If you’re a regular reader of Patience or Panic you may have noticed the name underneath the piece has changed. Well that’s because Kyle Frank has decided to move on and I will be taking over the piece in his place. So with that being said, hey how ya doin? I’m Jake and I’ll be your captain going forward. So let’s get right to it and tell you whether you should be panicking over some of your players, or if you should hold out for just a bit longer.
Adolis Garcia, OF, Texas Rangers
Garcia took the league by storm in the early stages of the season. He was in the home run race and was a constant threat in an otherwise unimpressive Texas lineup. Through the first half of June Garcia was a constant threat, with an OPS in the .800s and a wRC+ of 127, putting him well above your average major leaguer. Since then though, Garcia has been dreadful, striking out over 30% of the time and walking almost never. Since June 28th, Garcia has a wRC+ of 61, a stark contrast from his early season numbers. So what became the problem? Well speaking of those numbers, there’s a very clear shift in one metric for Garcia. Simply put, he stopped hitting the ball hard. From Opening Day through June 16th Garcia had a hard hit percentage of 43% and a soft contact rate of just 7.6%, both conducive to his early season success. What also helped was a 19% line drive rate and just a 1.8% infield fly ball rate. But over the last three weeks Garcia has been hitting fly balls in the infield 15.8% of the time, and his hard hit percentage has dipped into the low thirties. Simply put, Garcia started the season hot, with almost no history for opposing pitchers to look at. Now with half a season gone by, pitchers can scout him better. It’s not outside of the realm of possibility that Garcia can get hot again, but as more time goes by there will be even more information on Garcia and his swing, so it’ll be up to him to make counter adjustments and hit the ball hard again.
Verdict: Panic (for now)
Starling Marte, OF, Miami Marlins
Marte was a key component in the Marlins postseason push and eventual series victory over the Cubs last season, and had been putting together another stellar outing in his first full season in Miami. Despite some injuries, Marte has logged an .831 OPS and a 132 wRC+ through 56 games. However, over the last three weeks Marte has had a wRC+ of just 96, slightly below league average. Further to the point, it was reported previously that Marte and the Marlins were having trouble coming to an agreement on a contract extension. Diving in, Marlins fans will find some good news, as when you look at Marte’s batted ball production, he’s actually been hitting the ball harder over the past few weeks, with a 43.6% hard hit rate, up from 31.6% through June 27th. He’s also started hitting the ball in the air less, and instead of trying to pull the ball, Marte has been utilizing all fields—especially the opposite field, where Marte has hit the ball 12% more over the last few weeks. As far as the contract talks go, we know Marte wants to be in Miami, and he’s been having success there, so there is no reason to think that a deal won’t get done in the future.
Kris Bryant, Utility, Chicago Cubs
This one is obvious, and the patience or panic here is centered exclusively around Bryant’s trade value. At this point in the season, with the Cubs nine games out of first place in the NL Central entering Monday’s games along with the NL West having a stranglehold on the wild card spots, it is almost certain the Chicago Cubs will be sellers at the deadline in a couple weeks. The marquee name they’ll be dangling is Craig Kimbrel, as he has had a career renaissance this year after a couple of pedestrian-to-bad years. But Bryant, a one-time MVP and multiple-time All-Star, is going to be the name everyone is watching. As it currently stands KB has an .846 OPS, 16 home runs, and (shoutout to my good friend Isaac Trotter here) 19 doubles for a wRC+ of 136. Pretty good numbers. Good but not great. Numbers that will get good value back in a trade. However the problem is that since June 1st Bryant is hitting just .179 and has a wRC+ of 59. That is… not great. Teams like the Mets aren’t going to pay a premium for that kind of production (or lack therof). There is some good news though: Bryant’s batted ball numbers have actually remained solid, his hard hit rate has actually gone up a couple percentage points over the last month and a half, and his average exit velocity has remained basically the same as well. So here is the kicker, from Opening Day all the way until June 1st, Bryant’s average on balls in play was .366 (league average is .291) and since June 1st up until play entering Monday his BABIP is .218, obviously way below average. So what do we make of Kris Bryant? Well that is the million dollar question, and one the Cubs will be contemplating as they enter negotiations over the next few weeks. Apologies to you Cubs fans, but other teams (whether that be the Mets, or the Braves, or the Padres, or the White Sox) will use the last month and a half as leverage.
Verdict: Panic (from a trade standpoint)
Graphic by Michael Packard (@designsbypack on Twitter & IG)