(Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire)
Finally, it’s May. The weather is warm, and Edwin Encarnacion is arousing from his yearly April hibernation. All is right in the world. We are back again for the weekly version of Patience or Panic. Where I will take a look under the hood of some of the leagues struggling players, and determine whether these struggles will continue or greater things are on the horizon. We have 4 players this week, 2 of which were top-150 players based on FantasyPros ADP, and the other two were just top-200 players who offer some speed upside. Gregory Polanco started out of the gate hot but has stumbled recently, the other three players featured just plain tripped out of the gate. So let’s get into the main event of the article:
Gregory Polanco – .191 AVG, 15 Rs, 6 HRs, 16 RBIs, 1 SBs
Every year it feels like come drafts season, I talk myself into why “this” is finally the season that El Coffee finally breaks out. I know I am not alone in this. Finally, after the first two weeks of the season Polanco was doing what we expected, he had hit 5 HR, scored 11 runs, and plated 10 teammates. Since his two home run game on April 12th, Polanco has just fallen off a cliff. He’s only managed 9 hits, and his counting stats suffered for it. Don’t worry not all hope is lost for the Pirates right fielder. He has made some improvements to his game in 2018, including increasing his exit velocity (+3.9 from 2017-2018) and launch angle (+5˚). So far in 2018, he is hitting the ball harder, and with more loft which contributed to his early-season power surge. His overall numbers look more deflated than they particularly should, based on expected stats. Polanco has an xAVG .248 (.198 AVG) , xSLG of .518 (.436 SLG) , and an xwOBA of .372 (.311 wOBA). So there is a hint of bad luck contributed to Polanco’s recent regression. On top of the profile changes in launch angles, and an increase in exit velocity Polanco has also added more patience to his game. His current 13.3 walk-rate is well above his 8.8 career average, and his O-Swing rate is nearly 10% lower than last season. All of these additions to Polanco’s profile are wonderful, and still will consistently be hitting at the top or middle of the Pirates order, so you still need to be Patient with him.
Carlos Santana – .153 AVG,18 Rs ,2 HRs, 11 RBIs, 1 SB
The Phillies made one of the first big splashes in free agency for the big switch-hitting first basemen. They were expecting a big bat to pair with their upcoming young talent. Instead, they currently stuck with a middling bat that is forcing young stud Rhys Hoskins out of position. The real question is, will he get better? Firstly, Santana is getting incredibly unlucky with his batted balls. His xAVG of .254 is currently 96 points higher than his actual average. His xSLG is over .200 points higher than his actual slugging, and his xwOBA is over a 100 points better. Even with his current struggles at the plate, Santana is walking at a 17.3 clip. His xSlash of .254/.403/.493 is much more appetizing than the slash that he is currently producing. It is important to note that Santana is an extreme pull hitter, his pull rate of 51.9 since 2015 is the 3rd highest in the majors. The tendency to shift against pull hitters leads to a discrepancy between xAVG and actual average due to xStats accounting for normal defensive positioning. His current BABIP is a career-low .173 at the moment, and I don’t expect that to stay below .200.However, it may also not stabilize towards his career .267 average either. Santana is currently hitting fly balls at a higher rate than he ever has in his career. The 52.4 fly-ball rate is over 10 percent higher than Santana has produced in a single season, and fly balls tend to decrease a players BABIP. The good news is that the Phillies first basemen has featured predominantly in the 2 hole for the Phillies until he was recently moved to the 5th position. Hitting in the 5 spot should see a good chunk more RBI opportunities, but a slight decrease in his runs total. Either position in the order has its benfits. First base can be a deep position in shallower leagues, but I would continue to be Patient on Carlos Santana.
