by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Obviously it’s easy to look at the early season numbers and either get extremely excited or quickly be prepared to cut bait on a player. It’s because the statistics are so obvious. If a player goes 1-20 in July or August, his average falls a few points and it doesn’t draw much attention. If someone opens the season by going 1-20? The .050 average is slapping you right in the face.
While it may be easy for you to press the panic button, let’s take a look at three players who have gotten off to slow starts to try and determine how we should feel:
Please note that all statistics are through Tuesday, April 8, 2014
Allen Craig – St. Louis Cardinals
He’s opened by going 3-31 with 3 RBI and 0 R, and all three of his hits have been singles. It’s ugly, for sure, but we all know he’s a better hitter than this. Over his first 8 games he owned a miniscule 7.7% line drive rate, far from the norm throughout his career:
- 2012 – 22.7%
- 2013 – 26.9%
He also has simply been driving the ball into the ground, to the tune of an 84.6% groundball rate. Considering his 18.2% strikeout rate, this is easily chalked up to a small sample size and the numbers should stabilize over the next few weeks. There’s absolutely nothing to be concerned about at this point.
Brett Lawrie – Toronto Blue Jays
Consistently viewed as a breakout candidate, Lawrie continues to disappoint. Off to a terrible start this season, you know there are owners wondering if the time has come to give up on him. Over his first 8 games he’s hit just .103 with 0 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R and 0 SB, so the thoughts are justified.
He’s been plagued by a complete lack of hitting the ball hard (literally a 0.0% line drive rate) and also consistent popups (20.0%). While he’s never been a premier line drive hitter, he does own an 18.1% career mark and has never had significant popup issues before (11.0% for his career).
Is 2014 going to be the season where he finally figures it out? We still wouldn’t rule it out, coming off a second half where he hit .283 with 6 HR and 7 SB, but we also wouldn’t consider it a lock to happen (obviously). It’s a disappointing start, but for the time being stay the course and hope that he can turn things back around.
Josh Reddick – Oakland A’s
Average was always a concern with Reddick, but right now you could argue that he looks lost at the plate. He’s opened the season hitting .125, thanks to an uncharacteristic 34.6% strikeout rate. What’s interesting, though, is that he is actually hitting the ball hard (26.7%) and that gives us at least a little hope.
Is it enough considering he has yet to hit a home run and owns just a 13.3% fly ball rate? It’s a small sample size, but you could argue that time is running out.
Craig Gentry is closing in on a return for the DL and someone is going to have to go. Of course, Coco Crisp is banged up (which feels like the norm) and Sam Fuld has hardly been impressive. Reddick should be given an opportunity and we know there is going to be power eventually. In five-outfielder formats that makes him worth holding with hopes that he figures it out, but he’s hardly a must use option right now.
Source – Fangraphs