his first step in changing his approach at the plate a bit. In triple A this season, he took the walk rate to another level and it was up to 14.6% prior to the call up. Well now, as previously mentioned, its at 12.2% which is still a fantastic walk rate. This could’ve been a legitimate tangible change in approach starting last year.
The K rate of 26% is actually pretty typical for him. Majority of his minor league seasons he sat around 20%-25%. He did show improvement in triple A this year, but MLB pitching is better so an uptick should be expected. These days most players have some swing and miss to their game and he’s no exception. The fact he draws as many walks as he does with this K rate shows he’s selective but aggressive with pitches in the zone. This is backed up by his O-swing% (or chase rate) and Z-swing% (or swing percentage of pitches in the zone). He is basically league average in chase rate but about 10% above league average in Z-Swing%. So he’s not chasing bad pitches all that much but sees a lot of pitches in the zone and is aggressive on pitches in the zone. With his SwStr% (swinging strike rate) pretty high at 16.7%, this definitely shows the swing and miss to his game and may indicate some regression down the road in the batting average department.
A very impressive metric is his O-Contact% (percent of the time a batter makes contact with the ball outside of the zone). It is only at 48.9%! That’s about 11% lower than league average. So take a league average chase rate and mix it with this O-contact% and you’ll have a guy who doesn’t produce a ton of soft contact. As a matter of fact, his soft contact percentage is only at 14.9% which is 2.4% below league average. The correlation between the two isn’t a surprise.
A Deeper Look Into The Success
All that red! There’s nothing better than seeing every indicator in the red when you pull up a Statcast page. It suggests there’s legitimacy to his current production. This early season success is no fluke. He has a hard hit rate of 45.9% which is 12.7% above league average. His barrel rate is an absurd 20% so if you put the hard hit rate and high barrel rate together, it definitely explains all the home runs we are seeing early on. The only stat the Statcast data suggests he’s over achieving in is batting average. This kind of further suggests what I already stated above actually which was that there is swing and miss to his game could cause issues with batting average. His xBA (expected batting average) is .274 compared to his actual BA of .283. Obviously that’s not a huge drop but it’s a drop nonetheless. His xSLG% and SLG% are exactly the same at .586 and his WOBA is 4.10 and xWOBA is .408. Everything is suggesting the power and on base skills are real to this point.
He has flashed solid on base skills in the minors and has hit 30 home runs in the minors as well. He hits plenty of fly balls and has a 34.5% HR/FB rate. That’s an elite level rate right there and he currently ranks above players like Pete Alonso, Cody Bellinger and Gary Sanchez. However, I’d be shocked to see him sustain that rate unfortunately. His minor league track record suggests that a mid to high 20’s HR/FB rate is more likely. Although In triple A, where they use the major league ball now, he had a 30.8% which is reason for optimism that he sustains closer to 30% than mid 20’s. Even if he regresses closer to a 28%-30% HR/FB that would still be great.
Along with the power he’s sprinkling in a couple steals. He does not have any real track record of stealing in the minors but team philosophy and opportunity appear to be allowing him to add a few to his profile. What do I mean by team philosophy? Well I’m suggesting the Red Sox are aggressive with their guys on the base paths which is indicated by the fact that the Red Sox have the 7th most steals as a team in the league. So they’re aggressive on the base paths and they will likely let him run a bit. His sprint speed is above average and is in the 77th percentile so 10 steals isn’t out of the question.
Speed also helps to a point with batting average as well. It mostly assists with sustaining a solid BABIP. His current BABIP is .313 and sustaining it isn’t out of the question. The current league average BABIP is .290 and throughout his minor league career he consistently produced a BABIP above the .300 mark.
Rest Of Season Outlook
All in all I absolutely love what I see from Chavis. Just like any rookie, I do expect some growing pains. Pitchers will learn how to attack him but other than the batting average concerns I expect the rest to remain in tact. The power is real and double digit steals are a legitimate potential outcome but closer to 10 than mid teens. I think there’s 30 home run pop in that bat. His plate approach is solid and the walks don’t appear to be a fluke. I wouldn’t be surprised if he had similar production to a Pete Alonso going forward but with a few less home runs and a few more steals. He is surrounded by great talent and there isn’t as much pressure on him to perform like a typically rookie has. He’s been great so far and if you were lucky enough to grab him, good for you. To be completely honest, I wasn’t sure what to find when I dove in but I’m a fan and I’m buying in now. Good luck to you Michael Chavis owners and enjoy the ride.