There are a few players who I have been a proponent of selling for some time. Some of you may have listened and some probably haven’t. However, I think both of these are worth repeating as we head towards the second half of the season. While you may have gotten plenty of good from them over the first few months, there’s a ton of risk that the value implodes before long (all statistics are through Friday, Jule 6):
Austin Jackson – Detroit Tigers – Outfielder
When healthy Jackson has been fantastic this season, hitting .329 with 9 HR, 37 RBI, 52 R and 7 SB. Yes, he has done a good job of improving his eye at the plate, which some people will point to as a reason for his strong numbers. He has improved his strikeout rate, reducing it to 22.6% (he was at 27.1% in ’11), and improved his walk rate to 11.5% (he was at 8.4% in ’11).
Unfortunately, that’s not quite enough to justify the impressive numbers. All you have to do is look at his .413 BABIP and realize that the numbers could implode at any time. You may want to point to his .396 mark from 2010 and say that it’s possible he maintains it, but chances are it’s not. The ’10 mark, which was unrealistic in its own right, at least came courtesy of a 24.2% line drive rate. This year his higher mark is courtesy of a much more believable 19.3% mark.
While it’s just a marginal increase, he also has increased his fly ball rate each year:
- 2010 – 27.4%
- 2011 – 36.1%
- 2012 – 38.7%
Sure, he’ll provide a little bit more power, but increased fly balls generally lead to a lower BABIP. In other words the .329 average is not going to be sustainable and, when that starts to fall, the other numbers will likely go with it.
The other concern is if the average starts to plummet, could he be dropped in the batting order? Unlike past seasons the Tigers do have a replacement in Quintin Berry. If Jackson isn’t leading off, the runs scored could also suffer. Obviously, if he’s just moved to the second spot he’ll continue to score some runs. However, if he’s dropped to say seventh, it’s a little bit different.
The likelihood is that Jackson will continue to be a source of runs and therefore have value for the remainder of the season. That said, I don’t think his value will be any higher than it currently is. Now is the perfect time to cash in on the inflated BABIP.
Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays – Starting Pitcher
I feel like a broken record when it comes to Hellickson. He continues to post good numbers in an incredibly tough division, but based almost solely on luck. Thus far this season he has posted a 3.41 ERA, though it has come courtesy of a 1.37 WHIP.
The strikeouts haven’t been there, which was the real key entering the season, as he’s still sporting a 5.79 K/9. You can tell by the WHIP that his ERA is based on a lot of luck and a .255 BABIP and 83.0% strand rate hammer the point home.
It’s nearly impossible for me to think that he can continue posting the same type of ERA based on the other numbers. We’ve seen some cracks as of late, like allowing 8 ER over 3.2 IP against the Mets, and it could be just the start.
If someone still is valuing him like he performed in 2011, I wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger.
What are your thoughts on these two players? Would you trade them? Why or why not?