Oracle Report: Give Up On?
Is it time to give up on a handful of players that simply have failed, miserably, to live up to preseason expectations?
It's no longer March. What we thought about players months ago may, or may not apply. The truth is there is no 100 percent, across the board, answer to every question about every player. In a 10 team mixed leagues maybe you move on from the struggling players that are listed below. If you're in a league specific setup those same players are likely to be excellent targets since they will be able to be had for such a discount. At least that's a theory one could take. Let's just say that everyone on this list has been a huge disappointment. Can they turn it around, is there any hope?
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Shin-Soo Choo (.242-9-33-47-3)
A 3-time 20/20 performer, there's no chance Choo gets to that level this season. He will be viewed as a failure by the end of the 2014 season. In fact, he might not go 20/10 this year. A lingering ankle issue has helped to torpedo his season as his numbers are way down across the board as his AVG is down .042 points, his OBP is down .025 points and his SLG is down .080 points. The last time he was this bad? It was 2011 when he was coming back from wrist issues. He's never been this bad in a season in which he's appeared in 90 games. He's still walking and his strikeouts are only slightly up. However his BABIP is down .045 points and his line drive rate is down 2.6 points, and that explains his struggles in the average category. At the same time his swinging strike percentage is down and he's chasing fewer pitches outside the strike zone than in any season since 2007. Maybe there is some hope if he can just get healthy.
ADVICE: Buy low. Still an impressive talent that could rebound.
Allen Craig (.244-7-43-34-1)
Matt Adams is crushing it hitting .329 with 11 homers through 301 at-bats. He's taking Craig's spot in the daily lineup now that Oscar Taveras is up. As I noted in my Prospect Hitter Review, Taveras might be an elite talent but he's just not hitting big league pitching right now. It's possible the Cardinals will send him back to Triple-A which would open up more PT for Craig. If that doesn't happen Craig is a super-sub, and that kills his mixed league value. Craig is hitting too many grounders, 57 percent of his batted balls (career 47 percent), and when he does hit the ball his BABIP has vanished (career .332, this year .285). His swing is just messed up even though his contact rate is currently at a career best level. He's just beating everything into the ground.
ADVICE: Only buy on the extreme cheap end. Trending toward NL-only status.
Chris Davis (.199-15-48-37-2)
After hitting .286 with 53 homers and 138 RBIs Davis enters the All-Star Break hitting... .199. Wow is that horrific. It's also very odd. VERY odd. Davis' current walk rate would be a career best. His strikeout totals are still massive but his 0.39 BB/K ratio would be a career best. His 26.6 percent line drive rate is immense (career 23.3 percent). There are 10 men in baseball who currently own a 26 percent line drive rate. The lowest non-Davis batting average is .262 by Nick Castellanos. Davis' BABIP is .252. He's been at .335 or better the last three years. You CANNOT have a 26 percent line drive rate and have a BABIP of .252. Something has to give (likely both). He's even swinging at the fewest pitches outside the strike zone at any point in four years. A better second half, but not to last year's levels, is on the horizon.
ADVICE: So bad you have to buy. Literally has nowhere to go but up.
Bryce Harper (.244-2-11-12-10)
Mike Trout has made it. Where is Bryce Harper? In this day and age of instant gratification no quarter is given for young players who struggle. It should be extended. Regardless, whatever you think about Harper and how good he will be in three years he's simply not there right now. He's been injured and completely ineffective this season. Last year he was also injured, and the truth is, since the start of last season he's been good, but nowhere near expectations. Over his last 152 games Harper has hit .267-22-69-83-12. Those are stupendous numbers for a 21 year old. However, in this media driven, MTV world of hype and bright lights, those numbers just don't reach the expectations. Not even close. I mean, you know who basically matched those numbers last season? Try Alex Gordon (.265-20-81-90-11). Anyone thinking Gordon is a superstar?
ADVICE: Harper has the talent to explode at any minute. At this point though it's way more about potential than it is about production. Be careful to pay for what he is doing, not what he might do – at least until he starts doing it.
Eric Hosmer (.268-6-42-44-3)
Hosmer is on fire in 12 July games batting .426 with two homers, seven RBIs and eight runs scored. The guy can hit, despite what we've seen for the majority of the season. Still, lets be real here. Through three seasons Hosmer has failed to reach 20 homers. He will fail again in year four. For his career his FB ratio is 29 percent. The league average is 34-35 percent. He simply has not learned to lift the ball. Hopes of him becoming a 25+ HR threat are sheer folly at the moment. His 5.9 percent HR/F ratio should improve, his career mark is 11.2 percent, so it's possible he could hit 8-10 big flies the rest of the way. Nothing grand though. He's also not running this season like he has in the past. In the overall scheme 10-12 steals is nothing over the top, but it's always been there to boost his value significant and take some of the sting out of his lack of power. After averaging 13 steals the last three season he has all of three thefts this year.
ADVICE: If you can buy on the cheap go for it. The average and power should improve ROTW, but keep those expectations muted. A breakout isn't likely.
Alexei Ramirez (.282-8-41-45-15)
The truth is you should have sold him 45 days ago. One of the more stable season to season options in baseball up the middle, Alexei started off blasting away like Luke Skywalker shooting down tie-fighters in Star Wars. Unfortunately Ramirez is no Jedi. Check out the monthly splits.
Notice a trend? Where do his 95 games leave us? About on the exact pace you should have expected all along. His .282 is four points above his career mark. His .318 OBP is two points above his career norm. His .400 SLG is four points below his career mark. Face it folks, Ramirez has been what he always is – solid is as solid does. He was NEVER going to break out. It's also unlikely that he will continue to slink to the finish line. There's this thing called the law of averages, often referred to as regression to the mean. That's what we've seen from Ramirez.
ADVICE: Expect more of the same from Ramirez. Not April, not July, but overall. His 95 game pace is a pretty dead on match for who he has been each of the past six seasons.