So I've been looking over some of the middle level Shortstops and I'm wondering if anyone can provide further insight into what to expect from these guys going forward.
Ian Desmond (WSH) -- The most productive of this group thus far, he's currently sitting at .275, 13 HR, 43 RBI, 38 R, 8 SB, but just a .303 OBP. He's been pretty consistent both at Home and on the Road, vs both LHP and RHP. The thing is, can a guy who walks so little keep this R and RBI pace, or are we seeing those fantasy counting stats over his head this first half, so to speak? If he continues Slugging 80 points higher than his career average, then I guess yes, but do you think that's the case? If so we've gut a huge potential on our hands, but the HR/FB being at 15.5% appears to be wildly unsustainable. So, hot first half, or are we penciling Desmond in for 25+ HR with 80 R and RBI apiece?
Marco Scutaro (COL) -- He was projected to score a ton of Runs batting atop the Colorado lineup going into the season, but got off to a really slow start. Since the calendar's flipped to June, he's bat .347 and 15 RBI (he had 9 total entering June), while the Runs have continued coming. He's been a much more productive hitter from the 2-hole, where he's consequently settled into batting behind Dexter Fowler, as he's turned it on, than batting lead off. He's 37 years old. Like most Rockies hitters, he's got a pretty noticeable OPS Home/Road differential (.835 to .609) but has hit both LHP and RHP at a reasonably similar clip. So, do the Runs keep piling up, with Scutaro being an average SS on the Road and a very good SS at Home? His BB, K, SLG, BABIP, and other rates are all in his normal range.
Alexei Ramirez (CHW) -- One of the most notorious slow starters but torrid finishers, this year appears no different. Ramirez was being flung to the WW with reckless abandon by the end of May, and with good reason. Dude looked flat out awful at the plate. However, like Scutaro, once the calendar turned to June, he's started showing more than just signs of life. He's bat .301, with 13 R and RBI apiece, and belted a homer last night, just his 2nd of the season. June tends to be the month Ramirez typically gets going, and usually from there on out it's .750 OPS or better. Do we think that trend continues in 2012? Alexei has struggled vs RHP this season, which isn't typical for the Cuban. His walk rate is WAY down at 2.6% from his 5.6% career average, which is worrisome, though when you struggle as bad as he did in the beginning of the year, pressing becomes understandable. Though while his K rate has plummeted in June, his BB Rate hasn't taken a hike north, not even a little. What are your thoughts on Ramirez for the remainder of the season?
My initial thoughts were that Desmond was the clear favorite over the others, but then I started to lean towards Scutaro, especially for H2H purposes, but then saw that Colorado is spending more time on the Road than at Home over the final 5 - 6 weeks of the season, and you just never know if Ramirez is going to return to the guy he's turned out to be in the second half of the last several seasons. I'm a bit stumped here. Is it that easy? Am I overthinking? Does it even matter?
Please feel free to discuss any other similar SS who may be in the same type of conversation.
I have Desmond and Scutaro on one team, and Desmond has never left my starting lineup. Once he cools off, I'll probably bench him or Neil Walker and plug Scutaro in for all of the Coors starts. As it is, Scutaro has been in my util spot while my OFs get healthy. I'd order them Desmond>Scutaro>Alexei for the rest of the season. Obviously it's a nice luxury if your'e able to platoon Scutaro with another MI for his road games. I'm not one to believe in things like slow starters or strong finishers or other nonsense that is more about regurgitating the past rather than forecasting the future, so I'd just look at it as a struggle for Ramirez which may or may not end. For instance, last year he was great in April and May and then he was terrible in June/July/August. He's chasing more pitches this year and not hitting the ball very hard, but you have to figure the ball will start leaving the yard sooner or later. Let's just hope it doesn't take him an entire season to turn things around like his buddy Adam Dunn. June has been decent but he's still not drawing any walks and he's still hitting too many balls on the ground.
I like Scutaro easily out of those three. He's the most likely to give you consistent production for the rest of the season and sits in a great spot atop the Rockies lineup. Sure the home/road splits exist but that doesn't change the fact that half the games are at home.
I'm done with A Ramirez. I drafted him late expecting his slow start but I don't think he provides anything beyond WW production from here on out.
I like Desmond after Scutaro by just a touch. I think he'll provide much more HR/RBI than Scutaro but I see Scutaro taking BA and R fairly easily. I see Scutaro as the more stable hitter so he gets the nod unless you're in need of power in which case Desmond is the obvious choice.
