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MONITORING HOT AND COLD STARTS: A YEAR LONG EXERCISE (JUNE)

It’s the end of the month, which means it’s time to check in on our streaky stars. Last month’s article is here if you wish to compare.

Stats current as of July 2

COLD STARTERS

Ian Desmond, 1B/OF, COL

Season Line: .216/.294/.443, 17 HR, 44 R, 47 RBI, 7 SB
Month of June: .261/.387/.568, 8 HR, 20 R, 19 RBI, 1 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .268/.321/.438, 19 HR, 68 R, 75 RBI, 18 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .252/.313/.439, 11 HR, 36 R, 39 RBI, 8 SB

GO OFF, KING! June was Desmond’s best month since June of 2016. He OPS’d .814 the month after and hasn’t produced until now. He’s still on-basing below .300 at Coors, so this is probably a blip. However, his walk rate skyrocketed last month (taking free passes at a 16% clip) and he’s swung at fewer pitches overall. Monthly splits are a fickle thing and while you can’t take anything meaningful from them, they can provide interesting markers to keep track of for future months.

Jason Kipnis, 2B, CLE

Season Line: .217/.296/.341, 7 HR, 33 R, 33 RBI, 2 SB
Month of June: .266/.333/.443, 4 HR, 9 R, 11 RBI, 2 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .262/.327/.426, 14 HR, 67 R, 55 RBI, 11 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .248/.318/.400, 7 HR, 33 R, 29 RBI, 5 SB

Jason Kipnis didn’t steal a base until June 2nd. He’s only attempted three swipes. It’s nice to see Kipnis put up a competent line and I hope it means he’s figured something out. The slash line he put up in June closely resembles his preseason ZiPS projection, but he’s not going to come close to matching the stolen base projection.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B, CHC

Season Line: .249/.346/.421, 12 HR, 35 R, 55 RBI, 3 SB
Month of June: .270/.345/.440, 4 HR, 11 R, 18 RBI, 2 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .276/.389/.527, 33 HR, 94 R, 110 RBI, 10 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .269/.378/.499, 15 HR, 44 R, 55 RBI, 4 SB

Since it’s Rizzo and he’s fine and you know that, I’m going to diverge here.

Two albums from some of my favorite bands came out last week. Florence & The Machine’s “High as Hope,” a successor to her critically acclaimed “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.” Florence’s recent releases all seem to tell a story and revolve around a subject. It always takes me a couple of listens to gather what the meaning of the album is, but it holds up well after an initial spin. Then, I re-listened to “How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful.” I forgot how great that album was. Every song holds up on its own as a single, while managing to mesh into the theme of the album.

Even bigger, however (pun retroactively intended), was the reunion of my childhood favorites Sugarland. “Bigger” is a traditional post-Kristen Hall Sugarland album in the shape of “Enjoy The Ride” and “Love On The Inside.” I listened to it four times this weekend and it grew on me each and every time. While I’m not sure of the intention, “Still the Same” feels like a statement about the band itself. Other standout tracks include “Babe”, “Let Me Remind You”, and “Mother.”

Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD

Season Line: .257/.323/.435, 9 HR, 34 R, 27 RBI, 7 SB
Month of June: .303/.367/.517, 4 HR, 12 R, 12 RBI, 2 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .267/.345/.475, 23 HR, 69 R, 78 RBI, 11 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .265/.339/.465, 11 HR, 34 R, 35 RBI, 6 SB

Puig didn’t miss a beat coming back from injury: he’s stuck in the back half of the batting order while Max Muncy is mashing, but he’s showing the skills that made him such a valuable dynasty player to begin with. High average, power, and a dash of speed. I wish he were in a position to drive in more runs, but I’m happy seeing him play well for now.

Ephemera: The only thing that changed for Puig’s rest of season slash projection was a one point increase of batting average.

HOT STARTERS

Didi Gregorius, SS, NYY

Season Stats: .255/.324/.469, 15 HR, 48 R, 43 RBI, 9 SB
Month of June: .286/.343/.449, 4 HR, 15 R, 8 RBI, 5 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .267/.306/.430, 20 HR, 69 R, 77 RBI, 5 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .264/.312/.441, 12 HR, 39 R, 40 RBI, 4 SB

The RBI have fallen by the wayside (which is peculiar because he’s still hitting third most of the time) but everything else is still there after his May slump. Gregorius is in a good position no matter where he hits in this lineup. If he hits third, he’s sandwiched between Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton. If he bats cleanup, Torres comes up after him. On the occasion he hits 5th, Miguel Andujar has his back. With the protection in the lineup putting him in good spots for RBI and runs, Gregorius remains an easy top shortstop option for years to come even if the prodigious power never returns.

