Ronis Bonus: Buy Low Opportunities?
Published: May 12, 2021
It feels like there are a lot of players falling below expectations this season. There are numerous players with batting averages below .200 in the middle of May. While there are a lot of pitchers performing very well, there are some pitchers taken in the early rounds doing poorly. Here are some players that are off to poor starts and what to make of them.
Nick Senzel (Reds): Senzel was a bargain in early drafts, but he started to rise in the high stakes leagues as we got closer to the season. I have been getting a lot of complaints about him. Senzel is hitting .277/.355/.351 with 16 runs, one home run, eight RBIs and two stolen bases. Senzel is beginning to lead off recently and has now appeared at seven games at second base and is three games away from getting eligibility there in leagues that require 10 games during the season. Senzel was caught stealing for the fifth time on Tuesday, but his sprint speed in in the 96th percentile. While the surface stats have been unappealing, there's a lot to like. Playing time looked as if it could be an issue for a bit, but the Reds seem intent on playing Senzel at second and hitting at the top of the order. Senzel has walked 12 times and struck out 14. Senzel has a xBA of .303 and plays in a good home park. Senzel has hit a few balls that looked like they were home runs and caught on the warning track. He's a great buy low.
Kyle Hendricks (Cubs): Hendricks doesn't have great stuff, but has been able to overcome it with precise location and a good changeup. Hendricks is 2-4 with a 6.23 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 18.2 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 percent walk rate. Hendrick is getting hit hard with a 11.5 Barrel percentage and his career average is 6.5 percent. He has an xERA of 5.97 and his K-BB percentage is 12.1 percent and it was over 16 percent the last two seasons. He has allowed 11 home runs in 34.2 innings and while a 28.2 percent HR/FB rate will come down, there are a lot of concerns here. If Hendricks doesn't locate better, he's in big trouble.
Luis Castillo (Reds): It has been a miserable start for Castillo and it's a bad feeling when those with Castillo see so many pitchers drafted around him pitching well. Castillo is 1-4 with a 6.42 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 16.8 percent strikeout rate and 6.5 percent walk rate. The velocity is slightly down going from 97.5 miles per hour on his fastball in 2020 to 96.1 this season. Castillo has said the changeup is staying in the zone too much. Castillo has a 51.4 percent ground ball rate and the defense hasn't helped. Castillo has an unlucky .357 BABIP and 54 percent left-on base percentage. Castillo's swinging strike percentage is 9.7 percent, which is below his career average of 14.2 percent. There's definitely concerns here, but he tends to pitch better when the weather is warmer. If he could be acquired cheaply, I would take the shot.
Dylan Bundy (Angels): Bundy is 0-4 with a 5.03 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 26.2 percent strikeout rate and 6.1 percent walk rate. Two bad starts have inflated the numbers, including his last start in which he allowed six runs in 3.1 innings against the Dodgers. The fastball velocity is up, his hard hit percentage is in the 89th percentile and his xERA is 3.04. Buy!
Jorge Soler (Royals): Soler is off to a bad start, hitting .200/.280/.374 with 12 runs, three home runs and 22 RBIs. Soler had 48 home runs and 117 RBIs in 2019. While that won't happen again, he's better than what he has shown. Soler has been hitting the ball extremely hard, ranking in the top five percentile in max exit velocity, average exit velocity and hard hit percentage. The strikeout rate is slightly up from 2019, but with a 44.9 percent fly ball rate and 8.6 percent HR/FB rate, more power is coming for Soler.
Cavan Biggio (Blue Jays): It's ugly for Biggio. He is hitting .200/.314/.320 with 11 runs, three home runs and eight RBIs with no stolen bases. Biggio was 20-for-20 in stolen bases coming into this season and has attempted one steal and been caught. While he has a 13.3 percent walk rate, the strikeout rate has increased to 30 percent. He chasing pitches and making little hard contact. The barrel percentage is three percent, his hard hit percentage is 28.8 percent and the xBA is .192 and he has struggled defensively. When the Blue Jays have everyone healthy, Biggio could lose at-bats.
Miguel Sanó (Twins): Sano is hitting .129/.299/.226 with seven runs, two home runs and five RBIs in 62 at-bats. He recently came off the IL, but Sano was a bad pick. We know what he is and it's not good. He will provide power, but crush the batting average and doesn't run. Sano hits the ball hard, but has hit .199, .247 and .204 the last three seasons. He has a 37.7 percent strikeout rate and a xBA of .151.