by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
Preseason hype is one thing, but how long do we wait before we start to ignore it and lose hope? Obviously there are numerous players who have disappointed, but third base may be among the hardest hit spots on the diamond. Let’s take a look at three of the bigger disappointments and try to decide if we believe or if the time has come to sell them for pennies on the dollar:
Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox
2018 Statistics – .240, 12 HR, 36 RBI, 30 R, 4 SB
Is this just a sophomore slump that he could break out of? Or is he going to struggle all year long? That’s the big question facing fantasy owners, as Devers hasn’t lived up to the hype many bestowed upon him entering the year.
A lot of the problems stem from his approach at the plate, entering play on Wednesday with a 14.2% SwStr% and 36.9% O-Swing%. As you would expect opposing pitchers are throwing him fewer fastballs than they did during his rookie campaign (hard pitches seen has gone from 58.02% to 55.84%), instead seeing breaking balls (23.74%) and offspeed pitches (20.42%). Of course, the type of pitch hasn’t mattered when we look at his Whiff%:
- Hard – 15.49%
- Breaking – 15.12%
- Offspeed – 15.77%
The one glimmer of hope, perhaps, is that a lot of his struggles have come against fourseam fastballs (.218 BAA). We’d expect that to improve, but his inflated strikeout rate and limited line drive rate (16.8%) make it hard to get excited. Maybe if we saw upside in his power, but with a 15.6% HR/FB (17.2% in ’17), that’s not there as well.
There’s obviously still upside, but unfortunately it would appear that what you see is what you get.
Verdict – Value him as he is today, so while there’s upside he’s not a player we’re targeting
Kyle Seager – Seattle Mariners
2018 Statistics – .224, 12 HR, 41 RBI, 34 R, 1 SB
The problem isn’t the power (he’s on pace for around 24-25 HR over a full season, right around where he’s been the past few seasons). This is solely an average concern, as he’s struggled with an increased strikeout rate (21.4%) and poor BABIP (.245). Is there upside in either department?
- Strikeouts – He hasn’t seen an increase in either his SwStr% (8.6%, matching his ’17 mark) or O-Swing% (27.9%). He has seen the number really bloat in June (29.7%), and maybe he’s pressing, but it’s easy to envision an improvement.
- BABIP – He’s hitting the ball relatively hard (38.6% Hard%) and isn’t swinging for the fences (44.7% fly ball rate) or popping the ball up (8.2%), so you would think he could at least get back to last year’s .262 (with even more upside).
That all seems to come together for an ideal opportunity.
Verdict – Buy Low
Todd Frazier – New York Mets
2018 Statistics – .219, 7 HR, 28 RBI, 22 R, 4 SB
Part of his problem has been missed time on the DL and he was never expected to hit for a strong average. Frazier is still drawing walks (12.0%), but it’s the power that’s a bit of a concern. It’s not his HR/FB, which is 14.9% (compared to 15.7% for his career), but the number of fly balls that’s caused the issue:
- Line Drive Rate – 25.0%
- Groundball Rate – 38.3%
- Fly Ball Rate – 36.7%
His fly ball rate hasn’t been below 47.5% in the past three years so that helps to explain the “outage”. It’s great that he’s hitting more line drives, but if it’s not going to lead to a better average who cares? We’ll have to wait and see if there’s a change in approach, but for now we’d remain cautiously optimistic that he can deliver what was expected. At the same time, we wouldn’t be going out looking to acquire him.
Verdict – Don’t Buy (but worth stashing)
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, ESPN
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