Paulo Orlando was a pleasant surprise for Ned Yost in 2015 and was rewarded with a World Series roster spot. What will Orlando’s value be moving forward?
As the Kansas City Royals enter Spring Training, Kings of Kauffman will release a series of articles on the 25-man roster. We will be going through each individual player, including the locks, bubble players, and a few prospects. We will progress through the roster from the top down, continuing with the projected starting lineup.
So far, we have looked at Yordano Ventura, Edinson Volquez, Ian Kennedy, Chris Young, Danny Duffy, Kris Medlen, Luke Hochevar, Kelvin Herrera, Joakim Soria, Wade Davis, Salvador Perez, Eric Hosmer, Omar Infante, Christian Colon, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Lorenzo Cain, and Jarrod Dyson
Today, we will be looking at Paulo Orlando
"2015 stats – .249/.269/.444, 7 HR, 27 RBI, .195 ISO, 89 wRC+, 1.0 fWAR2016 Steamer – .254/.289/.363, 4 HR, 23 RBI, .109 ISO, 76 wRC+, 0.0 fWAR"
Projected Role – Fourth Outfielder/Platoon Right Fielder (Projected to open season as starting right fielder)
For a guy who had spent nearly a decade in the minor leagues before seeing a major league at-bat, he wasn’t too bad of a player in 2015.
He obviously got off to a hot start, smashing five triples in his first seven games. That accounts for roughly a quarter of his extra-base hits on the season.
Despite that buffer, he still pushed out an above league average .419 SLG% and .172 ISO after his seven game outburst to begin the season.
That power was almost completely negated, however, due to an outrageous inability to get on base.
I say outrageous because on the season, he registered a minuscule .269 OBP and an even worse 2% walk rate, taking just five free passes on the season.
However, the principle isn’t outrageous, as noted by Matt Klaassen of Fangraphs.
"“Orlando shows all the signs of having been in the Royals’ system for a long time,” Klaassen said. “He likes to swing the bat and not walk much.”"
The numbers support this theory. His 53% swing rate was well above the league average of 47%, which would have been more acceptable if he wasn’t swing at nearly 40% of pitches out of the strike zone.
All together, Orlando’s offensive fWAR settled at a -1.4, much due his surprising lack of speed.
Orlando is a former junior Olympic sprinter who stole 34 bases just last season in Omaha, but in 2015, managed just three steals.
This is where we see the biggest difference in Dyson and Orlando’s games. They are both good defenders, with an advantage to Dyson, and neither get on base, again with a small advantage going to Dyson. Orlando makes up for these two small advantages, with a big difference in power for 2015.
However, Dyson uses his speed, and Orlando doesn’t. There’s a decent chance that that will change, at least a little bit, in 2016, but Dyson is one of the most proven base stealers in baseball, while Orlando failed to convert speed into stolen bases in 2015.
We see much of Dyson’s value coming from his speed, both offensively and defensively, but we did not see that from Orlando.
However, his value was saved by solid defensive play in right field.
In fact, he was actually a top-15 AL outfielder according to his eight DRS, notching one more defensive run saved than Alex Gordon‘s seven.
And his Revised Zone Rating, which measures “the proportion of balls hit into a fielder’s zone that he successfully converted into an out,” was actually tops in the AL for outfielders who played at least 600 innings, at .968.
So, the thing is, Orlando did hit for power in 2015. It’s just that he has hardly done that ever in his career.
In fact, Orlando has slugged over .440 or better just once in his career prior to 2015, and that was in 2010 in the hitter friendly Texas League.
This caused Klaassan to question the validity of Orlando’s power.
"“The slugging (and isolated power) stand out, but aside from the usual sample size issues, it is important to note that Orlando managed six triples (even a speedster such as Orlando probably does not have that sort of triples rate) and, more shockingly, seven home runs,” Klaassan said. “The last time Orlando hit double digit home runs in a full season was in 2010 in Double-A. In other words, the power is not real.”"
If you really look at his power numbers, you’d be inclined to believe Klaassan.
In 2015, it took Orlando 241 at-bats to get to seven home runs. In 2007-08, Orlando hit eight and nine homers, respectively, but it took him 391 and 451 at-bats, respectively.
In his last full season (2014, Triple-A Omaha), it took Orlando 501 at-bats to hit six homers.
The six triples are a little more believable, given his speed and the fact that he hit 10 triples in just 167 at-bats back in 2011, but still unlikely.
Of the five minor league instances of Orlando hitting six or more triples, only once did they happen in fewer than 419 at-bats. In 2015, he did that in 241, and five of those six came in a span of 29 at-bats. After those five triples, Orlando tripled just once over his next 212 at-bats.
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So the power is more than likely not legitimate.
On the flip side, neither was his strong ability to stay off base.
He was no Joey Votto in the minors, but in over 4,000 plate appearances, he maintained a .324 OBP, a staunch improvement from his .269 mark in 2015. As recently as 2014, he put together a .255 clip with a 7.0 BB%.
What we will likely see from Orlando in 2016, given enough at-bats for a reasonable sample size, is a decrease in power and increase in on-base skills.
With that being said, he is still a below-average hitter, and if he is to have any offensive value in 2016, he’s going to need to start doing some work on the base paths.
Best case scenario, Orlando’s 2015 wasn’t a total mirage and his on-base skills were, leading to a .270/.320/.430ish season, which would be good for a respectable .750 OPS, while stealing 15+ bases.
Worst case scenario, Orlando’s power was just a blip and his lack of on-base skills was more reflective of an increase in competition level than a misrepresentation of his previous work, leading to a .260/.290/.380, good for a measly .670 OPS.
Most likely scenario? Probably somewhere right in the middle, with his defense keeping him on life support. With an anticipated bump in production on the base paths, maybe Orlando’s value comes off of life support.
Either way, let’s hope that Jarrod Dyson is ready to platoon sooner rather than later.