Hold ‘Em or Fold ‘Em: Should You Stay Patient With These Struggling Young Hitters?


What should you do with struggling players? Should you hold out hope that he figures it out and start producing? Or should you cut bait and run because there’s little hope? There’s obviously no simple answer, so let’s take a look:

Ryan O’Hearn – Kansas City Royals
There were high hopes for O’Hearn entering the season, but he’s opened hitting .206 with 3 HR over 114 PA.  It’s not a poor approach (9.6% SwStr%, 26.6% O-Swing%), and considering his 22.8% strikeout rate and 13.2% walk rate there’s still reason for optimism.  He’s also hitting the ball hard enough (36.1% Hard%) and isn’t going pull heavy (36.1% Oppo%), so you have to believe there’s more upside in his .246 BABIP.

The real question comes from his power, as he’s managed an 11.1% HR/FB after posting a 25.0% mark in the Majors last season.  The fact that he hasn’t shown doubles ability (5 doubles and 1 triple this year) is a slight concern, and this year’s mark is closer to what he did at Triple-A over the previous two seasons:

  • 2017 (413 PA) – 16.8%
  • 2018 (353 PA) – 9.6%

While the average should improve, if he’s going to be a first baseman hitting .250-.260 with 15-18 HR is there much value?  There isn’t going to be much.

Verdict – Ditch ‘Em

Brandon Nimmo – New York Mets
Nimmo was always going to be a better fit for those in OBP formats, and he is still getting on base despite his .194 AVG (13.0% walk rate).  Of course a .320 OBP is far from last year’s .404 and he’s not compensating with power (3 HR) or speed (1 SB).

He’s not chasing out of the strike zone very much (20.5% O-Swing%), but his SwStr% has spiked significantly (9.5% to 12.7%).  He’s actually seeing more fastballs this season (60.7%), and there obviously is reason to believe that he’ll be able to improve in that regard.  That should go a long ways to his improvement, and while he may not match last season’s mark he still should be more of a .350-.360 type OBP player.  Mix that with a little power and a little speed and there’s value, even if it’s less than you’d have hoped for.

Verdict – Hold ‘Em

Carter Kieboom – Washington Nationals
Obviously in keeper leagues dropping him isn’t even a consideration, but in redraft formats it is something that’s on the table considering the miserable start to the season:

.143 (5-35), 2 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R, 0 SB

The strikeout rate is the biggest concern, as he currently stands at 41.0%.  This is a small sample size issue, however, as it has come courtesy of a solid 9.3% SwStr%.  He also has shown that he can hit the ball hard (42.1% Hard%), use the entire field (26.3% Oppo%) and doesn’t take a fly ball-centric approach (36.8%).  You pair that with a .176 BABIP and it’s obvious that a rebound is coming.

The return of Anthony Rendon has led to Kieboom returning to Triple-A, but he could quickly play himself back into the mix at the Major League level. The decision of whether to hold him or not is completely league dependent, but if you are in a keeper format there’s more than enough upside to continue stashing him. Even in deeper redraft formats there’s enough upside to keep him stashed and see what happens.

Verdict – Hold ‘Em

Source – Fangraphs


  1. Kieboom’s biggest issue was defense. Plus with Turner coming back earlier than expected, do you think he gets another shot soon?

    • Ultimately he’ll get a shot again at the 2B job. Don’t think it’ll be that long, but itll be a few weeks

    • Agreed, but there’s too much upside potential to write him off. Unfortunately fantasy owners need to just wait him out


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