Buy Low Candidates: Deciphering Which Struggling Hitters Are Worth Targeting (Trea Turner & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It’s easy to identify who has been under-performing over the first few months of the season, but does that mean that they are players to target for the stretch run?  Will the bounce back or is it looking like a lost year?  Let’s take a look at three hitters who have disappointed and try to each that conclusion:

 

Trea Turner – Washington Nationals
2018 Statistics – .261 (81-310), 8 HR, 27 RBI, 41 R, 21 SB

Fantasy owners are down on Turner, as he’s not providing the average or runs scored that were expected.  Part of the problem has been poor luck, as his batted ball profile and speed should support better than a .308 BABIP:

  • Groundball Rate – 50.8%
  • Hard% – 33.9%

He’s also keeping the strikeouts down (18.6% courtesy of an 8.6% SwStr%) and is drawing more walks (10.9%) as he’s showing a strong approach (26.1% O-Swing%).  The makeup is there, and he’s been hitting towards the top of the order (269 AB hitting first or second) which would mean more runs scored.  He’s not guaranteed to remain there (he hit sixth on Tuesday), but the bigger issue has been the team’s offensive struggles overall:

.238 AVG (22nd in the league) // 323 Runs Scored (22nd in the league) // .393 SLG (23rd in the league)

It’s easy to envision those numbers improving, with Turner at the forefront.  He’s already showing enough power and plenty of speed, so if you have the opportunity to buy low he could ultimately prove to be a difference maker.

Verdict – Buy

 

Jonathan Schoop – Baltimore Orioles
2018 Statistics – .202 (49-243), 8 HR, 21 RBI, 31 R, 0 SB

Schoop’s approach is always going to keep him from hitting for a strong average, and ’18 is no different as he’s swinging and missing (14.0% SwStr%) and chaseing outside the strike zone (40.7% O-Swing%) far too often.  The difference is that this year those numbers are leading to some alarming other metrics:

  • Hard% – 24.9% (36.1% in ’17)
  • Popup Rate – 24.7% (16.0% in ’17)
  • BABIP – .223 (.330 in ’17)

Considering the approach this year’s numbers seem more reasonable, and while he should provide power and have a hot streak at some point does anyone really believe in a change?  After enduring so much bad selling this low may not make sense, but if he shows any hint of a turnaround you will want to cash in.  As far as going out and buying, there’s far too much risk.

Verdict – Don’t Buy

 

Corey Dickerson – Pittsburgh Pirates
2018 Statistics – .301 (82-272), 5 HR, 32 RBI, 33 R, 3 SB

Obviously it’s not the average that’s dragging Dickerson’s value down, it’s the lack of power.  Coming off a year where he hit 27 HR there were high expectations, but he’s fallen flat.  It’s not that he’s not putting the ball in the air (39.0% fly ball rate, compared to a 35.8% mark in ’17), and it’s not that he’s been any less aggressive (43.7% O-Swing%).

So what exactly is it?  Maybe it’s the change in leagues and adjusting to the pitchers, but even if he does improve upon his 5.4% HR/FB (17.2% last season) there’s going to be significant risk in his average.

As we already stated he’s no less aggressive at the plate, yet his strikeout rate has been cut nearly in half (24.2% to 12.8%).  A rise there, as well as a potential regression in his BABIP (.332) and the average could fall off a cliff (especially if the power doesn’t come around).  At this point there’s just too much risk.

Verdict – Don’t Buy

Sources – Fangraphs, MLB.com, Brooks Baseball

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

10 comments

  1. Nathan says:

    I traded away Tyler Skaggs, Freddy Peralta and Ryan Braun for tommy Pham. Do you see Pham bouncing back? Got him to bump up my runs scored a bit and the potential of stolen bases. Wanted to get rid of Skaggs and Peralta because I need to go grab relief pitchers for holds and lower down ratios and such.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I do believe in Pham, but even if I didn’t the cost was right and it makes sense to “gamble” and see how it plays out

  2. Chimee says:

    Any word on Chad Kuhl? DL bound? Kingham the replacement?

  3. Mark says:

    Should I offer Bregman + one for Trea? Trea has yet to put it together for a full year and Bregman is really starting to take off. But I’ll take an upgrade if I can get it.

  4. JHo says:

    Please rank these 3 ROS: Knebel, Barraclough, and Hand.

  5. NK says:

    Hey prof, which side of this trade would you be on? H2h pts, wins +5 Loss -5,

    Judge and Godley for Mikolas and Clevinger

    I would be giving clevinger/Mikolas

    My other starters are Kershaw, Sale, Ray, Bundy, and Flaherty.

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