by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We are a week into the 2018 season and obviously there have been a lot of surprises in the early going. Trying to decide which of these are for real and which are not can be tricky, since there isn’t much of a sample size to go on. Who is for real? Who should we ignore? Let’s take a look (all statistics are through Tuesday, April 4):
Matt Davidson – Chicago White Sox – Third Baseman
.250, 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 0 SB
It’s hard to call Davidson as having a “hot start”, as he really had a single big day. After hitting 3 HR on Opening Day he’s 1-13 in his subsequent three games and has started to see the strikeouts mount (5 K in the three games). Last season he posted a 16.3% SwStr% last season, leading to a 37.2% strikeout rate, and struggled to make consistent contact against all types of pitches as well (Whiff%):
- Hard – 13.89%
- Breaking – 23.03%
- Offspeed – 23.26%
He showed his power last season (26 HR), but if it’s going to come with a poor average is it going to matter? Couple the strikeouts with a fly ball approach (46.5% in ’17), leading to an inability to maintain a strong BABIP, and it shouldn’t be surprising that things have already gone south. It was a nice game, but he’s easily ignored.
Verdict – Deny ‘Em
Nick Ahmed – Arizona Diamondbacks – Shortstop
.471, 1 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R, 0 SB
While the bulk of Ahmed’s damage came in one game, he has:
- RBI in three straight games
- Hits in all four games he’s played
- Added 3 doubles
That means he’s been producing overall, so you have to wonder if he’s figured something out. While it’s a small sample size, it’s easy to see that he hasn’t improved upon his less than stellar plate discipline (11.4% SwStr%, 34.9% O-Swing%). In other words, ignore the walks (10.5%) and strikeouts (15.8%) thus far as they are going to regress.
He also has been hitting far too many fly balls for a player of his skill set (42.9%), since he doesn’t own significant power (or speed for that matter). While it’s been a nice week, there’s little reason to think that it will continue for long.
Verdict – Deny ‘Em
Brian Anderson – Miami Marlins – Third Baseman
.320, 1 HR, 6 RBI, 6 R, 0 SB
The injury to Martin Prado opened the opportunity, and thus far Anderson has made the most of it. After struggling with his plate discipline in his debut last season, he’s done a much better job in the first week (8.8% SwStr%, 21.4% O-Swing%) leading to him walking (6) more than he’s struck out (5). It’s hard to imagine him maintaining those numbers over the long haul, especially after he posted a 12.0% SwStr% in the minors least season.
Obviously it’s a small sample size, but thus far opposing pitchers have attacked him primarily with a fastball (69.23%). It’s not going to take long for that to change, as he’s proving he can hit the pitch, and how he adjusts to that change is going to be the key. He began tapping into his power last season (22 HR in the minor leagues), so if he can continue to show growth in his approach the upside is there for him to produce strong numbers.
There’s a lot of risk, but the soon to be 25-year old has potential.
Verdict – Buy ‘Em
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:
|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|