After the first couple months of a season, we start to get enough at bats to make informed decisions about how the current season may suggest a change in a player’s future performance from what we previously expected. Or do we? Yes, yes we do. But sometimes people overreact to recent information. Let’s call it recency bias because I think that’s its actual name. However, just because a sample size in the current season is statistically significant doesn’t mean we should ignore a larger sample (the player’s entire career). My preference is to investigate whether there is a reason why a player’s performance may have changed, from both a statistical perspective and due to any reported personal issues (injury, new baby, divorce, etc.). The idea is to see if it tells a story, which admittedly involves some subjectivity, but I think it helps place statistics in their proper context. This helps determine the likelihood that a player will approach their previous numbers or maintain their current performance. This is my long-winded way of saying that I’m looking at some players who have had at least one stretch of a drastic change from their expectations in 2014:
Billy Butler had a miserable couple months to begin 2014, then has seemingly turned things around in June. Many have already written off Butler, but I’m willing to give him another chance and believe that he’ll post solid numbers to end the year. Despite only having a .687 OPS to date, I’m expecting at least his .787 OPS from 2013 for the rest of the year.
After exceeding expectations, once Adam LaRoche falls back to Earth he starts getting dropped? I don’t really understand that, but I would buy low (free?) if people think he’s going to fall off a cliff soon. A .270/.340/.460 line should be reasonable for the rest of the season.
J.J. Hardy hasn’t hit a single homer in 2014, which is fairly surprising, even with his injury struggles. I believe he’ll end up hitting a few homers the rest of the way, but I’m questioning whether his April injuries are still causing him issues. His average and OBP are probably a little higher than you’d expect, but even with an improved slugging, last year’s .738 OPS is likely his ceiling.
Adam Lind has been injured and therefore has underperformed recently, but his season line is still .328/.406/.504, which is fantastic. He’s a great buy low (free?) opportunity in my mind because I see his .854 OPS from 2013 as his baseline going forward.
Unlike Lind, I have less faith in Carlos Beltran because it sounds like his nagging pain could be there for the rest of the season, if not longer. His age (old), isn’t helping either. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him fail to top a .750 OPS for the rest of 2014.
You can find Tom Jacks on Twitter @votetomjacks. He spends far too much time praying for the Cubs, planning his next concert, and wondering if there’s an instrument that could ever rival the theremin (there isn’t).