I’m always getting questions about what to do with certain players who are over/under performing, so today I’ll break it down for you by discussing a handful of the American League players I’m asked about all the time.
* Buy/Sell designations are based on a mixed league with 12 teams.
Brennan Boesch: On April 28th Boesch was hitting .350. Two weeks later he is batting .298. His OPS in that time has dropped from .926 to .779. He’s also hit only one homers in his last 31 games. So are the vagaries of small sample sizes. In his career Boesch has hit .265 with 16 homers and 85 RBI in 585 at-bats, not .300-30-100 like some people seem to think he will do this year. He will not hit .300. He will not hit 30 homers. He will not have 100 RBI. In fact, if Boesch were to match his career .265-16-85 line I’d be pleasantly surprised. He’s murdering lefites with a .387/.459/.548 line in 30 at-bats, but in 90 at-bats against righties is once again looking no different than an average big league hitter (.267/.320/.378).
Zach Britton: It’s getting harder to write off his hot start with each successive successful start. Seven starts into his big league career only once has he allowed more than three earned runs, and the result is an impressive 2.93 ERA. He certainly gets a ton of ground balls, nearly 55 percent of batted balls, but I still worry about his poor K/9 rate of 5.02, and his completely average 3.35 BB/9 mark. Sooner or later you have to think that his 1.50 K/BB ratio will catch up to him, especially when his hit rate goes up (his current BABIP is .236). In addition, his left on base percentage is 81.1 percent, well in excess of the big league average of 70 percent. Toss in the fact that his xFIP (3.97) says his ERA “should” be a full run higher than it current is, and you’d be smart to see what you could get for Britton if you sold him off.
Colby Lewis: On April 5th, when his ERA was 6.95, everyone thought this guy was a one year wonder and waiver-wire fodder. However, over his last three outings, Lewis has 17 Ks and three walks, has gone at least 7.1 innings in each outing, and is sporting a 2.31 ERA in that trio of starts. The strikeout rate still has some room to grow since it’s barely over six, in fact I’d be pretty darn surprised if it didn’t, and once that ridiculous HR/9 mark of 2.38 regresses, and it will, his ERA should stand a solid chance of creeping back below four (it’s currently 4.57). He gives up too many fly balls, not a great match for his ballpark, but we saw last season how he could overcome that foible.
Jed Lowrie: Everyone’s darling after a hot start to the year. He looks to be locked into every day playing time with Marco Scutaro on the shelf, so he is a must start in mixed leagues, right? Well, maybe. Lowrie hasn’t hit a homer since April 20th (19 games) and since April 22nd he has only four RBI in 17 games. He also hasn’t stolen a base all year, and though we all knew his average would fall – he’s still hitting .327 – he has hit only .256 with 26 percent K-rate in the month of May. I’m not here to say he won’t be an effective option, I’m merely saying that expectations for him are completely out of whack. He’s best used as a starter in AL-only leagues or a middle infield option in mixed leagues.
Jorge Posada: He’ll be 40 in August, an age when about 99.7 percent of catchers have retired. All those years behind the plate simply break you down physically, and I think that’s what we are seeing with Posada. Everyone seemed to think that moving to the DH role would suddenly turn back the clock a decade – that was never going to happen. The Yankees have shown a lot of patience with Posada, but sooner or later they are going to have to admit what is becoming obvious – Posada just doesn’t have it anymore. On the plus side you have to think that his average could easily improve by 50 percent, there’s just no way he’ll have a .134 BABIP this year, not with a .315 career mark. Still, there are better options unless you are talking about him being a second catcher in a mixed league.
By Ray Flowers