Welcome to week 18 of 2 to Watch! To read previous editions of 2 to Watch, check out this link. As usual, we'll start by checking in on last week's (week 16 actually) players to see how they've done in the past two weeks.
Note: all stats from Fangraphs and current up to 8/4
Alex Wood: 13.2 innings, 2.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 26.8% K%, 7.1% BB%, 1.77 FIP, 2.81 xFIP, 0.297 BABIP
This spans Wood's last start in Atlanta and his first for the Dodgers. He looked very good in his last Braves start, but his first Dodgers start was not as good from a results standpoint. His BABIP was over .400 and his strikeouts and walks were excellent, so he was just unlucky, apparently. These are two very encouraging starts because his walks are down and his strikeouts are way up. If he can keep this up he will make me look foolish for saying you should sell your shares of him in all shallow leagues.
David Peralta: 1 HR, 4 R, 7 RBI, 1 SB, 5.1% BB%, 38.5% K%, .550 BABIP, 0.333/0.385/0.500 (AVG/OBP/SLG)
Now that is a crazy two week stretch. His BABIP is insanely high along with his strikeout rate. His triple slash line is excellent despite those strikeouts and he is still producing counting stats as well. That strikeout rate is obviously not a good sign and his poor walk rate doesn't help. That BABIP will return to his normal levels, so he better improve that plate discipline. Since this is just two weeks, it doesn't mean much compared to his work over the entire season so far. But, I will be monitoring this to see if his plate discipline continues to decline, because that could be an issue.
On to this week's breakdowns!
Cameron Maybin, OF, ATL
Remember when Maybin was in his first season with the Padres in 2011 and stole 40 bases while scoring 82 runs? Those were the days. At 28 years old this season, he seems to have found some of the success he had in that magical year. Health has always been an issue with him and he has managed to stay healthy all year. He is on pace to collect over 25 steals for only the third time in his career and his run and RBI totals are pretty good as well. Throw in a pace of 11 homers (a career high), a career high 0.266 average and a career high 0.327 OBP, and you've got a good season coming out of nowhere.
Is this mid-career turnaround sustainable? Can you count on him the rest of the year? First, his career high walk rate and career low strikeout rate are very good signs. You aren't looking to him for power, so the 0.373 slugging is about what you expect. He has been a little lucky with homers, due to a HR/FB % over 13%. That may regress back to the league average of 10%, which will have a small effect on his power. He relies on his speed for almost all his value due to the steals and the fact that he hits 58%! of his balls on the ground. That kills his chances for power, but does let him use his speed to beat out throws and improve his average.
He is spraying the ball to all fields very well, with Pull%, Center%, and Opposite% all 30-40%. He has a good line drive rate and a good amount of medium-hit balls (58.7%). You would rather see some of those become hard hit balls, but they are better than soft ones at least. He isn't whiffing at many pitches, with a better than average swinging strike rate.
Let's take a look at one table and see if this helps us determine his future:
When you look at June and July, you will see something that is the cause of what I didn't mention yet: he is slumping. Hard. The last two months have been a disaster and it may not get much better. Since June 17 (arbitrary cut-off alert!), he is hitting 0.235/0.281/0.337. He does have 7 steals and 3 homers in that time, but that is still pretty awful. You can see what is happening in the table. He is hitting A TON of grounders, not turning those into infield hits (declining IFH%), pulling the ball more in an attempt to drive the ball farther, and a big drop in line drives. Those factors are a very bad thing, even if his walks and strikeouts have remained almost the same.
He could turn this around still and revert to the April/May version of himself, but I'm banking on that not happening. So much so that I dumped him in my 10-team league last week for Rusney Castillo. I would advise you to drop him as well unless the one or (two at most) steals per week is so valuable to you that you don't mind the average, power, or OBP hit. I see him continuing to struggle the rest of the year. He seems to be pressing and the combination of pulling the ball more and hitting more grounders makes him easy to defend.
Chris Bassitt, SP, OAK
I'll be honest, I had no idea who this guy was a week ago. He was an unknown non-prospect, ranking #16 on Oakland's pre-season prospect list. He has an OK 93 MPH fastball, average slider, and iffy changeup, with just OK command. That's not a great profile. But, he has been starting for the A's for over a month now and his results have been excellent, so I thought I should take a look at him.
The good news: his ERA is 2.64 with a 3.68 FIP and he has yet to allow more than 3 earned runs in a start. His walk rate sits at a good 7.3% and his WHIP is a solid 1.09. The bad news: his K% is only 17.7%, his xFIP is 4.49, his SIERA (an ERA predictor) is 4.24, his swinging strike rate is poor at 7.7%, and he is only getting 37% ground balls.
Digging deeper, as I love to do, his pitch type peripherals are also poor. None of his pitches gets above average groundballs and only his four seam fastball gets above average swinging strikes. He's not really getting hitters to make soft contact and he's not generating an above average number of pop ups. With his fly ball approach, he has been lucky to have a HR/FB% of just 5.5% so far. His 0.257 BABIP will likely come up too. His first strike% of 56.8% isn't very good either.
These next two graphs spell doom for him, I believe.
The top heat map is where he is throwing his pitches and the bottom one is how hard hitters are hitting his pitches in each location. When I look at these two heat maps, I see a guy throwing a lot of pitches down and in to righties and righties and lefties hitting those pitches harder than his other pitches. You usually don't want to throw most of your pitches in an area where hitters do the most damage with those pitches.
He also throws a lot of pitches in the zone, which makes sense considering he doesn't have the stuff to get hitters to chase pitches out of the zone. This leaves him very vulnerable to hitters making good contact against him and without a great groundball rate, he is going to struggle to prevent hard hits and home runs.
Maybe I'm selling him short, but his SIERA, xFIP, K%, SwStr%, GB%, and heat maps are all telling me one thing: he is headed for a big fall and soon, so don't be afraid to send him packing at the first sign of trouble. You've already seen the best you are going to get out of him this season. Check back next week for some more player breakdowns! Tschus!