by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Not all poor starts are created equal. At this point they are based off of small sample sizes, sometimes there’s an indication in the underlying numbers that could represent risk moving forward. There’s plenty of time for players to correct the issues and we don’t want to draw a definitive conclusion based off of less than 50 PA, but they need to be acknowledged all the same.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at three struggling young stars and try to decide if there is reason for concern or if we should be buying in (if possible):
Jose Ramirez – Cleveland Indians
.086, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 R, 1 SB
(Note – Ramirez hit his second home run last night, though that doesn’t change this outlook)
Ramirez is coming off back-to-back .300+ seasons and has been growing into his power (last season he hit 29 HR while adding 56 doubles and 6 triples). Over his first 43 PA he’s managed just 1 extra base hit, though it hasn’t been due to poor plate discipline:
- SwStr% – 5.0%
- O-Swing% – 22.9%
That said, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t at least some concern in the underlying metrics. It would appear that the power may have gotten into Ramirez’ head, as he currently owns a 57.6% fly ball rate (39.7% last season). The number is extreme, but he was at 43.2% in July and 41.7% in September of ’17 showing that an elevated mark may not be unreasonable.
Ramirez is better than a .086 hitter and we’d be buying if the price is right, but if the extreme fly ball approach continues he’s not going to live up to our preseason expectations. Watch the short sample size skewed number closely, because if it becomes a bigger sample size our concerns will increase significantly.
Conclusion – Worth buying, but there is a potential concern to watch closely
Andrew Benintendi – Boston Red Sox
.161, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB
Benintendi has the opposite problem as Ramirez, as he’s seen his groundball rate spike significantly (mostly at the cost of his line drive rate):
- Line Drives – 14.8%
- Groundballs – 55.6%
- Fly Balls – 29.6%
Never expected to push 30 HR, this is more of a profile that we can get behind. Even if he doesn’t improve his line drive/hard hit (7.4%) rates, his speed should allow him to improve upon his .185 BABIP. Improvements there, which will come, will only help the numbers to improve and for him to reach the levels we expected in the preseason. That’s especially true as he’s displayed impressive discipline (4.2% SwStr%, 27.2% O-Swing%).
In this case it’s all a matter of him finding his timing, and that’s going to come in time. If there’s an owner who is even a little bit frustrated, we’d be trying to buy.
Conclusion – Must Buy
Alex Bregman – Houston Astros
.175, 0 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 0 SB
The problem for Bregman has been a significant spike in popups (30.8%), but other than that it’s hard to pinpoint a specific problem. He owns a 25.7% line drive rate (though a 22.9% Hard%) but just a .200 BABIP, he isn’t swinging for the fences (37.1% fly ball rate) and he’s showing a strong approach (6.2% SwStr%, 22.1% O-Swing%).
He has had two doubles, and despite not yet hitting a home run as he gains experience and starts to warm up there’s still 25 HR potential (which he could easily reach in 2018). It’s a poor start, but not one that should be concerning.
Conclusion – Must Buy
Source – Fangraphs
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