(Image: Ken Blaze/USA Today)
2021 age: 25
Bats: Left; Throws: Left
Contract: League Minimum Contract (Arbitration 2023)
2020 stats: N/A 2019: .226/.312/.371 – 12 HR, 43 RBI, 80 wRC+, -0.3 fWAR
2020 in review: Due to COVID restrictions and Cleveland exhausting every outfield option they had in 2020, minus Bauers, we have no numbers for him from last season. Jake Bauers is young as he is still only 25 years old. His numbers with Indians show he is very well known to take a walk with a BB% in the 72nd percentile of all major leaguers. While that is the case Bauers also whiffs almost at a higher more alarming rate. In 2019, Bauers struck out in 27.2% of his at bats. Bauers did show promise in certain hot streaks throughout early 2019. He hit for the cycle June 14th, 2019 against Detroit.
Offense impact: Bauers follows a common theme in today’s game: shifts and large swings. Bauers was shifted 53.5% of his at bats in 2019. Strangely enough he was pretty even across the board using all parts of ballpark. Meanwhile Bauers seemed to struggle with breaking balls. He whiffed on 38.3% on curveballs he saw in 2019. Also in 2019 he hit .095 vs pitchers who threw cutters.
Defensive Impact: Meanwhile in the field nothing sticks out about Bauers defensively. His range is ranked slightly below average, with a -7 Outs Above Average according to Baseball Savant. He’s slightly better at first base with his mobility, finishing at at even 0 in OAA on Savant. Fangraphs’ DRS (defensive runs saved) backs up these numbers with -3 in LF and 0 at first.
Beyond the stats: Bauers when traded for from Tampa Bay was considered to have lots of potential and was very young. He has not lived up to his expectations at the plate with the major league club resulting in him not getting any playing time in 2020. There has been some positives between some small hot streaks in 2019 and good faith from manager Terry Francona that believes Bauers will be everyday player one day. Although currently there is a lot to be desired with Bauers he could get playing time in 2021. If you want to point to a positive, his walk rate, as we mentioned, of 10.6% puts him in the upper 1/3 of baseball, so we know he has a good eye at the plate. While his xWOBA (expected weighted on-base average, where every offensive outcome has a weighted average, from an out made to a homer) was poor, his xWOBACON (expected weighted on base on contact – where they only give the weighted on-base average for the times a hitter puts the ball in play) was .360, which is OK, so when he puts the ball in play, good things happen. For reference, Carlos Santana’s 2019 xWOBACON in his All-Star season was .391. Bauers just needs to find ways to put the ball in play a little more often and cut the strikeouts.
2021 role: This will come down to what Indians decided do with some of final outfield spots in 2021. Bauers could be in play for one of those spots with a good spring, but he could have a short leash. There could be a glimmer of hope that Bauers shows some more pop in his at bats and continues to walk at a high rate. He career with Indians is much to be determined. Bauers has a uphill battle to make the roster after signing of Eddie Rosario. He’s out of options, so that also factors into how the Indians go about determining his spot.
Fantasy Outlook: Some power and walk numbers, but nothing worth taking a flier on. Even in a deep league. Most likely make roster and get consistent at bats. Look elsewhere.