By Moe Koltun, Matthew Schwimmer and Matt Cott of RotoAnalysis.com
One of the hardest things to deal with as a fantasy owner is when one of your key players continues to struggle. Do you ride it out and trust in why they were a top pick in the first place, or do you try and cut your losses? Here are six guys who are frustrating owners this season, and what you should do with them if they’re on your team:
Brian McCann, Braves C
McCann should be having the time of his life right now hitting behind Michael Bourn and Martin Prado, who both have OBPs over .360. However, McCann is currently in the middle of his worst-ever season as he’s posted a .240 average. McCann is a career .282 hitter and this season, his struggles can be pinpointed down to his .238 BABIP. This seems like pure luck, as McCann is also hitting more line drive then he did last year. If McCann can continue to strike out at a career low rate of 14.3%, luck will turn around for McCann who should enjoy a strong second half in which he hits close to his career average of .280 with plenty of HRs and RBIs.
Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox 1B
Adrian Gonzalez was always a great player in a bad ballpark before last season when he posted a .338 average with 27 home runs in Fenway. Owners knew that his batting average was going to take a hit because he could not maintain his .380 BABIP for a second consecutive season. While the batting average has fallen to its expected range, the power shortage was not expected. I expected Gonzalez to continue to take advantage of the cozy confines of Fenway Park and mash more home runs than he ever did in Petco. Since 2007, Gonzalez has never posted an ISO below .210, but it sits at a mere .137 this year. While his 6.9% HR/FB rate is bound to get closer to his 16.2% career average, owners should not expect his power numbers to jump even to his 2011 pace. The return of Carl Crawford and Jacoby Ellsbury could help his run production, but Gonzalez’s stock has taken a major tumble this season.
Eric Hosmer, Royals 1B
We’ve been writing about it all season at RotoAnalysis; we believe in Eric Hosmer. For a guy with so much talent and potential, he really has taken strides forward this season. He walks more and strikes out less than he did in his rookie year, and his .237 BABIP is what is really bringing his average down. Even his steals have been solid, and he has the potential to be the rare first baseman who has above-average contributions in all 5 categories. Given how weak the position has been this year, that makes him supremely valuable and a player worth holding on to in the second half, and for the future in keeper leagues.
Justin Upton, Diamondbacks OF
For years, Upton has been a player drafted more for his physical upside and potential than the numbers he has actually produced. After a career year last season where he went 30/20 and batted .289, this year his strikeouts have bounced back towards his career high as his average and power have dropped. His ISO has been cut in half, from .240 last season to .122 now. Upton is on the trade market, and he probably should be in your league too as most owners are rightfully ready to give up.
Anibal Sanchez, Marlins SP
This was primed to be a monster year for Anibal Sanchez. Coming off a season where he was top 4 among starters in baseball in strikeout rate and managed to lower his walk rate under 3.00 for the first time, there was really no reason Sanchez couldn’t be a top 15 fantasy pitcher. However, this season he’s struggled, putting up a 3.95 ERA thus far to go along with only 5 wins. However, going forward, I think Sanchez could easily be a top 25 starter. That is mostly because he has been extremely unlucky in stranding runners this season, placing in the bottom twenty-five of the league among starters in the statistic, and actually coming in below pitchers like Rick Porcello, Derek Lowe, and Kevin Correia. The rest of the way, Sanchez should strand way more runners on base, lowering his ERA, and getting him some more wins in the process. When he’s on, Anibal Sanchez is a legitimate four-category starter, and there aren’t that many of those left out there.
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals SP
Wanwright’s season makes absolutely no sense. The biggest concern about him heading into this season was his health, and so far he’s shown no signs of being the least bit unhealthy. Wainwright’s fastball velocity is right on par with where it was during his great 2008 and 2009 campaigns, as are all his other pitches, including his wipeout curveball. From a strikeout and walks perspective, Wainwright is performing right along the lines that he always has, with 102 strikeouts in 109 innings to pair with only 31 walks. However, somehow, in one of the best pitcher’s parks in the league, Wainwright’s ERA has popped up to a shocking 4.62. That number seems like an outlier to me, and I don’t think there’s any chance it continues. Wainwright has actually increased his ground ball rate this year bringing it all the way up to 52.2%, and I think that with time, his extremely unlucky home run per fly ball rate as well as his bad strand rate will both regress. That would make him somewhere below a 3.50 ERA pitcher the rest of the way, to go with plenty of wins and great strikeout totals on a solid Cardinals team. Buy in on Wainwright as a top 30-35 starter if you still can.
Agree? Disagree? Questions? Tweet @RotoAnalysis and be sure to follow Moe @MoeProblems and Matt @KidCotti21. Check out their work on RotoAnalysis.com, as well as The RotoAnalysis Fantasy Sports Podcast.