Wednesday, May 29, 2024
AnalysisMLBNational LeagueNew York MetsNL East

Appreciating Luis Guillorme

I have a trivia question for you: excluding the incredible Nick Plummer, who has the highest wRC+ on the Mets so far this season?

If you missed (or have already forgotten) the title of this blog, you might have answered Alonso, McNeil, or Nimmo—all of which are good guesses. However, you would be wrong—they rank second, third, and fourth respectively. The Mets leader in wRC+ is actually infielder Luis Guillorme. The question isn’t completely fair since Guillorme only has 115 plate appearances on the year, but it is worth appreciating how good Guillorme’s 154 wRC+ is. After Alonso, who has a 152 wRC+, the next best Met is Jeff McNeil with a 134 wRC+. If, just for fun, we ignore the small sample size, we find that Guillorme leads the Mets in several offensive statistics: wRC+, BB%, BB/K, AVG, OBP, and O-Swing%. Here’s a table comparing Guillorme’s number to the next best Met:

 wRC+BB%BB/KAVGOBPLD% (Fangraphs)O-Swing%
Luis Guillorme15413.9%1.23.340.43429.6%22.0%
Next best Met152 Alonso11.5% Nimmo0.71 Nimmo/ Jankowski.311 McNeil.367 Nimmo28.8% Davis22.5% Jankowski
Data from Fangraphs

If Guillorme had enough plate appearances to qualify, his 154 wRC+ would be the 15th best in all of baseball and his .434 OBP would be the second best. Guillorme likely won’t continue to put up these phenomenal numbers. 115 plate appearances is a small sample, within which he is running a .386 BABIP and a 0.020 wOBA-xWOBA—both red flags for regression considering that Guillorme’s career BABIP is .330 and career wOBA-xWOBA is 0.001. However, even if he regresses to his xwOBA, a .365 wOBA is still outstanding for a second baseman.

Though his lack of power and anachronistic style of slap hitting doesn’t instill the same confidence that light-tower power does, his ability to get on base is not going anywhere any time soon. Guillorme combines excellent bat to ball skills with great plate discipline, as his outstanding 9.9% whiff% and 18.2% chase rate have made him one of the few players who records more walks than strike outs. Only two players with 200 plate appearances in the past two years have a better BB/K ratio than Guillorme. Even for a low BABIP player, a BB/K profile like that will yield a high on base percentage.

I believe that, while it probably won’t be above .400, Guillorme’s BABIP should remain well above average because of his elite barrel control. According to Baseball Savant, Guillorme has a pop up rate of 1.2% (league average is 7.1%) and a line drive rate of 31.4% (league average is 25.1%). Guillorme’s standard deviation of launch angle—a strong indicator of BABIP skill—is a superb 26.2. You can read about the importance of launch angle tightness here, but to summarize, a tighter (or more consistent) launch angle means a player is hitting fewer balls straight up in the air or straight down into the ground and more line drives. Therefore, launch angle tightness is closely correlated to a player’s hit tool and BABIP.

Additionally, Guillorme’s tendency to shoot the ball the other way helps him maintain a high BABIP and outperform his xwOBA. Because of the shift, lefties tend to record poor batting averages on most groundballs. According to Fangraphs, for lefties this year, ground balls pulled and ground balls hit up the middle have an average of .130 and .229 respectively. However, lefties are hitting .496 on ground balls hit to the opposite field. While the league average lefty only hits 11.1% of his ground balls to the opposite field, Guillorme has gone the other way with 22.5% of his ground balls this year and 21.4% of his ground balls in his career. Though the potential prohibition of the shift may minimize Guillorme’s value relative to other lefties, for this year, his ability to hit groundballs the other way leads to a well above average BABIP.

Guillorme’s offense alone would be enough to force his way into the lineup, however, Guillorme is also an above average defender at a premium position. While defensive metrics are mixed about Guillorme’s performance at shortstop and third base, all three major metrics list him as an above average defender at second base in his career 484 innings there—he has an OAA of 6, DRS of 3, and a UZR of 1.6.

Though he has been hitting lefties excellently this year, Guillorme is probably still a platoon player, as he has a career wRC+ of 80 against lefties and 118 against righties. While his versatility makes it tempting to label Guillorme as a great utility player and backup, I believe that Guillorme has earned a spot in the lineup every day against righties and will be a well above average producer there if given the opportunity.

Patrick Bowe

I am a Mets fan who takes an analytical approach to baseball and evaluating players. I prefer to focus on small details instead of broad generalizations.