Fantasy baseball draft season has been in full swing for a few weeks now. One second baseman, Brewers 2B Keston Hiura, has had quite a bit of helium for some time now, but is he an elite fantasy second baseman? Let’s take a look.
All Keston Hiura has done since entering college is hit. Across three seasons at UC Irvine, Hiura was a career .375 hitter and posted an OPS over that time span of 1.047. Hiura was arguably the best available hitter in the 2017 Draft, but questions surrounding his defense concerned scouts. Still, Hiura’s questionable glove didn’t concern the Brewers, who picked him with the ninth overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft.
After being selected by the Brewers, the California native rose through the Minors rather quickly, thanks to his advanced hitting ability. Hiura has an extremely quick bat, stays on plane with the ball consistently, and has a good amount of pop. Hiura made his MLB debut on May 15, and once he made to the Majors, it was clear it wasn’t going to be long before he would become an impact player. The 23-year old was recalled again in June after another brief stay in the Minors, and he stayed in Milwaukee for the rest of the season.
Hiura in 2019
Across 84 games (348 PA), Hiura batted .303 in 2019 with the Brewers, and the 23-year old hit 19 home runs, drove in 49 runs, and also stole nine bases. Those numbers are pretty impressive, and the stats look even more impressive when comparing Hiura to other second baseman. From July 11 (first day after All-Star break) to the end of the season, Hiura ranked fourth in AVG (.324), third in SLG (.615), tenth in HR (12) and tenth in RBI (37) among second baseman in MLB (min. 200 PA, via Fangraphs).
In 2019, Hiura had an astounding Hard Hit% rate of 50.0% last season. Yes, Hiura didn’t play in the Majors for a full season, and if he did, that number would probably be a bit lower thanks to regression. Nevertheless, that number does indicate something: Hiura’s bat is legit.
While the 23-year old does smack the ball pretty hard, his bat does come with a negative. Hiura had a Whiff% rate of 36.2% in 2019 according to Baseball Savant, well above the MLB average. That number is a bit concerning, but at the same time, it’s really not. Hiura, with his quick bat, will miss on pitches and he will strikeout, but given his hitting ability, it’s worth dealing with the high strikeout totals he may put up in the future.
Is Hiura a Top-Five Second Baseman?
Keston Hiura performed like a top-five second baseman during the second half last year, so it’s reasonable to have high expectations for his first full season. However, does Hiura belong in the top five? That’s a hard question to answer, because there are quite a few talented second baseman. DJ LeMahieu was an elite performer last season, as were Jose Altuve and Ozzie Albies. Ketel Marte had an incredible 2019, and then there’s players like Max Muncy and Gleyber Torres, who aren’t primary second baseman anymore, but are eligible for the position in 2020.
Even though there’s a bevy of talented second baseman available in this year’s draft, we do believe Hiura should be up there among the best. In case you’re interested, here’s our top five second baseman at the moment:
- Gleyber Torres
- Jose Altuve
- Ozzie Albies
- Ketel Marte
- Keston Hiura
Hiura’s lack of track record in the Majors, along with his high K%, does hurt his ranking a bit. Still, the talent is there, and we do believe Hiura will be a top-five second baseman in 2020.
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