I want to add another SS to the list: my boy, Alcides Escobar (SS - KC). 2012 stats: 264 AB, .318 AVG, 2 HR, 20 RBI, 29 R, 12 SB Yeah, there's no power here at all but the speed is for real and I think the average is here to stay. Escobar was the #12 ranked prospect when he entered the majors in 2009 and started quite slow out of the gate. It appears as though he's turned the corner and I'm betting on him out-performing all three of the above mentioned mid level SS for the rest of the season. Think Reyes-Lite.
Other mid-level SS of interest: Cozart (SS - Cin), Plouffe (SS - Min), Aybar (SS - LAA), and *super-sleeper* Simmons (SS - ATL)
Alexei is in for a big 2nd half. I'd rate Desmond ahead of him for a full season, but going forward from where we are I'd take Ramirez/Desmond/Plouffe/Scutaro/Alcides
Team Izzy C Mauer 1 E5 2 Altuve 3 ARam S Cabrera CI LaRoche MI Drew O Melky, Cuddyer, Morse, Hunter, McClouth U Ortiz SP Lee, Fister, Miller, Fernandez, Lackey, RP Chapman Frieri Grilli Gregrsn Bnch 1 Hart 3 Mdlbrk 3 Rendon O Eaton P Lohse Nolasco Santana
I agree with kab21 on Alcides. He's a speedster, so you can expect a somewhat elevated BABIP, but not .375. Even if it stays in the .340 range, he's empty Stolen Bases. Same thing can be said for Everth Cabrera.
I wanted to mention Plouffe in the original post, but forgot. Where does he sit compared to Desmond, Scutaro, and Ramirez? Alexei seems to have some polarized opinions, ranging from being 'done with' to expecting a real big 2nd half -- no surprises here. Plouffe is interesting to me. Just a miserable April/May followed up by an unbelievable June. I don't think the dude was ever on my radar prior to this June, so I don't know what to think of him. He could just as easily return to hitting .150 as he did the first two months of the season (and prior to yesterday had essentially spent the last week doing), but hey, he may just follow up June with another 10 HR July. As was mentioned, higher ceiling, lower floor. Anybody have anything that attempts to analyze what's caused this turnaround and outburst? Here's an excerpt from a Stock Watch FanGraphs article from 6/13:
In fanatasy baseball circles, it’s likely that Trevor Plouffe has more value as a shortstop (among the multitude of positions he’s eligible at) but up until a few weeks ago, he hardly had any value whatsoever. From April 6th to May 18th, Plouffe was “hitting” .135/.264/.284 with three home runs and a pair of doubles and if not for his positional versatility, he probably would have been sent back down to the minors.
Since May 19th, however, he’s caught fire — batting .327/.351/.727 with six home runs, four doubles, 11 RBI in 57 plate appearances His overall line stands at a not-so-awe-inspiring .217/.299/.473 but it’s worth pointing out that his BABIP is only .207 on the season. During the stretch from May 19th, it was a little more league-average at .308 and he consequently posted terrific numbers. Based on his hit trajectory, his expected BABIP is about .270 on the season in large part due to an elevated fly ball rate, but while that’s perhaps not ideal, it’s certainly not .207 bad.
Note: After Tuesday night, Plouffe’s line since May 19th is now .350/.371/.783.
An interesting note on Plouffe is that as his hits started piling up, his walks dried up and his strikeouts have come down. In his first 25 games, he walked 13 times and struck out 18 and since May 19th he’s walked just twice and struck out 10 times. It could be that he’s simply getting meatballs in a “I dare you to hit it” approach by opposing pitchers or he’s being more aggressive at the plate. Regardless, it does seem like he’s seeing balls that he likes in the strike zone as he’s certainly tightened up his zone:
Plouffe has never profiled as a particularly high batting average kind of guy, but if his batted ball profile can start to resemble something closer to his career rates and his BABIP hovers around .275, he could hit .260 for the rest of the year — and his home run pace would certainly be worth having him around at that rate. No, he’s not likely to hit 30 home runs, but he definitely could finish up over 20.
Now that he has 16 HR, are we projecting 30 as attainable? Some guys have 10 HR months and never hit more than 2 in another month. Plouffe strikes me as a 'power is real' kind of guy, and if he can pair that with .260 instead of .230, suddenly he looks like the potential as the best option in this SS discussion.