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Over/Under 2021 Preview: Jordan Luplow

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Will Jordan Luplow be worth more or less than 1.4 fWAR in 2021?

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Cleveland Indians Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

Based on ZiPS projections, Jordan Luplow is expected to finish 2021 with the following stats:

412 PA, 10.9 BB%, 23.5 K%, .242/.333/.439, 99 wRC+, 1.4 fWAR

Read what our writers think, then vote in the poll below and drop your own opinions in the comments and on the Let’s Go Tribe Discord.

Matt Lyons’s Prediction: OVER

Jordan Luplow? Do you mean MIKE TROUT*?

*against lefties

The Lupinator; Lup, Stock, and Barrelled — whatever you want to call him (hopefully neither of those), Jordan Luplow has been a certified lefty killer in his four-year career, and somehow Cleveland stole him from Pittsburgh for nothing more than Erik Gonzalez and a bag of dreams. Since then he’s been one of the more prolific hitters against left-handed pitchers in baseball.

The problem here, of course, is that value typically requires you to hit against everybody, not just pitchers who have trouble finding scissors in a pinch. As a result, he has not been the second coming of Mickey Mantle, but instead anywhere from a solid hitter to a well below-average one, depending on which arm the pitcher on the mound throws with.

The fatal flaw with ZiPS projections for Luplow seems to be that it doesn’t anticipate Cleveland platooning him, and instead of trying to shove him out there for 117 games (412 PA) hoping he can learn to hit right-handed pitching.

Cleveland has already tried that in a desperate attempt to make him figure it out, but it hasn’t worked. In 2020 he had 49 appearances against righties and 43 against southpaws. He finished with a .255 and .337 wOBA against them, respectively; he struck out 24.5% of the time against righties and just 16.3% of the time against lefties.

His career splits are even more dramatic, with a .405 wOBA against righties and a .260 wOBA against lefties. It’d be nice if he could be an elite hitter from both sides of the plate, but if he can’t be, I think eventually you just have to admit that you half of a great hitter and that’s better than none.

My over prediction here isn’t a big one (because I don’t actually think he’ll be Mike Trout against lefties like he was in 2019), but with smart platooning, I could see him getting over 1.4 fWAR — even if it means fewer at-bats than ZiPS projects.

Matt Schlichting’s Prediction: UNDER

To me, Luplow is one of the hardest players to predict this season. If nobody else in the outfield figures their life out and Luplow plays every day against lefties, he’ll probably rake and put up around 1.4 fWAR while never facing a right-handed pitcher.

The problem is that Cleveland has, I believe, eleven outfielders right now.

If Nolan Jones moves to right field by the end of April and holds down the starting job, how often will Luplow even play?

He’s a player that I absolutely want on the roster because of how devastating he is against lefties. For that reason I think he’s a perfect fourth outfielder for the team — he can play either corner and pretty much every game there is an opportunity to get him a late-innings at-bat against a lefty reliever.

I guess it comes down to this for me: I’m a little higher on Jones, Johnson, et al than most other folks. While I think that Luplow is capable of putting up 1.4 fWAR without a ton of difficulty, I don’t think he’s going to get the playing time.

Said another way, if he does get 412 PA we might be talking about other issues all season.

Poll

Will Jordan Luplow finish 2021 with an fWAR over or under 1.4?

This poll is closed

  • 37%
    Over
    (39 votes)
  • 62%
    Under
    (66 votes)
105 votes total Vote Now