Here's an LL article on Mike Zunino with the essential evaluation, "will the real Mike Zunino please stand up?" The idea is that in 2018 we'll find out whether Zuumball is going to be a good player in the majors or whether he isn't. Not wishing to be harsh, the Mainframe considers this a rather facile position, a rather widespread position, and the 'Frame disagrees with conviction. To Dr. D, Mike Zunino is now a .500'ish SLGger in the big leagues until proven otherwise.
Diderot asked us not to overlook the Zuumball comparables in HQ's draft-day cheat sheet giving players with these two qualities:
1. Top PX (Power Index, "true" power based on exit velocity and actual in-game results towards SLG), PLUS
2. Lousy CT (less than 70% of at-bats ending in contact, meaning very high strikeout rate).
Diderot's point is that some VERY good players fall into this category. Zuumball has the #6 PX in all of baseball on this cheat sheet -- and in his player summary HQ's position is "Power Index is now firmly elite." So we're not talking about Will The Real Zunino Please Stand Up. He stood up last year, and his blast rate was earth-busting.
A few notches above Zunino on the PX + Lo CT scale were Gallo and Judge at 1-2. Giancarlo Stanton was #4 on this sheet, with Miguel Sano below him at #10. Diderot can fill in other names off the list.
This is precisely the type of player we talked about last week -- short path to the ball, mesmerizingly easy power, high fly ball rate, lots of garbage strikes. We pointed out:
HI - Giancarlo Stanton
MID - Edwin Encarnacion
LO - Mark Trumbo
It's hard to buy into based on our previous aversion therapy. That is to say, we've been electroshocked with so much unpleasantness during Zuumball at-bats that we'll want to see about 2,000 productive ABs before we buy in. (Anybody sold on Justin Smoak yet?)
Here's the ONLY real bad news in context. Catchers don't play 150 games.
:- ) Which raises the interesting question, if Zunino were to freakishly hit his UPside -- last year's .270/.349/.571 post-promotion line IN SAFECO -- do you move him off catcher to max his bat, in Carlos Delgado fashion? Help me out here, amigos - you can rattle off half-a-dozen catchers who were moved to 1B or DH to do their thing with the bat. Trust me, if Zunino is slugging .570 next August, the question is going to become very widespread. (*Carlos Delgado was a tremendous hitter well beyond Zuumball's UPside. But the current Joe Mauer isn't, and there are plenty where he came from.)
Objectively speaking, I've got to set Mike Zunino's floor now at Mark Trumbo levels. It's just too easy for him to do damage (crazy, >Boomstick 186 PX) and it's too easy for him to do it (46:32 flyball ratio with 24% homer-per-fly rate).
In terms of getting out-smarted, his fish rate last year was exactly league average, 30%. Contrast his fire rate when he saw a strike, way above average, and Zuumball had a superior separation between his OOZ% and his Z-Swing rate.
It might feel like Zunino has some things to prove, but it says here that he does not. Shandler's got his 50th-percentile slash line at .250/.325/.500 and that'll do for me too. Encarnacion's career line: .265/.355/.500. Zunino hasn't yet had the 30 HR, 85 RBI season in 125 games as a catcher, but SSI Denizens don't need to see that facile calendar-year black ink before they process what's going on.