Jonathan Villar went from the steal of 2016 Fantasy Baseball drafts to one of the worst investments in 2017 drafts. The Brewers second baseman was a league winner two years ago with 19 home runs and 62 stolen bases as a late-round pick in most leagues. Last season, Villar put teams in a deep hole since he was taken in the second round of most drafts and produced just 11 home runs and 23 steals.
What does that mean for his 2018 draft price? It means he will be cheap. The market reacts in extreme fashion when this occurs. Villar always showed the ability to pile up stolen bases, but didn’t get a chance to play every day until 2016 and he flourished.
In 156 games, Villar batted .285 with 92 runs, 19 home runs, 63 RBIs and 62 stolen bases. While most people expected those numbers to take a hit, it was worse than even the most pessimistic projection. Villar lost playing time and went from 589 at-bats to 403 at-bats and 122 games.
Villar batted .241 with 49 runs, 11 home runs, 40 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. He went from a .369 on-base percentage to .293. His strikeout rate increased from 25.6 percent to 30.3 percent and his walk rate lowered from 11.6 percent to 6.9 percent. Villar was simply an enormous bust in 2017.
There’s a lot of talk about the decline in stolen bases in Major League Baseball and it’s pushing players up draft boards. It’s one of the main reasons Villar was valued so much in 2017 drafts. There were 2,764 stolen bases in 2014. Since then, there were 2,505 in 2015, 2,537 in 2016 and 2,527 steals last season. It’s not a drastic change, but fewer and fewer players are reaching 30 steals compared to previous years. In 2014, 15 players reached 30 steals. There were seven in 2015, 14 in 2016 and six last year.
The biggest problem for Villar was the on-base percentage. He dropped below .300 and that means less opportunities to run and that was and still is the biggest draw of Villar’s value. His approach at the plate got worse, too.
Villar is slated to be the starting second baseman for the Brewers going into the season. He will not hit leadoff and is likely to bat eighth with the additions of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain.
With all this being said, Villar is cheap in early drafts with an ADP of 185.47, according to fantrax.com. I believe he is worth the price considering his ability to pile up stolen bases. It’s not like his speed has changed. If Villar can improve his plate discipline and get back to the 2016 form, he could get back to 30 stolen bases and become a good investment. If he fails, the price tag paid in drafts won’t cripple your team like it did last season.