Buy Low Candidates: Three Struggling Stars That You Should Be Targeting Today (Hoskins & More)

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

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

11 comments

  1. Josh says:

    Actually put out trade offers for Rizzo earlier this morning and have been considering Ozuna. With significant depth at SP (Nola, Jon Gray, Corbin, Happ, Mikolas, MadBum), is McCullers a guy you’d be willing to deal for Ozuna?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I happen to be a big fan of McCullers and I’m not sure that’s really buying low. His big issue has been injuries more than anything, because the makeup is there. It’s not an unfair deal, just don’t consider it buying low

      • Josh says:

        I get that. I need to flip one of my arms for a power bat. Any of the pitchers I listed jump out as a better play in attempting to buy low on Ozuna?

  2. JC says:

    Having both Rizzo and Hoskins has been frustrating the last few weeks!

  3. Frederic Kass says:

    Professor,

    After reading your article I offered Adams for Rizzo. Accepted!

  4. I’m in a 12 team daily roto league and i just picked up Jon Gray..i looked at his last 3 starts and thought, wow!.. kinda surprised his was available.. is this the beginning of the true breakout and would you consider streaming him in most road starts?.. thanks for the killer advice!! Scooter

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Depending on the matchup I wouldn’t necessarily sit him at home. I’ve long been a big Gray proponent and am stunned he was available

  5. Don Daniels says:

    Need to drop a pitcher, ROS Buehler, Taillon, Luchessi, Soroka and German? Thanks

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      For me German is the drop, despite the recent outing. I don’t buy he can maintain it and is going to get replaced at some point

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