Justin Upton – This year his season has been tearing up my heart. He’s posting the lowest OPS of his career since he was a rookie in 2007. Since that time, he’s oscillated between great years in 2009 (.899 OPS) and 2011 (.898 OPS) and merely good years in 2008 (.816 OPS) and 2010 (.799 OPS). Currently, he’s producing a .756 OPS, but there are many signs pointing to a potential improvement. Justin’s walking more and striking out less than his career rate, which, along with an increased contact rate, suggest that he shouldn’t be this much worse than his career .833 OPS. It should be noted that his OBP is actually right in line with previous seasons and his OPS drain is solely a result of a substantial decrease in his slugging. His home run to fly ball rate is well below his usual level, and that may increase going forward. However, that factor alone is unlikely to bring his slugging back to where we’re used to seeing it because this year he is hitting a lot fewer fly balls in general. I don’t know if this has anything to do with his thumb injury, but I’m inclined to believe that he will begin hitting fly balls at a rate closer to his typical level. For the rest of 2012, I believe he will maintain his current OBP and begin slugging like he normally does, with a line of .360/.480/.840.
Jacoby Ellsbury – Apparently people refer to this guy as Tacoby Bellsbury. I can only assume that’s because Ellsbury, like Taco Bell, typically gives you runs. After his insanely good season last year, he’s been injured and mediocre when he’s played in 2012. His plate discipline and batted ball statistics don’t look terribly different from last year, aside from a huge drop off in his home run to fly ball rate. I’m skeptical that he returns anywhere near that rate, at least this year, when considering his injuries. At best, I think he approaches his 2009, with roughly a .350/.420/.770 line. I hate to bet against a guy who was fantastic last year, but I just don’t trust him to produce anywhere near his 2011 level this year.
Here are some updates on guys I covered earlier in the year and where I expect them to be for the rest of the season:
Giancarlo Stanton – He’s going the distance! Nice to see him back yesterday and launch two more home runs. When I wrote about him a few months ago, I said that I believe he will regularly top a .900 OPS throughout his career, possibly as soon as next year. Well, it looks like he’s going to do just that this year. His current .367/.577/.944 line is a thing of beauty and ranks him just outside the top ten highest OPS players. The great thing is that it doesn’t appear to be a fluke in any way. For example, his OBP only represents a small improvement over last year. His slugging is nearly thirty points higher than last year, but it very well may be sustainable since he has significantly increased his line drive rate and has continued his career trend of reducing his strikeouts. He’s proving that he’s not only going to be one of the best sources of slugging for many years to come, but also an OBP asset.
Mark Teixeira – Is it just me, or does his name “Mark Teixeira” sound like the Macarena? It makes sense because he’s been overrated and is quickly becoming forgettable in OPS leagues. Earlier in the year I thought his 2012 season was predicted in the Mayan calendar and an .840 OPS could be on the high end for what to expect. Since then he’s done nothing to change my mind and currently has an .821 OPS. He is still a good source of home runs, but isn’t anywhere near an elite first baseman in OPS leagues like he used to be. I think he may see slight improvement going forward, but I’m still not expecting anything more than an .840 OPS from him.
Matt Holliday – Boy, was I wrong about this guy. In April I saw a slower, less patient player making worse contact and thought an .860 OPS was the high end for what to expect. Since then, he’s raised his 2012 OPS to nearly 100 points above that projection. He’s done that by increasing his walk rate and all around having his plate discipline and batted ball data approach the rates he’s produced his last few seasons, which resulted in an OPS above .900. I’ll admit that I was wrong to predict his decline just yet, as he is capable of maintaining an OPS above .900 for the rest of the season. I have to celebrate you Holliday – I have to praise you like I should.