SlumpBusters: Vol. 2
Here’s the second volume of “SlumpBusters,” where each Thursday I will profile 3 players who are good bets to rebound from their struggles, and 1 player who isn’t. Also, part 1 of my big prospects article will be up tomorrow. So, look forward to that. I put a lot of work into it.
Remember, you can follow me on twitter @WunderChad
Jose Bautista – Blue Jays – 3B/OF
Stats through 5/16: .199 Avg, 9 HR, 22 Runs, 20 RBI, 2 SB
Bautista has a lot of owners wondering right now if there’s such thing as a 2-year fluke. But that’s just insanity stemming from their frustration with Bautista, whose slugging percentage looks a lot more like 2008-2009 than 2010-2011. It’s very important that you realize that Bautista is the same hitter he’s been the last two years, so that you don’t go and do something crazy like trade him for Bryan LaHair (as one reader told me he did). His walk rate is identical to his breakout season of 2010, and his strikeout rate is actually the lowest of his career, both encouraging signs. But even more glaring is that his .170 BABIP is the second-worst in the majors, indicating extreme unlickiness. As this regresses back to the mean, the numbers you’ve come to expect from Joey Bats will follow. There is no doubt in my mind that he’s a top 15 hitter the rest of the season.
Prediction: .272 Avg, 42 HR, 108 Runs, 106 RBI, 8 SB
Eric Hosmer – Royals – 1B
Stats through 5/16: .174 Avg, 5 HR, 16 Runs, 18 RBI, 1 SB
This is not a simple case of the “sophomore slump.” Remember when I said Bautista has the second-worst BABIP in the majors? Well, here’s the man with the worst: .165. He should have almost double the hits that he actually has! Lady Luck has not been smiling down on Hosmer this season. I think we can assume she’s had her fun and will let Eric be Eric from this point forward. Despite his slow start, expect Hosmer to build on his strong rookie numbers. The preseason hype was not unwarranted, and you will be greatly rewarded if you pry him away from an owner who’s lost faith.
Prediction: .282 Avg, 23 HR, 85 Runs, 89 RBI, 9 SB
Tim Lincecum – Giants – SP
Stats through 5/16: 2 W, 48 K, 5.77 ERA, 1.56 WHIP
Calm down everyone, he’s really not pitching that poorly. Lincecum is 5th in the majors with a 9.89 K/9 (in line with his career average), and has a 3.48 xFIP (barely over his career average). It’s also worth noting that his two really bad starts came at Colorado and at Arizona, not exactly easy places to pitch for someone who’s not a groundball pitcher. And he hasn’t been helped by a .346 BABIP on the year. Some people were concerned when his velocity was down in his first few starts of the season. But in his last few starts, he’s back to averaging the 92 we’re used to seeing from The Freak. That fluky 60% LOB will also stabilize. He’ll be just fine, although don’t expect too many wins with that offense behind him.
Prediction: 11 W, 210 K, 3.48 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
SLUMP NOT BUSTED:
Danny Espinosa – Nationals – 2B
Stats through 5/16: .212 Avg, 3 HR, 17 Runs, 7 RBI, 3 SB
The hard truth is this: Espinosa is not a good hitter. He never showed he could be in the minors, and hasn’t in the majors either. A lot of people were seemingly blinded by his 21 home runs last season, and didn’t notice how bad he was otherwise. He strikes out a ton for someone who’s not a prodigious power hitter, and I’d be very surprised if he ever hits above .240 at the major league level. He’s could be a cheap source of homers and steals if you’re desperate at second base, but I wouldn’t even count on that. He’s not even a good fielder, and I’d bet on him losing his job at some at some point if the Nationals are still in the race in July and make a trade.
Prediction: .214 Avg, 14 HR, 64 Runs, 53 RBI, 15 SB
Today’s must-watch game: STL @SF, 3:45pm ET. The last two World Series winners face off and bring with them their aces. Matt Cain has been nothing short of phenomenal this season, while Adam Wainwright has struggled a bit in his return from Tommy John surgery but could break out against a weak Giants offense.
Try to beat me (WunderChad) and Muntradamus on this Friday’s DRAFTSTREET $250 Free-Roll Tournament. Free to sign-up, win $$$.