Image: USA Today
2021 age: 27
Bats: Right; Throws: Right
Contract: Pre-Arb 2
2020 stats: 92PA: .192/.304/.359 – 2 HR, 8 RBI, 81 wRC+, 0.4 fWAR
2020 in review: It was a tough year for Luplow, who had a back injury in the Summer Camp (Spring training 2.0) and never quite got on track for all the time he missed trying to catch up. He hit well below his 2019 performance but still managed only a 20% strikeout rate and a 13% walk rate, so he maintained his strike zone discipline despite the fact he struggled to hit. He did still manage to hit .270/.349/.432 against left handers, not the rate he crushed them at in 2019 but still valuable in his role.
Offensive impact: In 2019, Luplow mashed against left handers to a .320/.439/.742 mark in 155 plate appearances against southpaws. He managed just a .573 OPS against right handers. In 2020 against right handers it was .558, so the same results. Luplow hit right handers better in the minors but has played against them inconsistently in the majors, but when he has, the numbers haven’t been good. Luplow has power against lefties, has a good approach at the plate and that is clearly his offensive capabilities and role on this team. He can consistently swat the ball over the fence against left handers.
Defensive impact: Luplow’s 2020 sprint speed was in the 65th percentile and his outfielder jump on Statcast was in the 1%, so he looked like just an average outfielder given all that. He was at a -1 in Outs Above Average in left and right field last year, -2 in left field in 2019 and +1 in right field. He did grade out at a 0 in center. Luplow is pretty reliable in all three outfield spots, including being able to fill in on a short term basis in center.
Beyond the stats: As noted, Luplow’s plate discipline in 2020 should show that he was probably just thrown out of whack by his back issue, the strange season and just general timing. He actually swung and missed less in 2020 from 2019 (7.3% down from 10.8%). He had a better exit velocity in 2019 (89) than 2020 (83) and in 2019, his barrel rate was a solid 12.1%. His infield fly ball rate skyrocketed to 22% in 2020 from just 7.8% in 2019, so he might have just been out in front a lot. That also should explain the drop in exit velo. Either way, a lot of signs point to Luplow’s 2020 just being a bad year fluke.
2021 role: The problem in 2021 so far is that Luplow has ben slowed by an ankle injury. He appeared in one ‘B’ spring game so far and no main games. He’s going to have to make up for missed time, a little like he did trying to catch up in 2020 with his back issue. These are little injuries and things that could be a concern. Still, if he’s healthy, he’s the starter in right or left field against left handed pitching, and a powerful one at that. He brings an offensive balance the team needs.
Fantasy impact: Doesn’t play often enough to warrant a fantasy spot. If you are a DFS player, he’s a cheap option you could get against left handed pitching given his track record. But in general fantasy leagues there’s not enough value here despite his good numbers against left handers, unless you’re looking at someone to improve your rate stats if you played him against southpaws, you just wouldn’t get volume.