Jed Lowrie, 2B, OAK

Season Stat Line: .291/.351/.500, 14 HR, 36 R, 56 RBI, 0 SB
Month of June: .276/.327/.514, 5 HR, 16 R, 17 RBI, 0 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .258/.330/.385, 9 HR, 59 R, 49 RBI, 0 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .269/.337/.424, 7 HR, 30 R, 31 RBI, 0 SB

Lowrie had The Jed Lowrie Month with some additional extra-base hits. He’s now slugging .500, which is hilarious. The highest Lowrie’s ever slugged in a full season (which he only has three of) was .448, which he did last year. He’s going to blow by his career high of 16 home runs and should set a new watermark for RBI.

Matt Chapman, 3B, OAK

Season Stat Line: .250/.346/.447, 9 HR, 33 R, 23 RBI, 0 SB
Month of June: .368/.489/.553, 1 HR, 7 R, 3 RBI, 0 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .225/.298/.463, 27 HR, 66 R, 73 RBI, 5 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .232/.312/.458, 12 HR, 33 R, 32 RBI, 2 SB

Chapman only played 12 games in June but raked before being put on the disabled list with a right-hand contusion suffered on the 14th. He took batting practice on Sunday and aims to be back in the lineup on Tuesday.

Asdrubal Cabrera, SS, NYM 

Season Stat Line: .279/.321/.471, 13 HR, 36 R, 44 RBI, 0 SB
Month of June: .230/.274/.350, 3 HR, 6 R, 10 RBI, 0 SB
Preseason ZiPS Projection: .265/.326/.429, 15 HR, 63 R, 60 RBI, 4 SB
ZiPS Rest of Season Projection: .270/.326/.445, 9 HR, 33 R, 34 RBI, 1 SB

Cabrera fell off the wagon along with the rest of the Mets en route to a 5-21 June. This is his second consecutive month with a sub .300 OBP and isn’t providing any help on the basepaths. Somehow, he’s already tied last year’s home run total and could record his highest number of RBI since 2011. I’d bet on him not continuing to be a slugger, but it’s difficult to sell high on this tweener 32-year-old with no skills besides a sudden power resurgence.

June’s Hottest

Alex Bregman: Bregman continues to cement his spot as a top-tier dynasty shortstop with an 11 home run month. Trading a little speed for the immense power increase while upping his walk rate and cutting down on the strikeouts is something I’ll take every day of the week, even with the ever-rising value of steals.

Joc Pederson: Pederson has fallen under the category of a better real-life player than fantasy player despite the sick tools he possesses.

Two years ago, Pederson carried a 27.3% strikeout rate. So far this season, he’s lowered it to an astonishing 14.7%. I don’t know why this is happening. Dustin Nosler of True Blue LA noticed some changes in his stance in this mid-June article. Pederson is also a very streaky player, so maybe this is just one of his hot streaks. Either way, it’s fun to watch a player this talented figure things out, even if it’s only for a month.

Paul Goldschmidt: Goldy had a lot of catching up to do after finishing May hitting below the Mendoza line. A triple slash of .364/.460/.738 in June raised his batting average 54 points and his slugging percentage by 122 points. He’s back on the scene as one of the top first basemen in baseball again. For comparison:

Through May: .209/.326/.393, 7 HR, 31 R, 19 RBI, 2 SB
Through June: .264/.374/.515, 17 HR, 56 R, 42 RBI, 2 SB

Rhys Hoskins: Hoskins, in addition to Goldschmidt, make two of May’s coldest batters that I wrote up last month to turn it around and have scorching Junes. Coming back from a jaw injury in June, Hoskins clubbed eight home runs and 22 RBI while also cutting down the strikeouts. I didn’t want to admit it, but you had me worried for a second, Rhys. Thanks for picking up the slack.

June’s Coldest

Salvador Perez: After a tremendous May in which he hit 8 home runs and drove in 25, Perez crashed into a figurative wall- hitting .158/.200/.253. Perez’s name is starting to get thrown around in trade rumors with the Royals one of many American League teams falling upon rough times. It’s only been a month and I don’t regularly watch Royals games, so I can’t tell you if he looks tired or fatigued. This is a situation that warrants monitoring.

Tommy Pham: The late bloomer was marred by a 0-29 stretch to end the month, dragging his line from .272/.353/.453 on June 19th to .244/.327/.406. This happens sometimes, and it sucks but is not a harbinger of doom.

Evan Longoria: Before he suffered a fracture to the fifth metacarpal of his left hand, Longoria was stinking it up, hitting .174/.220/.174 in 50 plate appearances. He underwent surgery on June 16th with a six-to-eight week timetable to return (July 28-August 11).

Alcides Escobar: No one in their right mind has rostered Alcides Escobar for years, but while preparing for this exercise I noticed something:

https://twitter.com/HPJoker/status/1013631886407688192

A couple of people sent in other suggestions. Delmon Young, Alexi Amarista, Jeff Francoeur. While close, I don’t think any of them come close to matching Yuni in terms of team-enabled futility. Francoeur comes close but has trouble bridging his terrible 2012 season and awful 2015 season with the tanking Phillies. Teams just don’t let players this bad hang around anymore. So congratulations to the Royals for being on the forefront of something else!

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Brady Childs

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