It’s easy to stash a player who is struggling or a player who is injured, but what about a player who was struggling and is now injured? That’s never a good combination and it makes you wonder if you should just cut bait and move on. Let’s take a look at two players who recently find themselves in this situation and try to determine if they are worth holding onto:
Ender Inciarte – Atlanta Braves – Outfielder
With speed down across the game it was easy to be drawn to Inciarte in the preseason, though if you fell into that trap you are sorely disappointed today. Over 140 PA he’s hitting .218 with 2 HR and 3 SB, though we all knew he was always going to be a non-factor in terms of power. A .260 BABIP and inflated strikeout rate (19.3%) are the issues, and most notably have been his struggles against fastballs (AVG/SLG):
- Fourseam – .225/.350
- Sinker – .143/.143
It’s not like he’s thrived against breaking balls or offspeed pitches, but he’s seeing hard pitches 62.00% of the time. The struggles are magnified, especially now that Austin Riley has hit the ground running. It’s tough to move on from a source of speed, but you have to wonder if he’s going to return as a starter or if he’s going to be more of a fourth outfielder. If Riley is producing the answer appears obvious, making stashing Inciarte a lot harder of a sell.
Verdict – Ditch ‘Em
Travis Shaw – Milwaukee Brewers – Second/Third Baseman
We keep waiting for Shaw to get right, but it just hasn’t happened. As he’s hit the DL hitting .163 with 4 HR and 8 RBI over 154 PA as the strikeouts continue to mount (32.5%) and the luck continues to be poor (.222 BABIP). What’s interesting here is that there’s nothing that indicates that he should be struggling this badly.
- He’s not seeing fewer fastballs (60.23%, compared to 59.10% last season)
- He’s not struggling to hit the ball with authority (37.6% Hard%, down just slightly from his 39.8% last season)
- He’s no more pull happy than he’s been before (40.0% Pull%)
So the only difference is in the strikeout rate, with his SwStr% jumping from 8.2% (9.6% for his career) to 14.4%. That said his worst Whiff% is 15.28% against offspeed pitches, so that alone makes no sense. You also have to wonder why the mark has nearly doubled against hard pitches (7.31% to 14.44%).
It’s becoming more and more frustrating, especially with Keston Hiura being summoned to take his spot on the roster. That said there’s ways for the team to fit Shaw, Hiura and Mike Moustakas into the lineup (Shaw has played first base before) and there’s the potential for Hiura to need another stint in the minors. Shaw has been terrible, but there’s enough upside to believe that a hot streak will come upon his return to health.
Verdict – Don’t Ditch
Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball