by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
It’s easy to get infatuated with the surging young hitter, thinking the early season breakout is for real and not wanting to part ways with the “next big thing”. That said a poor approach at the plate, when coupled with other numbers, could easily show that a significant regression could be on the horizon. Knowing when to cash in is key to fantasy success, so let’s take a look at three fairly popular names and see if now is the time to cash in our gains and move on:
Eddie Rosario – Minnesota Twins
SwStr% – 14.3%, O-Swing% – 41.9%
Despite the poor approach he continues to produce, hitting .291 with 7 HR and 25 RBI over 132 PA. He’s not striking out a ton, which is right in line with what he did last season (18.0% vs. 18.2%) and there’s no red flags in his luck metrics (.313 BABIP) or his power (14.6% HR/FB)…
That’s where things get interesting, as Rosario appears to be swinging for the fences:
Line Drive Rate
Fly Ball Rate
That’s a big change, though it’s a trend that we saw start in the second half of 2017. As we said in our 2018 Fantasy Baseball Draft Guide:
“He showed an improved strikeout rate (18.0%), but still didn’t show impressive plate discipline (11.9% SwStr%, 37.6% O-Swing%) which was “improved” but “poor” throughout the season (11.6%, 38.1% in the second half). That is going to call into question his ability to maintain his average and it’s also possible that the power started to get into his head (42.0% fly ball rate in the second half). If he’s going to swing for the fences more, with the risk of an increased strikeout rate, he could be looking at a poor 2018 campaign.”
Thus far, despite showing the concerns we had, he’s continued to produce big numbers but you are playing with fire. A 5.6% strikeout rate in May is skewing his number (22.9% in April), and things are going to turn. While we wouldn’t give him away, if you can cash in we wouldn’t be opposed.
Verdict – Sell ‘Em (if the return is right)
Tim Anderson – Chicago White Sox
SwStr% – 14.2%, O-Swing% – 41.5%
He entered play on Wednesday hitting .254 with 6 HR and 10 SB (and he added another HR on Wedneday), so it’s hard not to love the production. The problem is if he can maintain it given the awful approach. His walk rate is actually more than double his 2017 mark (2.1% to 5.9%), though that number is skewed by some early season patience. Since April 20 (19 games) he’s had just 1 BB, so don’t read into the “improvement” too much.
He entered Wednesday hitting .200 in May, with 10 K in his past 6 games (including three straight multi-strikeout games) and he’s struggled to hit the ball hard consistently (17.7% line drive rate, 27.8% Hard%). Instead it looks like he’s trying to hit for more power, with a 36.5% fly ball rate (28.0% in ’17), while his approach remains abysmal (and he’s been exceptionally bad against offspeed pitches, with a 24.39% Whiff%).
The key to Anderson’s game is his stolen base potential, but he’s not going to carry an elevated BABIP and his strikeout/walk rates are heading in the wrong direction. While others may be getting excited, now is the opportune time to try and cash in and sell before they catch on.
Verdict – Sell ‘Em
Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles
SwStr% – 13.5%, O-Swing% – 34.0%
Mancini’s O-Swing% isn’t terrible, and the numbers overall do resemble what he did last year. Of course, when you add in the batted ball profile it actually increases the questions we have:
Line Drive Rate
Fly Ball Rate
Power is his biggest asset, but he continues to struggle putting the ball in the air and with his HR/FB falling so far (19.8% to 11.1%) and his BABIP at a more believable level (.352 vs. .316) it’s fair to wonder if he’s going to be able to turn things around. He’s really struggled against changeups (.105/.158) and curveballs (.118/.177) and it makes sense that opposing pitchers continue to limit the number of fastballs he sees (53.94%).
With consistency in his batted ball numbers and the metrics falling into the realm of realistic (though he could add a few more home runs), this simply may be the player that he is. Think .250-.260 with a little bit of power (20-24 HR), so there’s value but he may never be a difference maker.
Verdict – Sell ‘Em (if someone believes he’s more than he is)
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, ESPN
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