Ryan Zimmerman’s summer feels out of reach. Now that he’s supposedly healthy, it’s difficult to be pleased with his .650 OPS. I hate to give up on a 27-year-old with considerable potential, but I’m questioning whether he’ll ever again produce at the near .900 OPS levels he had in 2009 and 2010. At this point, the near .800 OPS he produced from 2006-2008 and again in 2011 looks more realistic. This year he’s experiencing a little bad luck with his HR/FB and BABIP, but even if these factors regress to his career averages I do not see him maintaining an OPS above .800 for the rest of the season. One potential cause for concern is his decreased contact rate and increased swinging strike rate, relative to his career norms. This suggests that he may not be seeing pitches as well as he has in the past and is worth monitoring because less contact could really drag down his overall numbers. Last year’s line of .350/.440/.790 may be the high end for what to expect. Oh, Ryan. You can focus on your slugging if it won’t grow, you can fix your swing if you say so, and you can have all the makeup that scouts do crave. But if you can’t look inside you, and fix your OPS too, you’ll be in a position to feel so damn unpretty.
Matt Joyce is inspired by the impending Tampa Bay apocalypse on June 29th. That’s when the Rays’ promotional giveaway is the Zim Bear: a teddy bear with the hideous face of Don Zimmer. Until then, Joyce has been an elite outfielder in OPS leagues, with a .935 OPS to date. He’s always been a consistent player and his career line of .350/.490/.840 is a reasonable estimate of how he’s produced each year since arriving in the majors. There do not appear to be any red flags in his batted ball or plate discipline statistics. Sure, his BABIP and his HR/FB are likely to decrease a little, but I’m bullish on him this year. It’s not only because he has four grand slams in only 1,111 career at bats (I’m no expert on this statistic, although it sounds like a really high ratio), but he’s also a guy that I can’t see falling off a cliff. For the rest of the season I think he maintains some improvement over his career line to approach .360/.500/.860, which is great in OPS leagues, especially for the price you probably paid for him. In leagues with daily changes, it would be worth benching him against lefties due to his large career splits (.647 OPS vs. lefties and .884 OPS vs. righties).
Aramis Ramirez is the summertime kind of guy I like. I’ll steal your honey like I stole your bike. Aramis always seems to start out slow and begins to pick it up around summer. In each of the last two years, he’s had mediocre numbers in April and May before taking off in June. His career stats suggest that this has routinely happened, since he’s averaged an OPS below .800 in April and May, with an OPS of at least .860 in each of the following months. Does this mean that this is going to happen again? I can’t promise you that it will, but I’m willing to bet that he improves upon his current line for the rest of the season. If I owned Ramirez, I wouldn’t sell low on him just yet, but I’d definitely consider buying low if his current owner doesn’t think he’ll improve. Aramis is making less contact, normally a worrisome sign, but right now I’m willing to attribute it to a slow start. I believe his upside for the rest of the season could be his .340/.500/.840 career line, while his downside isn’t much worse than his current .760 OPS level. I just traded for him in one league and I’m hoping this summer we’ll have joy, we’ll have fun, and we’ll have seasons in the sun…
Troy Tulowitzki likes it hot. Or at least he’s as close to a “second-half hitter” as we’re likely to find. I know that some people dismiss the idea that a hitter could be predicted to perform better in one half of the season compared to the other because it could simply be random chance that their better months are all bunched together. I think it’s a valid point and I accept it as the general rule, but there are always exceptions. Across his career, Troy’s OPS by month is: .747 in April, .780 in May, .886 in June, .945 in July, .936 in August, and .937 in September. While he hasn’t stayed true to this distribution in each season, I view it as a reason for optimism of improvement upon his current .846 OPS for the rest of the season. I do not see any red flags in his batted ball and plate discipline statistics. If anything, his 4.2% swinging strike rate and his 9.4% strikeout rate are the lowest of his career, and he is impressively walking as much as he is striking out. This suggests that he hasn’t lost any of his greatness. His BABIP and HR/FB could increase as the season progresses and I think he reaches at least a line of .360/.510/.870 for the rest of the season, with upside for more slugging.
Howie Kendrick is a hot mess. After last season’s career high .802 OPS, he’s struggling to stay afloat with a .646 OPS this year. So what’s wrong with him? Everything. He’s reverted back to his low career walk rate at just over 4% and is striking out more than ever at 21.8%. He’s also making contact at the lowest rate he’s shown since 2008. Additionally, his HR/FB is drastically lower than last year, yet still above his career rate, so this is not necessarily going to improve. His groundball to flyball ratio is the highest he’s ever posted, further negating any chance of a forthcoming spike in home runs. I had hope for Kendrick going into this year, but now I think he’s destined to fall short of his career .754 OPS. Realistically, he may achieve a .310/.410/.720 line for the rest of the season, which isn’t anything to be proud of, even for a middle infielder.