Collette Calls: Slow Starts

Collette Calls: Slow Starts

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

Editor's Note: Stats included are through Wednesday, April 27.

We're just over three weeks into the season, but many players have stat lines which lead us to believe they have not realized the season is indeed underway. This type of thing happens every season where some players crawl out of the gate only to have productive years. Edwin Encarnacion was famous for this, with wretched Aprils followed by steady production from May until the end of the season. The worst mistake you can make as a fantasy player is to give up on every player such as this and then watch him get picked up by a leaguemate and that team reaps all the rewards of the player you had high hopes for during draft season. 

Here are just a few players who had awful Aprils last year but then went on to rake the rest of the season, and in some cases, for another club when a frustrated owner cut said player loose.

Ryan Mountcastle:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

96

1

8

7

3

.198

Rest of Season

490

32

69

82

1

.266

Hunter Renfroe:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

68

1

7

8

0

.167

Rest of Season

504

30

82

88

1

.271

Josh Bell:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

60

2

12

5

0

.113

Rest of Season

508

25

63

83

0

.279

Jonathan Schoop:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

Editor's Note: Stats included are through Wednesday, April 27.

We're just over three weeks into the season, but many players have stat lines which lead us to believe they have not realized the season is indeed underway. This type of thing happens every season where some players crawl out of the gate only to have productive years. Edwin Encarnacion was famous for this, with wretched Aprils followed by steady production from May until the end of the season. The worst mistake you can make as a fantasy player is to give up on every player such as this and then watch him get picked up by a leaguemate and that team reaps all the rewards of the player you had high hopes for during draft season. 

Here are just a few players who had awful Aprils last year but then went on to rake the rest of the season, and in some cases, for another club when a frustrated owner cut said player loose.

Ryan Mountcastle:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

96

1

8

7

3

.198

Rest of Season

490

32

69

82

1

.266

Hunter Renfroe:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

68

1

7

8

0

.167

Rest of Season

504

30

82

88

1

.271

Josh Bell:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

60

2

12

5

0

.113

Rest of Season

508

25

63

83

0

.279

Jonathan Schoop:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

87

2

8

6

0

.198

Rest of Season

587

20

77

78

2

.290

Willy Adames:

Month

PA

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

87

2

7

7

1

.169

Rest of Season

468

23

70

66

4

.280

Lucas Giolito:

Month

W

ERA

IP

K%

WHIP

April

1

5.68

25.1

30.3%

1.26

Rest of Season

10

3.17

153.1

27.5%

1.08

Marco Gonzales:

Month

W

ERA

IP

K%

WHIP

April

1

5.40

28.1

19.0%

1.34

Rest of Season

9

3.60

115.0

18.3%

1.12

Charlie Morton:

Month

W

ERA

IP

K%

WHIP

April

2

4.76

28.1

28.0%

1.20

Rest of Season

12

3.09

157.1

28.7%

1.02

Logan Webb:

Month

W

ERA

IP

K%

WHIP

April

1

4.13

28.1

22.8%

1.55

Rest of Season

10

2.78

120.0

27.5%

1.00

Max Fried:

Month

W

ERA

IP

K%

WHIP

April

0

11.45

11.0

21.9%

2.55

Rest of Season

14

2.44

154.2

23.9%

0.98

Hopefully, you did not have any of those players on your team and prematurely cut them loose before they turned their season around. Better yet, if you were able to trade for one or more of those players after the cold start and reap the benefits of the rest of the season, kudos to you! To wit, here are some players off to similar slow starts in 2022 who you can look to target in trades in the coming days or watch to see if someone drops the player in a shallower league so you can pounce on said player.

All stats below are from games through April 25th.

Catchers

Yasmani Grandal

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

1

1

5

0

.136

Rest of Season Projection

24

66

67

0

.242

Grandal was a highly ranked catcher coming into the season. He has gotten off to yet another slow start, like most of his teammates on the South Side of Chicago. We already know barrels are not doing what they normally do this year across the league by a wide measure:

Still, Grandal's barrel rate is 91st percentile and he is still very disciplined at the plate and rarely expands his zone. Grandal had a similarly slow start season and ended the year on a strong note:

If you already have Grandal, there is zero need to panic, and he could be an excellent buy-low target if someone in your trading leagues is frustrated with yet another slow start from their big investment at catcher.

