It’s always difficult when players are lost in a seemingly endless slump. What does the future hold for them? Will they be able to turn it around? Could they potentially lose their real? Obviously each case is different, so let’s take a look at a few players and try to determine how to proceed:
Paul DeJong – St. Louis Cardinals – Shortstop
Suddenly DeJong has become one of the most asked about players, and while a few big days (4-8, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 4 R between Thursday & Friday) could help to quiet some of the questions it’s not going to silence them. There was a lot of hype entering the season, yet he hasn’t made the type of impact that anyone would’ve hoped for:
.252 (91-361), 15 HR, 44 RBI, 62 R, 6 SB
He’s added 21 doubles and 1 triple and most of the underlying numbers would appear promising. He entered yesterday with a 10.0% SwStr%, a step in the right direction (11.0% in ’18), 28.3% O-Swing% and 43.4% Hard%. So what makes us think that a turnaround isn’t likely?
While popups remain a problem, a 12.4% IFFB is actually an improvement (14.0% for his career). The bigger red flag is a sudden pull heavy approach, with his Oppo% going from 26.1% to 17.2%. That makes him more prone to the shift, and he’s actually been even worse of late (he entered yesterday with a 9.3% Oppo% in July).
That’s not to say that he can’t turn things around, but it’s going to help to limit his upside potential. Keep that in mind, but with all of the other numbers now isn’t the time to give up hope and cut bait.
Verdict – Don’t Ditch
Matthew Boyd – Detroit Tigers – Starting Pitcher
Since June 1 things have gotten ugly for Boyd, who was once considered one of the biggest breakout pitchers of the year. He’s made eight starts since then, allowing at least 3 ER in all of them (and 4+ in each of his past six). Just look at the difference in ERA:
- Through May 31 – 2.85
- Since June 1 – 6.08
Interestingly he’s continued to generate strikeouts (13.69 ERA) and limit the walks (1.71 BB/9) even during the struggles. He’s never been a groundball pitcher, so maybe the fact that home runs have really plagued him shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Over the first two months, despite a 38.5% groundball rate, he owned a 0.87 HR/9. During this slump it’s more than tripled, with a 2.66 HR/9 courtesy of a 33.3% groundball rate. A correction may have been expected, but this is an overcorrection to say the least.
The fact that he also owns a 47.0% Hard% during this stretch, which helps to justify a .361 BABIP, will cause the concerns to grow. Is it possible that, as primarily a two-pitch pitcher, opposing hitters have simply figured things out?
Since June 1 opposing hitters are hitting .325 with 5 HR against his fourseam fastball, though his velocity is up. That helps to support the idea that he needs to add another wrinkle more regularly, or opposing hitters will continues to tee off on him.
He’s not a pitcher to give up on long-term, but for this season he needs to make an adjustment if he wants to rediscover his success.
Verdict – Ditch ‘Em (in redraft formats, though he’s a tough drop depending on league size)
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball