“I know the pain,
It comes in waves.
And then you crumble underneath the weight.” ~ Blacktop Mojo “Underneath”
It’s hard to say goodbye to superstars, to potential Hall of Fame talents, to players who were great just last season. It’s so easy to see what they have been and think it might still be there. Sometimes it will be. But that “sometimes” is not this year. This year, you are looking at a season crumbling beneath the weight of players you were sure were superstars.
Sometimes players get hurt. Sometimes they age poorly. Sometimes both. And sometimes things just don’t work. I’ve got a team in a 20 team dynasty league headlined by Ketel Marte, Matt Olson, Matt Chapman, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, Max Scherzer. I’m 5-9, riding 7 straight losses. No idea why it hasn’t worked. Whatever the reason, it hurts when it doesn’t work. It hurts trying to pin down why, and moving on from players you believe in. I’m right there with you.
That said, it’s time to say goodbye.
‘Tuve, I still love you. I still believe in you in 2020. But for 2019, if someone else still believes, it is time to say goodbye. Everyone is hitting home runs. Altuve has 10. That’s below average. The batting average is down.
The bat has been coming around of late. I don’t blame you if you still believe. 3 multi-hit games in his last 6 games. Only 2 strikeouts in his last 6 games. He’s still talented.
But talent is not enough. The legs aren’t coming around. He’s not running. Only 2 steals on the year. Yahoo has him 743 on the player rater. Without the wheels, both the average and power would have to be well above average the rest of the way to hold value. And he’s 5’5″. You do the math.
He hit 30 home runs last year. He has 9 this year. He is on the IL with a shoulder injury for the second time this season. He’s a good hitter, but he’s not who he was last year, and if the shoulder injury keeps recurring, that 281 rank on the player rater could fall even further.
Drafted to be a 20/20 maybe even 30/30 threat as your 3rd outfielder. He might still get 20/20, but with a terrible average and more strikeouts than anyone. There’s a reason he’s 570 on the Yahoo rater – when he isn’t hit home runs or stealing bases, he isn’t doing anything at all. And with power easier to find than ever, that’s not worth playing.
He’s the guy you thought Wil Myers was going to be. 16/10 at the break. 40% flyball rate, 40% hard hit rate, .321 BABIP – he’s not getting excessively lucky. He can keep this up. He might be known for his amazing arm, but his bat is absolutely worth targeting the rest of the way.
Why aren’t more people on the Jay Bruce bandwagon? 24 home runs in the first half, playing in a bandbox in Philly, hitting the ball in the air 55% of the time, and hard 44% of the time? The man has always had power, he’s catering his swing to power, and the ball is juiced. So why is he owned in only 52% of Yahoo leagues? Get with the program people. Or at least get Jay Bruce on your team.
Pillar has always profiled as a useful final outfielder. Everyone wrote him off after a dreadful start to the year, and I guess everyone just assumed he couldn’t come back from that.
Owned in 19% of leagues, he’s actually sitting at 12 home runs and 8 steals at the break. He’s hitting the ball hard a career-high 35% of the time and in the air a career-high 40% of the time. You’d think playing in San Francisco wouldn’t help, but he only has 4 road home runs! So he’s even producing in the cavernous Oracle Park. His average is up to .247, despite a .256 BABIP. So there’s even room for growth. He might be a 20/15 player you could get for free on the wire or dead cheap in a trade.
Hold and Fold: Pitching
Just a general word here. Yahoo’s player rater is a bit weird on pitchers. Somehow Justin Verlander (who has been great) is ranked higher than Max Scherzer on the strength of a single win. Scherzer has 28 more strikeouts and an ERA over half a run lower. Doesn’t make sense.
It has Edwin Diaz and his 5.50 ERA as more valuable than Thor, Snell, and Jack Flaherty. Sure all the starters have had their warts, but they still start and still rack up the strikeouts.
Basically, all I’m saying here is don’t trust metrics on pitching. Use the eye test, use the raw numbers and your own intuition to make your own judgments. Whoever you like, ignore the rankings and go get them, because those metrics have a lot of work to do.