MONITORING HOT AND COLD STARTS: A YEAR LONG EXERCISE (MAY)
It’s the end of the month [Ed. Note- it was when Brady wrote this. Blame his editor for the five day delay], which means it’s time to check in on our streaky stars. Last month’s article is here if you wish to compare.
Stats are updated May 31st; ROS projections through June 2nd.
Ian Desmond, 1B/OF, COL
Season Line: .196/.248/.387, 9 HR, 24 R, 28 RBI, 6 SB
Month of May: .215/.267/.441, 5 HR, 14 R, 15 RBI, 3 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .268/.321/.438, 19 HR, 68 R, 75 RBI, 18 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .250/.304/.423, 13 HR, 44 R, 49 RBI, 11 SB
I’m going to take the under here. He has first base and left field eligibility in ESPN leagues, making him worthless. If for some reason you held on for hopes that he would rebound in Colorado, it’s time to cut loose.
Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE
Season Line: .199/.283/.303, 3 HR, 24 R, 22 RBI, 0 SB
Month of May: .221/.311/.365, 3HR, 13 R, 15 RBI, 0 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .262/.327/.426, 14 HR, 67 R, 55 RBI, 11 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .250/.304/.423, 13 HR, 44 R, 49 RBI, 11 SB
I hate writing about the demise of Jason Kipnis, so I’ll shower some potential good news here, but with every grain of salt you can find. I guess it could be worse. He could be Kole Calhoun.
Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CHC
Season Line: .237/.346/.410, 8 HR, 24 R, 37 RBI, 1 SB
Month of May: .303/.408/.576, 7 HR, 16 R, 28 RBI, 1 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .276/.389/.527, 33 HR, 94 R, 110 RBI, 10 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .270/.382/.505, 21 HR, 59 R, 73 RBI, 6 SB
I told you so. Rizzo is back to hitting like Anthony Rizzo again!
Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD
Season Line: .227/.295/.383, 5 HR, 22 R, 15 RBI, 5 SB
Month of May: .283/.367/.604, 5 HR, 11 R, 8 RBI, 1 SB (played 19 games due to hip pointer and bruised left foot)
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .267/.345/.475, 23 HR, 69 R, 78 RBI, 11 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .264/.339/.465, 14 HR, 45 R, 46 RBI, 7 SB
Puig caught a bad break with multiple injuries at the end of April, but the 27-year-old returned to the lineup on May 9th and hit .283 with power. Puig’s upside is as high as anyone in baseball and at the ripe age of 27, it’s not time to give up on it yet.
Didi Gregorius, SS, NYY
Season Line: .241/.317/.482, 11 HR, 33 R, 35 RBI, 4 SB
Month of May: .151/.186/.215, 1 HR, 9 R, 5 RBI, 2 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .267/.306/.430, 20 HR, 69 R, 77 RBI, 5 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .262/.310/.439, 15 HR, 50 R, 55 RBI, 5 SB
Great googly moogly, that’s quite the nosedive. From May 4th to May 18th, Gregorius slumped from .333/.403/.681 to .248/.335/.523 during a miserable 0-42 slide. For what it’s worth, this slump coincides with him getting domed by a Francisco Lindor enzuigiri. He wasn’t removed from the game, so I guess he was removed concussion protocol, for whatever that’s worth. Others disagree with me, but Gregorius still hits in a stacked lineup and could work his way up toward the top again if he flashes the power he showed in April. He still owns a 109 wRC+, so this hasn’t tanked his season (yet). However, if he keeps up putting a monthly wRC+ of zero, his stock will eventually tank.
Jed Lowrie, 2B, OAK
Season Line: .299/.362/.493, 9 HR, 20 R, 39 RBI, 0 SB
Month of May: .255/.325/.396, 3 HR, 7 R, 12 RBI, 0 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .258/.330/.385, 9 HR, 59 R, 49 RBI, 0 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .268/.339/.411, 8 HR, 38 R, 40 RBI, 0 SB
It turns out that Jed Lowrie isn’t a .300 hitter, who’da thunk it. May was more of a Jed Lowrie-an month for him: middling average, not a lot of walks, a dot of power, no speed to speak of. The only thing missing is an injury to one of his digits. Lowrie had a career year last year, playing a full season and hitting .277/.360/.448. That’s still attainable for him, but won’t be for long if he continues playing like the Jed Lowrie we’ve grown accustomed to.
