Those who invested significant draft stock on one of the following players are likely pulling their hair out right now. Let’s use advanced stats to understand why owners should be mostly patient with this disappointing quintet.
Mookie Betts, OF, Red Sox
Fantasy production: Betts is the biggest problem in an underachieving Red Sox offense, hitting just .200 with seven RBI. He has been a major steals disappointment (one swipe), but his homers (three) and runs scored (13) are within the normal range of expectations.
A deeper look: Betts is striking out a little more often than usual (18.3 percent) but not at a rate that raises alarm bells. His hard contact rate (33.9 percent) is much lower than last season but similar to his career mark, and he is producing plenty of fly balls (50.0 percent). A low line drive rate (12.5 percent) is contributing to a poor .208 BABIP and depressing batting average.
If I owned Betts: There’s no way I’m giving up on this stud. By May, the slow start of Betts and many of his lineup-mates will be a thing of the past.
Jose Ramirez, 2B/3B, Indians
Fantasy production: Although he has saved some of his fantasy value with five steals, Ramirez has been absolutely awful at the dish (.145 average, one homer). Hitting in a lackluster Indians lineup hasn’t done the superstar any favors, as he has collected just three RBI and eight runs scored.
A deeper look: Typically a plate-discipline stud (1.33 BB:K ratio in 2018) Ramirez has been awful (0.36 BB:K ratio) in that area this year. The switch-hitter has also dealt with bad luck (.155 BABIP, 3.4 percent HR/FB rate), but his .087 ISO is an embarrassingly low mark for a first-round pick. Perhaps the looming return of fellow stud Francisco Lindor will give Ramirez the help he needs to get his season on track.
If I owned Ramirez: I would be worried, but not worried enough to trade him away for a second round player. Still, I would think long and hard about swapping him for another top-15 asset.
Charlie Blackmon, OF, Rockies
Fantasy production: The table-setter hasn’t been doing much setting so far, hitting just .219 with six runs scored and one stolen base. And his power skills (.082 ISO, zero homers,) have been absent to an even greater degree. This isn’t the start owners were expecting from someone who averaged 32 homers, 122 runs scored and 14 steals in the previous three seasons.
A deeper look: Normally a high-BABIP player, Blackmon has had below-average luck (.267 BABIP) despite posting reasonable rates of hard contact (36.7 percent), line drives (20.0 percent) and fly balls (38.3 percent). Bad fortune doesn’t tell the whole story, as the 32 year old has contributed to his own struggles with diminished plate discipline (0.29 BB:K ratio).
If I owned Blackmon: I’m definitely holding this prime asset and waiting for the counting stats to come in bunches once the weather warms up in Colorado.
Starling Marte, OF, Pirates
Fantasy production: Marte has contributed a couple of homers and a trio of steals, but his .215 batting average is pretty disappointing.
A deeper look: Marte isn’t giving himself many chances to steal bases, as his 0.15 BB:K ratio is among the worst in baseball. His batted-ball tendencies are similar to his career norms, but those norms aren’t especially impressive. In short, the advanced stats don’t see this plucky Pirate as much more than a speedster.
If I owned Marte: I’m not selling low. He was drafted primarily for steals and steals he shall provide. His advanced-stat deviations are pretty normal for this time of year, and his luck (.240 BABIP) should even out soon.
Jesus Aguilar, 1B, Brewers
Fantasy production: Aguilar has been one of this season’s most disappointing players, batting .148 with nary a homer through 54 at-bats.
A deeper look: His year-over-year hard contact rate has dropped, but his current mark of 37.2 percent is still solid. In terms of batting average, he has produced enough line drives (25.6 percent) to have enjoyed much better than his .186 BABIP. Aguilar has actually shown major improvements with his plate discipline, logging stellar rates of walks (12.3 percent) and whiffs (18.6 percent).
If I owned Aguilar: I wouldn’t trade him away for a drastically reduced cost. In fact, Aguilar is someone whom I would look to buy at a discount right now. Owners can float the looming presence of Eric Thames when making their buy-low offers.