by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Entering 2014 the biggest concern regarding Allen Craig would’ve been his ability to stay healthy and nothing more. However, after an incredibly slow start that may be the least of fantast owners worries. While he was never a particularly big power threat (career 31.5% fly ball rate and 14.5% HR/FB), his batted ball profile thus far this season is alarming (numbers are through Saturday):
- Line Drive – 17.1%
- Groundball – 64.5%
- Fly Ball – 18.4%
For a player with little speed, the repetitive driving the ball into the ground is a major problem. The groundball rate placed him seventh in the league, behind players such as Ben Revere and Norichika Aoki.
It’s easy to chalk it up to a small sample size, which is extremely fair. He is not striking out an excessive amount (17.2%) and owns a career line drive rate of 23.3%. Sooner or later he has to right the ship, doesn’t he?
A career .297 hitter, he certainly does have a long enough track record. However, you have to start wondering if the foot injury he suffered late in 2013 is an ongoing issue. He missed the end of the regular season as well as the first two rounds of the playoffs with a sprained foot. While he returned for the World Series, he was not able to play the field and aggravated the injury while scoring the winning run of Game 3.
While there’s no indication that the injury is still an issue, it’s definitely something that needs to be monitored. The track record is there for an improvement, but what if he’s not actually healthy? What if playing the outfield (as he is, with Matt Adams playing 1B) is causing him an issue?
Obviously this is all just speculation. It wasn’t a major issue this spring (.283 with 2 HR in 53 AB), so maybe this is just a slump and it’s only a matter of time before he busts out of it. I am not about to advocate giving up on him or selling low, simply keep a close eye on the situation.
Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com