Welcome to Hit It Or Quit It, a weekly column where Ben Palmer takes a look at five of the most added players in fantasy baseball and tell you whether or not what they’re doing is likely to continue. In other words, should you buy (hit it) or sell (quit it)? Note: my rulings are generally for 10-team standard leagues.
Let’s dive in:
Hernan Perez – .288/.312/.445, 7 HR, 23 R, 33 RBI, 18 SB
Over the last two weeks, Hernan Perez has gone nuts, batting .367 with 10 runs, 11 RBIs and eight stolen bases, so naturally he’s gone from being virtually entirely unowned, to being owned in roughly a third of fantasy leagues.
Speed is a valuable asset, so much so that often times players are owned solely because of their speed (see: Billy Hamilton and Billy Burns), but when you’ve got a guy who’s fast and hits for a good average? That’s someone you hang onto. But is Hernan Perez that guy?
To oversimplify it, yes he is, but to a much lesser extent than he is now. First of all, he’s benefited from some very good fortune, most notably a .343 BABIP and a 14% HR/FB rate. When you’re batting average is only 20 points lower than your OBP, that’s a big sign that something is wrong, not too many players have high averages and low OBPs.
First of all, Perez’s strikeout rate is at a career-high 22.9%, and that’s just not a strikeout rate that translates into a consistently high average. That, plus his elevated BABIP signal that his average will drop, and with a drop in average comes a drop in steals and runs, which are Perez’s two most valuable commodities.
Ruling: Perez is a one-category contributor when it comes down to it, and that category is steals. Could he end the year with 30 steals? Maybe, but I’d doubt it. Honestly, I’d only project another 6-7 steals the rest of the year with an average somewhere in the .255-.265 range. In a 16-team league or greater, he’s worth a grab if you need steals, but in a 10-team league, no way should he be owned (unless you’re riding the streak), quit it.
Yasmany Tomas – .267/.309/.478, 17 HR, 46 R, 44 RBI, 2 SB
The power has finally come for Yasmany Tomas. Last year, the Diamondbacks couldn’t help but have been disappointed in their $68.5M investment. He was a terrible fielder no matter where they put him, and while a .273 average is fine for just about any player, it didn’t come with much else. Everyone knew the potential this guy had, especially in the power department, and it was sad to see him hit a paltry nine home runs in 426 plate appearances last year.
But now, that 70-grade power has finally arrived. With an ISO of .211 and a hard-hit rate of 41%, Yasmany Tomas is crushing the ball, and I don’t see any reason why he’d stop. What he’s done so far is who he is right now, I don’t see any reason for it to change.
The average is going to be rough, he strikes out 24.5% of the time and only walks 5.5% of the time (though that’s up from last year’s 4% walk rate), but you can deal with a mediocre average if Tomas is giving you home runs, and he will. Yes, his HR/FB rate is at a ridiculous 22.4%, that will come down, I don’t expect him to end the year with 40 home runs, but because of the kind of hitter he is, I honestly expect that HR/FB rate to finish a decent amount above 10%, big-time power hitters often do.
Also, luckily for Tomas, he’s playing in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in baseball, especially for right-handed hitters, and Tomas is pulling the ball almost 10% more than last year.
Ruling: I don’t see any reason Tomas can’t hit .265 the rest of the way with another 10 home runs. Honestly, it wouldn’t shock me if he ended the year with 30 total home runs, and that is a valuable player. HIT IT.
Ervin Santana – 4-9 (11 QS), 3.66 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 85 K
This happens every year. At some point, every season, we’re all faced with the question, “Should I pick up Ervin Santana?” Sometimes it’s on draft day, sometimes it’s mid-season, but it always happens. And the answer this time, like it has been so many times in the past, is no. Look, credit where credit is due, over the last month, Ervin Santana has been spectacular, pitching to a 1.73 ERA and 0.88 WHIP with four quality starts. But this is what Santana does, he has a stretch where he’s excellent and everyone says “oh man, I should grab this guy” and then he implodes, and I don’t see any reason why he won’t do that again.
First off, the stat that is the biggest red flag to me is the fact that batters are making contact with Santana more now than ever in his career. That’s not a good thing. The other thing that really concerns me is his xFIP, which sits at 4.35, or even worse, his SIERA, which sits at 4.48. Now that is who Ervin Santana really is, a 4.00+ ERA pitcher. His K/9 is pretty paltry right now, just a 6.36 mark, and without the strikeouts, the ERA you’ll be suffering with just isn’t worth it.
Ruling: Ervin Santana is who he is, don’t think otherwise. He hasn’t all of a sudden figured it all out at 33 years old. He’ll probably have an ERA above 4.00 the rest of the way with below-average strikeout numbers. QUIT IT.
Andrew Cashner – 4-7 (9 QS), 4.54 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 69 K
Andrew Cashner makes me sad. He makes me sad because when I watch him, I see so much talent, and yet there’s just nothing there. His fastballs are excellent, but that’s it, there’s no good secondary pitch to complement those fastballs. He’s three seasons into his career, he’s 29, and he still hasn’t figured it out yet, and I’m beginning to wonder if he ever will.
Looking at his stats on the year, it’s a wonder he’s even being added in leagues, but I think people remember the name as a big prospect, and look at that 2.55 ERA over the past two weeks and think “Hey! He’s turning it around!” but he’s not.
Right now, people are making more hard contact against Andrew Cashner than ever before in his career. Think about that, that’s about the worst omen you can give a player. People are hitting him hard, harder than ever, and they’re making contact at a rate that’s only a tenth of a percentage point lower than his career high.
While you wouldn’t think a 4.54 ERA could get much worse, his FIP is 4.95. His walk rate is still very high (8.1% this year) and his strikeout rate is just about average. There’s nothing especially good about Cashner, and even in a new ballpark, I just don’t see him making that much of an impact.
Ruling: I’d expect an ERA above 4.00 the rest of the way with average strikeout numbers and bad walk numbers. He’s far from worth adding in a 10 or 12-team league, QUIT IT.
Trea Turner – .317/.359/.467, 0 HR, 7 R, 7 RBI, 7 SB
Trea Turner is one of those prospects that’s been talked about for what feels like forever. It took about a hundred years for the Nationals to bother calling him up, and now he’s finally starting just about every day for them.
Turner has no power, so don’t expect that from him (though I doubt many people expect that from their middle infielders), but what Turner is, is fast. He’s already got seven stolen bases, and honestly, I don’t see any reason why he can’t double that, or better.
But don’t get too excited, that .317 average looks great, but you know what doesn’t? A .452 BABIP and a 28.1% strikeout rate, that’s what. He’s not going to hit .300 the rest of the year, he may do that at some point in his career (though he needs to get those strikeouts under control), but that’s not what he’s doing this year.
But you know what he will do? He’ll steal bases and score runs, and that’s what you need from him. He’s got a hard hit rate of 40.5%, which is absurd, especially for a guy with no home runs, but I attribute that to small sample size more than anything. What that does signal to me though, is that Turner is making really good contact when he does hit the ball, which is great.
Ruling: Turner is young and full of potential. In a keeper league, he should absolutely be owned, and in a redraft league, he probably should be too. I don’t see any reason he can’t hit .270 the rest of the way and double his steal output. That’s not a stud, but that’s absolutely useful, HIT IT.
Ben Palmer (@benjpalmer) is a writer for Pitcher List who’s obsessed with sabermetrics, virtually all Baltimore sports, music, and playing guitar. He currently lives in Annapolis, Maryland and spends his summers watching way too much baseball.