Sell High Candidate: Has The Time Come To Cash In On Jose Altuve?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

There is no question that Altuve has been one of the breakout performers in 2014. Entering play on Thursday he was hitting .342 with 4 HR, 33 RBI, 56 R and 42 SB. While the runs and RBI aren’t overly impressive, we also have to remember the lineup he plays in. It’s easy to imagine those numbers looking significantly better if he was hitting towards the top of a potent lineup.

There’s no question that Altuve is good, but is he this good? Can he maintain this type of production?

The first thing that jumps out at you is his 8.5% strikeout rate. He has proven that he can make consistent contact in his first three years in the Majors (rates between 11.7% and 12.6%), but this season he’s taken it to a whole new level. That said, he’s seen a significant regression in July:

  • April – 7.9%
  • May – 6.7%
  • June – 3.9%
  • July – 15.6%

It’s been even worse since the All-Star game (20.0%) and a regression to his normal levels could easily continue. That’s not necessarily a number that’s going to scare you, but it is going to mean a regressed average moving forward.

We also have to consider his split between righties and lefties:

  • vs. RHP – .313
  • vs. LHP – .426

The number against southpaws has come courtesy of a .461 BABIP. Overall for his career he’s hit .305 with a .335 BABIP, so it’s obvious which one appears closer to the truth. He does own a better mark for his career against lefties (.345 courtesy of a .380 BABIP), but this year’s numbers are clearly extreme.

He’s not hitting the ball any harder this season (22.6% line drive rate) nor is he hitting for more power. He also didn’t suddenly get faster and it’s not like he’s drawing a significant number of walks (5.3%).

So why would we think that he could conceivably maintain this type of production? There is speed and he should continue to steal bases, but if his average tumbles a bit those opportunities will also dry up.

This isn’t to say that Altuve is an option to run away from, especially in keeper formats. We touted him prior to the season as someone who was undervalued due to his locale, and he’s backed that up. He should continue to be a top notch second baseman moving forward and someone you can build around.

However, in redraft formats now may be the time to sell. His value may never be higher and the rest of your league mates may not have noticed the growing strikeout issue. Cash in now before it’s too late.

Source – Fangraphs

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  1. Brett says:

    I just traded Altuve for Pedroia and Kluber yesterday. I felt the regression gnomes were coming for Altuve. Besides I have a commanding lead in SB and someone looking for SBs down the stretch just might overpay for his services…good article.

  2. Bryan Shisler says:

    Way off subject but I need to make a SS move this weekend with Tulo still on the DL. Curretly I’m rostering his backup Rutledge who’s been DTD and not playing. I play in a Head-to-Head weekly pts league so I don’t have to worry about catigories, just scoring pts. Until Tulo comes back, who do I pick up, here’s who’s available:

    – Stay with Rutledge? Has a couple of Co games coming up next week.
    – J. Segura
    – Mercer
    – Drew
    – D Santana
    – X Bogaerts
    – Crawford
    – Alcantara

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Brett – I like it. Kluber is an ace right now!

    Bryan Shisler – I would need to look at matchups, but Segura/Bogaerts/Alcantara are all upgrades over Rutledge. I’d probably lean Segura, but I’d go with any of them.

  4. BB says:

    This is eminently reasonable, but I hope you are wrong. (Or rather, I hope that you are right in your analysis of the probabilities but that Altuve “proves you wrong” by continuing to roll those elevens for a couple more months… which happens.)

    I raced out to a commanding SB lead in my roto league with Billy Hamilton and Altuve but decided to sell Hamilton instead, for similar reasons of regression (and the fact that there is no extra credit for winning the SB category by 50). Also, I felt like it was easier to find a trade partner for BH just b/c there are more OF out there. Anyway, I flipped BH and Keuchel for Adam Jones two weeks ago, which I was happy with. But I am sort of stuck with Altuve, so I’m hoping the regression won’t hit too hard!

    Thanks for the excellent analysis as always!

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