2018 Player Profile: Nomar Mazara
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Some folks out there, notably Bill James, are predicting greatness from Nomar Mazara starting as soon as this year. Will the young and productive Rangers’ outfielder be able to take the next step in 2018 or will he take longer than that to climb the mountain to success?
22 years old
Height/Weight: 6’4”, 215 lbs
*Mazara turns 23 on April 26th.
Let me start with what I’ve said a lot to folks who are pushing Nomar.
I like the talent.
He’s extremely young.
He showed no appreciable growth last season. Think I’m kidding? Behold.
Let’s be honest. Can we be honest? I hope we can. Let’s do it.
- Mazara showed no growth in eight significant categories moving from year one to year two. I’m not being overly harsh or biased either. You should me the growth. Where is it? There was none.
- Not only did he show no statistical growth at all from year one to two, take a look at his numbers compared to the 2017 league average. Mazara couldn’t have been more league average last season if he tried. He was the poster boy for league average.
So, with that as the starting point, what do we have with Mazara in 2018?
Well, according to Bill James we have a top-5 AL MVP Candidate.
But Mr. James went even further than claiming Mazara was an MVP candidate... he went on to say the following. “... I love Nomar Mazara, I believe this guy is the next Albert Pujols / Miguel Cabrera type hitter... who has a chance to be a Triple Crown candidate.”
Bill James is smarter than me. I will not allow a debate on that. I will politely suggest that he might be off his meds though, making statements like this which, on the surface, are completely non-sensical.
It seems to me that the reason people like James believe that type of hype with Mazara is because of two key facts; (1) he’s only 22 and (2) he drove in 100 runs last year.
1 – Mazara played a full big-league season at 21 years of age. He also played a full season of games at age 22 (he turns 23 in April). That is impressive. Here is the list of players in the 21st century who had two seasons of at least 145 games played before turning 23. It’s a short list: Elvis Andrus, Miguel Cabrera, Starlin Castro, Carl Crawford, Freddie Freeman, Manny Machado, Albert Pujols, Mike Trout, Delmon Young, Ryan Zimmerman and Mazara.
So, he’s young and seen a lot of work which is a really good thing (nearly all the names listed above have gone on to tremendous careers).
Back to the comparison Mr. James made.
At 21 years of age, Miguel Cabrera went .294-33-112-101.
At 22 years of age, Miguel Cabrera went .323-33-116-106.
He will be in the HOF one day.
At 21 years of age, Albert Pujols went .329-37-130-112.
At 22 years of age, Albert Pujols went .314-34-127-118.
He will be in the HOF one day.
Bill James compared Nomar Mazara, who averaged .259-20-83-62 at ages 21 and 22, to those two men. Again, it’s a completely absurd comparison as of February 2018. Absurd.
2 – Mazara drove in 100 runners last season, and that’s impressive for a 22 year old, a mark that was reached by 22 men last season. However, only two of those men failed to score 65 runs – Mazara and Pujols. No man on the list had fewer homers than Mazara. Of the 22 men, only three had a lower average than Mazara. He got his 100 RBI, but the rest of his fantasy line was decidedly average.
Look, you can say the guy is young and talented, but we need production in the fantasy game, not potential. As I say/write all the time, this game should be about what is, versus what could be.
Here is what is with Mazara.
He’s hit .259 in two seasons.
He has a 20.3 percent line drive rate.
He has a .296 BABIP rate.
He has a 0.39 BB/K rate.
Every one of those numbers are league average, and nothing but league average. Toss in a 30.7 percent hard-hit ball rate, his career mark and 1.1 off league average of 2017, and you can’t get a more blah batting average profile. He’s also hit a mere .231 against lefties in his career. There is nothing to suggest that his batting average will take off in 2018.
Twenty homers in 516 at-bats as a rookie.
Twenty homers in 554 at-bats as a second-year player.
He has posted SLG marks of .419 and .426 for a career level of .421. As noted above, the 2017 league average was .421.
