Mike Trout has been great this season, and he's been an elite fantasy option after a rather pedestrian month of April. Still, he hasn't been as impressive as he was last season, just as I predicted would be the case. How right, or wrong, were my preseason predictions for him through a third of the season? Chase Headley has seen his production decrease on a per at-bat basis this season for the Padres depressing all those who rostered him after his monster 2012 effort. What would you say if I told you that he hasn't fallen off nearly as far as you think he has? Finally, what about the recently returned from suspension catcher of the Padres Yasmani Grandal. How excited should you be to add him to your roster?
MIKE TROUT - HERE WE GO AGAIN
People love to point fingers and say – I told you so. Lately, I've been getting lots of that in regards to the performance thus far of Mike Trout. If you ask folks they will tell you things like 'Ray hates Trout' or 'Ray thought Trout was going to suck this season.' Let's correct the record by all reviewing what I wrote about Trout before the season began. To review, here was my position prior to the start of the season.
"I'm NOT saying Trout is going to suck.
I'm NOT saying Trout is going to fail.
I'm NOT saying Trout wont be a terrific fantasy play in 2013.
What I am saying is that Trout will be hard pressed to match any total that he posted in the five fantasy categories last season. That's right, I'm not expecting any fantasy improvement from Trout. Moreover, I'm sold that making the claim that his average and steal total will regress is a pretty sound position to take. I'd also feel pretty confident in saying that another run to 30 homers is unlikely. The addition of Hamilton to Pujols should allow Trout to score runs by the bushel, but again, I find it highly unlikely that he will be able to keep up the runs scored pace from last season. Add in what I assume will be a step back in batting average and we have pretty much a clean sweep. Remember earlier when I said that if Trout were to hit .300 with 25 homers, 75 RBIs, 115 runs scored and 40 steals I'd feel good about his effort. I'll say that again with the obvious caveat that my degree of certainty that he even gets to those numbers is rather low."
So where are we after a third of the season? Here are the following significant categories in which Trout's current pace would find him falling behind his efforts from last season.
Trout has seen his batting average dip by .027 points.
Trout has seen his OBP dip by .026 points.
Trout has seen his OPS dip by .030 points.
Trout has hit 10 homers putting him on a 162 game pace to just reach 30 big flies. Last year he hit a homer once every 18.6 at-bats. This season he has one homer every 21.1 at-bats.
Trout has scored runs at a pace that would equate to 128 times crossing the plate over 162 games. He scored 129 times last season in just 139 games.
Trout stole 49 bags in just 139 games last season. This year he's on pace to swipe 37 in 162 games. That's a significant pull back.
Here is the lone fantasy category in which he's shown an real improvement.
Trout is currently on pace for about 115 RBIs, a significant increase over his mark of 83 last season.
So, thus far, despite what it looks like to most folks, I've been correct. Trout is currently on pace to have a lower AVG, a lower OBP and a lower OPS. He's also hitting homers at a slower pace than last season, and his steals rate is significantly down. It's not that he's been a failure by any means, and as I noted above by directly quoting myself (narcissistic of me), I never said he would fail. I stated that he wouldn't repeat last season. He hasn't thus far even though he's been an elite fantasy player this season.
One final issue to tackle. Let's play the sample size game.
Trout was awful in his first exposure to the big leagues hitting .220/.281/.390 over 42 games spanning three months.
Trout was average in April: .261/.333/.432
Trout has been special in May: .340/.417/.700
If we add together 2011-13 we find Trout playing in 11 months at the big league level.
In four of those months, and granted they were the four months in which he had his lowest at-bat totals, he was awful.
In three months he was average.
In four months he was a HOF level producer.
More sample size investigation reveals the following interesting bit of information.
From August 1st of last season through April 30th of this year Trout appeared in 84 games, just over half a season of work (the 84 games played are a third of his career total of 231 games by the way). For a third of his career Trout has hit .279 with a .367 OBP and .478 SLG. Those are certainly solid numbers, but they are far from the elite player that his massive four months have led everyone to believe. It should also be noted that those 84 games led to 14 homers, 44 RBIs and 22 steals. Again, impressive numbers without a doubt, though they are a notch below the totals he posted last season.
