by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
When we walked out of our drafts/auctions with rosters studded with stars we were happy. How do you feel today, when that star is struggling more than a month into the season? It’s frustrating and it would be easy to sell low and move on, but in most cases doing so would be a mistake. What about those of us who missed out on the player? Taking advantage of those frustrated owners is how fantasy titles are won. Let’s take a look at three struggling stars and see if they are worth buying:
Rhys Hoskins – Philadelphia Phillies
To an extent his struggles have been overshadowed by Carlos Santana’s, as well as a strong start, but it’s hard to argue that Hoskins has performed well thus far. Overall he’s still hitting .274 with 5 HR, but a lot of those numbers came early. Over his past 15 games he’s hitting .214 with 1 HR over 56 AB, as the strikeouts have really begun to pile up (23 K).
Hoskins entered play on Monday with an overall 26.9% strikeout rate, though it wasn’t his approach that was causing the issue:
- SwStr% – 9.0%
- O-Swing% – 20.8%
Those numbers weren’t far off from last year’s (7.1% and 24.0%, respectively) and his “worst” Whiff% has come against offspeed pitches (15.58%). That’s all promising and the expectation should be that he’s going to figure it out and improve.
You can argue that he’s swinging for the fences a little too much (52.6% fly ball rate), but he’s hitting the ball relatively hard (38.2% Hard%) and as we’ve said the strikeouts should improve. Now that the weather is warming we’d also expect the home runs to start to fly (12.5% HR/FB currently, and while we wouldn’t expect last year’s 31.6% an improvement is inevitable).
It would be easy to call this a sophomore slump, but the bulk of the numbers point towards an improvement coming. Stay the course.
Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
We all expected big numbers, but instead he’s hitting .190 with 4 HR and 14 RBI. While he hasn’t seen a spike in strikeouts (14.8%), where he’s struggled is drawing walks (3.7% vs. a career mark of 11.1%) and simple poor luck.
Rizzo has never been a player to carry a bloated line drive rate (20.8% for his career), and even if he doesn’t improve upon his current 16.3% there’s no way we can expect him to continue with a .169 BABIP. That inevitable improvement alone will lead to good things, and the fact that he’s notoriously a slow starter only helps add to the appeal moving forward. Just look at his career AVG // SLG by month:
- April – .243 // .460
- May – .264 // .493
- June – .284 // .547
- July – .262 // .473
- August – .273 // .476
- September – .264 // .441
He’s always seemed to perform better in the middle months, and there’s reason to believe that a scorching hot stretch is coming. Don’t make the mistake of losing hope now.
Marcell Ozuna – St. Louis Cardinals
No one should’ve expected him to replicate last year’s success, but at the same time he’s not as bad as he’s looked thus far (.246 with 2 HR). The key here is the power, as he’s hitting fewer fly balls (28.9%) and has seen his HR/FB nearly disappear (7.1%). Moving out of Miami we would’ve expected the number to improve, or at least stay somewhat close to last year’s 23.4% mark. He’s not yet hit a home run at home, so it’s easy to point to a comfort level. That’s something that should change, and fairly quickly.
The average was always going to be questionable, due to the risk of increased strikeouts (and his SwStr% has jumped even further, from 12.7% to 13.8%) and last year’s .355 BABIP. So he’s not a .312 hitter, but we’d expect him to be closer to around .270, and even if all else stays the same more power will help him get there.
Sources – MLB.com, Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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