Patience or Panic 4/26: Puig, Castillo, Hamilton, Russell

Is it time for Patience or Panic on your struggling players? Austin Perodeau helps you decide in our weekly series

(Photo by Carlos Herrera/Icon Sportswire)

Here we are! Back again for the 4th week of the fantasy baseball season. We are finally, slowly getting to the point of the season where different stats begin to stabilize. We are no longer looking at a sample size of just one start, or 10 at-bats and trying to figure out whether the radical change in someone’s profile is here to stay or just noise. This week we will look into four well-known names in the fantasy community and try to figure out if you should be holding or folding these struggling players.

As always Let’s take a glance at how last weeks featured players performed:

Yoan Moncada – 6/21, 4 R,  2 HR, 6 RBI, 4 SB

I think the young 2B may have heard my doubts that we ever see him replicate his minor league base stealing pedigree. He stole 4 bags last week, which is more than he had in his major league career before last week (3). Moncada becomes even more valuable if he steals at this rapid rate, paired with his elite exit velocity he may soon be a coveted asset in fantasy baseball.

Chris Archer – 6.2 IP, 2 ER, 5 Ks, 4 Hs 

The Rays ace took a step in the right direction this week versus the Twins. It isn’t a coincidence that his best start of the season is the one in which he featured his changeup (19.6% usage) the most. It was his highest usage of the pitch in a start since 2016. Keep an eye if he keeps it up with his next start. Unfortunately, he is still having a problem with the HR bug and allowed another. The 29-year-old has now given one up in every start this season.

Domingo Santana – 2-12, 2 Rs, 0 HRs, 0 RBIs, 0 SBs

So far Domingo Santana is homerless in his first 87 plate appearances of 2018. On top of that, he only has 3 RBIs and 5 runs to make up the rest of his counting stats. Injuries to other Brewers outfielders (Yelich, Kane, Braun each suffered an injury) seems to be the only thing keeping Santana in the lineup. Despite an excellence 2017, the young OF is on his last legs on my fantasy teams.

Chris Davis – 6-22, 1 Rs, 1 HRs, 4 RBIs, 

Overall a better week for Crush, but you can only go up from the cellar. The hulking lefty is still hitting 0.169 on the season, with an awful 0.104 ISO.  His dwindling exit velocity paired with his inability to make contact (30+ K-rate) makes him an easy player to avoid in your fantasy league.

 

Last weeks seems to have left us with two players trending the right way, while the other two continue their struggles. Next, let’s look at three guys who you are probably familiar with. Three of these players had top-11o ADP’s coming into the season, but they have all stumbled out of the gates:

Yasiel Puig – 0.195 AVG, 10 Rs, 0 HR, 6 RBIs, 3 SBs

There seem to be two categories among baseball fans, Yasiel Puig fans or Yasiel Puig haters. I am personally in the group that tends to love the electric Cuban. He has all the physical tools that should allow him to succeed but in 2018 it has yet to materialize. He is currently running a career low BABIP of .246, nearly 80 points below his career average. The BABIP decrease can be attributed to the increase in soft contact rate up 8 points to 26.2, a career high. His expected stats do hint that there is some luck going against him, his xwOBA of .310 is .84 higher than his current wOBA (but still lackluster), and his xAVG and xSLG are both better than what we are seeing. Puig hits the ball too hard (30th in Exit Velocity) to keep seeing these unlucky results and with him seeing regular playing time in one of the top offenses in the National League it is not time to truly panic yet. If he keeps stealing bases occasionally and scores a few runs he still can contribute to your team until the power finally returns.

Verdict: Patience

 

Addison Russell – .217 AVG, 10 Rs, 0 HRs, 2 RBIs, 1 SB

The former 11th overall pick is having trouble with the bat early in 2018. Since his call-up in 2015, he has been slick with the glove, but his bat has always lagged behind. People have expected growth but he has since regressed from his career high 94 wRC+ in his sophomore season.  Addison Russell has looked like vintage Russell at the plate so far this season, with both his hard-hit rate and line drive rate similar to what he produced last season. Also concerning is his soft contact rate (has doubled from 2016 to 27.6 (15th worst) and his below-average exit velocity of (86.8 MPH – bottom-15 in the league).  There is a slight glimmer of hope in Russell’s profile because he has shown an improvement in patience at the plate, upped his walk rate to a career-high 10.8, and dropped his K-rate to a career-low 15.7%. Russell’s glove will keep him in the Cubs lineup but if he continues to hit at the bottom of the order it keeps his value marginal. You can find higher upside middle infield players who can get you stolen bases or power upside. I would be cutting ties with the 24-year-old unless your league is very deep.

