So you’ve drafted Josh Hamilton, Matt Kemp, Jason Heyward, Yoenis Cespedes or the like. When a star of this magnitude struggles, you may feel trapped, but what can you do? Let’s look at these players in particular and go from there.
Josh Hamilton: .216, 5 HR, 1 SB, 19 R, 12 RBI
Much like Albert Pujols during his first few weeks in Anaheim, Hamilton has just been God awful. He’s striking out a in bunches, but remember, he struck out 162 times last season as well. Now, he only K’ed 92 times in 2010 when he hit .359, and it’s probably fair to say he’s no longer that player (and in a less hitter friendly ballpark), but he’s certainly not a .216 player either. He’s notoriously streaky. If you can afford to play matchups or have a strong enough bench to sit him until he heats up, go for it, but remember he can heat up fast and it will come.
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Matt Kemp: .265, 1 HR, 6SB, 18 R, 15 RBI
Kemp isn’t hitting for any power and has actually been bumped to the #2 slot, at least temporarily. He is hitting .308 in the past 30 days and as a 1st rounder, you have to start him when he’s healthy. He probably won’t reach 40 or even 30 home runs at this point, but even if he just ends with .285 25-25 it would be a solid pace for the remainder of the season. This is the classic case to apply the term “reversion to the mean.” That is, players will tends to get relatively close to his career averages by the end of the season, thus a slow start may mean a fast finish. Trade for him if you can, start him if you have him.
Jason Heyward (Spent time on DL): .132 2 HR, 1 SB, 10 R, 6 RBI
There was an inordinate amount of excitement about the Braves new outfield, but BJ Upton (we’ll get to him in a moment) has been a disaster and Jason Heyward was just as bad before a DL stint. What to do if you drafted Heyward? At this point, his value is still depressed by his early season slump. He hit .300 in his rehab assignment and already has multiple hits (saying a lot for him) in his first few games back. This is a great buy-low opportunity for the talented outfielder. I’m betting on the respite from the fluke DL stint to get him going.
BJ Upton: .145, 3 HR, 3 SB, 11 R, 6 RBI
The least acclaimed of this group, Upton has been the worst. A troubling sign, the Braves dropped him to the 8th slot in the batting order. He’s on pace for 195 strike outs. He hasn’t hit .250 since 2008, so we should question what caused the inflated expectations. At 28 years old, he’ll probably move more toward his the career averages, but if you asked me if he’ll end with a batting average above .230, I’d say no. Bench him until his manager believes in him enough to bat him up.
In the end, It really comes down to this. What final stat line do you think the player in question will end with? Matt Kemp is on pace to hit 4 home runs. Do you honestly think he will end with less than five home runs? Less than 10? Less than 20? Probably not. Plan accordingly, and remember, “reversion to the mean.”
Ryan Kantor is an author at Reading Between the Seams. He is a life-long Yankees fan and a proud Clemson alumnus, residing in North Carolina, where he works in marketing research. For more stories like this, you can visit his personal blog at RyanKantor.com and follow him on Twitter at @Ryan_Kantor.
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