When a guy is young and successful the assumption is that he will improve or at least stay at those levels of early excellence. Unfortunately it's not as simple as that. In the case of the elite talents the Dodgers, Pirates, Brewers and Athletics run out there, there has been some significant slow down in production for a few. Not that it shouldn't have been expected. We'll explain why. On the bump there are two hurlers, one for the Red Sox and one for the Blue Jays that just can't seem to get it done for their clubs. We'll also explain why that is. So many questions yet so many answers. How nice, right?
THE YOUNG AND THE BOLD
Three guys with immense talent, but three guys who have yet to master the fundamentals of how to take a pitch follow.
Stats last 30 days: .203-3-9-9-6 w/ a .259 OBP & .378 SLG
Ryan Braun is gone and Aramis Ramirez continues to deal with a wonky knee. You can use those for excuses with Gomez. You can also use that he's seemingly got every body part somewhat beat up. Go for it, use those as an excuse. I'm going to say what I've been saying since January – Gomez isn't a very good hitter. Period. He's talented, physically gifted and a great defender, but he's not a good hitter. He's not.
Those people that thought he was gonna hit .300 this year were off their rockers. His recent slump has brought his average down to .289. That would be a career best. Hell, the guy has never hit .261 in a season. Read that again. He's never hit .261 in any of his previous six seasons. How could you think he was going to hit .300? He's not even going to hit .289. Why? His line drive rate is only 18.5 percent. That would be a four year high but it's still below the league average. His 1.10 GB/FB ratio is right on the league average. His .348 BABIP is elevated, even with his recent slump factored in. The last two seasons his BABIP has been under .300, and his career mark is .309. If that number continues a slow slide the batting average will continue to crumble. Finally, the guy has no idea how to control the strike zone. If he's looking for his pitch and gets it – he kills it. If a pitcher makes a mistake – he kills it. If a pitcher makes his pitch? Gomez is an out. Gomez has 18 walks this season, in 92 games. That's miserable (Giancarlo Stanton has walked 19 times the past 30 days). Gomez also has 90 Ks in those 92 games leading to a 24.1 percent K-rate that leaves him with a pathetic 0.20 BB/K ratio, a mark that is half of the big league average. You simply cannot hit .300, or be consistent, if you don't take pitches.
Gomez has 15 homers and 21 steals so a 20/30 season is possible (he was 19/37 last year), but he's not taken that next step that many think he has.
Stats last 30 days: .284-4-7-15-6 w/ a .318 OBP & .520 SLG
Marte has had a great season as he's gone deep 10 times with 28 steals and 61 runs scored. That's all really impressive stuff. On the downside he's only drive in 29 runs and his batting average is down to .279. Why is that? I will see your Carlos Gomez and raise you a Starling Marte. In 390 at-bats this season Marte has walked 15 times while whiffing 98 times leading to a 0.15 BB/K ratio. Like Gomez his batting average is being kept aloft by his high BABIP (.350). Speed will help with that but still. His speed keeps him fantasy relevant but Marte needs to do something there as well as his stolen base percentage is just 73.6 percent (28 for 38).
Stats last 30 days: .326-2-8-17-4 w/ a .369 OBP & .463 SLG
We knew he would slow, and even though he has those are still some pretty darn impressive 30 day numbers are they not? However, the problems that I've spoken of since he was called up still exist. (1) He never walks with eight in 43 games. (2) He strikes out too much with 44 whiffs in 43 games. (3) As a result of #1 and #2 his BB/K ratio is just 0.18, a frightful number. (4) His SLG percentage the last 30 days is more in line with what we've seen than the .571 mark he's sporting for the year. What did I say when he hit all those early homers? I said there was no way he would keep up that pace because he hits too many balls on the ground (52.5 percent) and his HR/F ratio was simply too high (25.8). His HR/F ratio was over 34 percent when I wrote his Player Profile (which you can access in the link above), and what do you know, it's come way down, and the homers have dried up. The guy is still hitting .369 overall, and given his approach that number will likely come down as well. Just the facts folks.
