by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Yes, we are getting a bigger sample size and therefore are starting to be able to formulate more “realistic” opinions on players. Whose struggles are simple poor luck? Who should we be looking to buy low on? Who should we be sticking with in our lineup and who should we be moving towards our bench? Here are three hitters we’re sticking with, despite their slow starts:
Mark Trumbo – Outfielder – Seattle Mariners
It’s been a slow transition for Trumbo, who entered Friday hitting .143 with 0 HR over his first seven games as a Mariner. The strikeouts (32.1%), groundballs (52.6%) and popups (16.7%) are all up, helping to explain his struggles. It’s a small sample, so we aren’t going to draw any conclusions. Of course that hasn’t stopped some fantasy owners from jumping off the bandwagon.
Granted he has moved to a less friendly home ballpark, but Trumbo has long proven to have enough power to produce anywhere. As it is his average distance on non-groundballs this season is at 295.280, showing that there’s plenty of power. It’s going to come, it’s just a matter of when.
He’s never going to hit for a great average (.243 overall in ’15, .247 for his career), but that’s simply not what we are buying. We are looking for home runs and RBI, both of which will be there. Just be patient.
Jonathan Lucroy – Catcher – Milwaukee Brewers
Considered one of the elite catchers in the game entering the year, injuries have helped lead to significant struggles for Lucroy. However even when he’s been on the field he’s hitting just .193 with 1 HR and 3 RBI over 88 AB. His entire batted ball profile has been an issue:
- Line Drives – 17.1%
- Groundballs – 55.3%
- Fly Balls – 27.6%
- IFFB – 14.3%
His line drive rate has been north of 20% for four years running, so we’d expect him to improve as he finds his footing. With it will come his current .213 BABIP (.307 for his career), and when that happens all of the other numbers will fall into place.
While he may not be a 20+ HR hitter, don’t be surprised if he still reaches 12+ with a strong average the rest of the way. Now isn’t the time to pull the plug.
Lucas Duda – First Baseman – New York Mets
Looking for a reason to call his 2014 success an aberration? Duda, who has been incredibly streaky this season, has been struggling again as of late and giving fantasy owners a reason to have doubt. Entering Friday he was hitting just .125 with 1 HR in 52 PA over the previous two weeks (05/29 – 06/11), so you can understand why some would be ready to jump ship.
We all knew that he couldn’t necessarily maintain his bloated line drive rate (even with his current downturn he owns an overall mark of 30.5%), but the strikeouts remain in check (25.0% in the past two weeks) and he’s been a bit unlucky of late (.148 BABIP). Of course average isn’t his calling card, so why the power outage?
He has 17 doubles and 9 home runs overall this season (and he has 2 doubles over the past 14 days). His average distance on non-groundballs has actually improved over last season’s (which led to 30 HR):
- 2014 – 278.086
- 2015 – 283.058
While he’s been streaky, at the end of the day we’d expect the numbers to still be there. Don’t pull the plug now and miss the next upswing.
Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps