Ditch List Guidelines: Has The Time Come To Give Up On Gregory Polanco Or Justin Smoak?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Nearly three months into the season our preseason rankings/projections are fairly meaningless.  It doesn’t matter what we thought would happen, we need to look at what’s actually happened and try to determine if a player will maintain or improve upon his performance.  With that in mind, let’s take a look at two players who we had high expectations for entering the year, but have fallen flat thus far:

 

Gregory Polanco – Outfielder – Pittsburgh Pirates
2018 Statistics – .214, 9 HR, 34 RBI, 37 R, 3 SB

He isn’t far removed from a 22 HR/17 SB campaign (2016), but those numbers are easily forgotten at this point.  While he showed some power in April (6 HR), that has now completely disappeared as he continues to hit for a strong average as well.  Now the question is whether he can salvage his season, or has the time come to simply cut bait and move on.

What’s interesting is that Polanco isn’t chasing outside of the strike zone as much as he normally has (26.9% in ’18 vs. a career mark of 30.5%) and it’s not that he’s swinging and missing excessively (9.9% SwStr%).  That helps to justify his consistently inflated walk rate (11.3% in May is his lowest month this season) and the strikeouts are moving in the right direction:

  • April – 23.3%
  • May – 24.7%
  • June – 19.3%

He’s also started hitting the ball harder (25.0% line drive rate) and it appears that, after going homer happy early, things are starting to turn and he’s making the adjustment (fly ball rate):

  • April – 48.6%
  • May – 55.0%
  • June – 36.1%

When he thrived in 2016 he posted a 37.1% fly ball rate and he should absolutely improve upon his .248 BABIP.  While it’s easy to be down on him, now is the time to be buying and not losing hope.

Ditch List Guidelines:

  • 10 Team League – Droppable (if desperate for spot, but would prefer to hold him if possible)
  • 12 Team League – Must Hold
  • 14+ Team League – Must Hold
  • NL-Only League – Must Hold
  • Keeper/Dynasty – Must Hold

 

Justin Smoak – First Baseman – Toronto Blue Jays
2018 Statistics – .236, 9 HR, 35 RBI, 34 R, 0 SB

The problems for Smoak are an increased strikeout rate (20.1% to 25.1%) and a decline in his line drive rate (21.2% to 14.9%).  The former is a bit puzzling, considering his approach nearly matches last season and justifies a significantly better mark (8.8% SwStr%, 22.0% O-Swing%).  While he hasn’t shown improvements in his strikeout rate yet (26.6%), you have to think that it will come in time.

Of course the line drive rate has also been consistently suppressed and it’s getting harder and harder to wait for the power surge to come…  Given these HR/FB you have to think it’s in there, somewhere, though:

  • 2015 – 25.4%
  • 2016 – 17.7%
  • 2017 – 19.7%
  • 2018 – 11.5%

Of course he also hit .241 in the second half of ’17 and saw his HR/FB fall to 16.1%, so it’s not like these struggles have been in the short-term only (and he finished the season with line drive rates of 16.7% in August and 13.9% in September).  He’s only one hot streak away from flipping the script, but given how long the poor numbers have lasted it’s getting harder and harder to maintain our patience.

Ditch List Guidelines:

  • 10 Team League – Droppable
  • 12 Team League – Droppable (but not a must drop)
  • 14+ Team League – Must Hold
  • AL-Only League – Must Hold
  • Keeper/Dynasty – Based on league size

Source – Fangraphs

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

2 comments

  1. Joe Carola says:

    Polanco or Margot the rest of the way?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I am a fan of both, but I’d lean Polanco (who is showing signs and has more of a guarantee in PR). That said, it depends exactly what your need is

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