by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Obviously just looking at August is an extremely small sample size, but a slow few weeks could easily lead to a scorching hot finish. Let’s take a look at a few of the hitters who have slumped through the month but could in store for a turn of luck and a strong finish (all stats are through Sunday):
A.J. Pollock – Outfielder – Arizona Diamondbacks
August Stats – .170, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 13 R, 3 SB
The struggles actually have lasted the entire second half, hitting just .235 with 4 SB since the break. It’s easy to pinpoint his problems in August, as he’s struggled with a .179 BABIP despite maintaining a decent line drive rate (20.0%) and a strong approach at the plate (6.8% SwStr%, 27.7% O-Swing%). Given those numbers, is it really a surprise that we’d expect a strong finish to the season?
While he may not be the 20 HR hitter he was a few years ago, he can get on base, steal bases and score a lot of runs. He could definitely draw a few more walks (7.7% in August), and there’s every reason to believe that the average will come on strong. Don’t be shocked if he hits .300 with 20 R and at least 6 or 7 SB over the final month of the season.
Jose Ramirez – Infielder – Cleveland Indians
August Stats – .237, 0 HR, 5 RBI, 11 R, 2 SB
Ramirez jumped the hot streak with a big game on Monday night against Luis Severino (including 2 HR), so maybe he no longer belongs on this list. Still, he had been homerless and simply not making very hard contact (14.7% line drive rate). He still owned a 20.7% line drive rate for the season, as well as a 10.7% HR/FB (to go along with 41 doubles), so it was simply just a matter of time before he erupted (and likely sustains it).
Sure it was a poor month, but don’t let that cause you to sour on him overall. He’s proven to be to good, dating back to last season, and is a potential difference maker down the stretch.
Matt Carpenter – Infielder – St. Louis Cardinals
August Stats – .203, 3 HR, 13 RBI, 13 R, 0 SB
It’s been some time since Carpenter has been a strong average contributor, so this number shouldn’t be particularly eye-opening despite a 25.0% line drive rate. He’s simply taken a home run-centric approach, with a 51.8% fly ball rate in August (49.2% overall). That hasn’t always been the case (43.3% fly ball rate last season), and it’s something he can correct. While he does have some power, he’s not an elite slugger and would get more mileage out of focusing on the line drives.
Will it happen? That remains to be seen, but we can’t say it’s impossible. When coupled with his elite approach (5.9% SwStr%, 17.4% O-Swing%), that hope keeps him high on our radar. Of course his poor second half last season (.229 with 7 HR) looms large, but there’s too much potential to ignore.
Source – Fangraphs
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