by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know that there have been some impressive breakouts throughout the 2017 season, though not all are created equal. Is it sustainable? Was it more of a flash in the pan and is he destined to disappoint? Some players have shown signs in September, as their numbers have fallen off a cliff. Let’s take a look at if we should expect a rebound or if now is the time to cut bait:
Justin Smoak – Toronto Blue Jays
September Stats (through Sunday) – .152, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R
Smoak has had an impressive season overall, but things have taken a dramatic turn in September. Obviously his power has been the biggest story, with 37 HR, though he’s also shown an improved strikeout rate (20.2%) as he’s cut his SwStr% dramatically (8.9%, compared to a 12.7% mark a year ago).
It’s promising that despite the struggles he’s continued to show the improved discipline, with a 9.0% SwStr% in September. You can argue that the problem has been that he’s been swinging for the fences, and considering his 57.7% fly ball rate that’s extremely fair. Obviously it’s a small sample size, but it is possible that the success over the rest of the season has gotten into his head.
Further hammering that point home has been an increased Pull%, considering his overall mark of 40.2% yet he’s at 46.2% in September. So he’s hitting the ball in the air more and trying to pull more pitches. For a player with little speed that’s never going to be a good combination.
The swings and misses are promising, and you would think he should figure it out at some point before year’s end. However it’s not a guarantee, making him a little bit of a riskier play over the final few weeks.
Eddie Rosario – Minnesota Twins
September Stats (through Tuesday) – .256, 2 HR, 8 RBI, 4 R, 3 SB
OK, maybe “fallen off a cliff” isn’t the right word for Rosario, though after hitting .321 and .307 the previous two months and hitting 9 HR in August there obviously is a bit of a disappointment. Interestingly his strikeout rate is actually down for the month, at 13.6%), so it’s more of a luck related issue.
He currently owns a .235 BABIP, which is based on a small sample size, and you’d expect it to improve. He’s not swinging for the fences (36.1% fly ball rate) and his line drive rate is solid (19.4%). Look for his average to rise as the month progresses.
As for the power, did anyone really believe in the August outburst? That’s simply not who he is, with 4-5 HR per month being a reasonable expectation. That’s exactly the pace he’s currently on, and with the speed and average upside there’s a lot to like.
At this point continue to view his breakout as for real, and he should be a legitimate 20/10 option moving forward/