A Look At What Went Wrong With Gregory Polanco

by Eric Stashin (aka Rotoprofessor)

He was supposed to be the latest “can’t miss” outfielder, joining Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte to for a dynamic trio. However, after a hot start, things spiraled. So what exactly went wrong?

You can argue that part of it was poor luck with a .277 BABIP despite a decent line drive rate (19.9%) and ample speed. It’s fair, though he also saw his pop up rate explode in the second half, at 18.8%, which certainly worked against him.

That, however, was the least of his problems. Here’s how Brooks Baseball describes his eye at the plate:

  • Against All Fastballs – A poor eye
  • Against All Breaking Pitches – A league average eye
  • Against All Offspeed Pitches – A league average eye

Of course, his fastball average was actually his biggest asset:

  • Hard – .252
  • Breaking – .234
  • Offspeed – .214

So his eye against hard pitches was poor, with 27 K, but he struggled to make good contact against all other pitch types? That just sounds like a recipe for disaster.

To be honest, that’s about the only thing that jumps off the page as an “obvious” issue, and one that can be fixed. His contact rate was fine, with a 17.9% strikeout rate. His walk rate was fine at 9.0%. He also wasn’t swinging for the fences, with a 31.2% fly ball rate, nor was he chasing with a 29.3% O-Swing% (league average is 31.0%).

A career .287 hitter in the minors with a little bit of power and ample speed, there’s a good chance this was simply growing pains. There’s no reason to be overly concerned, yet, or to write him off. He’s going to be back for September (if not before), and there’s a good chance he gets ample playing time as well.

He’s got the same top level upside, so if someone in your league decided to give up on him don’t hesitate. There’s still a good chance that he makes an impact come September.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, Brooks Baseball

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3 comments

  1. Erich says:

    That photo makes me feel like he knows we’re talking about him.

  2. Greg says:

    Polanco’s decline combined with Tulo’s injury, and Cuddyer’s hurt me pretty bad. Still very much in the hunt though.

    Could you advise on something? I’m in 4th, will make playoffs. Top two teams have 8 starters, plus moves left so they could stream to beat me in wins/k’s. Stupidly, I forgot about our moves limit, and I have only ONE left. On top of that, found that Smyly is being shut down…so I may end up with 6 starters.

    Thinking of going for just whip/era, and hope for best in other stats, this one last move, I’ve considered getting Betts off waivers, or hold off and maybe get a late closer (another problem area). Team is as follows:

    C: Posey
    1b: Vargas/Duda/Cuddyer (DL)
    2b: Gennet/Ackley
    SS: Alcides Escobar
    3B: Rendon
    OF: Rios, Jay, A. Garcia, (Duda/Ackley), Stubbs

    SP: Bumgarner, Iwakuma, Paxton, Duffy, Smyly, A. Wood, McHough
    RP: McGee, Petricka, Uehara

    I’m thinking Betts could be a difference maker: help me win in all categories except average. Happy with SPs.

    Or should I replace Smyly with another starter? Help if you can, thanks much!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Honestly, it’s tough for me to trust Paxton/Duffy/McHugh down the stretch. While I’d love to add Betts, what type of starters are available?

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