TDG Roundtable: Struggling Hitters Edition
The Roundtable is back! This week, Ken, Joe, Sam, and I quickly review some players who have struggled so far in 2022 and how we are handling on our dynasty rosters. Thanks for reading!
Josh Donaldson, 3B New York Yankees
Analysis by Ken Balderston
Good ‘ol JD was a big target of mine this draft season, but has gotten off to a cold start along with some other older players like Justin Turner, Nelson Cruz and Joey Votto. Some blame the ball, some the game catching up with them, but I’m going to chalk things up to a small sample. After all, we’re still looking at less than 100 AB for JD as of this writing, and while the triple slash isn’t great (.224/.345/.378), it does hint the approach has been good but the results are not there yet.
The approach has in fact been good, with 16 (13.8%) walks and 31 (26.7%) K’s in 116 PA. Of course, approach is not normally a scoring category except in OBP leagues, but players still need to be productive in other areas to be playable. Donaldson has only contributed three homers and 10 RBI so far, and of course zero steals. Behind the results is still some intriguing batted ball data. His average EV is 92.2 MPH, and still in the top 10% of the league. Launch angle on his balls is 13.3 degrees, which is ideal and above average for MLB and right around his career average. I’m trying to stay away from expected stats given the effect the new ball is having league-wide, but it’s still encouraging to see JD’s xSLG nearly .080 points higher than his actual SLG.
Donaldson has been in the league a long time, and if there’s anything I’m taking away from his stats so far this season, it’s that he’s healthy and basically doing what he’s always done. I’m happy to hold him in my leagues, am continuing to start him, and looking to trade for him in leagues where I have a hole at 3B.
Yasmani Grandal, C, Chicago White Sox
Analysis by Joe Garino
Arguably the strangest season for any Top 5 player at any position in 2021, Grandal did everything but put the ball in play last year. Only five players with at least 300 PA had an OBP above .400 IN 2021 (Juan Soto, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bryce Harper, Brandon Nimmo, and Yasmani Grandal). Grandal’s .240 batting average was the lowest of the group as the other four had at least a .292 which makes sense for such an elite group of hitters. He was able to keep pace with other elite hitters due to his absurd 23% walk rate and an elite ability to drive the ball out of the park when he decided to swing the bat.
After one month of 2022, Grandal’s stat lines are anything but encouraging. His walk rates have normalized back in line with his career marks alongside a dip in strikeout rate to a career-low 18%. This gives me the idea that he has made some approach changes and is looking to be more aggressive by putting the ball in play more often. The problem is that Grandal’s selectivity created this really strange profile where he would dig really deep into counts and pick his pitches that he can drive.
I have faith that Grandal will be able to dig himself out of this hole and find numbers similar to his previous seasons but perhaps not as good as last years. It’s certainly not time to jump off this ship but I would be looking at some younger catchers who might be able to help you down the line when Grandal eventually ages out of the group of elite catchers.
Jesse Winker, OF, Seattle Mariners
Analysis by Taylor Case
Full frontal disclosure: I do not roster Jesse Winker in any of my lineup-setting leagues. I know my guy Joe Garino is a huge fan, but, well…actually, to be honest, I don’t I have a good reason. And usually I listen to Joe, so this is weird. Regardless, my non-rostership of Winker has been quite a boon so far this season, as he’s slashed his way to a .224/.329/.320 line with two (count ‘em!), two ding-dongs and 26 runs and RBI over the first 35 games of the season.
Not good, friends. Not good.
But alas, there is room for hope here. In fact, there are no less than four rooms for hope, and said room descriptions are listed below:
- It’s easy to panic over 35 games. I know I do it. But his larger body of work (career 130 wRC+ over 1600+ PA’s) suggests there is plenty of upward movement from his current 103 wRC+, and his quality of contact is still excellent this season despite the unfortunate results.
- His plate discipline remains excellent. In fact, he’s been as stingy as ever with the strikeouts (13.7%)
- He’s getting BABIP’ed a bit. By itself this doesn’t mean much, but with #1 and #2 above in mind, I feel better about assuming better numbers on the way.
- He’s healthy! And while I know that can change at any time, it’s definitely not a bad thing that he’s been out on the field every game this season.
My dynasty verdict? Hold, hold, hold Jesse Winker. Or, I guess in my case: target, target, target.
Akil Baddoo, OF, Detroit Tigers
Analysis by Sam Wirsching
If you are playing in a redraft league and haven’t released the recently demoted Akil Baddoo, you aren’t paying enough attention. I, for one, am paying attention because Akil was my pick to be a riser in the OF. It just hasn’t worked out yet this season.
However, if you play in a dynasty league with a large bench, now is the time to buy low. In 55 PA’s this season, Akil hit .140/.218/.220. Yikes! But this was a very small sample size in what has started off as a pitching dominant season across the MLB. Let’s not forget what he did in 461 PA’s in 2021: .259/.330/.436 with 13 homers and 18 stolen bases. I believe Baddoo will start to barrel the ball again, and his elite sprint speed makes him an interesting speed/power player that over a full season projects to be a 15/20 guy. He should be available for a draft pick if he isn’t on your league’s waiver wire.