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:
Miguel Sano – Minnesota Twins
No one is about to endorse simply cutting Sano, though it’s getting harder and harder to believe in a rebound. Through his first 155 PA he’s struggled, hitting .206 with 7 HR and 26 RBI. The power isn’t terrible (in a full 600 AB season he’d be on pace for 28 HR), but his approach and ability to hit for a usable average just isn’t there:
- SwStr% – 16.5%
- O-Swing% – 32.6%
- Fly Ball Rate – 48.1%
The SwStr% and O-Swing% have been even worse in June (18.4% and 37.5%, respectively). He’s struggled against all types of pitches, though a 31.48% Whiff% against offspeed pitches is the worst. Currently seeing just 8.91% of pitches in that category things could get even worse.
He’s hitting the ball hard (41.8%) and he should improve in his power (18.4% HR/FB, compared to a career 23.8%), though the latter isn’t a guarantee (20.8% in ’16). In other words he may be looking like a lower end Joey Gallo, and who is that going to excite?
Verdict – Wait for a hot streak, then sell
Michael Conforto – New York Mets
There are rumblings of him being demoted to Triple-A to try and fix the issues, though the Mets simply don’t have the healthy bodies in the outfield to do so. They need him in the Majors right now, and have to hope that he can figure it out at the highest level.
The problem for Conforto simply appears to be weak contact, with a 26.8% Hard% (he owns a 38.4% career mark). Maybe that’s helped him towards his 13.5% HR/FB (after a 27.3% last season), as the other marks are similar to what he’s done in the past:
- Strikeouts – 25.6% in ’18 vs. 24.7% for his career
- Walks – 14.9% vs. 11.9% for his career
What’s really interesting is that his biggest issues have come against fourseam fastballs, as he’s hitting .210 with a .274 SLG against them this season (.303/.590 last season). That would make it seem like maybe he came back too quickly from his injury, and that’s had an impact on him. It also makes it seem like a huge bounce back could come at any moment, regardless of if he spends time in the minors or not.
We aren’t giving up on him, and in fact we’d look to buy if you can.
Verdict – Hold ‘Em
Trey Mancini – Baltimore Orioles
Other poor performances have helped to distract owners from how bad Mancini has been, but he’s hitting .229 with 8 HR over 270 PA so it’s hard to call this anything but a miserable campaign. What’s interesting is that he’s not swinging for the fences (27.0% fly ball rate) and his SwStr% (13.5% in ’18 vs. 13.8% in ’17) and O-Swing% (33.8% vs. 34.9%) have both been slightly better than a year ago.
What’s down is his luck, with a .276 BABIP. While that’s not a big surprise, have things reversed too far (.352 last season)? That’s an easy notion to buy into, even with a 19.7% line drive rate, after he hit .271 courtesy of a .329 BABIP in April (21.5% line drive rate). Things have started to turn in June, and now isn’t the time to lose hope.
The Orioles are clearly looking towards the future, and giving Mancini a chance to figure it out and learn at the highest level makes too much sense.
Verdict – Hold
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball
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