(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)
Here we are back again for another week’s edition Patience or Panic and I have brought you a juicy one. We have three players all of whom were ranked as preseason top-100 players. Carrasco was even ranked as highly as top-40 heading into the year. His ADP put him right between deGrom and Severino. I’m sorry to all Carrasco owners who had to read that last sentence, oh what could have been. As always I will be channeling my inner sage and attempting to read the sabermetric tea leaves determine if there are brighter days ahead for our fantasy stars. Enough chit-chat let’s get into the main event and start with the young Orioles 2nd basemen.
Jonathan Schoop – .232 AVG, 5 HRs, 21 Rs, 15 RBIs, 0 SB (1CS)
Heading into 2018 the Orioles middle infield combination of Machado-Schoop was one to dream on. While Machado has started the season hitting like a man possessed by the ghost of Mickey Mantle, Jonathan Schoop has looked lost at the plate. There is a lot of things that jump out at you when glancing at Jonathan Schoop’s profile, and the majority of them are not good. His Exit velocity has dropped down to 85.2 MPH (19th worst in MLB), he hovers around speedsters like Adam Engel, Tim Anderson, and Mallex Smith. Schoop doesn’t have the speed (27.3 Sprint Speed) to make an ugly exit velocity still be effective. Crazily enough according to xStats Schoop has seen his fair share of luck. They have the 2nd basemen with an xSlash (xBA/xSLG/xwOBA) of .205/.311/.238. His xwOBA of .238 would be the 2nd worst among hitters with 150 at-bats, sandwiched between sluggers Billy Hamilton and Orlando Arcia.
The good news for Schoop is that he is still going to be hitting in the middle of the Orioles lineup daily. That presents some value for his counting stats in itself. He has been hitting predominantly in the 4th position and behind Manny Machado which will lead to a fair share of RBI opportunities. Schoop still has the track record of success that can lead to other owners trying to “buy low” on him, if you get any decent deal I wouldn’t shy away from moving him.
Carlos Carrasco – 83 IP, 7W – 4L, 4.23 ERA, 83 Ks, 1.19 WHIP
After years of being the reliable 2nd starter behind Corey Kluber for the Indians, it looks like he may now find himself as the 4th best starter in the rotation. It is more of a compliment to the improvements made by Mike Clevinger and Trevor Bauer than a slight against Carlos Carrasco. The Venezuelan-born starter has been ineffective compared to years past and currently maintains an ERA of 4.23, well above his career 3.84 average. His strike outs are down as well at 23.4% compared to his 28.3% mark in 2016. A lot of his struggles can be contributed to his increase in the quality of contact hitters are producing versus Carrasco. His hard-contact rate has jumped +6.9% from 2017 to 2018, while his soft-contact rate is down over 6.6%.
A lot of the Carrasco’s struggles can be traced back to his typically un-hittable changeup. In 2017 he threw the pitch a total of 514 times (16 %) and hitters managed an absurdly low ISO of .008 and a slugging% against of .128. Both the ISO and SLG% against were the best among any pitchers changeup thrown 200+ times in 2017. Flash forward to 2018 and Carrasco’s changeup is being smacked around, with an ISO of .267 and SLG% against of .667. His changeup now has the 5th worst ISO and 6th worst SLG against of any pitcher with 100+ thrown. The pitch has gone from having a pVAL of 18.2 (2nd highest in MLB) in 2017 to -4.1 (3rd worst) this season. Carrasco needs his changeup to get back to where he was last season, to turn back the clock to 2017. Wednesday was a step in the right direction where he managed 9 whiffs with the pitch versus the Brewers. I’m concerned with the typically reliable starter but not panicking yet, and I think his changeup will soon round into the form it has shown his whole career. This may be your window to “buy low” (as much as I hate that phrase) on Carrasco.
Rafael Devers – .224 AVG, 9 HRs, 24 Rs, 28 RBIs, 1 SB
I feel like it is appropriate to illustrate that Rafael Devers is still only 21. Of FanGraphs Top prospects list 29/50 were 21+ years old. The young third basemen realistically could still be in the minors right now and tearing it up, but he was called up early and is facing the best the league has to offer. It’s important to have this framework with someone like Devers because at his age no player is a finished product yet. The Dominican born third baseman has struggled early in 2018 slashing .223/.279/.395 adding 9 home runs, 23 runs, and 28 RBIs. Despite the ugly slash line, a lot of his batted ball profile is similar to what he showed in his debut season in 2017. His hard hit rate is up 2 percent, and line drive rate is similar as well. His exit velocity of 91.9 MPH is among the best in the league and up 2 MPH from 2017. Devers 2.5% weak-contact rate (according to baseball-savant) is well below MLB’s average of 4.7%.
Most of Devers problems so far in his early career can be traced back to his inability to hit fastballs. In 2018 he is hitting just .196 versus the pitch with a .336 SLG. Add a whiff-rate of 33.6% and wOBA of .274 and it is clear that he is having trouble with catching up to the heat. He has been hit with a pinch of unluckiness with a xBA of .211, xSLG of .413, and xwOBA .313. Each are an improvement from his traditional numbers but still below league average batters produce versus fastballs (BA .255, SLG .445, wOBA .339)
The good news for Devers owners is that he still hits in one of the most potent lineups in the majors with no one truly challenging for his spot. He should be given an ample opportunities to rack up counting stats. He is still young and has time to mature, but I’m not sure we are going to get the return on investment that you were expecting with his 97 pick ADP this year. Dynasty or deep keeper leagues he will still hold a ton of value, but with Steamers ROS projections of .267/12 HR/42 R/46 RBI/3SB you are looking at production that can be found on most waiver wires. If you can cash in on someone who loves a shiny young toy then I say go for it. I am comfortable with dropping in shallower 10 team leagues.