Buy ‘Em or Deny ‘Em: Which Struggling Young Hitters Should Remain On Your Radar (Robles, Profar & More)

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How long do you stick with a struggling hitter who hasn’t necessarily shown signs of turning things around? Sending the player to the waiver wire isn’t always the answer, as sometimes it makes sense to sell low or keep a player pinned to your bench. Regardless of the decision eventually you need to decide if a player has enough upside to warrant holding or not. Let’s take a look:

Victor Robles – Washington Nationals
We’ve long heard the hype, but the results never seem to be there.  While it looked promising, at least for a little while, he’s now hitting .236 with 9 HR and 9 SB over 256 PA.  Sure the power and speed appear to have potential, but since April he’s managed just 2 SB and 4 HR as the average has trended in the wrong direction:

  • April – .255
  • May – .227
  • June – .194

He’s consistently shown an inability to hit the ball with authority (22.8% Hard%), and for a player with only moderate power he’s putting a few too many balls in the air (41.7% fly ball rate).  Opposing pitchers have been throwing him more breaking balls this season (32.29%) and he’s struggled to adjust (especially against sliders, which he’s hitting .140 against with a .246 SLG).  Unless he is able to adjust, the struggles are going to continue…

Even when he was performing in April he wasn’t hitting the ball hard (21.9%) and strikeout issues shouldn’t be a complete surprise (he had a 12.3% SwStr% over 496 PA in the minors in ’17).  That doesn’t mean that he can’t turn things around, but the overall outlook doesn’t look especially promising in the short-term.

How you proceed with Robles fully depends on your league size.  In deeper leagues (and definitely in dynasty formats) the upside remains and it’s possible he’s able to figure it out at some point in ’19.  In shallower leagues, where the waiver wire has talent, it’s a bit easier to move on to the next potential target.

Jurickson Profar – Oakland A’s
We talked about a potential replacement in our recent Top 10 Prospects on the Cusp, with Jorge Mateo potentially pushing for a promotion.  Profar’s struggles make that more and more plausible, as he’s hitting .203 with 9 HR and 4 SB on the season.  While he has managed to continue making contact (14.4% strikeout rate courtesy of an 8.9% SwStr%), other issues have started to crop up in June:

  • Popup Rate – 33.3%
  • Oppo% – 21.9%

It’s not that he’s swinging for the fences, considering a 28.1% fly ball rate, and he is still hitting the ball hard.  Is that enough of a reason for fantasy owners (and more importantly Oakland) to remain patient?  It at least brings a sense of hope, and as long as he is getting an opportunity he is worth having on fantasy radars.

Other struggling names to note:

  • Jake Bauers – Cleveland Indians – There’s always been intrigue and he’s showing a solid eye (10.1% walk rate, 23.9% O-Swing%), making consistent contact (8.4% SwStr%) and displaying a willingness to use the entire field (32.2% Oppo%), but he’s not hitting the ball with authority (30.2% Hard%).  That said he should improve his strikeout rate (26.5%) and BABIP (.261) in time, so continue to have him on radars (and he showed us why yesterday).
  • Ryan O’Hearn – Kansas City Royals – He’s actually cut down on his SwStr% (12.3% to 10.9%) and is hitting the ball relatively hard (35.6% Hard%).  However for a player with no speed he’s putting too many balls on the ground (49.6%) and that is at least part of the reason why he’s carrying a .225 BABIP.  That said there is a little bit of hope, but he’s not a player to get excited about.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball

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