Patience or Panic 8/14: Pham, Posey, Greene
We’re now about halfway through August and the fantasy baseball playoffs are a mere two and a half weeks away. It’s officially crunch time, and everyone needs to do whatever is necessary to make the playoffs. For a lot of people, this means that they are essentially in the playoffs as of now. Losing for a lot of teams on the brink of the playoffs is no longer an option, as they need to try and win every last category in an attempt to jump into the postseason. In regard to their roster, there is no longer time to have a struggling player riding the bench, as every last inning or at bat could become the difference between making the playoffs or making fantasy football their priority a little bit early. With that said, lets dive right into our weekly edition of Patience or Panic, where we take a look at three under-performing players to determine whether or not they are likely to turn things around.
Tommy Pham (OF, Tampa Bay Rays): .266 AVG, 53 R, 16 HR, 49 RBI, 13 SB
After posting a .343/.448/.622 batting line in 39 games with the Rays last season, big things were expected from him entering 2019. While he has certainly had his moments, he has left something to be desired this year, with a batting average that sits 80 points below where it was last season in a Rays uniform. While some decline was expected, he is still producing less than one would hope, batting just .192 with one home run in the last month. So far this season, his ground ball rate is the highest it’s ever been, as he is hitting the ball into the dirt a whopping 56.1% of the time. He has also posted an 8.3% barrel rate thus far, the lowest rate of his career, while his 91 mph exit velocity is the second lowest mark of his career. Despite a 6.9% swinging strike rate and 19.2% strikeout rate that are both the best of his career, simply making contact is not enough if he is not squaring up the ball as well as he has in years past. Struggles aside, he now must also deal with a hand injury over the rest of the season. With a sprained hand that is believed to have a small fracture, this is something that is almost guaranteed to either keep him out of games for a bit, or hinder his performance down the stretch. He seems adamant about playing through the injury, an admirable feat given the team’s playoff situation, but this is no good for fantasy teams if he cannot perform anywhere near his potential. While I am normally a fan of Pham, I don’t believe he will be able to turn things around and produce well enough over these last few weeks, given his injury situation. With so many outfielders having great offensive seasons, there is likely someone on the waiver wire who is much hotter right now, and also likely much healthier, who can help your team win now.
Buster Posey (C, 1B, San Francisco Giants): .255 AVG, 36 R, 6 HR, 33 RBI, 0 SB
Despite being one of the best offensive catchers the sport has seen in quite a while, it is clear that Buster Posey’s best days are well behind him, as he struggles to some of the worst numbers of his career. While still not necessarily high, his 15.7% strikeout rate is his worst since 2012, while his 8.6% swinging strike rate is the worst of his career other than a seven game stint in 2009. Meanwhile his .290 BABIP is more than ten points lower than in any other season. After hitting just five long balls in 2018, it seems that his power is almost completely gone at this stage of his career, while he is no longer hitting for anywhere near the average that once helped make him a league MVP. Despite playing at the thinnest position in fantasy baseball, he is still seemingly not contributing enough to warrant a roster spot at this point. Ranked 22nd among catchers according to Yahoo, he is outside the top 30 in home runs, while ranking 20th in RBI, and just barely in the top 25 for batting average. Now seemingly with both a low floor and ceiling, it is time to admit that Buster Posey is not the player he once was, and his days of relevancy in fantasy baseball seem to be over.
Shane Greene (RP, Atlanta Braves): 0-3, 2.55 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 22 SV, 47 K, 42.1 IP
After being one of the best relief pitchers in baseball this season with the Detroit Tigers, Shane Greene has come crashing down since being traded to the Atlanta Braves. In 4.1 innings since being traded, he has allowed seven earned runs, and has already lost the 9th inning job with his new team, as saves have gone to both Mark Melancon and Luke Jackson in recent days. But let’s ignore the fact that he isn’t currently in a position to get saves for a minute, and just look at his production levels. Opponents have an average exit velocity against him of 89.4 mph, while posting a 9.9% barrel rate. They are also making hard contact against him 40% of the time. All of these numbers are career worsts, despite currently having the best season ERA of his career, and having seasons with an ERA as bad as 6.88 in the past. Seeing this makes it appear as though Greene was having an extremely lucky year until his recent bad performances, and this notion is even further supported by a 4.21 FIP. As we now try to predict whether or not he will regain his level of dominance from the early part of the season and return to closing duties, we must realize that this is a reliever who has been extremely shake in prior seasons, seems to have been quite lucky in his success this year, and was recently traded from one of the biggest pitchers parks in baseball to one of the best hitters parks in the league, jumping from a no pressure situation in Detroit to a pressure-packed playoff race in the National League. All of these signs point to Greene not regaining the closer role in Atlanta, and not pitching well enough to warrant a roster spot without the saves value.
(Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire)