Chase Utley: One of the Best Ever

If you are reading this, there is a remarkably decent chance that you are a somewhat invested baseball fan. As a baseball fan, you probably ...

Sal Frelick

 Sal Frelick is one of those guys that just has to be underrated. He is a small man, but he has the bat skills of a goddess and the speed to go with it. I always feel like there is some notion that "ceiling" is based on tools. I believe it to be the exact opposite. Your floor is based on your tools; if it turns out you can't really process the game at the MLB level very well, then maybe your tools will allow you to run into a pitch every once in a while and make some solid defensive plays. Think of Nomar Mazara: the dude sucks, but he has some pretty big power and solid athleticism. What does this do? It doesn't make him a "boom or bust" player, it makes him a slightly below league average player. 

O'Neil Cruz is the prime example of this. He is considered "boom or bust". Well, what happened in 2022? He hit 233/294/450 for a 106 wRC+, played poor shortstop defense, and ended with a 1.2 WAR in 87 games. Is that a boom? Certainly not. Is that a bust? Certainly not. He was literally league average. (I'm not saying Cruz is a league average player, or that he doesn't have a pretty good future outcome, but the point is that he was neither terrible nor good.) Where is the "boom or bust" part of this? The reality is that Cruz isn't a particularly skilled baseball player, but he is a 6'7" behemoth with a cannon of an arm, historic raw power, and blazing fast speed. These tools increase his floor, because in the flow of the game, they allow him to make enough plays such that he can provide some amount of value. For Cruz to "boom", his tools don't have to click. It's the soft skills that have to click.

Anyways, this is why I think the whole notion that guys like Sal Frelick don't have a high ceiling is just bizarre. Look at Dustin Pedroia. The dude was an absolute midget without much power, but he had a very good feel for the game and played with good effort. He was around a 6 WAR player at his peak, which is absolutely incredible all things considered. Sure, maybe to be among the literal best players ever like Bonds, Mays, Trout, Ohtani, etc., you need insane tools along with great baseball talent. However, you can be one of the top players in all of baseball without the ideal package of tools that scouts look for. 

So, Sal Frelick. He only gets a 50 FV tag on FanGraphs, which basically implies that he is destined to be a league average player on average. The Bat (Always use The Bat for projecting lower level players, Steamer is fucking stupid and trains on a selected sample(I think). Steamer has him at a 111 wRC+, which is astoundingly absurd) has Frelick projected to be a mid 90s wRC+ hitter, which with his center field potential and strong baserunning, would make him around an average player. This is for his rookie season. I used to have my own projection system that could project player's careers, but I lost it, so I can't run his future prognostication. However, from my memory of that system, if you start at a projected 93 wRC+, you will probably peak at around 100-105. This would make Frelick an easy 55 or 60 level player, and this is just the median outcome based on a minimally selected sample. So, just based on his minor league data, Frelick should at least be a 55.

What I will concede is that the scouts tend to not believe that Frelick does have breaking potential in the power department. However, I don't know exactly how reliable this belief is, just because it is very subjective. Maybe there is no impending power breakout for this man, which a system like The Bat can't truly factor, but I just don't know. I'm ending this article on a lazy note because I am bored with it.