The Ditch List: Is It Time To Give Up On These Struggling Young Infielders (Arcia, Russell & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Given the small sample sizes of the early season it’s easy to make a knee jerk reaction and grow frustrated by a slow start, since the numbers are magnified and staring at you.  Is that a prudent decision?  Let’s take a look at a few young infielders off to a slow start and try to determine how to handle them:

 

Orlando Arcia – Milwaukee Brewers – Shortstop
2018 Statistics – .167 (8-48), 1 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R, 0 SB

Even as Arcia was seemingly emerging in 2017 (.277, 15 HR, 14 SB) there were questions about his approach at the plate.  Those issues appear to have caught up with him in the early going, as the overall numbers have tumbled:

Season
SwStr%
O-Swing%
201712.8%38.7%
201813.4%39.8%

While he’s not necessarily striking out an excessive amount (21.6%), the contact he’s made has been weak (8.1% line drive rate, 24.3% Hard%).  The biggest red flag is that he’s struggling to make contact against fastballs (12.63% Whiff%), and that’s why opponents are throwing him more in the early going (62.50%).  Generally young hitters need to prove they can handle breaking balls/offspeed pitches, but for Arcia it’s the opposite (.100 against fourseam fastballs in ’18).

While he should get better that doesn’t mean he’s going to come reasonably close to last year’s numbers.  He may not be a “must” drop, but he appears primed to disappoint.

Verdict – Outside of extremely shallow leagues, enough upside to stash

 

Miguel Andujar – New York Yankees – Third Baseman
2018 Statistics – .156 (5-32), 0 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R, 0 SB

The injuries led to an opportunity for Andujar, but he could be playing himself out of the job with rumors of Gleyber Torres closing in on a promotion.  Andujar’s strikeout rate has been his best skill (13.2% at Triple-A last season), but he’s carrying a 12.0% SwStr% thus far and he has struggled to hit the ball hard (11.1% line drive rate, 25.9% Hard%).  Maybe he just needs time to adjust to MLB pitching, but that’s not something he may be given as the Yankees get off to a slower start than expected.

Long-term we still believe in Andujar and his ability to put it together, but in the short-term he appears destined to spend time back at Triple-A.

Verdict – Droppable in yearly formats

 

Addison Russell – Chicago Cubs – Shortstop
2018 Statistics – .213 (10-47), 0 HR, 2 RBI, 6 R, 1 SB

Always hyped, Russell continues to struggle to put things together in the Majors…  But is there actually hope in ’18?  Early on he’s shown dramatic improvements in both his strikeouts (16.1% vs. 24.6% for his career) and walks (14.3% vs. 8.6% for his career).  These numbers have come with a reduced SwStr% (9.7%) and O-Swing% (26.1%).  He’s also been hitting the ball hard (28.9% line drive rate) and isn’t home run happy (39.5% fly ball rate), so it’s easy to attribute his struggles to poor luck and little else (.263 BABIP).

His big growth has come in making contact against breaking balls (6.45% Whiff%), and if he can maintain that along with better luck the results are going to be there.  Now is not the time to give up, instead it’s an ideal time to try and buy low.

Verdict – Must hold (and an ideal Buy Low candidate)

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings?  Make sure to check it out by clicking here.  

14 comments

  1. foolintherain says:

    RP: great article and well timed. I have Arcia with Escobar backing him once he’s SS-eligible. I’ve been offered Addison Russell for my Jack Flaherty. Without knowing the rest of the team context, would you pull the trigger on that deal? I’m reluctant to give up Flaherty’s talent and willing to ride Escobar until Arcia heats up. Thank you, as always.

    • foolintherain says:

      Additionally, Aledmys Diaz is available on waivers.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Right now, I’m taking Russell. We don’t know exactly when Flaherty is going to be up and Russell can make an impact right now

      • foolintherain says:

        Thank you sir. I’ll move forward with that. Would you then keep Escobar or Arcia? I did draft Arcia based on your original advice and I’m assuming your opinion on him hasn’t changed, correct?

  2. Tuco says:

    If Russell’s plate discipline adjustments stick what do you think his upside is?

  3. NK says:

    I know this article is about young starters, but my question has to do with some old ones. I have Cabrera And Carpenter on my roster. Im not sure what to think of either ROS and i really don’t know which one i trust more. I also have a trade offer on the table from a frustrated Braun owner who wants Fulmer for Braun. He is another person I’m cautious about. I guess what I’m asking is how would you rank these three in terms of value, points league, for the rest of the season.

    Thanks!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I wouldn’t want all three on my roster and Brauns playing time could become a question.

      Of the two first baseman im going Carpenter all day. He has the higher upside and should turn things around

  4. Bartonrp says:

    You may have spoken too soon about Andujar. He now has 3 consecutive multi-hit games, including a double off the wall to the deepest part of the park today, and a HR.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Yea, he’s definitely turned it on since we published this article. Maybe the whispers of a Torres promotion ignited him, but whatever caused it it’s a welcome sight!

  5. I wonder if you could do a similar article on Whit Merrifield? I drafted the dude expecting a good all around 2B, and I’m currently getting squat. Also, maybe something on Ozzie Albies?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      It’s funny, I actually did a writeup on Albies this morning (I think it’ll post tomorrow) and added Merrifield to my to do list. Keep checking back, they are coming 🙂

  6. Thanks. Great minds think alike. Why o why is Merrifield not batting leadoff?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *