by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
We all know the players who have been relatively disappointing in 2018, but does that mean we write them off and ignore them in the second half? Often times that should be viewed as a hasty, short-sighted decision. If someone in your league has grown frustrated, here are three names to try and target:
Anthony Rizzo – Chicago Cubs
2018 Statistics – .240, 12 HR, 59 RBI, 36 R, 3 SB
Preseason Projections – .296, 32 HR, 110 RBI, 95 R, 10 SB
Obviously the entire line has been disappointing, but what exactly has gone wrong? He’s hitting the ball hard (25.6% line drive rate)… He is showing the same plate discipline (6.7% SwStr%, 28.6% O-Swing%)… His fly ball rate is down, and has been trending that way since a career high in 2015, and that at least partially explains the disappointing home run total:
- 2015 – 43.6%
- 2016 – 41.3%
- 2017 – 39.2%
- 2018 – 36.6%
When coupled with a 12.5% HR/FB (15.3% for his career), it makes sense. That said just a little improvement, and he’s shown it with HR/FB of 17.9% in May and 14.8% in June, will lead to a better mark. The bigger issue is his .239 BABIP, compared to a .283 career mark, and while his pull heavy approach likely makes him prone to the shift (45.6% puts him in the Top 30 of the league) there’s still reason to believe there’s better days ahead.
Tommy Pham – St. Louis Cardinals
2018 Statistics – .246, 13 HR, 33 RBI, 59 R, 9 SB
Preseason Projections – .284, 24 HR, 80 RBI, 85 R, 19 SB
The disappoint here is in his average and RBI, though the latter is likely due to his spot in the lineup (he’s spent the bulk of his time at the top of the order, with 82 AB in the leadoff spot and 178 AB hitting #2). The average is a different story, though when you look at the metrics you start to wonder what the issue is:
- SwStr% – 8.9%
- O-Swing% – 23.6%
- Hard% – 47.0%
You would think that his combination of strike zone command and hitting the ball hard would result in a gaudy average. Couple that with a respectable 41.9% Pull% and the outlook looks that much better.
He should be posting better than his .299 BABIP (.368 in ’17) and you would expect better than his current 24.9% strikeout rate. He showed both of those in April, with a .415 BABIP and 18.9% strikeout rate, and that led to a .341 AVG. Obviously he can’t maintain that BABIP, but while he’s been in a horrific extended slump, there are better days ahead.
George Springer – Houston Astros
2018 Statistics – .252, 15 HR, 45 RBI, 63 R, 6 SB
Preseason Projections – .280, 30 HR, 85 RBI, 110 R, 9 SB
Just how disappointing has he really been? The power isn’t quite where we’d have expected and the average hasn’t been there, though neither are egregious. His HR/FB is down (22.8% to 14.7%), though it was always expected to take a step back from last season. Hitting 25-30 HR while scoring a ton of runs, no one is going to be upset…
In terms of the average, the drop in power has a little bit of an impact. More important has been a .281 BABIP, though he’s not a pull happy hitter (39.3%), he’s hitting the ball relatively hard (34.0%) and he continues to bring a solid approach (19.0% strikeout rate, 10.0% walk rate).
Given the underlying numbers we’d expect things to get even better in the second half. Part of this seems like perception (since he hit .190 in June and has gotten off to a slow start to July) more than production concerns, so buy if the owner is down on him.
Sources – Fangraphs, CBS Sports
Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings: