The cool Spring weather brought us quite a few slow starts across the league. We have seen a fair share of stars struggle out of the gates for their ball clubs and, here we are, wondering whether they will be able to turn it around. The panic button is almost at the point where it needs to be replaced with some players. The majority of them were those which were taken with high draft capital during draft season. With Spring Training being shortened, and the season now being a month old, many of these players should now be on the upward trend. However, are we too far gone? Let’s take a look.
A Tale Too Far Gone
Trevor Story just does not look right. No, I don’t mean that the new threads do not fit him, I am talking about at the plate.
Story was one of the latest free-agent signings right before the start of Spring Training and is having trouble acclimating to his new environment.
Entering today, Story is hitting just .204/.282/.276 with a cool 62 wRC+ on the season. The wRC+ would rank in the 38th percentile amongst the rest of the league.
In regards to exit velocity, he is not having any trouble hitting the ball hard. The metrics are just about even with his career numbers. Where he is struggling more than usual is his K%, which is sitting at 32.7%.
One thing that could point towards a turnaround is his 31.7% line drive % which, if the season ended today, would be the highest mark since his rookie season in 2016. We could attribute a lot to this slow start for Trevor. The Red Sox lineup, as a whole, has had its struggles since the beginning of the season.
Could this just be a result of him trying to get acclimated to his new team? Possibly.
However, the panic button should be pressed with how he has been performing as of today.
A Salv(y)age-able Turnaround?
Salvador Perez entered this season as the first catcher taken off of the board in, almost, every draft. Based on what he accomplished last season, there is no questioning why that was the case.
The Royals backstop finished last season playing in 161 games, slashing .273/.316/.544 with 48 (!) home runs from the catcher position. To date, Salvador Perez seems to be pressing to try and match those results.
Hitting a combined .204/.241/.408, Perez has totaled five home runs in 26 games played thus far. His approach at the plate has always been aggressive, but it has never been where it is now. While many highlighted his lack of patience at the place last season, he is currently walking even less, while striking out at a higher clip than he was in 2021. The 2.8% walk rate, and the 27.8% k%, are both worse than his career numbers coming into this season.
As of the start of May, Perez has not shown many signs of a possible turnaround. In this month, entering today, he is hitting .176 in 34 PAs with eight strikeouts and no walks. Perez is someone to panic about, as of now, seeing that he is not usually a slow starter in his career. Since his debut. he has a career batting average of .264 in March and April. May and June have both been nicer to him, but the strikeout numbers also climb as he progresses.
With the investment made in Perez during draft season, it is a tough spot when deciding on whether to panic about Perez one month into this season. However, with the lack of plate discipline, it is going to be tough for him to turn this around quickly and Perez’s managers should panic just a bit more than they’d like to.
Button and A Cold Brew
Like his teammate Freddy Peralta, Brandon Woodruff’s start to 2022 has not gone according to plan.
After his start on May 9th against the Cincinnati Reds, Woodruff’s sporting a 5.97 ERA in 6 games started so far. In his last three starts alone, he has allowed 13 runs in only 14 innings pitched. Woodruff has linked the struggles to his inability to execute his pitches thus far. However, there are other concerns around his start that we can attribute to the production too.
Up to this point, the average exit velocity off of him would be the highest of his career at 89.2 MPH. He already has eight barreled baseballs off of him this season, which would also be the highest percentage against him since his debut in 2017. Another concern would be the dip in velocity on his fastball this season.
The sample size is small but it is noteworthy. The pitch usage almost mirrors that of 2021 so execution could be the issue. While his ERA is near six, his xERA is down at 3.69 even after his last start. Other notable stats for Woodruff would be the uptick in Barrel%, and HardHit%. The barrel% has jumped from 5.8%, while the HH% is up to 46.1%, compared to last season’s 32.7%.
The track record for Woodruff is strong. However, he is leaving a lot of his pitches in the heart of the zone, and that is concerning. While I am not pushing the panic button yet, I am keeping it close by.
Photography by Cliff Welch/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Michael Packard (@CollectingPack on Twitter)
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