by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
At this point it starts to get harder and harder to buy into rebounds, doesn’t it? With July quickly approaching it is starting to become more and more realistic that a slow start is more than just a slump, and maybe the time has come to cut bait and move on. Patience is still a virtue, however, and it’s not too late. With that in mind let’s take a look at two players off to slow starts and determine if there’s still hope or if the time has come to move on:
Nick Castellanos – Detroit Tigers
He’s a player who we always point towards potential upside, though the results don’t necessarily follow suit. This season has been no different, with an uninspiring .230 average to go along with 8 HR and 37 RBI. Why should we care? Why should we believe?
While the plate discipline continues to be poor (15.1% SwStr%, 35.1% O-Swing%), when he does make contact it’s incredibly hard (27.0% line drive rate and his 49.2% Hard% is tied for second in the league). He also has shown a similar HR/FB to what he did a year ago (12.7%), the difference is his batted ball profile has changed:
Generally we aren’t in favor of big fly ball rates, as it hurts a players average (if he isn’t hitting home runs), but it’s not like he’s going to be beating out many groundballs. While it’s no guarantee that he reverts back to last year’s approach, there still is enough power that he could reach 20+ for the season. Couple that with the likely improvement in his BABIP (.288) and you should get a .260ish hitter, if not better, with some power potential.
As opponents sour on him a bit, don’t be afraid to step in and try to buy him low. He may not be a superstar, but he can help to carry you in the second half of the season.
Ian Kinsler – Detroit Tigers
Always viewed as one of the better second base options in the league, Kinsler has been an utter disappointment in ’17:
.245, 5 HR, 14 RBI, 40 R, 3 SB
He is still scoring runs, though that speaks more towards the talent around him. He’s also making consistent contact (11.5% strikeout rate), but after that the numbers are discouraging. His line drives are down (19.9%) and his fly balls are up (48.1%), including a 16.1% IFFB, and it gives the impression that last season’s power outburst has gotten into his head. While he posted a 12.5% HR/FB in ’16, that’s the only time he’s been above 8.0% over the past six seasons (5.7% thus far in ’17). Trying to hit home runs simply isn’t conducive to his game, and if it continues so will the struggles.
You also have to wonder how much speed he has at this stage of his career, as he will turn 35 before the week is out. As it is he’s had 15 SB or fewer for four straight seasons, so seeing him where he is should not be a big surprise either.
There’s going to continue to be value, as he is going to score ample runs as long as he’s hitting towards the top of the batting order. That said he’s not a player who has significant upside and therefore is not someone we’d be targeting to buy.
Source – Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:
|First Base||June 3|
|Second Base||June 5|