Are you absolutely sure he's a lock to keep up his May pace from this season the rest of the way when for more than half of his career he hasn't been able to perform at that level? Just some food for thought.
PADRES POWER – HEADLEY & GRANDAL
Chase Headley blasted his way to what will go down as the best season of his career in 2012 as he hit .286 with 31 homers, 115 RBIs, 95 runs scored and 17 steals. People fell all over themselves to add him this season despite my warnings to be cautious of repeat (see his Player Profile). Injured to start the year there isn't a chance in hell that he'll be able to repeat those numbers because of missed time. Regardless, I've been getting notes from folks asking me what is wrong with Headley and when will he rebound? I'll quote myself, my favorite move today apparently. From his preseason Player Profile:
“Here’s a definitive statement: Headley will not replicate his homer, RBI or runs scored marks in 2013... if he gives you 75% of his last seasons production in the other categories we’d be talking 23 homers, 86 RBIs and 71 RBIs. All of those numbers were still be career best efforts prior to last season. Headley could end the year as a top-10 third baseman but your setting yourself up for major disappointment if you are thinking a top-5 finish is in the cards.”
Last season Headley batted .286. This year that mark is .259. We've still got plenty of season left for him to get back to that level, but there is this. With a .272 career batting average Headley is currently .013 points off his career mark. Last season he as .014 points off his career mark – it was just in the other direction (it was up). Same difference folks. His effort this season is closer to his career norms than last season (13 to 14 points off normal).
Last season Headley hit a homer every 19.5 at-bats. This season he has a homer every 33.8 at-bats. For his career that mark is one homer every 36.9 at-bats. His effort this season is closer to his career norms than last season.
Last year Headley produced an RBI every 5.25 at-bats. This season that mark is one every nine at-bats. For his career that mark is one RBI every 7.85 at-bats. His effort this season is closer to his career norms than last season.
Headley produced a run every 6.36 at-bats. This season that mark is one every 9.6 at-bats. For his career that mark is one every 8.04 at-bats. His effort this season is closer to his career norms than last season.
Headley stole a bag once every 35.5 at-bats. This season that mark is once every 45 at-bats. For his career that mark is once every 41 at-bats. His effort this season is closer to his career norms than last season.
Headley has a 0.49 BB/K mark. For his career that number is 0.46.
Headley has a .326 BABIP. For his career that number is .338.
Headley has a .365 OBP. For his career that mark is .352.
Headley has a .415 SLG. For his career that mark if .418.
Folks, I'm sorry, but Headley is producing this season the same as he always has. It's just that your expectations were too high.
Yasmani Grandal returned Tuesday from his 50 game suspension for PED use. Grandal hit .297 last season with eight homers and 36 RBIs in 60 games leading to a lot of excitement in the fantasy game. Given that Nick Hundley has hit three homer while batting .252 this season, not to mention that he's batting .143 with a .401 OPS over his last 56 at-bats, the assumption is that Grandal will take over the majority of the catching duties with the Padres in short order. I can support that statement. How will Grandal perform is the bigger question.
Grandal has only 196 at-bats as a big leaguer. He had four of those at-bats Tuesday, which when added to his 36 at-bats at Triple-A this season, giving him 40 professional at-bats in 2013. Is that really enough to know that he's really locked in at the dish? Grandal will still play half his games at Petco which is obviously a pitcher's yard, and though he was a .300 hitter in the minors he hasn't full developed his power stroke (since the 2012 season begun he went deep 14 times in 128 games). He's a strong play in NL-only leagues and has the look of a solid catcher two in mixed leagues. For those of you who have asked, I think it's too early to be counting on him as your lead catcher in mixed leagues that only start one backstop. He could certainly get to that level this season, but let's give him some time before we get there, shall we?
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday at 5 PM EDT. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
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