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Open Thread: 1 Full Year of Gorman & Nootbaar

An open thread with a topic for you to discuss!

MLB: Milwaukee Brewers at St. Louis Cardinals Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Good (achoo!) morning.

Don’t get too close to your computer screen as you read this. I’ve come down with a pretty miserable sinus infection and it might be contagious. Wouldn’t want you to catch what I have.

Anyway, I’m not up to a full article today. So, you get an open thread! But I will give you something to think about.

Last year, Nolan Gorman made his MLB debut on the 20th of May. Today is the 17th of May. that’s essentially a full calendar year. That means we have almost a full season of PAs and stats to view and break down. Gorman is at 453 PAs for his career. That’s pretty much a full one-season load for a rookie in a platoon situation.

The same thing applies to Lars Nootbaar. Nootbaar received some time as a part-time player in 2021. He made the club in 2022 but struggled out of the gate and was demoted. After that, he surged, forcing his way into the starting lineup in the second half of last year and locking that spot down since. Nootbaar is at 595 PAs in his career — the perfect “one full season” total for a player who is expected to play every day.

How have they performed in their roles?

Gorman — .243/.325/.474 slash line, 10.2% BB rate, 30% K rate, and a 124 wRC+

Nootbaar — .246/.357/.443 slash line, 14.8% BB rate, 21% K rate, and a 125 wRC+

Even while including periods of struggle for both players, the end result is awfully encouraging!

Both stat lines represent a very solid baseline for Gorman and Nootbaar to build on. And they have!

Gorman’s wRC+ is 164 with season, with a walk rate over 12. Most importantly, he’s cut his strikeouts down to 23.9%, a rate that’s high but perfectly acceptable for a player with an ISO over .300. He’s probably playing above his head this year, but we’re nearly two months in. That’s a sample size that we can’t just ignore. Barring an epic collapse, he should be able to maintain a wRC+ plus of 135 or higher for the full season. That’s pretty exciting stuff.

Nootbaar’s stats intentionally include his rookie performance, which now feels like ancient history. That drags down his totals a bit and doesn’t match his most recent performances. He’s up to a 153 wRC+ this season with an incredible 19.4% walk rate. His BABIP is unusually high — .394 — but his power is down a bit on the season. Considering his history, he likely can’t sustain his current .310 batting average, but his .450 slugging% should climb. He is also a player that benefits from the lack of shifting. That walk rate is also higher than anything he’s done in his professional career. I’m hesitant to say that it will drop much. He has always walked at an elite level, even at the low levels of the minors. It’s not crazy to think that he could do what Juan Soto has done and raise his BB rate over his MiLB norms at the MLB level. And even if he doesn’t stay at 20%, a rate above 14% seems certain. It seems like Nootbaar has positioned to guarantee himself a wRC+ of 125 of higher for the second straight year and I could probably take the over on that.

Let’s talk about both players! What do you expect from each going forward? The thread is (sniffle sniffle) yours!