Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Is There Value In These “Sluggers” For The Remainder of 2018?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

We all know that anything can happen in a short sample size, and with basically one month left in the season that’s exactly what we have left.  So the question is, what do you do with a struggling player who has upside?  Do you cut bait and move on?  Do you stay patient and hope that he wakes up?  Let’s take a look at two of the players currently struggling and try to make that decision:

 

Jake Bauers – Tampa Bay Rays
Bauers looked good upon initially reaching the Majors, but he’s been an absolute disaster in August as he’s hitting .118 with 1 HR over 68 AB.   What’s interesting is that when you look at most of the underlying metrics there is reason for some optimism:

  • SwStr% – 9.8%
  • O-Swing% – 24.7%
  • Hard% – 38.6%

Those numbers simply don’t support his 30.3% strikeout rate and .167 BABIP.  Is he being too patient at the plate?  Perhaps, as he does have a 19.1% walk rate, but that’s not enough of a reason.  He’s not a blazer by any stretch and a 53.5% groundball rate does limit his power potential, but again it’s not enough to justify one of the worst BABIP in the league during August.

What makes the slump even more odd is that he’s seen more hard pitches in August than any other month, at 60.71%.  Overall he’s hitting .275 with a .513 SLG against fourseam fastballs, though in August he’s at .160/.280.

You put that all together and it becomes apparent that Bauers should rebound before long, and when he does he could get scorching hot.  Even in shallower formats there’s enough upside to make him worth stashing (especially with the defensive versatility, with eligibility at both first base and in the outfield).

Verdict – Buy ‘Em

 

Greg Bird – New York Yankees
The Yankees are clearly running out of patience with Bird, who has started losing time to Luke Voit.  It makes sense, as he’s consistently battled injuries and has been abysmal in August (.120 with 2 HR over 75 AB).  His approach hasn’t been horrific by any stretch, with a 10.5% SwStr% and 32.8% O-Swing%, the problem is that he appears to be swinging for the fences:

  • Line Drive – 7.5%
  • Groundball – 35.8%
  • Fly Ball – 56.6%

When you are a player without speed you aren’t going to be able to maintain an elevated BABIP with that type of fly ball rate.  Couple it with a 25.5% Hard% and things simply get worse.

It’s possible that Bird gets hot, especially in the power department, but the question is going to be if he’s given the opportunity to get there.  Whether it’s Voit, Neil Walker or someone else, the frustrations with Bird may soon keep him pinned to the bench.

Verdict – Deny ‘Em

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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