by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know the players who have disappointed, but the bigger question is if they can turn things around or if it’s best to cut our losses and move on. In terms of pitchers we have the added “bonus” of at least being able to pick our spots, if the upside remains, though that may be a small consolation prize. Let’s take a look at three players who we had high expectations for and try to determine how we should proceed:
Ian Kinsler – Los Angeles Angels – Second Baseman
He continues to hit atop the Angels lineup, but you have to wonder if he’ll soon find himself out of a job as he’s hitting .178 with 2 HR and 6 SB. Even at 35-years old he’s showing a little bit of speed, though the days of him threatening to steal 25+ bases are long behind him. He’s also shown a solid approach, with a 10.7% strikeout rate (courtesy of a 5.1% SwStr% and 24.7% O-Swing%). Is that enough to continue holding out hope?
His power appears to have disappeared and he’s not making strong contact, which have combined to create his disastrous average and lack of an impact. Just look at these numbers:
- Line Drive Rate – 15.4%
- Hard% – 29.4%
- HR/FB – 3.2%
While he had shown more power over the past few years, he’s not far removed from an 11 HR campaign (2015) and the Hard% puts him among the 20 lowest in the league. Couple that with his elevated fly ball rate (45.6%) and it’s no surprise that he’s carrying a .187 BABIP.
Obviously we want to hope that he can turn it around, and it makes sense to keep him stashed on the bench (especially if you are short on speed). That said it’s getting harder and harder to believe.
Updated – Kinsler did have a big day yesterday, including a HR, so hopefully it’s the start of a better run (though time will tell)
Billy Hamilton – Cincinnati Reds – Outfielder
His 17.0% Hard% is the worst in the league and for a player with little power his 30.8% strikeout rate is simply unacceptable. He’s seen a significant spike in his SwStr% (7.9% for his career, but he’s up to 11.2% in ’18), which justifies the inflated mark and highlights the warts that have always surrounded him.
The fact is that you can’t steal first base, and he’s going to continue to struggle if he is going to:
- Make weak contact
- Struggle to draw walks (though he’s up to 11.0% overall, he’s at 8.5% in May)
- Strikeout far too much
- Continue to post an elevated fly ball rate for him (34.0%)
Sooner or later the playing time will disappear. There’s too much potential in the stolen base department to completely give up, but stashing him on the bench makes sense.
Marco Estrada – Toronto Blue Jays – Pitcher
He owns an ugly 5.40 ERA and while he’s shown solid control (2.78 BB/9), the issues are obvious:
- Strikeouts – 6.71 K/9
- Home Runs – 1.96 HR/9
- Groundballs – 26.3% (second lowest in the league)
Home runs have long been an issue for Estrada (1.38 HR/9 for his career), and routinely facing the Red Sox and Yankees it’s hard to imagine any significant improvement. While he’s shown more strikeouts in the past, there was always concern there as well and his 9.5% SwStr% and average fastball of 89.1 mph doesn’t offer much hope.
At this point, why exactly would you want to trust him?
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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