Collette Calls: Empty Columns

Collette Calls: Empty Columns

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

There are many times throughout a baseball season when a player goes through a two-week slump. It can fly below the radar in July because the player has had 300 or so plate appearances of statistics to hide the bad production during the slump. For example, Evan Longoria hit .269/.343/.498 last season with 32 homes and 88 runs driven in. You probably did not realize he hit .194 in July with just four home runs and 37 strikeouts in 98 at-bats.

The start of the season does not allow anyone to hide a slump or a slow start. That low batting average or those missing counting categories stick out like a sore thumb on the scoreboard. Conversely, if you are Homer Bailey, an 8.16 ERA is going to stand out like a sore thumb, and that will happen when you permit 29 runners to reach base and allow six home runs over your first three starts. On that note, if you are not already asking the Bailey owner in your league about his availability, stop reading this article and do so. Remember Rick Porcello last season? He finished April with a 8.84 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. The rest of 2013, he went 12-6 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Right now is as bad as it will get for Bailey and his most recent start was something the weather had a heavy hand in.

Bailey is not the only player off to a rough start, as there

There are many times throughout a baseball season when a player goes through a two-week slump. It can fly below the radar in July because the player has had 300 or so plate appearances of statistics to hide the bad production during the slump. For example, Evan Longoria hit .269/.343/.498 last season with 32 homes and 88 runs driven in. You probably did not realize he hit .194 in July with just four home runs and 37 strikeouts in 98 at-bats.

The start of the season does not allow anyone to hide a slump or a slow start. That low batting average or those missing counting categories stick out like a sore thumb on the scoreboard. Conversely, if you are Homer Bailey, an 8.16 ERA is going to stand out like a sore thumb, and that will happen when you permit 29 runners to reach base and allow six home runs over your first three starts. On that note, if you are not already asking the Bailey owner in your league about his availability, stop reading this article and do so. Remember Rick Porcello last season? He finished April with a 8.84 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. The rest of 2013, he went 12-6 with a 3.77 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Right now is as bad as it will get for Bailey and his most recent start was something the weather had a heavy hand in.

Bailey is not the only player off to a rough start, as there are several notable zeroes still on the docket to start the season. Keep in mind the fact that the only offensive or pitching indicator that we have enough plate appearances to stabilize at this point is strikeout rate. We are still a few weeks away from walk rate coming into play.

Players with 0 walks (minimum 50 plate appearances): Juan Uribe, Melky Cabrera, Dustin Pedroia. Uribe is no shocker as his career walk rate is just 5.7%. Cabrera's career rate is slightly higher at 7.1%, but Pedroia has a 9.2% career walk rate and his career walk rate is higher than his career strikeout rate. He is dealing with a wrist injury that he injured in the home opening series against Milwaukee, but there are a few things in play here.

STATCAREER2014
Swings out of the zone25.9%29.5%
Swings in the zone57.0%60.7%
Swing%42.4%46.0%
Out of zone contact83.3%77.4%
Pitches seen in zone52.9%52.7%

He is expanding his strike zone, swinging more frequently, and making less contact when he does expand the zone. Injuries should not cause these types of behaviors.

Players with 0 RBI (minimum 45 plate appearances): Carlos Ruiz, Xander Bogaerts. Ruiz has had 30 runners on base when he has come to the plate over 49 plate appearances. Only one has come into score when Ruiz has been at the plate and they scored on a fielder's choice double-play.

DatePitcherRoBPlay Description
2014-03-31Tanner Scheppers-2-Walk
2014-03-31Tanner Scheppers-23Fielder's Choice SS; Howard out at Hm/SS-C
2014-03-31Alexi Ogando-2-Walk
2014-04-01Martin Perez1--Groundout: 3B-2B/Forceout at 2B (SS-3B Hole)
2014-04-01Jason Frasor-23Groundout: SS-1B
2014-04-04Travis Wood1--Hit By Pitch; Revere to 2B
2014-04-04Hector Rondon-2-Walk
2014-04-04Brian Schlitter1--Groundout: SS-1B (SS-3B Hole)
2014-04-06Carlos Villanueva1--Flyball: CF (CF-RF)
2014-04-06Carlos Villanueva12-Reached on E6/attempted forceout (Ground Ball); Byrd to 3B; Brown to 2B
2014-04-08Kyle Lohse12-Lineout: RF (Short RF)
2014-04-08Kyle Lohse-2-Lineout: LF
2014-04-08Zach Duke1--Strikeout Swinging
2014-04-09Matt Garza1--Double to RF (Fly Ball to Deep RF); Rollins to 3B
2014-04-09Matt Garza12-Groundout: SS-2B/Forceout at 2B (SS-2B)
2014-04-09Jim Henderson12-*ENDED GAME*:Strikeout Swinging
2014-04-11Jose Fernandez123Strikeout Swinging
2014-04-11Kevin Slowey123Ground Ball Double Play: 2B-SS-1B; Howard Scores/No RBI; Byrd to 3B
2014-04-14Ervin Santana12-Line Drive Double Play: 2B (SS-2B); Byrd out at 2B/2B-SS
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/15/2014.

