TDG’S 2024 PLAYERS TO AVOID: SECOND 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.
Zack Gelof, Oakland Athletics, (AGE: 24, RANK: 15)
Last season, Gelof was a popular pick to be promoted and find some success in the major leagues. When you play in the Oakland Athletics organization, if you have a shred of talent…they`re going to call you up. Gelof showed growth from the `22 campaign where a slash line of .270/.352/.463 with 18 home runs and 10 stolen bases between the two levels was good but not great with a 107 wRC+. After getting a taste of Triple-A in `22, Gelof returned to begin the season to try and master the level and he quickly proved he deserved a shot in the big leagues going .304/.401/.529 with a 125wRC+ in just over 300 plate appearances. He was soon called up with teammate Tyler Soderstrom to inject some life into a lifeless franchise, and while Soderstrom stumbled, Gelof became one of the breakout rookies.
In 300 plate appearances in the MLB, Gelof showed off a tantalizing power and speed combo slugging 14 home runs and grabbing 14 steals while maintaining a 133 wRC+ and a .237 ISO.
I know what you`re thinking, “did I misread the title, is this actually the dang Second Baseman to Target article?” No, my dear reader, this is the avoid article, but like a 19th-century mother, I like to provide some sugar before the off-putting taste of the medicine hits your tastebuds.
In the image below, you will see Zach Gelof`s whiff percentage in the different zones from Baseball Savant on the right-hand side and the MLB average on the left-hand side. It`s obvious what`s concerning, Gelof was the 11th worst player in the league (minimum of 20 plate appearances) on whiffing at pitches in the heart of the plate.
The surface stats back this up of course, he has always been a high strikeout guy sitting around 28% the past two seasons. I wanted to take a look at his Triple-A data to see if maybe he was just overmatched in the Majors and was just facing stiffer competition for the first time. However, his Triple-A data mirrors his MLB data relatively closely. In the 300 plate appearances Gelof had at Las Vegas last year, he maintained a 72.4% zone contact rate and a 34% whiff rate, which was in line with his MLB data as he had …well a 72.4% zone contact rate with a 33.4% whiff rate.
The plan was pretty simple against Gelof, throw off-speed and breaking balls in the zone against him, extra points the higher in the zone you go. He managed a 44% whiff rate against breaking balls and 36% against off-speed. Those numbers will simply have to improve if he is to be anything more than waiver-wire fodder as he doesn`t hit the ball particularly hard with a 108 maxEV. Some of the balls that landed as home runs are bound to fall short, and it seems as if the majority of the projection services agree here. The Bat X is saying that his stat line for next year will be .236/.305/.395 with 17 home runs and 19 steals.
I envision him as a frustrating player you roster as he will go on massive cold streaks where you won`t want to start him and then suddenly hit three home runs in a week. If your roster can handle a pretty significant average and OBP sink and you have steel underpants on, Gelof will provide you with a little value in power and speed, but his counting stats won`t be a ton, I mean he plays for the A`s, we can`t expect much help.
With second base deeper than in years past, and a slew of prospects coming up that profile as second baseman such as Colt Keith, Adael Amador, Jett Williams, and more, Gelof may find himself at the bottom of the scrap heap.
I`m never one to write off players completely and actually traded for Gelof this offseason, it just matters on the price you`re willing to pay for him and if you think he can take a step forward. With Gelof, I`m hoping that as he settles into the league that whiff percentage in the heart of the zone will decrease, and when he makes contact it is good, hard, contact with a 11% barrel rate in the majors and a 12% barrel rate at Triple-A. This is an avoid article but I`m not out on him at all, I just don`t want people to extrapolate his half-season last year and think he can go 25/25 and still run a .260`s average as that probably won`t happen.
If he should fall on his face at the beginning of the year, he would be an interesting trade target if the price is right, and you could stash him on the bench.