Who The Eff Is This Guy: Matt Adams
Originally posted on RotoAnalysis.com, Who The Eff Is This Guy is a fantasy baseball series on players when they get the call. It looks at their fantasy value, their likelihood to stay in the majors, and their tools.
On Sunday May 20th, the Cardinals placed Lance Berkman on the 15-day DL and made room for one of my favorite prospects in baseball, Matt Adams, to come up to the major league roster and hypothetically start at first base.
Before we get into his tools and fantasy value, let’s start by talking about who Adams was as a prospect. Before last season, via Kevin Goldstein of Baseball Prospectus’ rankings, Matt Adams did not rank among the top 15 prospects in the Cardinals system at any point. Despite success at every stop in the minors, Adams was deemed one of those players who ‘just has to prove it at every level’ because he wasn’t a high draft pick, a great prospect, and at first, he didn’t wow scouts in the stands. That was mostly due to his body.
The first comment on Adams’ tools has to be about his body because it’s… well… notable. He’s got what I would quantify as a ‘pear shaped’ frame, including a wide face, a large gut, huge legs, and a Charles Barkley-esque rear-end. He’s listed at 6’3” 230, but I’d probably add 30-50 pounds to that estimate, and maybe more. That weight and size is bad for his fielding value, as Adams is going to be limited to first base or designated hitter his entire career.
However, that weight does lead to Adams’ best tool, which is his power. He’s got 30 or more home run a year ability, which should come with plenty of doubles as well, and he’s one of the few current prospects (probably fewer than 15) that you can say that about. Unlike most slugging prototypes, Adams pairs his power with a really good hit tool, as he’s hit over .300 at every single level in the minors, including .340 so far this year at Triple A Memphis.
Adams’ big hang-up at the plate is his discipline. He is quite a free-swinger, often getting behind in counts, which has lead to a mediocre K rate (18% this year in Triple A) but a well below average walk rate (6%). He also will provide 0 speed a la Adam Dunn or Prince Fielder.
The one thing I’ll add to his tools profile is that Adams is one of very few current first base prospects in the minors. As it is, there aren’t many great young first basemen in the majors, and it’s a much shallower position than it used to be. That only adds to Adams’ short and long-term value, as he’s likely going to be a top 10 fantasy first basemen for a long time, even if his stats don’t exactly look like it.
Getting back to who Matt Adams was as a prospect, here’s what we’ve learned so far: he’s a St. Louis Cardinals first basemen who wasn’t a high draft pick, has a great hit tool, well above average power, has had success at every level, and has had very little notoriety until getting called up. You don’t have to be a genius to make the Pujols comparison with Adams, but I think that would be unfair to both players. I love Matt Adams and I think he’s going to rake in the majors for a long time, but it’s unfair to him as well as your perception of him to compare him to the best slugger of a generation. There’s a chance that Adams, like Pujols, shines right away, but it is more likely that he will struggle and then adjust.
A fair projection for Adams this season is a .280 15-20 HR guy the rest of the way (if he gets full playing time in the majors), which is good but not great. However, with time, I expect him to blossom into a .300+ hitter with 25-30 homers annually as early as 2014. Get him on board now in keeper leagues where there are basically no good long-term first basemen, and he should be 100% owned as long as he is getting everyday at bats in 10 team or deeper standard formats.
Thanks to Daniel Brickner for editing.