Projections for Altherr in 2019
Altherr’s strikeout rate rose considerably from 2017 to 2018, jumping from 25.2% to 31.9%. Looking at Altherr’s plate discipline numbers, the only noticeable change was the amount of contact he made on pitches outside of the zone; it dropped from 52.0% to 41.8% despite swinging at fewer pitches outside the zone according to Fangraphs.
Whatever the source of the increased strikeouts, it’s near-impossible to succeed with a strikeout rate above 30%. If he continues to strike out that often this season, he won’t stick around for long.
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Projections are understandably lukewarm on Altherr for the year. PECOTA projects Altherr to finish the year with a .235/.321/.400 line in 192 plate appearances. ZiPS projects similar numbers from Altherr with a .218/.308/.403 line in 114 games. These numbers are decent enough for a bench outfielder but certainly aren’t outstanding.
It should be noted that the last time Altherr came off a down season, he returned to be one of the team’s more productive hitters in 2017. He could do something again this year, although it would have to come as a reserve barring a long-term injury to one of the starting outfielders.
If Altherr performs like a serviceable fourth outfielder, he will find a way to stay on the team. His defense and ability to play center field give him an advantage over Williams, while his ability to stay healthier than Quinn gives him the advantage there.
However, if Altherr struggles like he did last year, it’s unlikely he will stay on the roster for long.