Collette Calls: Pedigree Bias?

Collette Calls: Pedigree Bias?

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

There is a scene in "Top Gun" where Goose is talking to Maverick after the latter got the duo into trouble after buzzing the flight control tower at the Naval Air Station Miramar:

Goose: When I realized we were off to Top Gun, all I could think about was that trophy. I've got to be straight with you, Mav. Right now, I just hope we graduate. I've got a family to think about. I can't afford to blow this.

Maverick: I guess that fly-by wasn't such a big hit, huh?

Goose: I  know it's tough. The academy rejected you because you're Duke Mitchell's kid. You have to live with that reputation, but it's like you're flying against a ghost. 

This is how I imagine fantasy managers talking with Cavan Biggio as we close out the season. Our preseason rankings placed the progeny of a Hall of Famer at 118, but the hype around him was very real as his final ADP during the draft season was nearly 60 spots higher at 63. It has to be tough on the young man when his last name elicits visions of an on-base machine who can steal bags and hit for pop. Biggio even enjoyed the luxury of allowing other famous last names to steal the early spotlight, yet there he was being selected aggressively across multiple formats. He was fourth on the second base ADP charts behind only DJ LeMahieu, Ozzie Albies and Whit Merrifield. The reach

There is a scene in "Top Gun" where Goose is talking to Maverick after the latter got the duo into trouble after buzzing the flight control tower at the Naval Air Station Miramar:

Goose: When I realized we were off to Top Gun, all I could think about was that trophy. I've got to be straight with you, Mav. Right now, I just hope we graduate. I've got a family to think about. I can't afford to blow this.

Maverick: I guess that fly-by wasn't such a big hit, huh?

Goose: I  know it's tough. The academy rejected you because you're Duke Mitchell's kid. You have to live with that reputation, but it's like you're flying against a ghost. 

This is how I imagine fantasy managers talking with Cavan Biggio as we close out the season. Our preseason rankings placed the progeny of a Hall of Famer at 118, but the hype around him was very real as his final ADP during the draft season was nearly 60 spots higher at 63. It has to be tough on the young man when his last name elicits visions of an on-base machine who can steal bags and hit for pop. Biggio even enjoyed the luxury of allowing other famous last names to steal the early spotlight, yet there he was being selected aggressively across multiple formats. He was fourth on the second base ADP charts behind only DJ LeMahieu, Ozzie Albies and Whit Merrifield. The reach for Biggio hurts because the return on investment has been poor and there were good values to be had down the chart:

Player

NFBC

12 Tm Earned Roto Value

DJ LeMahieu

28

$7 

Ozzie Albies

35

$30 

Whit Merrifield

41

$24 

Cavan Biggio

71

($8)

Brandon Lowe

72

$18 

Keston Hiura

77

($15)

Ketel Marte

79

($2)

Jose Altuve

93

$25 

Max Muncy

96

$23 

Jeff McNeil

98

($5)

Mike Moustakas

122

($13)

Dylan Moore

127

$1 

Tommy Edman

129

$9 

Nick Solak

174

($2)

Jean Segura

188

$9 

Nick Madrigal

200

($7)

Jake Cronenworth

201

$19 

Jonathan Villar

219

$3 

Chris Taylor

221

$24 

Gavin Lux

223

($3)

Ryan McMahon

228

$16 

David Fletcher

233

$10 

Garrett Hampson

246

($1)

Kolten Wong

270

$3 

Ty France

282

$10 

Mauricio Dubon

297

($11)

Jon Berti

304

($8)

Jurickson Profar

306

($5)

Joey Wendle

354

$6 

Tommy La Stella

371

($17)

Jonathan Schoop

374

$18 

Cesar Hernandez

383

$10 

Enrique Hernandez

393

$8 

Starlin Castro

411

($4)

Scott Kingery

432

($22)

Wilmer Flores

434

$4 

Jazz Chisholm

441

$6 

Brendan Rodgers

455

($4)

Luis Arraez

462

$0 

Josh Rojas

480

$7 

Nico Hoerner

492

($12)

Mike Brosseau

493

($13)

Adam Frazier

494

$10 

Niko Goodrum

497

($4)

Marwin Gonzalez

499

($13)

The question must be asked: why was the market so aggressive on him before the season? Our own fantasy outlook had this to say about him:

Biggio showed that he's not to be overlooked in Toronto. He led the Buffalo Blue Jays in OBP and remained perfect on steal attempts, going 6-for-6 to make him 20-for-20 so far in his big-league career. Just entering his age-26 season, Biggio is already one of the most patient hitters in baseball as evidenced by the lowest O-Swing% among qualifiers in 2020. His overall Swing% was third lowest and his 15.5 BB% ranked 12th in MLB. A case can be made that he was a little too patient in 2020 as his Meatball Swing% was nearly three percentage points below league average. He would be wise to hunt some pitches earlier in counts if he wants to sustain the rate power from last season -- it seems unsustainable right now with his underwhelming batted-ball metrics. Helping his case is three-position eligibility (2B, 3B, OF) in leagues with a 10-game minimum for 2021, as well as his projected spot atop the Toronto order.

That outlook was written in early November, when the news and the pundits had Biggio likely hitting second or no worse than sixth in the talented Toronto lineup. The lineup position and the low chase rate were strong positives in his corner, but his overall passiveness at the plate and lack of quality contact were minuses. Had Biggio had a nondescript last name like Williams, or Collette, the marketplace may have viewed him differently. After all, his red/blue ink profile last year was a step back from his rookie season:

The plate discipline and speed were the attractiveness of the profile, but the quality of contact worsened in 2020, which was apparently just chalked up to Covid craziness. The allure of a third full season breakout was distracting us on paper from what was a risky profile considering safer track records were available at the position throughout the draft season. The minor league track record presented efforts of low batting average but sold power, on-base skills and stolen bases. We do not have much public data on the quality of contact from the minor leagues, but the combination of data from 2019 and 2020 should have given us more pause than it did. 

There is some recent renewed interest in FAAB activity on Biggio as he is close to returning from his rehab assignment to rejoin Toronto. The remainder of Toronto's schedule is rather tasty as it includes nine more games against Baltimore, four games in Yankee Stadium's short right-field porch and seven contests against Minnesota. The problem for Biggio is that any time in the lineup is going to happen at the bottom as there is little chance the Jays will break up the righties at the top of the lineup. Even if they did, Corey Dickerson would be a safer fit. 

Biggio's struggles this year could be written off to him dealing with back troubles, just as his struggles last year were written off to the disrupted season, and his numbers from 2019 were written off to his inexperience at the big-league level. At some point, we should accept that Cavan is not his father and he never was going to be that guy. He is already 26 and will be 27 just after the 2022 season begins allowing for Age 27 pseudo-scientists to get all excited about what could possibly happen for Biggio. The fact remains we have three years of data that do not merit him being taken anywhere in the top 350. After all, 2021 profits such as Jonathan Schoop and Cesar Hernandez, who had track records, could not even sniff the top 350 this year. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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