Matt Chapman, 3B, OAK
Season Line: .228/.318/.427, 9 HR, 33 R, 23 RBI, 0 SB
Month of May: .186/.272/.324, 3 HR, 12 R, 8 RBI, 0 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .225/.298/.463, 27 HR, 66 R, 73 RBI, 5 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .227/.305/.453, 17 HR, 46 R, 45 RBI, 3 SB
Do me a favor: forget what I said last month about Chapman’s hot start being the least likely to regress because it was rooted in his pre-existing loud raw power rather than a flukey batting average. This is Chapman’s first full season in the Majors so bumps should be expected, perhaps for the entire season. Player development is not linear.
Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, NYM
Season Line: .303/.344/.529, 10 HR, 30 R, 34 RBI, 0 SB
Month of May: .269/.295/.481, 5 HR, 10 R, 17 RBI, 0 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .265/.326/.429, 15 HR, 63 R, 60 RBI, 4 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .272/.330/.449, 12 HR, 44 R, 44 RBI, 2 SB
May’s line is a bit too slugging heavy to be your typical Asdrubal Cabrera month, but it’s close enough. The Mets are a dumpster fire but in ways that won’t affect Cabrera. The playing time they’ve promised to veterans like Adrian Gonzalez or Jose Bautista aren’t going to bump Cabrera off the diamond. He remains an okay option in deep leagues.
Jose Ramirez, 2B, CLE: Jose put up the 3rd best wRC+ in baseball among qualified hitters in May, bringing his season line to an MVP-caliber .301/.395/.630 with more walks than strikeouts. Jose’s been a star for years, but he’s looking to take it to another level with 18 HR through May.
Scooter Gennett, 2B, CIN: Scooter got off to a fine start in April, but scorched the Earth in May by hitting .398 with 8 HR and 24 RBI. We live in a world where Scooter Gennett is an honest-to-God longball threat. If there’s some hot girl you’ve been eyeing, maybe now’s the time to go ask her out on a date.
Andrew Benintendi, OF, BOS: Benintendi has always been a favorite player of mine. I loved the pick when the Red Sox took him 7th overall in the 2015 draft and adored the profile coming up through the minors. He was one of the most talented natural hitters in the minors and I’ve always thought there was a possibility for more power to play in games as he adjusts to the league and ages. Benintendi smashed 6 HR in May, leading to 23 RBI. He’s put together an excellent season thus far, hitting .299/.384/.520 with 9 SB to boot. After getting off to a lukewarm start, Benintendi has righted the ship.
Rhys Hoskins, 1B, PHI: Recently put on the DL with a jaw injury, Hoskins flopped in May by hitting .161 with a 32% K-rate. This blip in the road aside, Hoskins is a tremendously talented player whose upside is one of the most fearsome sluggers in baseball. Something to watch for is his strikeout rate and other indicators (O-Swing %, which is chase rate, O-Contact%, which is the amount of contact he makes on pitches outside the zone, and swinging strike %, which is commonly referred to as whiff rate.)
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI: Goldschmidt’s average draft position on ESPN was 10.4. Of the nine other players picked ahead of him, some have struggled (Giancarlo Stanton, Trea Turner) or have been injured (Clayton Kershaw) but none have disappointed more than Goldschmidt. The Diamondbacks put a humidor in their park this year, but that doesn’t account for the entirety of his struggles. His strikeout rate, usually hanging in the low 20s, sits at 30.9%. His isolated power of .192 is the same as his 2016 campaign in which he only hit 24 HR. He’s only attempted three stolen bases this year, which has been a huge boon to his value in years past. Nick Piecoro, an awesome Diamondbacks beat writer for azcentral.com, wrote an article that owners should read with some observations about his performance from himself and a pair of American League scouts.
Kevin Pillar, OF, TOR: I hope you sold high while you had the chance. He swiped five bags but did nothing else of note. Hitting .235/.277/.333 as he did in May in the middle of a punchless Toronto lineup isn’t going to cut it. His .271/.314/.444 line closely resembles The Kevin Pillar Experience and should be an appropriate line moving forward, give or take some slugging.