by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s easy to get excited by a hot stretch, especially from a player who has received some hype/praise in the past. Of course, are we really prepared to buy into a player over a few days of production after what may have been years of frustration? In some cases the answer is absolutely! Let’s take a look at a few of the players who have recently been going well and try to decide if their breakout is for real or not (all stats are through Saturday):
Eddie Rosario – Minnesota Twins
CBS Sports – 20%, Yahoo! – 14%
We’ve long heard about the potential of Rosario, though he’s really started to put things on display in the past few days. He’s suddenly become a home run machine, with 5 HR over the past week. Throw in three doubles, as well as 10 RBI and 9 R, and there’s obviously a lot to like with what he’s been doing. Maybe even more impressive, though? He’s struck out just 4 times and has scored at least 1 R in all seven games.
While there is still room for improvement, overall this season Rosario has significantly improved his plate discipline cutting his SwStr% to 11.8% (15.3% in ’16) and O-Swing% to 36.7% (41.6% in ’16). Maybe it’s not realistic to expect him to maintain this type of power pace (he has 16 HR overall), as that was never expected to be his strongest skill, but the soon to be 26-year old could be tapping into it a little bit more thanks to these improvements at the plate.
He’s bound to slow down, but at the same time this hot streak may just highlight a true development. Consider him a solid buy.
Kolten Wong – St. Louis Cardinals
CBS Sports – 17%, Yahoo! – 10%
We’ve been waiting… And waiting… And waiting… Does a few strong games truly indicate a breakout? In this case that’s going to be a hard sell, as his strongest skill in the past seven days has been his average (.455) as he’s coupled it with 1 HR and 1 SB. The bloated average has helped him to score runs (9) and drive them in (7), but without the average is that really something we can expect to continue?
Hitting towards the bottom of the order we know the runs scored could easily disappear. As for the average, overall he’s managed just an 18.8% line drive rate and continues to struggle with popups (12.1% vs. 11.5% for his career). He’s reversed that in this small sample size, with a 22.9% line drive rate and 6.7% popup rate in August. If he can maintain those maybe he can tap into the speed part of his game (he’s never going to be a strong power source), but unless he’s pushed up in the lineup that too will be a tough sell.
Maybe he produces a good average, but there are better buys available.
C.J. Cron – Los Angeles Angels
CBS Sports – 10%, Yahoo! – 14%
One of the biggest questions facing Cron has always been consistent playing time. Over the past seven games he’s found that and been making the most of it, hitting .444 with 2 HR and 7 RBI over 27 AB. Sure he does chase outside the strike zone a little too much (35.2% O-Swing%), but it is an overall improvement (38.5% for his career).
He may never be a .290+ hitter, but that’s not what we’d be buying here. You are looking for power, and when in the Majors this season he’s shown a change in approach as he’s putting the ball in the air more (44.8% fly ball rate) and hitting it hard (24.8% line drive rate). Considering his career 13.4% HR/FB, his 12.3% mark this season is very real but there’s also more potential upside. Having hit as many as 27 HR in a minor league season, as long as the AB are there he’s going to be an intriguing buy as a sleeper source of power the rest of the way.
Sources – CBS Sports, Yahoo!, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out our Mid-Season Top 50 Prospects by clicking here!