Alon-Slow Start to the Season

August 8, 2020

Do polar bears hibernate?

We are almost a third of the way through the season, and it’s time to make some decisions on guys who are struggling. Do you stay the course or look for someone better? 

Here are two ice-cold players you should consider benching, and a third who is just an idiot.  

Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets: The polar bear hasn’t looked like himself this season. 

It seems early to be calling it a sophomore slump, but he’s clearly pressing. 

The most obvious case was during Sunday’s game against the Braves. Facing Kyle Wright, Alonso was in a prime position with no outs and runners on first and third. Wright was struggling to find the strike zone and dancing around trouble all game. 

After Alonso takes a pitch in the dirt, he swings at three pitches out of the zone popping up on the final pitch to end the at-bat. In his second go at facing Wright, Alonso fouls off a meatball down the middle then chases two ugly pitches out of the zone to go down on a swinging strike. In his third at-bat, another swinging strikeout on just four pitches.  

He tried to be more disciplined in his fourth at-bat, but with a 2-0 count, he takes a meatball sinker over the heart of the plate he probably would have driven out if it was last season. He finished the at-bat called out on strikes. I think this just comes down to a young guy who is trying to win every game with one swing and the pressure of a short season is getting to him early. He’s showing signs of coming out of it with a two-game hit streak both of them singles. I’m still a big believer, but I will be looking for other options for the short term while he’s ice cold. He’s hitting .180 and slugging .240. This is the same Alonso who became the first rookie to lead the Majors outright in home runs last year. His barrel rate has dropped from 15 percent to 3 percent. Wait until he starts making good contact again because right now he’s in the lowly 14 percentile of the league in slugging.       

Yoenis Cespedes, OF, New York Mets: I’m taking a curtain call on this one. 

In my season restart article, I told you not to trust this knucklehead. I didn’t think vanishing in the middle of the night was on the table though. While I’m not a fan of Cespedes, I think I can actually understand this move. If I was a baseball player, I would instantly opt-out of the season if it meant I never had to speak to professional idiot Brodie Van Wagenen for the rest of my life. Seriously why does this turd Van Wagenen get interviewed like he’s a player or a manager?

Van Wagenen actually negotiated Cespedes’s contract when he was an agent, so the fact that Cespedes has played 46 games in the past three seasons earns him high marks for a player who was paid $80.42 million over the past four years. 

Gary Sanchez, C, New York Yankees: Being a catcher sucks. They spend three hours hunched over, the ball is constantly hitting you in the face, and Angel Hernandez just called another perfectly framed pitch a ball. If you are Gary Sanchez this season, it doesn’t get much worse. He’s hitting .097 with an OBP of .176. The only reason I wouldn’t just outright cut him from your fantasy team is that he’s still hitting the ball hard at 88 percentile in exit velocity and 76 percent in hard-hit rate. However, he’s in the basement 1 percentile for the expected batting average. He’s going to get every chance to turn it around because the backup is – checks notes – Kyle Higashioka who I just had to Google to see if he is a real person. Sanchez will figure it out, but your expectations of what he can do needs to seriously change.  

How did my sleeper picks do from last week’s article? 

Dylan Bundy, SP, Los Angeles Angels: Another great outing in what might be the only complete game of the season. Bundy finished with a complete game allowing one run on four hits with no walks and 10 strikeouts. His slider, curveball and sinker have helped him ascend to a new level where he now has to be considered among the top 10 pitchers in the game.  

Tyler Chatwood, SP, Chicago Cubs: He continued to show this is a breakout year for him throwing six-plus innings allowing three hits with no runs with two walks and 11 strikeouts. He’s striking out 40 percent of batters which puts him in the 93 percentile of all pitchers and he sports an 89 percent whiff rate. The numbers suggest that he’s been a little lucky. His flyball percentage is pretty high, but he hasn’t given up a home run so far this year. The cutter continues to be working, he’s thrown 49 of them and batters have whiffed on them nearly 60 percent of the time. Then the Royals blow the doors off of him for eight runs on 11 hits and four walks. I think you just chalk this up as a clunker that everyone has here and there and see what he does in his next outing.   

Spencer Turnbull, SP, Detroit Tigers: His peripheral numbers show he’s no joke. Turnbull has an ERA of 2.45 and his fielder independent pitching shows he’s been even better than that with FIP ERA of 1.81. He’s still only owned in 50 percent of leagues and while he won’t get you many wins on the Tigers he’s a perfect kind of foundational piece every team is looking to find on the waiver wire. 

Off the list 

Mike Foltynewicz, SP, DFAed: Womp Womp! 

Brady Singer, SP, Kansas City Royals: His second outing was similar to what I expected: five innings allowing five hits and two runs and three strikeouts and two walks is more along the line I think everyone anticipated. During his next outing he gives up four runs on five hits, but he strikes out eight. I think you should still wait and see on him. Everything about his style says he shouldn’t be a strikeout pitcher, but he’s averaging six strikeouts a game. If he can get his strikeouts up a tick he’s worth rostering, but I’m still not a believer yet.  

Jay Bruce, OF, Philadelphia Phillies: He’s available in 93 percent of leagues. He’s hitting .300 and popped his first home run of the season. They are platooning him at DH, but there’s no reason not to think he’s going to start getting more regular at-bats.