If this were a traditional season, we would be in just the third week of April right now. Slow starts would merely be parlance of the times and able to be shrugged off. In this sprint? We are basically a third of the way to the finish line, and decisions need to be made on struggling players. Every week is precious and time cannot be wasted on the names below.
Note: Slash lines as of 8/12
A breakout star in 2019, Garver was primed to build upon his success and cement his status as a top-five catcher this season. Instead, he has absolutely bottomed out. Garver’s ability to barrel the ball is what set him apart last year, his 15.5% barrel rate was in the top 4% of all players. This season, he only has one barrel on 18 BIP (5.6%).
Garver may have benefited from a bit of “came out of nowhere” syndrome last year. Looking at where he was pitched then compared to now, it seems as if his opponents are being more careful when he comes to the plate.
Additionally, his ability to make contact on balls in the zone has taken a step back and he is whiffing more often. Without a critical adjustment, it will be an uphill battle for him to return to the form that made him a high draft pick this preseason.
The former top prospect made great strides last season and seemed as if he was on his way to realizing his lofty potential. In the words of Charlie Murphy, “wrong, wrong!” All the gains Rosario made regarding his power output over the second half of season have evaporated gone thus far.
Solid contact was Rosario’s lone calling card, for his plate discipline has lacked tremendously since he arrived in the major leagues. The latter still lacking, Rosario has not drawn even a single walk in 58 PAs this season. None. Zilch. A big, fat goose egg. With Andres Gimenez already beginning to siphon off some playing time (he has started back to back games at SS), Rosario has gone from potential breakout to downright droppable.
Here’s a fun exercise to start: let’s compare Vladito’s 2019 stats blindly with another player.
|Player||2020 ADP (NFC)||Barrel %||xwOBAcon||K%||BB%||Max EV|
Drum roll, Player B is Nick Ahmed. Certainly, Guerrero’s top-end ability (exhibited by the gaudy max EV) keeps him far from Ahmed’s tier, but there’s something to be said about his value for the rest of this season. As hard as he hits the ball, Guerrero just has not been able to lift it at the major league level.
Last night’s hit-parade in Buffalo may signal a change of fortune, but there is no concrete reason to expect the power to come right now. The power WILL come, and I wholeheartedly believe Vlad will be a problem for a generation to come, but name recognition alone should not keep him in your lineup.
Bell made a leap last year because his lagging power caught up to his already strong plate discipline. This season, that has all been undone. In 65 PAs, Bell’s K% has ballooned to a gaudy 30.8 while his BB% has dropped to just 4.6. For a player whose rates were 19.2% and 12.1% last season, that’s incredibly alarming even in a small sample. Moreover, many of his key PD metrics have deteriorated dramatically.
It seems as if Bell is pressing. There’s no way I, sitting in front of my computer, can prove such, but there is a multitude of reasons why he might be. Perhaps it’s the fact that his name has been included in trade rumors, maybe it’s the Pirates’ black hole of a lineup around him, or maybe he has been thrown off by the extreme increase in shifts deployed against him. Bell went from seeing a shift 39.7% of the time from the left side and 16.8% from the right to an almost impossible to fathom 93.9% and 75.0%, respectively. That type of increase is jarring and, combined with his troubled approach at the plate, I’m nearly ready to quit on him in 2020.
Photo by Julian Avram/Icon Sportswire