Mazara has a posted Isolated Power marks of .153 and .170. As noted above, the league average in 2017 was .171, nine points above the .162 mark that Mazara owns for his career.
What are you seeing here leading you to think there’s some major power breakthrough coming?
Mazara hits too many balls on the ground at the moment. In year one, his ground ball rate was 48.9 percent. In year two the mark was 46.5 percent. That’s an awful lot of ground balls for a guy who wants to hit homers. Add everything up and Mazara has a 47.7 percent career ground ball rate through two seasons. In 2017, here are the number of men who qualified for the batting title who had a 47.7 percent ground ball rate who hit 30 homers: one (George Springer). If we drop that number down to 20 homers, here are the qualifiers.
It’s not just the data that Mazara has posted, it’s the fact that league wide, you just don’t hit more than 25 homers if you’re hitting that many ground balls (just four men in baseball, out of 144, were able to defy that statement).
Speaking of his work against lefties, Nomar is just like Jake Lamb (Player Profile) in that he can’t hit ‘em. Through two years, Mazara has hit .234 and .228 leading to a .231 batting average against port siders. That’s awful. His OPS against lefties has been .548 and .603 leading to a .577 mark. That’s horrible. He has two homers in 234 at-bats against lefties. That’s horrific. He doesn’t produce base hit, he doesn’t produce home runs, and he doesn’t get on base (.282 OBP) against lefties. Frankly, he should be on the bench against them.
Mazara has hit .288 at home, but he has had little success on the road with a mere .229 batting average over 532 at-bats. He owns a .292 wOBA and 79 wRC+ away from Texas. Again, that’s just terrible work.
Because Mazara doesn’t get on base, he doesn’t score runs. Mazara scored 64 times in 2017 even though he hit 1/2/3/4 in the lineup 112 times. He spent more than 2/3 of the season hitting in one of the top four spots in baseball and he scored 64 times. Further, he started 136 games hitting 5th or higher in the lineup... and scored 64 runs.
Mazara doesn’t get on base. In two seasons his OBP has been .320 and .323. He did up his walk rate two percent last season to 8.9 percent, a slight hope for further improvement, but with a lack of outright speed, and again, the lack of getting on base at anything other than a league average clip, outright growth, substantial growth, in the runs scored category seems unlikely. Note that 137 men scored more runs than Mazara including a guy like Jacoby Ellsbury who appeared in 112 games. Heck, Brandon Belt scored one less run despite playing 44 fewer games than Mazara.
If you look at the splits, you see some borderline troubling signs. If I was writing out the lineup card for the Rangers, Mazara would be on the bench against any borderline elite lefty. He hasn’t shown any aptitude to hit them. It remains to be seen if he will be in the lineup or not, but it’s not helping anything to have him out there.
AVERAGE DRAFT POSITION DATA
As of this writing, here is the ADP data for Mazara.
Mazara is a fine player. He’s been stable and productive in his two seasons, and age is on his side. Some growth, I’m fine with that. Vaulting him into the elites of the game, into MVP talk, comparing him to HOF bound players, that’s all nonsense. Draft him for what he is, and you will be fine. Draft him expecting a breakout...
10-Team Mixed: He’s 5th outfielder here, fourth if you are pushing it. The lack of batting average upside, and the nothing burger in the steals column, render him as just a guy in this format.
12-Team Mixed: You really don’t want him as more than your 4th outfielder. Do you see much of a difference between Mazara and cheaper options like Jay Bruce? I don’t.
15-Team Mixed: In a league of this side someone will likely reach. I wouldn’t suggest it’s you since the above clearly shows that the data doesn’t support a breakout this season, even if we want to believe it does.
AL-Only League: The only real concern is if the Rangers choose to sit him out against some lefties which might mean he could still be searching for his first season of 150 games played heading into 2019. Oh, there’s also the chance someone will believe the hype driving the price up. If that is the case, don’t chase Mazara.