Happy Father’s Day to all you fathers out there this past weekend:

If you’ve taken a break from baseball to focus on the NBA finals this past week, I’m happy to say we’ve had another exciting slate of MLB action.

They say you always will see something new at the ballpark on any given day. Before we dive into this week’s article, I’d like to highlight the absolute absurdity of a feat accomplished by the Astros against the Rangers this past Wednesday. As you’re well aware, the Astros pitched two immaculate innings in the same game against the same batters. My Razzball interns tell me that’s a two in 1 billion chance of a similar event happening, so whether you’re an Astros fan, hater, or apologist, it’s always great to witness history. By comparison, the odds of throwing a perfect game is roughly 1 in 10,000.

As we approach the end of June, let’s analyze some aging middle infielders to see if they are due for a rebound or if their time as a previously productive player is up:

Jose Altuve: Astros, 32 years:

Buzzer boy has been banged up this year, dealing with an IL stint for a hamstring issue and a recent concussion scare with Christian Bethancourt.  In roughly 200 at-bats, Altuve is batting 31/12/23/.269/.344. Interestingly, Altuve is succeeding despite posting a career-low exit velocity of 85%. However, looking under the hood, he’s exhibiting strong plate discipline after his IL stint and is still spraying the ball around the park. While we can’t rely on Altuve to steal like he has in years past, look for Altuve to have a strong second half in the batting average, runs, and OBP department while sparking the Astros to a playoff berth. I was wary of drafting Altuve this year, and I’d be increasingly wary of drafting him next year and beyond at his current draft day value.

Whit Merrifield: Royals, 33 years:

Merrifield is healthy by all accounts, but unfortunately, his stats have fallen off the cliff this year. Merrifield has a 31/3/27/.232/.270/8 line, a far cry from last year’s 97/10/74/.277/.317/36 stats. Merrifield’s underlying stats are a mixed bag as his sprint speed hasn’t dropped off significantly (only .2 down from last year), his xBA is .276, and he is only striking out 13.1% of the time. What I gather from this is Merrifield should have a better second half, but the Royals should be in the market for a leadoff hitter (among many other needs this offseason). Looking at 2023 and beyond, I would not draft Merrifield at his draft day value, as his sprint speed will likely drastically decrease over the next couple of years, leaving you with an empty batting average (ex: Dee-Strange Gordon).

Max Muncy: Dodgers, 31 years:

It’s been a tough season for Muncy, as he has struggled to a 23/4/19/.153/.325 line while dealing with a torn UCL. If you can glean anything positive from his season, at the very least Muncy is still showing elite plate discipline (19.8 BB%) and is in the 100th chase rate percentile. While Muncy should still have a few more productive seasons (His 2023 and 2024 ZIPS projections have him posting 79/29/93/.245/.362 and 72/25/82/.238/.355 lines), the Dodgers tout some of the best depth in baseball and can afford to regularly rest Muncy/IL him without suffering a huge hit to their offsense. Chalk Muncy’s 2022 as a lost season and keep an eye on him for 2023, especially if you’re in a league that counts OBP.

Brandon Crawford: Giants, 35 years:

What a difference a year makes. Crawford is batting 25/5/27/.219/.308, his hard-hit rate has declined from last season’s 43.3 to 31% and his groundball rate is way up, and his run value on fastballs has declined from +13 to +3. Shortstop is a young man’s game, as there are plenty of other younger options in the player pool. It’s looking like the end of the road for a player integral to a couple of Giants championship runs.

Didi Gregorius: Phillies, 32 years:

Sir Didi has dealt with injury-plagued seasons the past couple years. Upon returning from his latest injury, Gregorius has been hitting, but his fielding has fallen off to the point that he will likely move off of shortstop next year and beyond. The Phillies have been linked to impending free agents Trea Turner and Xander Bogaerts, and are certain to give Bryson Stott an extended look. Didi is a player whose value will be dictated by the team he signs with (Yankee Stadium really boosted his power numbers).

 

Until next time!

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