Mitch Garver:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

1

5

4

0

.157

Rest of Season Projection

22

58

58

0

.247

Garver has maintained his strong plate discipline, and has thus far reduced his strikeout rate to pre-pandemic levels, but the production is not reflecting that just yet. The move to Texas was expected to ding him a bit at the plate, but the combination of it and the new baseball has limited him to just one extra-base hit so far, albeit a massive home run in Toronto:

Corner Infielders

Miguel Sano:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

1

1

3

1

.096

Rest of Season Projection

30

67

69

1

.227

You know things are not going well for Sano when he has as many steals as he does home runs nearly a full month into the season. Sano has actually made better contact thus far, and his Statcast page shows strong red ink where we love to see it and remains relatively unchanged from previous years. He is a notorious streaky hitter and it is admittedly tough to carry him right now. In my RotoWire OC, I cut him this past weekend for Eric Hosmer but still have him on my watch list as someone to return to should he show signs of awakening soon. In this new environment, 30 homers may be tough to come by for many players, but Sano is one of the handful I would not bet against as long as he continues to see regular playing time.

Jeimer Candelario:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

0

6

4

0

.150

Rest of Season Projection

14

64

59

1

.260

Candelario has shown too much in recent seasons to be this bad. The problem with early season slumps is there is no foundation of stats to hide the pain, so when someone goes 9-for-60 to begin a season, everyone sees it. He had a better start to 2021 with a solid first two months of the season, but then went 14-for-72 in June without a homer and nobody noticed it unless they had Candelario on their roster. 

Middle Infielders

As I am writing this piece, Willy Adames is having himself quite a night. I originally had him in here, but that just feels like cheating.

Jonathan Schoop:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

1

5

4

0

.161

Rest of Season Projection

22

84

85

2

.278

Much like his younger teammate on the infield, Schoop is off to a rough start. The overall profile looks as we would expect, but the results have yet to show up. Last season, Schoop hit .198/.230/.284 in the first month of the season and then stepped it up to .275/.342/.404 in May and never looked back on his way to finishing with the numbers we have come to expect from him since leaving the former dimensions of Camden Yards. There is a strong buying opportunity here for volume production in a lineup that cannot stay this ice cold for this long. 

Trevor Story:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

0

5

5

1

.231

Rest of Season Projection

25

84

70

21

.269

The expectations for Story were sky high when he signed with Boston, and perhaps he is feeling that pressure given his slow start to the season. He still runs well, he still hits the ball hard on occasion, but the results have not yet made their way north just yet. He is even struggling defensively as he is adjusting to playing second base in Boston, which may be the larger factor for the struggles we have seen to date. Nobody is cutting Story, but if you want to attempt to trade for him, this is your window to get him at some kind of discount before he and Boston heat up at the plate. 

Outfielders

Randy Arozarena:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

0

8

4

1

.212

Rest of Season Projection

22

89

66

16

.281

Arozarena has had a rough month at the plate as well as on the bases as he leads the American League in making outs on the bases with four. Kevin Cash has continued to leave him high in the lineup despite the struggles, perhaps because the club really does not have many other options at the position. To say that Arozarena has been bad is an understatement when you consider the atrocity which is his Statcast page:

The good news is that this is essentially rock bottom for his production as it cannot get much worse. My observations of his plate appearances is he is trying to break his slump with every big swing at the plate rather than trying to progressively climb out of it with increments of progress. He has had a very high volume of swing and miss against non-fastballs, more than he has previously shown, and has been consistently beaten by pitchers taking advantage of his aggressive approach. The club has had two days off all year and does not have another one for two weeks, but it may be time to give Arozarena some rest to allow him to reset his approach. Given he was a fourth- or fifth-round pick by many, the frustration level could be quite high for his current fantasy manager, so it does not hurt to kick the tires. 

Akil Baddoo:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

1

4

2

0

.118

Rest of Season Projection

15

76

60

18

.254

Baddoo has a similarly hideous Statcast profile these days save his discipline not chasing pitches and the sprint speed. He has but four hits on the season, with his home run the only one he has pulled. He has as many hits off non-fastballs as you do, and until that changes, the league will continue to give him a heavy dose of non-fastballs. This feels like a matter of timing not being right because he showed last year he could handle non-fastballs better than we expected a Rule 5 player to do. The risk profile here is still high, but Baddoo may be more attainable than others on this list if you wish to acquire him in a deal because what we are seeing right now is exactly what people said was the risk with him in taking him in the eighth or ninth round during draft season. 

