Just over a month into the season there are players who appear to be breaking out, but should we be buying in? In other words should fantasy owners be looking to sell high on a player with a strong start or should we stay the course and reap the rewards of a true breakout? Let’s take a look (all statistics are through Thursday):
Hunter Dozier – Kansas
2019 Statistics – .331, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 19 R, 1 SB
There’s always been upside, the question is has Dozier finally realized it. His 47.3% Hard% isn’t far off from last year’s 44.9% mark, and over 483 AB it’s beginning to become more believable. That helps to support a .369 BABIP, or at least something reasonably close, so the bigger question is if his improved approach is for real (7.7% SwStr%, 24.4% O-Swing%).
He’s improved against all types of pitches (Whiff%):
- Hard – 9.79% to 4.12%
- Breaking – 22.27% to 15.08%
- Offspeed – 14.05% to 8.33%
That’s going to be the key, since there’s nothing unbelievable about his power (20.9% HR/FB) as well. If the improved approach continues, it’s easy to dub this breakout for real and one that you don’t want to let get away.
Verdict – Don’t Sell
Jeff McNeil – New York Mets
2019 Statistics – .356, 1 HR, 13 RBI, 18 R, 0 SB
He’s found a spot at the top of the Mets lineup, and it would appear that he is thriving in the role. There’s no questioning that he can hit, but is there any reason to believe that he can maintain this type of average? Just look at the numbers:
- Hard% – 38.8%
- Oppo% – 24.1%
- Groundball Rate – 50.0%
There’s nothing that’s bad in those numbers, but they also don’t support a .400 BABIP (especially considering the groundball rate from a player without top end speed). He also doesn’t hit for extreme power (though 11 doubles and 1 triple shows there’s a little more), so we are hanging our hats solely on his average. With that likely regressing the value could quickly disappear.
Verdict – Sell High
Christian Walker –
2019 Statistics – .295, 7 HR, 16 RBI, 21 R, 3 SB
Things have turned in May, after he hit .307 with 7 HR in April, as he’s hitting .250 with 0 HR over his first 7 games. The strikeouts are also up (29.2% to 32.3%) and the walks are down (10.6% to 9.7%), and the downturn corresponds to him seeing more breaking balls (30.94% in April, 36.67% in May). Granted he’s struggled to make consistent contact against all types of pitches (20.52% Whiff% against Hard pitches), so maybe it’s more coincidence than anything.
There were always going to be questions regarding his potential to maintain his Hard% (it still stands at 62.8%), and that ties into a .392 BABIP. His strikeout rate was also going to be a significant question (34.2% for his career). While there is power, and that’s not going to disappear, is there enough to support continued production or avoid loss of playing time?
Walker should be a productive player, but at the same time his value may already be declining (and it may never be higher). Cashing in now makes a lot of sense.
Verdict – Sell High
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball