2024 Dynasty Baseball RankingsDynasty Baseball

THE DYNASTY GURU’S 2024 PLAYERS TO AVOID: THIRD BASEMEN

This is a companion piece to our 2024 Dynasty League Rankings. The opinions below are my own and do not reflect the TDG consensus.

HA-SEONG KIM, SAN DIEGO PADRES (AGE: 28, RANK: 13)

This offseason, a player has risen up the rankings that in my opinion is a must-avoid in all formats. Now I’m not saying he hasn’t deserved the boost in his value, or that he won’t put up numbers similar to his 2023 season. What I am going to do is rock your world with shocking, underlying, and sometimes eye-popping data that reveal some possible scary projections that have me staying far away from Ha-Seong Kim. 

On the surface, Kim’s stats in 2023 are great to look at, or even tempting to target for those that like a player with multiple position eligibility and a solid path towards consistent at-bats. A triple slash line of .260/.351/.398, to go along with 17 home runs, 38 stolen bases, a 19.8% strikeout rate, and a 12% walk rate. What these stats don’t show is how he got them, we can get a glimpse into that by looking at his statcast data. 

In 2023 Kim posted terrible percentile ranks in average exit velocity, barrel percent, and hard-hit percent (7th, 11th, and 3rd respectively). These numbers show he doesn’t hit the ball hard compared to the rest of the qualified hitters in the major leagues. Now some of that can be explained in part by his frame, 5’9” and 168 lbs, which means he has a lot to overcome to put up those types of numbers. He has to be extremely consistent with his swing to keep producing at the levels he did in 2023. Unfortunately, his track record going back to his days playing in Korea doesn’t give much hope to that happening. 

In the Korean Baseball Organization (KBO), Kim never was able to remain consistent with his plate discipline, as his strikeout and walk rates would fluctuate from year to year (table below). To add fuel to the fire, his 2023 season was a microcosm of his consistency issues. In March/April he batted .209 and in September/October it was worse at .176. His stats were boosted by his play in the summer months.

Year K% BB%
2015 19.8 9.6
2016 13.4 10
2017 10.8 9.7
2018 14.1 9.4
2019 12.8 11.2
2020 10.9 12.1

Looking further into his home run numbers, they also show some troubling inconsistencies. 35% of Kim’s home runs were classified as “doubters,” meaning they would have only been home runs in seven or fewer of the ballparks in the league. His xHR number reflected this as it was at 13. He vastly outperformed in the power column with these numbers and was the benefit of timing more often than not. Right ballpark, right conditions, and just the right contact. 

With all of this said, I fully expect some serious regression in Kim’s numbers in 2024. It would take another set of perfectly timed scenarios for him to replicate his power numbers and most of his stats. The San Diego Padres lineup also looks to be a shell of itself after trading away Juan Soto. Inconsistencies at the plate year-in and year-out, even month to month, along with weak contact, and a heavy reliance on luck have me fully avoiding him for fantasy baseball. 

NOLAN ARENADO, ST. LOUIS CARDINALS (AGE: 32, RANK: 11)

Here is someone that I have to avoid entirely at the cost he still demands. Nolan Arenado comes in ranked at number 11 in our 3B Dynasty Rankings, backed by a good but not stellar 2023. He had a triple slash line of .266/.315/.459, to go along with 26 home runs, 16 doubles, and 93 runs batted in. His plate discipline was a mixed bag of results, as he had a walk rate of 6.7% and a strikeout rate of 16.5%. The reason I will be avoiding him in dynasty leagues has to do with his underlying statcast numbers and Father Time. 

Arenado is past his so-called “prime years” and is now on the downswing of his career. He will turn 33 at the start of the season and his stats took a big drop from 2022 to 2023. Looking deeper as to what caused the drop shows some indication that it wasn’t bad luck or just a bad season, but a big drop in his metrics. First, let’s look at the drop-in stats. In roughly the same number of at-bats between 2022 and 2023 (620 and 612 respectively) he saw a massive drop in his power stats. His home run totals dropped from 30 to 26, his doubles followed suit with a decrease from 42 to 26. Meanwhile, his strikeout rate rose from 11.6% to 16.5% and his walk rate decreased from 8.4% to 6.7%.  

Seeing those numbers drop like that, it’s important to look to see if there were any changes that caused it. In this case, the statcast data shows there are. His launch angle dropped a whopping 4.8% from 21.7 degrees in 2022 to 16.9 degrees in 2023. Even his sweet spot percentage decreased by 2.4%. These stats show that he wasn’t making the same amount of good contact he was the prior couple of seasons and the stats dropped because of it. 

Are these changes a result of Father Time? It is possible. His swing could be a tick slower and the cause of the worse contact. For the value it will still cost to get Arenado, I am strongly avoiding him, especially when there are guys lower down the ranks that I think can put up better or at least comparable numbers. Someone like Jake Burger will be a good target that will cost less and not have Father Time or big question marks about his swing causing you to second guess your choices.

The Author

Brian Labude

Brian Labude

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