by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Ian Desmond – Shortstop – Washington Nationals
Ian Desmond has proven the be a 20/20 threat over the past two seasons, but 2014 has not started kindly for him. Through Monday he was hitting just .236 with 4 HR and 2 SB. There is not one issue at this point, but instead warning signs across the board:
Line Drive Rate – 12.0%
He was actually at 11.7% for April, the first time he’s been below 15% since May of 2012. That’s not to say that he’s a line drive machine (17.9% for his career), but the mark is troubling.
Strikeout Rate – 26.5%
He’s always been a 20+% strikeout guy, but again early this season he’s taken another big jump. The main problem is that he’s simply swinging and missing at more pitches (15.9% vs. league average of 9.3%).
Infield Fly Ball Rate – 16.7%
For his career he’s at 9.0%. The easy excuse (which we would be able to use for all of the issues) is that he’s trying to hit the ball out of the park. If that’s the case he’s doing a very poor job of it, with a fly ball rate of 32.6% and groundball rate of 55.4%.
So what do we make of these struggles? Hopefully it’s just a poor month (plus) and nothing more. He’s certainly proven to be better than this and, if you invested highly in him, selling low should not be an option.
Does that make him a player to target? Not especially, unless he starts to show little signs of turning it around. Right now, though, there’s a few too many red flags.
Khris Davis – Milwaukee Brewers
Amazing how quickly people want to give up on him, isn’t it? Obviously the numbers have not be good thus far (.233 with 4 HR), but that’s not to say that there isn’t hope.
When he has made contact it has been good contact, with a 23.8% line drive rate and with minimal popups (3.4%). The problem is that he has shown little command of the strike zone with a 28.9% strikeout rate vs. a 0.8% walk rate (35 K vs. 1 BB).
He’s simply swinging and missing, with a 17.5% SwStr% (among the worst in the league) and chasing pitches out of the zone (37.5% O-Swing% vs. league average of 28.9%). That wasn’t the case in his cup of coffee in 2013, at least not to the same extent (13.1% and 31.1%, respectively).
He also appeared to have a solid command of the strike zone at Triple-A last season, with a 9.1% O-Swing% vs. a league average of 9.7%. To take it a step further, he’s posted a 19.8% strikeout rate vs. 12.2% walk rate in the minors since 2011. The fact is that he’s a youngster adjusting to Major League pitching and, with more experience, he should turn things around.
Now may be the perfect time to try and acquire him from a frustrated owner. It should only get better from here.
Sources – Fangraphs, Minor League Central