Last week I looked at some hitters whose profiles in the second half showed a positive outlook for 2014. This week I’m going to look at a few players whose split seasons indicate some red flags for into next season.
- His BA was terrible, but part of that was due to a very unlucky second half BABIP. Even so, his 2013 BABIP was nearly identical to 2011, and yet his BA was worse.
- That career-low BA is connected to a rising K% in the second half. Add to that a dropping contact rate and walk rate in the second half, and there’s little hope for any improvement in the near future.
- His HR splits are pretty close, so one might think he retained his power stroke all year. However, his HR/FB dropped in the second half, just as it did last year. The reason he maintained his HR numbers was due to a boost in FB% — he simply had more chances. If his HR/FB keeps falling, or his FB% drops again, he may not reach 30 HR in 2014.
- For 2014: He’ll have to play the field all the time in the NL West in order to stay in the lineup; some defensive substitutions late in games could pare down his AB total. What’s more, hitters are more likely to experience a slight negative adjustment to switching leagues, so red flags like his K% could get worse.
- There’s no denying his power potential, and his HR/FB actually improved in the second half. However, note that it’s down from his unsustainable 2012 season (25%).
- An unsustainable BABIP, especially in the second half, helped Rosario post that nice average. He won’t flirt with the Mendoza line yet, but you can’t bank on a BA over .275 next year.
- His patience was never that great, but it was abysmal in 2014. He had the third worst BB% of all hitters with 350+ plate appearances — even Arencibia walked more than Rosario. What’s worse, his BB% in the second half plummeted to just 1%. That approach could lead to all sorts of problems in the future.
- Case in point: his K% was just outside of the top-50 in 2013, but his swinging strike percent (14.4%) was well above the league average (9.3%). He swung at pitches outside the strike zone at a horrendous rate of 37.7%; the league average is 29.7%. His contact rate also fell a little in the second half, which isn’t unexpected given his O-Swing%.
- Despite his increase in HR/FB, what worries me was his drop in FB% in the second half. His GB% and FB% went from 37% and 41% in the first half to 46% and 30%, respectively. All that home run power only works if he’s hitting more fly balls. What’s more, his second-half GB% of 46% matches his 2012 season — what made him so valuable that year was his unsustainable HR/FB. If the grounders trend continues in 2014, he may be lucky to hit 20 HR without another lucky homer rate.
- For 2014: He does have the power to hit 35 HR as a catcher, and that’s valuable enough to gamble on him, however, I’m not picking him as a top-5 catcher; there are plenty of safer bets who can produce as well as Rosario in everything but power. He may be on the verge of becoming another JP Arencibia.
- Some signs point to an improvement: better average and walk rate. You can also claim that he was battling injuries. However, other signs aren’t so positive.
- Needed a BABIP uptick in the second half for that average improvement. It’s not unsustainable — in fact it was in line with his career — but he needed a career-high LD% to help keep his BA where it was last year, and even then it came down a few points from 2012. He’s clearly not the .300+ hitter of 2009 and 2011 unless he’s hitting home runs.
- Those home run years aren’t going to return based on his HR/FB. In 2009 and 2011, he posted his best HR/FB rates (14%, 16%). In the second half of 2013, his HR/FB dropped from 10% to 7%. Even if some of that is injury related, it’s not a good trend.
- For 2014: Bearing in mind his constant injury risk, his weight issues, and the last of HR power, I’m passing on him for 3B who have better HR or AB totals over the last few years. A repeat of 2012-13 is far more likely than a return to the glory of 2011.
That’s it for this week. Be sure to get in your reader requests for hitters you want analyzed, even if they don’t have stark half-season trends.
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