Hit It Or Quit It 8/8: Moreland, Miller, Alvarez
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:
Mitch Moreland – .249/.312/.472, 18 HR, 36 R, 46 RBI
Mitch Moreland is who he’s always been, don’t let a really good month make you think otherwise. Sure, over the past 30 days, he’s been batting .339 with seven home runs, but the only part of that that I believe is the power.
Throughout his career, Moreland has always been a low average, decent power guy, someone who will bat about .240-.250 and hit 15-20 home runs. He’s still that guy, he’s just increased the home runs a bit .
He’s batting .249 on the year, and I absolutely believe that’s where he’ll end up, probably around .250 or so. He strikes out a ton, and this year he’s striking out more than he ever has before, 24.3% of the time.
Right now, Moreland is on pace to come close to breaking 30 home runs, which would be a career best for him (his current career high is 23 home runs). While I think he’ll beat his career mark for home runs, I don’t think he’s going to keep up his current pace. His HR/FB rate is currently at 22.5%, which is about seven points higher than his career average.
Ruling: Moreland is going to hit home runs, though not as frequently as he has been. Enjoy the average while it lasts, but I don’t think it’s going to last long. If you’re struggling for power though, and can take the hit in average – HIT IT.
Dylan Bundy – 4-3 (1 QS), 3.05 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 56 K
Orioles fans, myself included, have been waiting on Dylan Bundy for what feels like a lifetime. When he was drafted way back in 2011, he was Baseball America’s #2 overall prospect. This guy was going to be the first legitimate ace the Orioles had in over a decade (Erik Bedard notwithstanding). And then there were injuries, and various delays, and now, five years later, Bundy is finally getting his chance, and he’s running with it.
If you want to see just how good Bundy can be, take a look at our GIF breakdown, because there are some flashes of brilliance there. Bundy seems to be getting better with each start, and he’s being allowed to pitch longer into games with each start as well, and for good reason, as he’s had some great success. He hasn’t pitched against a bunch of nobodies either, he one-hit the Rangers for about five innings, and before that, owned the Rockies, both solid offenses. The only thing that’s keeping Bundy from really turning it on is the lack of control, which I think he’ll reign in as time goes on.
Bundy has always had a fantastic fastball, and when he was drafted, Baseball America said he had a fantastic cut fastball too. Unfortunately, however, the Orioles have some kind of irrational hatred towards cutters, so he can’t throw that. He’s got a curveball, but it’s not great, what’s getting people to strikeout is his changeup. He’s throwing it a lot and people are swinging and missing it quite a bit.
There hasn’t been enough of a sample size to really statistically analyze Bundy, but I can tell you from the eye test, I’ve watched his starts, and he looks really good. If he can rein the control in, he’ll really take a major step forward.
Ruling: Is Bundy a future ace? Quite possibly, but he’s not quite there yet, he’s got a ways to go. But until then, he’s absolutely worth a flier in just about every league based on his potential alone, HIT IT.
Brad Miller – .256/.306/.499, 20 HR, 50 R, 45 RBI, 6 SB
If you picked up Brad Miller earlier this year because you needed power and felt like you could take a hit in average, then you’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the month that he’s had. Over the past 30 days, Miller has batted .282 with seven home runs, but much like Mitch Moreland from earlier in this article, the only thing that’s legit is the power.
Brad Miller is a career .250 hitter and I think that’s exactly what you should expect from him each year. With a strikeout rate at 21.7% and a walk rate that’s dropped significantly from last year (from 9.5% to 6.6%), the average just isn’t going to keep up.
However the power has been incredible, 20 home runs is already a career high by a long shot (his career high before that was 11 last year), and I think Miller has shown that he has pop, but I believe he’s benefitted from some good fortune, mainly evidenced by his 20.2% HR/FB rate, especially when you compare it to his career 12.5% rate.
Miller has power though, he’s got a career hard hit rate at 30.7%, and this year his hard hit rate is a career-high 33.6%, he’s turned it on, so the power is legit, but to a point. Still, I could easily see Miller breaking 25 home runs this year and maybe even getting to 30.
Ruling: Like I said with Moreland, Miller will give you some power at a difficult middle infield position. If you can take the hit in average (and trust me, that hot month will end), then Miller isn’t a bad investment. Plus, he’ll give you a small handful of steals on top of it – HIT IT.
Dan Straily – 6-6 (13 QS), 3.80 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 101 K
Over the past month, Dan Straily has been killing it, pitching a 2.20 ERA and 0.92 WHIP, so naturally, he’s been a hot pickup. You want to know how to tell when a pitcher is getting lucky? Look at all of Straily’s stats, because he has just about every red flag out there.
I mean seriously, just take your pick of almost any stat. There’s his absurdly-low .226 BABIP, his FIP of 4.54, his xFIP of 5.03, his low groundball rate of 32.9%, his very-high 9.7% walk rate, his career-high strand rate of 75.8% (despite only having a 7.10 K/9), yea, there’s a lot of red flags to say the least.
I mean, it’s hard to describe it any other way, Straily has been getting exceptionally lucky. When you’re BABIP is that low, despite the fact that batters have a hard hit rate of 32.1% against him, you know you’ve been getting lucky.
Ruling: Just about every red flag you can think of for a pitcher is raised in Dan Straily’s stats. He’s been getting exceptionally lucky over the past month and will absolutely have a regression in a big way, likely soon – QUIT IT.
Pedro Alvarez – .261/.315/.538, 18 HR, 30 R, 38 RBI
Of all the players on this list, Pedro Alvarez might have the most legit power of the group. Moreland and Miller, they have power, but only Alvarez has gone past 30 home runs before in his career, and he’s done it twice. Acquired in the offseason by the Orioles, he’s been hitting the ball pretty well in the AL East, in a park that’s pretty favorable to him, and I don’t see any reason he can’t continue.
Now look, like Moreland and Miller, Alvarez strikes out a bunch, 25.8% of the time actually. So that .301 batting average over the last month? Don’t count on that. But the nine home runs? Oh yea, you can count on that.
Alvarez is crushing the ball, his ISO is at a career-high .277, and while his HR/FB rate is a bit elevated from his career number (29% this year compared to a career 23.2%) it’s not enough to declare his power to not be real. Plus, Alvarez currently has his best hard hit rate (39.3%) since his 2013 season with the Pirates where he hit 36 home runs.
The only thing preventing Alvarez from producing is playing time. The Orioles typically only use him at DH, and they more often than not only use him against righties (which, if you look at his career splits, makes sense). But when he’s in, Alvarez can crush the ball at any given moment.
Ruling: Pedro Alvarez has some amazing power, he always has, and while his average will likely float around .250-.260, he could easily crush another 10 home runs. If you’re in a league where you can toy with your lineup every day to make sure he’s not in against lefties, then you’ll be set – 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.