(Photo: Gary A. Vasquez, USA TODAY Sports)
2020 season age: 26 – Throws: Right – Bats: Right- Contract: – $583,500 (pre-arb)
2019 in review: Though much of his playing time and damage came against left handed pitching, 2019 was something of a breakout year for Jordan Luplow. In 216 plate appearances, he hit .276/.372/.551 with 15 homers, 15 doubles and a 137 wRC+. The Indians traded RHP Tanaj Thomas and INF Erik Gonzalez to the Pirates for Luplow and INF Max Moroff, who has since moved on.
Beyond the stats: StatCast didn’t get enough data from Luplow in 2019 to list his percentile rank in exit velocity and hard hit %, which were 89.3% and 38.8% respectively. 89.3 would have tied him for 82nd in baseball last year (min 300 BBE) and StatCast compares his 2019 batted ball data to Matt Chapman, Joc Pederson, Ji-Man Choi, Mitch Moreland and Christian Walker. That’s an interesting mix of solid to more upside.
Offensive impact: As we know, left handers weren’t too happy to see Jordan Luplow in the Indians lineup when they faced them. He had a 198 wRC+ against them with 14 of his 15 homers. He had just a 48 wRC+ against right handed pitching. In 2018 in 226 at bats against right handers in AAA, Luplow had an .803 OPS versus righties, so he’s had recent success facing them in the past, just not in the majors yet. We know he’s a middle of the order type hitter against left handed pitching so far.
Defensive impact: StatCast Outs Above Average had Luplow at +2 in right field, -2 in left field and zero in CF. He was only in the 40th percentile in outfielder jump but 80th in sprint speed, so perhaps he has better quickness to aid his defense than his numbers flesh out. Fangraphs’ DRS had him with slightly better ratings with 0 in LF, 1 in CF and +2 in RF. Overall it seems like Luplow is a solid outfielder who can add some value.
2020 role: It appears that Luplow is going to get more playing time against right handed pitching in 2020. Terry Francona and the Indians thinks he has earned it and the Indians could use another stable outfielder who can play the field alongside Oscar Mercado. He’ll get the chance to prove he can hit right handed pitching as well as left handed pitching.
Fantasy impact: Last year you could spot play Luplow if he was in the lineup against a lefty if you needed the help. Right now because he’s going to have some regular at bats, Luplow is someone you probably can own if you play in a deep mixed league – leagues where anyone with a starting job needs to be owned. Keep an eye on his performance early in the year and see what kind of start he gets off to and how many righties he’s playing against. I wouldn’t target him other than a late flier in a draft where all starters are basically drafted, but there’s some sleeper upside if he does indeed perform better against right handed pitching.