Hold or Fold: Week 8

“Said it’s too late to apologize, It’s too late.” ~ OneRepublic “Apologize”

It’s too late for apologies now, but I owe you one or twenty anyway. I absolutely nailed some of my preseason predictions. I was consistently higher on Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger than the consensus. I was the highest on Josh Bell too for that matter (and still way, way off). I ranked Kimbrel as though he wouldn’t sign, and I was right. So I don’t really owe anyone an apology.

Having said that: Everyone misses sometimes, and when I missed, I missed pretty spectacularly. I honestly thought Jurickson Profar would improve. While he is showing some signs of life lately, there’s a huge difference between “showing signs of not being a complete waste of a roster spot” and me telling you I thought he could be a top 100 talent. I was the lowest of all of us on Jorge Polanco. I was crazy low on Austin Meadows, too high on Max Kepler and I told you not to draft Jose Martinez.

So, it’s too late to apologize for that now, even if I am. What matters now is the rest of the year – if everything was reset now, who should you hang onto, and who should you walk away from?

Hold ‘Em

Tommy La Stella

I honestly have no idea what to make of La Stella. I always want to say his name Marlon Brando style, like in A Streetcar Named Desire. That really has no bearing on anything, I just thought I’d share it.

What I do know about La Stella is simple. He walks more than he strikes out, and his BABIP is only .250, so the batting average and on-base aspects of his game are not flukes. The power probably is. That 28% home run to flyball ratio will come down, and his average exit velocity is a tick below the league average. That said, Zack Cozart has been a mess with the Angels. There is no reason for the Angels to hand him a job with both La Stella and David Fletcher playing well. With eligibility at both second and third base, even as the power fades, he should be a high OBP option getting regular playing time.

Considering the prolonged struggles of Rougned Odor, the streakiness of Ozzie Albies, Jose Altuve’s injury, Robinson Cano and Travis Shaw’s struggles . . . considering all the underperforming second baseman so far, La Stella is a nice handicap to have around.

CJ Cron

Nelson Cruz gets hurt, and Cron’s at-bats start to come in bunches. All of a sudden, it’s May 20th and he has 12 home runs while no one was paying attention. The BABIP is only .264, so he’s not getting crazy lucky with his production, but last season’s 30 home run binge with the Rays is looking less and less like a fluke.

Jurickson Profar

I know, I know. I just apologized for him and I should quit him already. For all his early season struggles, he remains on pace for a 20/10 season. The thing is, he has 6 home runs despite being terribly unlucky. He’s not hitting for an absurd amount of soft contact, he’s hitting the ball on a line 22% of the time and in the air 37% of the time. He’s making hard contact 39% of the time, and somehow generating a BABIP of under .200. Yes, he’s been really bad for you so far. He’s also been ridiculously unlucky. If that luck turns, well he’s still a 26-year-old former number 1 overall prospect, so keep an eye on him.

Fold ‘Em

Brandon Lowe

Brandon Lowe is (probably) going to collapse hard at some point this season. All the signs point that direction. He’s hitting .291 with a BABIP of .402. That’s lucky. The average will fall as the luck turns.

Even more concerning are his absurd 35% strikeout rate and his 28% home run to fly ball ratio. The latter is not sustainable, and the former is a problem. It’s hard to forecast a bright future for a guy missing that much, getting lucky on fly balls and on batting average. The slump, should it come, should come hard. I’m not ruling out the idea that this is his Joe Mauer-style MVP performance, where luck and power show up for a full year and then never appear again. That said, I wouldn’t bank the future of my team on it.

Dansby Swanson

Don’t buy the breakout talk. Is Dansby improving? Yes. Is he still prone to streakiness and cooling off after a hot start? The evidence would suggest that’s a yes too.

Dansby is making legitimate gains in the power department. However, after hitting .260 through the end of April, he’s hitting .222 with 2 home runs in May. Right-handed pitchers continue to give Dansby trouble as he’s mustered just a .220 batting average against them on the year. He’s hitting a miserable .196 with RISP. He’s hitting just .218 since being moved to the second spot in the lineup.

I’m not telling you to give up on Dansby. He’s worth owning, and he’s probably going to have his best year yet. That doesn’t change the fact that he’s excessively streaky and was never going to be able to sustain his April success.

 

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Seth Bias

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I'm Seth. I love baseball, especially the Braves, and rock n' roll on vinyl. Books, sandals and tacos too, though I find most of my money for those things going to vinyl these days. Once turned Prince Fielder into Justin Verlander and Paul Goldschmidt in a dynasty league. Also ashamed to say I once cut Jose Ramirez. I don't hate your favorite team unless your favorite team is the Nationals or Phillies. May or may not have cried when David Justice hit that home run in game 6 of the 95 World Series - though if you actually ask me, I'll claim I did not.