2020 season age: 24 – Throws: Right – Bats: Right – Contract: Rookie status
2019 in review: Chang also made his major league debut in 2019, filling in first for Jose Ramirez mid-summer during paternity leave and then again (sort of) when Ramirez went down with a fractured hamate bone. Well, when Ryan Flaherty wasn’t playing. Overall he hit .178/.286/.274 with a homer, two doubles, triple and six RBI. Chang had a finger injury that kept him from playing early on in Columbus and when he returned he hit .253/.322/.427 with nine homers and 15 doubles and 39 RBI.
Beyond the stats: In 84 plate appearances Chang ran a 13.1 BB% in the majors as opposed to his 9.2 BB% at the Triple-A level in 2019. He’s never ran walk rates like that in the minors, so the track record suggests that’s not sustainable, but that would really increase his overall offensive profile if it was. But his strikeout rate and his swinging strike rates have held firm. His O-Swing% near 30% does suggest he chased more than a 13 BB% rate would suggest.
Offensive impact: Chang has 20 homer power, possibly more, with a below average hit tool. Some scouts apparently have found out that Chang hits the ball with more backspin on a baseball than is deemed good, reducing the distance of his fly balls. And it’s been deemed this isn’t something that can be taught or would be, or perhaps un-taught. It’s a power over hit profile but the power isn’t anything that’s strong enough to play regularly anywhere but shortstop or second base.
Defensive impact: In Triple-A, Chang saw some time at second base as well as shortstop and third base. He played mostly third base at the major league level in his two stints with shortstop peppered in. He actually was credited with +1 DRS at third base and OAA had him at +2. Clay Davenport’s projections had him at an even zero. He really projects better at third base than second base, and shortstop as well. It looks like at third base he could be an average, to slightly above average defender.
2020 role: With Christian Arroyo on the 40 man roster and out of options and Cesar Hernandez signed to play second base, it’s a safe bet than Chang is headed back to Columbus to play presumably shortstop, third base and some second base. With the 26 man roster perhaps he has an outside chance to make it, but the Indians seem pretty likely to carry five outfielders and 13 pitchers along with Arroyo and their regular infield and backup catcher. That squeezes Chang out and keeps him as the next callup should an infielder go down.
Fantasy impact: Without regular at bats in his future in 2020, there’s not much reason to roster Chang. If the Indians were to trade Francisco Lindor next winter, there’s a good chance Chang could have the shortstop job early in the year, provided they wouldn’t get a shortstop ready to play back in such a trade. He could be trade bait himself in 2020. There are better shortstop options to stash in deeper, dynasty leagues. He’ll only get a regular shot at playing time if Arroyo and someone else goes down in 2020 so just monitor injury situations for now and if he had at bats, you’d probably get marginal power, a batting average that is below average at a pretty deep position.