Start ‘Em or Sit ‘Em: Looking At Three Hitters Who Struggled In April ’10

Let’s take a look at a few hitters who started extremely slowly in 2010 as we decide whether to play them in the season’s opening week:

Mark Teixeira – New York Yankees – First Baseman
He may be the most notorious slow starter in the league.  In 2010 he hit just .136 with 2 HR and 9 RBI over 100 AB.  Just look at his numbers the previous three seasons:

  • 2007 – .231, 2 HR, 6 RBI in 91 AB
  • 2008 – .290, 4 HR, 17 RBI in 100 AB
  • 2009 – .200, 3 HR, 10 RBI in 70 AB

Obviously, it’s not good, but would you ever really consider sitting him down?  If the answer is yes, you had no business drafting him in the first place (considering you likely used a first or second round pick to do so).  Teixeira brings far too much potential upside to leave on your bench when healthy.  It may be the outlier, but look at what he did during April ’08.  Would you really want to risk missing out on that type of production?  He is one of the best hitters in the game and you just have to stomach any potential struggles, because 95% of the time the end results are going to be well worth it.

Things look even better when you realize he hit .294 over the spring and gets to play his first seven games in the comfy confines of the new Yankees Stadium.  It seems like an obvious statement, but clearly Teixeira should be active in all formats.

Aramis Ramirez – Chicago Cubs – Third Baseman
In 2010 he opened the season by hitting .152 with 3 HR and 13 RBI.  However, that is really not the norm for the Cubs’ slugger.  In 2009 he hit .358.  In 2008 he was at .296.  Over the past four seasons he has never had fewer than 13 RBI in the month of April.

The fact of the matter is that 2010 in general was a lost year for Ramirez.  He has a $16 million team option for 2012, so he clearly has a lot to prove.  Look for him to come out with a chip on his shoulder and prove that he is still a solid performer. 

It is obvious that he was trying to hit home runs in ’10 (56.8% fly ball rate).  He was also dealing with a thumb injury early, which could have played a role.  This spring it appears that he was trying to correct the problem, hitting .346 without a home run (though he did have five doubles in 52 AB).  He also is healthy, which should go a long way towards his production.  At a weak position, he’s a solid play in all formats.

Travis Snider – Toronto Blue Jays – Outfielder
The young Blue Jays outfielder never got his feet under him in ’10, hitting .155 with 3 HR and 5 RBI in 71 April AB.  It’s very possible that the 22-year old (he’s not 23) simply put a lot of pressure on himself in an attempt to impress.  Or it was maybe just some terrible luck, as he sported a .157 BABIP.

Whatever it was, look no further than his September performance to give hope (.289, 6 HR, 9 RBI in 97 AB).  Snider has a bright future and opens the year as the Blue Jays starting leftfielder (or designated hitter). 

He did leave Tuesday’s Spring Training game with a minor injury, though it is not expected to keep him out in the early going.  In shallower formats he is a bit of a gamble, but in deeper formats (i.e. five outfielder formats) there is no real reason to leave him on your bench.  Considering what he showed in September (as well as this spring where he hit .346 with 1 HR in 52 AB), I’d certainly roll the dice.

What are your thoughts on these three players?  Who would you start?  Who would you sit?

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4 comments

  1. Nick Tenaglia says:

    Don’t forget about Drew Stubbs on this either. In 83 Plate Appearances, he only had a triple slash of .186 / .301 / .271 with a K-rate of 34.3%. I think after his impressive season last year a lot of people are expecting big things out of Stubbs, but he is still really young and there is a good chance that he very well may struggle again in only his second trip playing baseball in April.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I agree with you 100%. I also think a lot of people are like it is a given that he will able to replicate the power he showed last season (22 HR). However, with 28 HR in 1,588 minor league AB, it is far from a certainty.

      Obviously he is a must start at this point, but I’d keep expectations in check a bit.

  2. michael korte says:

    Stubbs and Teixiera Homered on Opening Day.

  3. Nick Tenaglia says:

    The hope here is that all of these players do in fact struggle, so then you can trade for them on the cheap

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