Verdict: Panic

 

Luis Castillo –  27.2 IP, 1-3, 6.51 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 24 Ks

I am honestly shocked that this is going to be the second time I’m writing about Luis Castillo in this series in just 4 weeks. My concerns have only grown with Castillo as the sample size has gotten larger. An especially troubling sign has been the two ticks that Castillo has lost on his fastball. After sitting 97.5 MPH in 2017, the young reds “ace” is now hitting only 95.2 MPH and clocked in at 94.3 MPH in his last start. A loss in velocity always sends off red flags for injuries, and while we haven’t heard anything on that front it still leaves me suspicious. Hitters are seeing Castillo’s pitches better as well with his K-rate dropping down to 20 after being at 27.3 last season. I’m nearly at the panic button with Castillo, but if someone in your league offers you a decent buy-low trade I might take that chance. I don’t think he is an outright drop yet, but unfortunately, those times might be upon us soon.

Verdict: Patience

 

Billy Hamilton – 0.181 AVG ,15 Rs, 1 HRs, 7 RBIs, 5 SBs

The Reds speedster is having a very “odd” start to the season in 2018. If you look at the counting stats through 80 plate appearances you would honestly probably take them, it might be a little light on stolen bases but they will come. The average is ugly, and his xAVG of .179 backs up the ugliness. The change in Hamilton’s profile that is truly odd is all of a sudden he is walking at a 12.2% clip, a career high! It’s like the dream all fans of Billy Hamilton have hoped for has come true- if he kept that up he could potentially manage a decent OBP. Unfortunately, with his higher walk rate, he also is striking out a career-high 31.7 of the time. If Hamilton continues to strike out at a career-high rate, his that average may stay around the Mendoza line. He is now a detriment to 4-out-5 common categories and unless you are absolutely desperate for stolen bases it might be time to cut your losses on the speedster.

Verdict: Panic

Austin Perodeau

Austin is a Mets fan whos claim to fame is almost seeing John Maine throw a no-hitter in person that one time in 2007. He has been playing fantasy baseball for around 10 years and loves it now as much as then.

  • Andrew says:

    Cubs need to deal Russell and Happ (while they still have name brands) for Machado

  • Duda Want to Build a Snowman? says:

    Well timed post! I just sent Castillo away for Rich Hill . . . is that the sort of decent buy low you were talking about? I feel like the risks with Hill are well known (old fingers, seems to start slow every year), whereas Castillo’s are pretty unexpected and concerning/unpredictable (big velo drop, loss of control and Ks). Also prefer Hill’s W chances and K/9 for 2018, as the Red’s bullpen worsened each of Castillo’s last two starts by giving up some or all of his inherited runners…

    • Steve says:

      Good trade IMO. Rich Hill has been elite when healthy. Like you said there’s a more likely path to having a productive season for Hill than Castillo. Especially in a W league.

  • Nick says:

    was offered Luis Castillo for Patrick Corbin in a dynasty league. Think I should pull the trigger?

    • Stove says:

      As an owner of both in a dynasty league, do that immediately. Castillo’s top end is what Corbin is doing right now.

      Unless you’re getting Castillo? I wasn’t totally sure which side you’d be receiving. If you’re getting Castillo I’d still consider. I’m not as close to the panic button as Austin is, and I think he could turn it around just as fast as he lost it.

    • Neal says:

      I wouldnt touch this. Not sure what the dude below is smoking.

  • Joel says:

    Domingo Santana is a keep I a dynasty league, right?

  • theKraken says:

    I hate and love Puig. He and his antics which are a result of lack of preparation are the reason that he is not a superstar – he never does anything the same way twice, which tells you how he prepares – I don’t like that… I do however, like how hard he actually plays the game and it is fun to see an athlete like him play baseball. Unfortunately he ultimately uses his athleticism as a crutch which is why he never realizes the potential. When things go bad for him, he doesn’t have anything to revert back to – it is just more pressing.

  • AC says:

    In a 9-team mixed OBP roto, and by seizing opportunities to grab talent off the wire I find myself with 2Bs Ramirez, Albies, Cesar, and Merrifield, and 1Bs Votto, CSantana, and Smoak (and 1B eligible Gallo and Hoskins at other positions). Thinking about trying to trade away Merrifield and Smoak for a power OF bat – I’m of the opinion that Cesar Hernandez is the real deal, especially in an OBP league, and I’m starting to wonder whether Smoak’s 2017 was the outlier. Am I shopping the right pieces?

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