The IBI Preview Capsules are back for 2017 as Jake Dungan takes an in-depth look at all the players who could impact the Tribe in the upcoming season from the established stars to the prospects on the verge of being called up to the majors to the non-roster invites to spring training.
Brandon Guyer, OF
Throws: Right -- Bats: Right -- Entering his age-31 season -- Contract: First year of a 2-year, $5 million deal ($3 million club option for 2019 w/ $250K buyout)
2016 In Review: After spending parts of five seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Brandon Guyer was dealt to the Indians at the trade deadline last season for outfield prospect Nathan Lukes. Prior to the trade, Guyer was batting .241 with seven homers and 18 RBI's in a part-time role with the Rays. After coming to the Tribe, the Pennsylvania native caught fire as he hit .333 with two homers and 14 RBI's in 38 games down the stretch as he proved to be an ideal platoon mate in right field for the left-handed Lonnie Chisenhall due to his impressive splits against southpaws. Another added factor to his game is his unique propensity for getting hit by pitches. Last year, the 30-year-old led major league baseball in that category with 31 between Tampa and Cleveland. In 2015, Guyer led the American League getting hit 24 times. To avoid arbitration, the Indians signed the utility outfielder to a two-year, $5 million dollar extension.
Versus Right-handers: Both the Rays and Indians figured out quickly that Guyer was going to be more effective against lefties than right-handers. Last year, the former fifth round pick of the Cubs batted just .216 with a .628 OPS against righties with a strikeout-to-walk ratio close to four. His career splits are about the same at .236 and .644, respectively with a ratio of 3.17. Unless injuries force him into an everyday role, Guyer's exposure to right-handed pitching should be limited moving forward, especially in a platoon with Chisenhall.
Versus Left-handers: Guyer is an ideal platoon player and as close to a perfect fit for this Indians roster as you can get. Against southpaws, the 30-year-old has a career .289/.391/.470 slash line with 11 more home runs and 10 more RBI's than against right-handers. That dominance was never more evident than in 2016 when Guyer posted a .336/.464/.557 slash line against lefties adding up to an impressive 1.021 OPS. Also in his career, he's been hit more than twice as much against lefties. So if you need someone to get a hit against a tough left-handed reliever late in the game, or just get on base, odds are Guyer is going to come through more often than not.
Defense: In the field, Guyer is a guy who isn't going to win any Gold Goves, but he's not going to hurt you too much out there. He's seen time at all three outfield positions, but his primary spots are in the corners. His best defensive position is left field with eight career DRS and a 5.3 UZR. In right, he's right around the breakeven point with -1 DRS and an 0.9 UZR. The Indians will likely use him in right field most of the time, but depending on Michael Brantley's health and ability to play in the outfield everyday, he could easily see a fair bit of time in left as well. Best case scenario is he provides average to slightly above average defense, but even if he doesn't, his platoon value can still make him serviceable in the field.
Fantasy Impact: If you need a guy on your bench who can get you some easy points when a lefty is on the mound, you couldn't find anyone much better than Guyer. Steamer and Depth Charts have his projections pretty closely aligned with his 2016 statistics with a .266/.341/.402 slash line. His value is expected to drop slightly from 1.2 WAR to 0.7-0.9 WAR, but that could be due to potentially less playing time as he'll likely be in a more strict platoon role with the Tribe. Fangraphs is being somewhat conservative in their hit-by-pitch projections, however, with both Steamer and Depth Charts checking in at less than 20. As someone who, by his own admission, said he's going to stand his ground against any pitcher, Guyer seems more likely to lead the league getting hit once again in 2017.
Summary: Not much was thought of the Brandon Guyer trade at the time, but he has since proven to be a valuable member of the Tribe and worth the two-year contract they offered him. The days of struggling against left-handed pitching should be well behind them with a lineup featuring newly-added Edwin Encarnacion, four switch hitters, two right-handed catchers and then, of course Guyer on the bench. Bottom line, this should be a tough lineup to play matchup against this season.
Check out our other 2017 Preview Capsules here:
- 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion
- LHP Andrew Miller
- RHP Corey Kluber
- 3B Jose Ramirez
- INF Erik Gonzalez
- RHP Cody Allen
- OF Abraham Almonte
- 2B Jason Kipnis
- RHP Carlos Carrasco
- OF Bradley Zimmer
- C Roberto Perez
- 1B/DH Carlos Santana
- RHP Adam Plutko