That kind of bad luck cannot continue, but that is a terrible start to the season.

Players with 0 steals: Alejandro de Aza, Dustin Pedroia, Erick Aybar, Ian Desmond, Juan Lagares, Will Venable...Mike Trout!!! Trout has yet to attempt a steal this season despite being on base 17 times when the next base was unoccupied.

DateScoreRoBOutPlay Description
2014-03-31tied 0-01--0Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF); Calhoun Scores
2014-03-31down 4-31--2Single to P (Line Drive to SS-3B Hole); Aybar to 2B
2014-04-02down 1-0---0Double to LF (Line Drive)
2014-04-02down 8-01--0Triple to LF (Line Drive to Deep LF); Calhoun Scores
2014-04-04tied 0-0---1Home Run (Line Drive to Deep LF Line)
2014-04-04ahead 1-11---2Single to CF (Line Drive to CF-RF)
2014-04-05tied 0-0---1Single to 2B (Ground Ball to SS-2B)
2014-04-07ahead 0-51--0Single to CF (Line Drive); Calhoun to 2B
2014-04-08tied 0-0---1Single to RF (Ground Ball)
2014-04-11down 1-0---1Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF-CF)
2014-04-11tied 4-41--2Single to CF (Ground Ball thru SS-2B); Aybar to 2B
2014-04-12tied 1-1---0Single to RF (Line Drive to RF Line)
2014-04-12ahead 1-3---0Double to CF (Ground Ball thru SS-2B)
2014-04-13down 1-0---1Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep CF)
2014-04-13ahead 1-71--0Single to LF (Ground Ball thru SS-3B Hole); Shuck to 2B
2014-04-13ahead 2-91--0Single to CF (Ground Ball); Shuck to 2B
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 4/15/2014.

Trout has only been on first with second base unoccupied four times this season: three times in a tie game and once in a 10-run blowout. This appears to be a matter of choice right now but it does not appear to be injury-related.

Players with 0 home runs (minimum 50 plate appearances): Aaron Hill, Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Santana, Dustin Pedroia, Edwin Encarnacion, Jacoby Ellsbury, Matt Holliday, Prince Fielder, Robinson Cano, Shin-Soo Choo, Wil Myers. Each of those players were top 60 overall picks by ADP and they're each being out-homered so far by Gio Gonzalez and Madison Bumgarner. Encarnacion's streak dates back to last season as he has gone homerless in his last 71 at-bats, which is the fifth-longest dry spell of his career. Last season, Fielder went 84 straight at-bats in June without a home run and went on to hit just 13 more the rest of the season for Detroit. Cano's homerless streak also dates back to last season as he has now gone 104 at-bats without a home run, the fifth-longest streak of his career.

Players with 0 strikeouts (minimum 50 plate appearances): Andrelton Simmons. This is not the guy that would have come to mind given his undisciplined ways of 2013. Simmons is swinging at the same amount of pitches, but making better contact as his swing-and-miss rate has improved by five percentage points. He has put 60.6% of his balls in play compared to 52.4% last season, and stopped chasing pitches. Last season, he chased 26% of the pitches thrown to him out of the strike zone and this season he has improved that rate to 20.6%.

Again, the sample size for these players is still too small for nearly every statistic, so don't freak out if your guy is on one of these lists. Better days are ahead, unless his name is Matt Moore or Maicer Izturis.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999, and here at Rotowire since 2011. 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 every Sunday. 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,and was the 2023 AL LABR champion. Jason manages his social media presence at https://linktr.ee/jasoncollette
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