Jonathan Villar – .271 AVG, 3 R, 1 HR, 8 RBIs, 5 SBs
We, as fantasy baseball players, will always have Villar’s heroic 2016 season. Unfortunately, it is looking more and more like that version of Villar is dead an buried. While his surface numbers look good, what is lurking under the hood is not pretty. His current launch angle of -7.3˚ is far an away the lowest in the MLB. Only Ian Desmond (-4.6˚) and Villar are worse than -1˚, and Desmond was the only player who was negative in 2017. On top of the ugly launch angle, the switch-hitting middle infielder has an 83.9 MPH average exit-velocity (AEV) putting him in the bottom-10 of players with 50+ Batted Ball Events (BBE). Long gone are the days where Villar put together a 88 MPH EV (as recently as 2016). These just aren’t the type of underlying numbers that sustain a .390 BABIP, even with his great speed. He currently is running a xAVG of .206, over 60 points lower than his actual average. There is not a lot to like this season with Villar under the hood, his ISO is down, he is still striking out at a 30 percent clip, his walk rate is declining. Your best bet is to treat Villar almost similar to Billy Hamilton if you want to roster him, but he still hits at the bottom of the Brewers lineup and drains you in every category but steals. On a more positive note, at least you didn’t spend a high-value pick on him this year like some poor souls in 2017.
Orlando Arcia – .216 AVG, 5 Rs, 2 HRs, 8 RBIs. 1 SBs
Apparently, I’m just not going to put up with the middle infield shenanigans that are happening in Milwaukee. Like Villar, Orlando Arcia is currently failing to win any fantasy baseball roster spots. Arcia had a touch of hype after his 2017 season, where he produced 29 HR + SB in only his age 22 season. So far in 2018 (it is still early), he is on pace to contribute only 18 HR + SB. On top of the lack of counting stats, he is in the bottom three of all shortstops in xBA (.194), xSLG (.282), and xwOBA (.227). His Line drive rate is down to 10.1, the 6th worst in the MLB so far. The young SS will stick in the Brewers lineup due to his slick work with the glove. However, he should not be sticking in your fantasy baseball lineups. There are so many better upside shortstops in the game these days that unless you are in the deepest of leagues it is time to cut bait on Orlando Arcia.
Update on Last Week’s Featured Players
Luis Castillo – 1 IP, 5 ERs, 0 Ks, 2 BBs
Well, this was ugly. I loved Castillo coming into the season and it has totally bitten me hard. This is the ugliest outing we have seen so far, and the 4th time he has given up 4 earned runs or more. The raw potential makes him a hard drop, especially with the draft capital you paid to draft him, but I would be keeping him on your bench until signs of better days are ahead.
Update: Castillo – 6 IP, 2 ERs, 9 Hs, 7 Ks-
A quality start! The first of the season for Castillo. This was his second start since our last update, and while he didn’t look incredibly sharp getting dinked and dunked for 9 hits, he did manage to limit the damage. He didn’t offer a single walk which is promising. He threw 16/26 opening pitch strikes and managed a whopping 21 whiffs tonight. It’s an encouraging sign for the promising right-hander.
Yasiel Puig – 1-10, 1 Rs, 0 HRs, 1 SBs
Puig was put on the DL this past week and looks to miss a few weeks due to a contusion on both his foot and hip. The time off may be what the powerful right-hander needs to get back on track, his scuffling start has been worrisome. It looks like he avoided any serious injury, and should be back before the end of the month.
Billy Hamilton – 4-23, 2 Rs, 0 HRs, 3 RBIs, 0 SBs
Any week that Hamilton fails to steal a base is a down week for him. You drafted the man for his stolen bases and hoped it made up for the other deficiencies in his game. So far this season he has been demoted down to the bottom of the order and no longer can contribute positively in runs either.
Addison Russell – 7-22, 4 Rs, 0 HRs, 2 RBIs. 0 SBs
This was a better week for the Cubs shortstop. If he can score runs and contribute a few RBIs per week than he can potentially contribute in deeper leagues. The power still hasn’t arrived this season, but the 10-15 HR range is still a realistic place for him to finish the season.