Wednesday, July 11, 2012

More on First Half Disappointments

My post on potential second-half pitching "surgers" generated a great deal of interest. So I threw out a general query on Twitter looking at this another way: were there any hitters or pitchers that have disappointed in the first half that my followers wanted my two cents on.

Four players I was asked about I'm eliminating from the conversation because they're currently hurt. Dustin Pedroia, Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, and Dan Haren are all recovering from injuries. While I can certainly offer idle speculation into how they'll do when they return, I'm not a medical expert nor do I have any deep insights into the degree of their injuries. I also am declining to opine on Mike Morse. He's back from injury but if the problem is that he's not quite 100%, I have no way of knowing.

Desmond Jennings has been more of a real life disappointment than a Rotisserie disappointment, thanks to the 15 stolen bases in 16 tries. His power is mostly what has disappeared; his IFFB% has spiked while his out of zone swing rate has increased as well. He's making contact but making poorer contact. Jennings missed time in May and hasn't seemed the same since. I think he's a solid bet long term, but right now I'd be wary of acquiring him.

Justin Upton's season wouldn't seem all that disappointing if not for the disappearing power numbers. His FB% has flatlined - from 45% last year to a dismal 33% this year. He might be owed a few more HR Post All-Star, but as long as he keeps pounding the ball into the ground, the spike won't be all that dramatic.

Matt Moore has definitely been a disappointment, but after a dreadful April he actually pitched capably in May and June before the wheels came off again in July. The walk rate is a huge part of the problem here. No one expected Moore to whiff big league hitters the way he mowed down minor league guys, but a five plus walk rate per nine won't get any starting pitcher far. I liked the progress Moore showed after April, but the slow July start concerns me a little. Moore has a high enough ceiling that he's a gamble in mixed leagues, but one you might want to take anyway.

Beyond the big HR dip, the biggest problem for Mark Reynolds is that he's keeping the bat on his shoulder. He's swinging at far fewer pitches this year, in particular those pitches he's seeing in the zone. For a hitter with such a poor contact history as Reynolds this isn't suddenly going to lead to a better batting average and optimal results across the board. Watch to see if Reynolds starts hacking more in the second half.

Carlos Santana has the same problem Upton has: a diminished fly ball rate leading to fewer HR chances. Santana hasn't looked any different to me when I've seen him play, but he'll need to hit the ball in the air more if he wants to start increasing his power production and come closer to being the frontline catcher we saw in 2011.

The recovery for Eric Hosmer seemed to begin already, with a June that was an extremely productive month, albeit without a lot of home runs. Hosmer still isn't going to live up to preseason expectations, but he should continue to build on his decent June with a solid second half.

Jose Reyes has been a real life disappointment, but in Roto his HR/SB pace isn't too far out of line with what Reyes has done in the past. Yes, the home runs are a little low, but since Reyes isn't a slugger this kind of difference can be explained by variance more than by any significant change. If Reyes doesn't go back to hitting at a 13-15 pace HR Post All-Star, just keep in mind that this isn't why you bought him this spring.

The strikeouts and the walks are both up for Miguel Montero but - as with Reyes - I can't see how Montero has been a disappointment for his owners. He's on pace to come fairly close to his HR/RBI/R numbers from 2011. The high BABIP is a bit of a warning flag Post All-Star, but this might also be statistical noise that is nothing to worry about.

If you didn't acquire Adrian Gonzalez three weeks ago, you're probably too late. Gonzalez had put together an 18-game hitting streak before ending it on Sunday with a one at bat game. During that span, Gonzalez put up a 372/395/474 slash. He's not a .372 hitter any more than he's a .260 hitter, but a .300-.310 batting average with moderate power isn't out of line for Gonzalez, particularly not in Fenway. If owners in your league are still looking to divest, get on board here.

Cliff Lee went through a run of crummy starts recently, but almost all of his well-documented problems were due to a lack of wins due to a lack of offensive support. I can't guarantee if the Phillies will score for him, but Lee typically goes through one stretch a year where he slumps. If the slump is behind him, Lee is a reliable arm who should put up a 3.00 ERA for you if everything goes well...which I believe it should.

Ricky Romero simply can't be trusted right now. He's a definite no-go in mixed leagues, and even owners in A.L.-only should be having second thoughts about running Romero out there. The combination of dropped K/9 with an increased BB/9 is always a huge red flag. I don't know if things will get better, but given the numbers I don't possibly see how you can expect that they will.

Adam Wainwright See here.

Jon Papelbon blew a couple of saves before the All-Star break but should be fine going forward. The K/9 still shows a dominant pitcher, and while the HR/9 have jumped, I think this is statistical noise at the moment and not anything that points to a bad trend.

1 comment:

Rob said...

Thanks for the info.. I invested heavily in Hosmer just before June (in a keeper league) and am pretty happy I did so. Now to get Mark Reynolds to hit a few more HR....