Jesse Winker:

Month

HR

R

RBI

SB

BA

April

0

7

6

0

.158

Rest of Season Projection

22

72

63

1

.268

We expected the very late trade of Winker out of Cincinnati and to Seattle would have an impact on his offense, but not to this extent. The great news is that he has not lost the plate discipline and has been incredibly accepting of his walks with a 21% walk rate while rarely striking out. The problem has been he has just one extra-base hit with a bunch of singles to the middle third of the field. This screams new team and new league adjustment and better days should quickly be ahead for this talented hitter. The buying opportunity for him, in non-OBP leagues, will not be open for long. 

Pitchers

Tyler Mahle:

Month

W

K

HR

ERA

WHIP

April

1

19

0

6.88

1.71

Rest of Season Projection

9

162

20

4.19

1.28

We knew Jeff Erickson and Clay Link's favorite club would be bad, but not this bad. The Redlegs should have nowhere else to go but up, but Mahle is a viable trade candidate for clubs looking to shore up their present while Cincinnati focuses on the future. The new home run environment has been very kind to him, yet the ERA is roughly 4.5 runs higher than his FIP thanks to every other baserunner scoring as the club has had some issues behind him while the BABIP luck dragons have cursed him with a .392 figure. He is still otherwise looking much like the same guy we saw last year once his splitter gets into shape. The pitch was a weapon for him last season, but has thus far been very hittable to batters this spring for whatever reason. 

SEASON

#

BA

xBA

SLG

xSLG

WHIFF%

2021

509

.197

.213

.270

.287

32%

2022

79

.409

.255

.591

.316

30%

Steven Matz:

Month

W

K

HR

ERA

WHIP

April

2

23

1

6.11

1.70

Rest of Season Projection

10

119

20

4.43

1.36

Yes, I know I said in my Bold Prediction series I did not like this guy and you may be wondering why I am not taking my victory lap. Matz has a career-best 28% strikeout rate and a 22% K-BB through his first four starts and I cannot overlook that type of progress for the sake of a dated opinion based on previous data. Matz has adjusted his repertoire by dialing back the fastball and throwing more changeups, but a .452 BABIP is particularly harsh for him, even with the hard contact he has allowed to date. Matz has the highest ERA of all pitchers with at least a 22% K-BB% at 6.11 with the next closest pitcher, Alex Cobb, coming in at 4.82. Even the guy who said to fade Matz this year is intrigued enough to buy in right now at the right price. 

Freddy Peralta:

Month

W

K

HR

ERA

WHIP

April

0

16

1

7.50

1.75

Rest of Season Projection

11

199

15

3.35

1.07

Peralta still has his whiffiness and his great spin, but the results have been rather terrible over three starts. The April 22 outing against Philadelphia was the first sign of 2021 Peralta we saw as he struggled through outings against Chicago and St. Louis with lots of traffic on the bases. Like Mahle, Peralta's favorite putaway pitch is having issues this season as the Peralta slider has struggled out of the gate:

SEASON

#

BA

xBA

SLG

xSLG

WHIFF%

2021

621

.158

.163

.289

.240

43%

2022

49

.400

.396

.700

.783

18%

Simply put, he needs that pitch to show up, and in a hurry. While it is AWOL, see what his current fantasy manager is thinking about Peralta because the early returns on the early draft pick have certainly been disappointing.

Josh Fleming:

Month

W

K

HR

ERA

WHIP

April

2

15

1

4.50

1.75

Rest of Season Projection

6

70

12

4.41

1.28

Fleming and the next name are a tier down from the NL names simply because there has been a lot of good pitching from AL teams this year and there are not as many crazy outliers of results despite decent skills. Fleming is an interesting one as he is coming off an outing where he allowed seven unearned runs as the Rays decided to have a Devil Rays throwback night and turn decidedly routine infield batted balls into adventures, forcing Fleming to get seven outs when he should have been out of the inning unscathed. Fleming has not added any new velocity or any new pitch since last season, but has mostly done an excellent job of working the edges and keeping the ball down while spiking his strikeout rate from an unsightly 15% to a surprising 25%. He has always been stingy with walks, so this is intriguing. As long as he can continue his zigging and zagging ways on the edges of the zone in a bulk role, he could continue to pick up some wins as long as the defense does not melt down on him again. 

Taylor Hearn

Month

W

K

HR

ERA

WHIP

April

0

18

3

7.47

1.98

Rest of Season Projection

5

88

12

4.32

1.30

Hearn has but once made it through five innings, but has added a cutter this year while increasing his slider usage and dialing back on his fastball. The results are certainly a work in progress, but the above-average strikeout rate for a starting pitcher has my attention as well as the expectation that .438 BABIP will begin to cascade down here. I am not looking at Hearn as a full-season option as much as I am hoping to catch him as streaming option based on some matchups in the coming weeks.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast on iTunes. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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