Clay Buchholz has never thrown 100-innings in back-to-back seasons in the big leagues. It will likely happen this season, he's already over 84, but it sounds like his shoulder woes will keep him out until late August. Yeah you read that right. The guy last threw a pitch on June 8th and it sounds like he might end up missing more than two and a half months with the injury (an inflamed bursa sac in his shoulder). "The one thing that's been consistent throughout this is we've tried to progress as Clay has tolerated," manager John Farrell said. "That won't change." Great. Honestly, if you don't have a DL spot on your mixed league roster, I don't know why you would be holding on to Clay in a 10 or 12 team league.
Yoenis Cespedes goes to the All-Star Game festivities, lights up the Home Run Derby, and now he can't play because of a wrist issue that has caused him to miss 5-straight games (he's returning to the lineup Wednesday). Is it time we officially start to worry about Yoenis? Last season he appeared in 129 of 162 games. This season he's appeared in 79 of 100 games. That means he's been on the field for the Athletics 208 of a possible 262 games, or 79 percent of the contests. To restate, 79 percent of the contests each season would equate to 128 games played. Troy Tulowitzki, who is seemingly always hurt, has appeared in roughly 74 percent of the Rockies games since the start of the 2007 season. Yikes is right. Cespedes has also slumped dramatically at the plate this season. His current OBP is .293. He batted .292 last season. His current OPS is .713. He posted a mark of .861 last year. He's batting .225 to lower his career mark to .266. Oh, and after stealing 16 bases and being caught four times he's been successful five times while swiping six bases. Hate to tell those of you that own Cespedes in a keeper league, but his effort right now is looking a lot more like Chris Young than you're going to want to admit.
Josh Johnson is 1-6. Records can be deceiving though, we all know that (hello Chris Sale who is 6-9 with a 2.81 ERA and 1.02 WHIP). However, in the case of Johnson the record is more reflective of his efforts than not. He does still generate strikeouts, in fact his current 9.09 mark per nine innings is the second best mark of his career (8.23 for his career), and the resulting 2.88 K/BB ratio works and is about two tenths higher than his norm. Alas, Johnson is also sporting a 1.57 WHIP which is a results of a 6-year high with his walk rate of 3.16 (career 3.03). Johnson is also leaving the ball up in the zone and getting pounded. We've heard talk all year about guys like Blanton, Cain and Haren giving up the long ball, but look what's happened to Johnson. A career 0.64 mark per nine innings is on the back of his ball card, but right now that mark is 1.45. Yes, more than double normal. In addition to that fact, how about this one – add together his 2010-12 marks and you end up with 1.30 less than this season's mark. Blame that HR/F ratio that has soared from 7.8 percent for his career up to 15.7 right now. You have to think we'll see some regression there. Also, though his 1.40 GB/FB is just a tenth off his career mark, for the second straight year his line drive rate is 23.6 percent, a substantial jump from his 20.7 percent career mark. So let's bottom line things. Johnson's striking out more batters than normal, walking about the amount of folks as usual, and is allowing the same GB/FB rate as normal. He is allowing more hard hit balls than ever before, and when the batters get their pitch they are doing more damage than ever before. xFIP will tell that his ERA should be 3.60, SIERA 3.71, but given the continual results on the hill this season it's getting harder and harder to trust those measures in this case.
FINALLY — for those of you who are also football fans, if you’re looking to dominate the competition in 2013 then check out the 2013 Fantasy Football Draft Guide that is nearly 200 pages long.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
Rounding The Bases - Todd Zola Looks At The First 10 Rounds of a Likely 2014 Fantasy Baseball Draft
Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola - Looking Ahead To The 2014 Fantasy Baseball Season
Rounding The Bases - Master Fantasy Baseball Notes From Todd Zola
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (20 Prospects for '14)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 24
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (September Call-Ups)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 23
Rounding the Bases: A Day For the Little Man
Rounding The Bases: Morse, Willingham On the Move?
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Roster Expansion)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 22
Rounding the Bases: Five Surging Pitchers & Hitters
Rounding the Bases: Rookies, Veterans & Roster Movement
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Pitching Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week 21
Master Notes From Todd Zola - Taking A Look at Starting Pitching In Keeper Leagues
Rounding the Bases: Small Names, Big Production?
Rounding the Bases: A First for Stephen Strasburg and the (Near) Final Round-Up
The Farm Report: Minor League Baseball Coverage From A Fantasy Perspective (Hitting Help On The Way!)
2013 Fantasy Baseball Waiver Pickups: Week Twenty