Nearly two months 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:
Joey Gallo – Texas Rangers
2019 Statistics – .277, 13 HR, 32 RBI, 32 R, 3 SB
Gallo is producing like the elite player many have envisioned he could become. We all know that the power is for real, but is there any chance that he continues to hit for such a solid average? The big difference comes in terms of his BABIP (.249 to .388), and it’s a number that’s hard to fathom. There is reason to believe in a little bit of an improvement, but this big maybe not:
- Hard% – 60.0% – He’s always hit the ball hard (48.8% for his career), though this type of number doesn’t seem possible to continue
- O-Swing% – 22.9% – This is a huge improvement (30.6% for his career), and it supports the ability to raise his Hard% a little bit as well as the ability to hit above .220
- Oppo% – 17.5% – He is among the more extreme pull hitters in the league, and with the way teams shift today eventually it will lead to a slump and a drop in his BABIP
Gallo still swings and misses far too much (35.4% strikeout rate) and it’s possible opposing pitchers start throwing him fewer fastballs (58.38% Hard pitches seen is actually a career high). Considering he’s hitting .143 against changeups and .121 against sliders, that just further clouds the future.
Gallo has shown some improvements, but is he a .280 hitter? It’s not likely, and while he could be more of a .250ish hitter it’s also possible that he falls back into the .220-.230 range. It’s been an incredible start, but now is the ideal time to sell high. There’s a good chance his value is never greater.
Verdict – Sell High
Byron Buxton –
2019 Statistics – .275, 4 HR, 24 RBI, 25 R, 8 SB
Speed is down across the game, and that is going to add to the potential intrigue of Buxton. At the same time he no longer appears to be just a one trick pony, producing across the board in his 155 PA. Now the question is if this breakout is finally for real, or if this is just a smokescreen for an impending regression.
Before we get overly excited about what seems to be a strong performance, there are a few key numbers that would indicate it’s nothing more than a hot streak:
- Approach – Buxton continues to show a below average approach, both in terms of his SwStr% (13.6%) and O-Swing% (36.0%). Those numbers don’t support the improvement in his strikeout rate (23.2%, compared to 30.6% for his career) and there’s a good chance that the number rises significantly.
- Fly Ball Rate – He’s never going to be an elite power hitter, so a 52.8% fly ball rate is a scary number (especially when coupled with a 16.1% popup rate). It’s the type of number that should make it impossible for him to maintain an elevated BABIP (despite his current .343 mark)
- Oppo% – He continues to be pull heavy, with a 21.7% Oppo%, further supporting the potential for a regression in his BABIP
Granted Buxton is going to provide stolen bases, but he’s unlikely to maintain an elevated BABIP. When that regresses, along with an increase in strikeouts, and the results aren’t necessarily going to be pretty. Now isn’t the time to buy, and in fact selling makes sense.
Verdict – Sell High
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball