Hold onto Freddie Freeman, Justin Turner | Cut Travis Shaw
You have likely heard the expression, “Fantasy Baseball is a marathon, not a sprint.” While the long season and the grind of daily games is why so many of us love Fantasy Baseball, it can make it difficult for owners to see how a player is trending statistically. Don’t feel badly if this has happened to you, as it happens to all of us.
Whether it is giving up too early on a player you were high on coming into the season, or overlooking a player’s faults because you’re enamored with him, you still have time to correct the mistake.
This issue arises more often at positions that force owners to dive deeper, such as corner infield. So, if you dug deep into the pool and are wondering whether you should still stick with that player, I’m here to help. Let’s get to it!
Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
[caption id="attachment_108023" align="alignright" width="357"] Despite the rough numbers, Freeman is on pace for a career-high number of home runs. Photo by Bryan Lynn/Icon Sportswire[/caption]
Freeman has struggled (again) this season, batting .250/.341/.435 with 10 home runs, 21 RBIs and two stolen bases. He has struck out 25.8 percent of the time, which is the highest rate he has posted since he first came up in 2010. His walk rate sits at 10.9 percent, which is the lowest he’s posted since 2013. This may sound very obvious, but his issue is that his contact rate sits at 58 percent, the lowest rate of his career. He has never been below 60 percent. He has a career-high swinging strike rate and is swinging at more pitches both in and out of the zone than in previous years. My speculation is that the lack of protection in the lineup is forcing Freeman to be more aggressive. Despite all this, he is still on pace to hit 25 home runs and steal five bases, both of which would be career highs. If Freeman could cut down on the strikeouts in the second half, he could return to form as the Top 12 first baseman we have grown accustomed too. Freeman is worth holding onto in all formats, but he is an especially good buy low option in Roto, as his numbers are not as bad as perceived. In points leagues, the strikeouts have hurt his value, making him a riskier option.
Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers
Turner is batting .225/.314/.354 with five home runs and 22 RBIs this season. Yeah, those numbers are not pretty. There is a good chance Turner is already on waivers; but if an owner is on the fence, I would advise to hold tight for the time being. Turner is walking and striking out just as often as last season. So why are his numbers so much worse than last season? Well, his ISO is down to .129 from .197 last year. His BABIP has also dropped from .321 to .251. Both metrics are well below his career rates. Those would scare me off if his hard hit rate was not 34.3 percent. Not only is that two percentage points higher than last year, it is the second-highest mark he has posted in his career. It is easy to say a player has been unlucky, but in Turner’s case, he has been very unlucky. Owners should hold on to Turner for the time being, as a hot streak should be on the horizon.
Travis Shaw, Boston Red Sox
Shaw got off to a hot start, but has struggled for over a month now. Since May 3, he is batting .231/.290/.406 with four home runs, 19 RBIs and 24 runs. His BABIP during that stretch is .290, compared to .340 on the season. He is striking out a quarter of the time, while his walk rate is just 6.5 percent during this stretch. In the past 10 days he is only batting .091 with one extra base hit. A hot start early in the season has made his numbers look far better than he has actually been performing. It is time for Fantasy owners to cut bait with Shaw.
Whit Merrifield, Kansas City Royals
The many injuries on the Royals, as well as the lack of production from their second basemen, has led to more playing time for Merrifield. Not only has he taken over the second base job, but he is regularly hitting at the top of the lineup. He has played 22 games since being recalled and has batted .330/.344/.484 with one home run, 15 runs and three stolen bases. Will he continue to post a .408 BABIP? No, but he has posted a BABIP around .300 all throughout the minors. Judging by his minor league numbers, he may bat around .270, but will have a knack for getting on base. Those in points leagues could leave Merrifield on waivers, as his lack of walks (2.2 percent walk rate) and 20.4 percent strikeout rate will limit his value in that format. However, his ability to score runs and steal bases will make him valuable in Roto formats. He displayed the ability to swipe 20-plus bases per season throughout his minor league career. That is hard to find off of the waiver wire, especially at the corner infield position. He should definitely be added in AL-only leagues and in deeper mixed leagues.
Jhonny Peralta, St. Louis Cardinals
Peralta has got off to a nice start, batting .333/.407/.542 with one home run in six games. He has started five of those games, each at third base. He has also hit either fourth or fifth each game. Peralta is certainly worth holding onto and is worth picking up if he is still on waivers. In his two seasons with the Cardinals he has hit 17 and 21 home runs, while driving in over 70 RBIs and scoring over 60 runs each season. While his sample size right now is too small to mean anything, his past two seasons speak volumes. He may not blow anyone away, but he will post numbers worthy of starting at either middle or corner infield, as he is still shortstop eligible.
Wilmer Flores, New York Mets
Flores quickly became a fan favorite after his infamous crying on the field moment. However, the fanfare has not translated into big numbers for the Mets utility man. He is batting .250/.320/.348 with just one home run. His ISO is down to .098, which is the lowest he has posted since 2013, when he played in just 27 games. Flores has struggled to adjust into the utility role that he currently finds himself in. His 16.5 percent strikeout rate is the highest he has posted since 2013. While he was already scheduled to play a limited role, the acquisitions of James Loney and Kelly Johnson are sure to make his situation even murkier. Owners need to cut bait.
All stats entering Tuesday, June 14th.
Make sure to follow me on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio.
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