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FutureStarrKeston Hiura Fangraphs
Hiura is a powerful second baseman who hit lower-level pitching as a pro. His arm was impressive and he boasted an impressive defensive profile at the position, but an elbow injury may have limited his future prospects.
Hiura's power is largely due to his ability to make contact, though he still needs to improve on the swing-and-miss rate that plagued him last season. That being said, Hiura is an impressive power hitter with the barrel rate and slugging percentage needed to hit some solid home runs during his next stint in MLB.
Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) is one of the most influential offensive statistics in baseball, and for good reason. Created by Tom Tango, wOBA synthesizes batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage into a single metric that more accurately represents hitter performance.
Batting average values a bloop single the same as a home run, while wOBA gives more weight to walks and hits by pitch. Furthermore, non-intentional walks and hits by fly ball or grounder are treated less highly than intentional ones and line drives.
The wOBA formula is straightforward: It takes a player's batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and other relevant stats and multiplies them by their run value. A home run adds significantly to this value while striking out significantly reduces it from a hitter's overall wOBA.
Due to its comprehensiveness, wOBA can be used to accurately forecast an offensive player's production - making it a better metric than OPS or RC for projections. Furthermore, it allows comparing actual performances against similar players more precisely allows for further insight into each individual's capabilities.
Hiura can best be described as an above-average power hitter due to his impressive contact rate and potential for more than average power output.
He's been a consistent hitter on grounders and line drives, both highly valued by wOBA. While he may not be as powerful of a home run threat as last year, his grounders and line drives should give him some decent numbers if those hits stay off the mark.
Hiura has above-average skills, but his power level will likely remain around average in 2020. However, he has shown the capacity to battle through contact issues and rebound from them, so we should keep an eye on him this season to see what he can accomplish.
Hiura was widely considered a top prospect when the Brewers selected him ninth overall in 2017. His bat speed, timing and power were highly praised by observers around the league.
After an impressive rookie season, Hiura began to struggle as he adjusted to life in the majors. His wRC+ dropped by more than a full point a year ago, from 140 to 122.
The Brewers are hopeful he can come back this season, but it will take time and hard work. He has made some adjustments to his swing and is working toward getting closer each day.
Hiura has made some noticeable improvements to his swing, such as eliminating the toe-tap or leg kick when taking his first swing and keeping his front leg well below his knee. This change allows him to stay more connected to the ball more consistently.
Hiura's batting average remains below the league average, but his hard-hit percentage has improved markedly. This could indicate that Hiura has adjusted to playing in MLB and may be regaining power as he works through some contact issues.
Another indication of progress is his three-true outcome rate, which is much higher than his career wRC+ of 83. This season, he and Joey Bart are the only two hitters with over 60% of their plate appearances ending in either a walk, strikeout or home run.
Hiura has only played four games this year, but his minor league record suggests he should be able to rebound from his current slump. If his three-true-outcome rate stays above 60%, Hiura can be an excellent offensive contributor for the Brewers.
The HR/FB rate (home run to fly ball ratio) is one of the most critical statistics in baseball. This simple calculation takes into account how many home runs a player hits out of all fly balls allowed each season, but it can vary significantly season to season due to various factors like sample size and context.
Although this statistic can provide a useful indication of a player's power, it can also be misleading. For instance, it could be easy to overestimate the effect of a pitcher's flyball distribution on their HR/FB rate if they have an elevated average batted ball distance and low percentage of allowed flyballs.
However, a high HR/FB rate doesn't guarantee success or excellent plate discipline. In fact, it could even be negative if they have high strikeout rates and an ineffective walk rate.
Therefore, hitters must draw plenty of walks in order to maximize the value of their batted balls. This is especially important for hitters with poor swing-and-miss rates. Hiura has drawn an impressive 11.1% of his free passes this season - well above the league average but below his career 15% rate.
His Z-Contact% (contact rate on pitches outside the strike zone) is alarmingly low, which should be a cause for concern in 2019. The Brewers have promised Hiura a chance at improving his contact rates this season; however, if he wants to surpass his career-low 4% mark, drastic changes must be made in his game plan.
K% and BB% are reliable indicators of pitchers' success. While these numbers aren't perfect, they provide a useful snapshot into a pitcher's strength without needing many innings to assess it.
K% is crucial for several reasons. First, it provides insight into a pitcher's ability to generate runs. A high strikeout rate typically implies an elevated walk rate and vice versa; that is why K% can be used to calculate Wins Above Replacement (WAR) and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP).
Furthermore, a pitcher's K% is an indicator of their pitchability. When they strike out more batters than they walk, that usually shows good control over their fastball and increases the likelihood that they can handle harder situations in the future.
Hiura has the raw power and bat-to-ball profile to be an elite power hitter, yet his contact issues are hindering him from reaching that potential. Last season, Hiura's Z-Contact% (which measures pitches in the strike zone that resulted in contact) was among the lowest among qualified hitters.
Gallo's Z-Contact% of 76.9% in his rookie season has drastically declined from his career high of 68.4% and now stands more than one full percentage point below league average.
Hiura has shown signs of improvement this season, yet his selectivity still falls far short of Gallo's level. This issue will remain for the long run and cannot be remedied any time soon. Unless Hiura can significantly enhance his bat-to-ball skills, he could find himself left behind when it comes to becoming a reliable big-league bat.
Keston Hiura was considered one of the top prospects in the Milwaukee Brewers system when they selected him with the ninth overall pick in 2017. His ready-made bat, impressive minor-league record and impressive first season at bat made him an attractive fantasy prospect heading into 2020 fantasy drafts.
In 84 major-league games in 2019, Hiura had 19 home runs and a wRC+ of 139 - an amazing accomplishment for someone only 22 years old. Additionally, his speed and defense were outstanding as he stole nine bases.
After torching major-league pitching in 2019 and 2020, Hiura struggled to find consistent success at the plate in 2021. Although he made some progress during his second year with the Brewers, his lack of elite velocity and advanced secondaries took its toll on his performance.
His BB% was among the worst in the majors, while his strikeout rate also spiked. Throughout his minor league career he attempted to improve his swing and plate discipline but couldn't seem to make progress stick.
Despite his struggles, the 24-year-old was given another chance at Triple-A Nashville and did well in nine games, hitting.438/.526/.906 with three home runs. This may have convinced the Brewers that he can regain some form and take his career to its next phase; though it will be no easy feat.
Hiura has the potential to become a reliable lineup option, but his recent discovery of his lost hitting tool gives him reason for optimism. He already possesses all the necessary qualities to become an impressive star; now it remains to be seen if he can put them all together.