Last week I released a list of hitters who I view as Stock Up. This week I will be going on the negative side of things and doing my Stock Down article for hitters. I usually don’t like this way of looking at things since I am an optimistic guy and I like looking to buy low opportunities but thought the two types of articles fit well together.
Generally, I avoided listing injured guys on the Stock Down portion as not only are we looking at less sample from them, but the injury could be affecting their performance. Let’s dive in!
C, Yasmani Grandal – This is a strange one right off the bat, as there haven’t really been any catchers drafted extremely highly that has been a full-on down arrow for me, so I will pick Grandal who’s had a strange but acceptable year. Let’s start with the good, Grandal is walking more than he is striking out, in fact, he is walking 27% of the time this year. Pretty incredible really, but he just is not swinging the bat, and much to fantasy managers’ chagrin he carries a .160 BA but an unbelievable .387 OBP to pair with his 10 HR thus far through 195+ PA’s. I do not think he has hurt you, but he hasn’t necessarily helped and this was a weird profile I wanted to highlight.
1B, DJ LeMahieu – As the Yankees’ offense goes, so does DJ LeMahieu, as it has been a rough start for both parties given the lofty expectations. To begin on why DJ has been down, it’s partially caused by his elevated K rate (16%), he’s usually more of a 12-13% K rate guy, so giving away those at-bats stings some for a guy without a lot of pop. DJ is also making a little less contact and hasn’t shown the same power. I wouldn’t be panicking if you liked DJ LeMahieu in the pre-season, he will improve some naturally as we move forward but I don’t think you will be getting a .300+ BA at the end of the year nor will DJ top 15 homers, a tough pill to swallow given his huge draft cost.
2B, Keston Hiura – Simply put, it has been a disastrous season for Keston Hiura, striking out at an ugly 39% rate and getting demoted to the minors on 2 separate occasions. There really aren’t many positives to take away when looking at Hiura, perhaps you can point to his healthy max exit velocity to show he does have that power stroke when he seldom connects, but we already knew he had big raw power. Hiura simply needs to make more contact and have a better approach in his next MLB stint, he has the talent but his stock has dropped off a cliff..
3B, Anthony Rendon – One of the most consistent bats in baseball, Rendon has performed at a subpar level thus far in the 2021 season, posting a .241/.314/.365 triple slash over 191 AB’s this year. He has still had good plate discipline, nothing looks too out of bounds outside of the fact he is swinging a bit more, but that could be noise. His power has regressed a bit after his massive 34 HR – .319 BA campaign in 2019, as he’s usually more of a 24-25 homer guy with gobs of counting stats. I think he will perform fine the rest of the way, but this sluggish start will certainly impact his numbers.
SS, Francisco Lindor – Despite a slow start, Lindor has finally woke up and is playing a little better of late, but overall his stock has to be considered down for now – however I do not think it will continue to stay that way moving forward. The slow start will significantly mute Lindor’s numbers, but Lindor is one of few batters in the MLB who can provide good overall hitting stats in addition to his stolen base capability. Lindor is making a little less contact than usual, in addition to his elevated ground ball rate in comparison to his career-high, explaining his poor start. Regardless, Lindor isn’t striking out much, he is putting the ball in play, and has stolen his fair share of bases. He definitely has hurt his fantasy drafters with where they picked him but I think he will pick up his play moving forward, as I refuse to believe he is a much worse player now. I think he could definitely end the year with 22-23 homers, 15-17 steals, 90+ runs, 65 RBI, and a .260 batting average. Far less than what some were hoping for, but given the fact that Lindor was bad in April/May, his season line will suffer.
MI, Gleyber Torres – Gleyber has had a fall from grace relative to his 2019 season, where he smashed 38 HR (granted many of them came vs AAA Baltimore) and has now struggled with power in both 2020 and 2021. His power has simply dried up, and his exit velocities have really taken a step back as he is not stinging the ball with authority anymore, despite the really good plate discipline. Torres is tricky moving forward, as I love his home park and division, his contact rates, and plate discipline but the lack of power is a problem. At age 24, I don’t think he’s done as a fantasy difference-maker but things are tricky if he isn’t even hitting for league average power as he provides no speed.
CI, Alec Bohm – Another young bat that is struggling, Bohm is striking out about 7% more than he was in 2020 and he is walking less, which are both factoring into his poor start. He is also hitting the ball on the ground 50% of the time, a mark that puts pressure on more of his line-drives and fly balls to become homers or hits in general. Bohm was naturally going to come down off of his unsustainable .410 BABIP from 2020, and he is sitting at a .287 mark, so that will come up as he isn’t this bad of a hitter, but he should be looked at a little worse after this poor start.
OF, Christian Yelich – Yelich has performance issues in 2021, striking out at a 31% clip, however going in the back end of round 1 it was tough to argue against Yelich given his premium track record. Fast forward to 2021, and Yelich’s biggest enemy to this point has been back issues that have forced him to hit the injured list. These back issues have plagued Yelich in the past, but his skills have been so elite that it was easy to overlook them. I do not know how Yelich will pan out moving forward, obviously, he has top 5 overall player in fantasy upside, but the back issues and elevated K rates (30% K rate from 2020-2021 over 380 PA’s) do concern me some.
OF, Dom Smith – Smith was someone I was fading due to the fact he is not a good fielder and plays on a loaded depth chart – so I thought playing time could be problematic. Smith is generally regarded as a pretty good hitter with some potential and I see that as well. 2021 has dimmed the shine of Smith some, but I don’t think that the panic button should be pressed for his long-term future despite the lack of results. In 2021, Smith faced almost 60% fastballs and this year teams have adjusted, only throwing him heaters 50% of the time. That’s a pretty big change considering the fact he isn’t hitting breaking pitches very well this year. Over his career, Smith has gone from a low K, strong BB rate guy to more of an aggressive power bat who strikes out more. I tend to think he sees himself as a power bat and that he positively regresses towards his 2020 season, as I believe in his talent. With that being said, I do think he was bound to regress a good bit off of his 2020 pace but this was unexpected, I think a buy low here is in order as he has the raw talent to turn it around.
OF, Jorge Soler – Following his monstrous 2019 breakout campaign, where Soler cranked 48 homers, he just hasn’t been the same guy despite elite exit velocities and very good barrel rates, some of the best marks in the league. Statistically, I really do not notice much of anything dramatically different for Soler which makes analyzing him difficult. I would absolutely go out and buy Soler as his profile seems pretty in line despite the lack of results. The Bat X projection system also loves Soler, they are penciling him for 20 HR’s, 48 Runs, 55 RBI’s, and a 126 wRC+ for the rest of the season. I don’t know if he gets to those numbers, but the price could be right to buy in on Soler so go and check in on his availability in your league.
OF, Ian Happ – A very patient hitter who was formerly a big prospect, Happ is not making it happen with the bat this year. Sighs, sorry for the dad joke, but Happ has been just as bad as that joke in 2021, with an ugly and weird triple slash of .189/.308/.350 thus far. He’s still an elite walk rate guy, but he’s not tapping into the power and he’s hitting too many ground balls (51% GB rate in 2021), a rate that has risen in both 2020 and 2021. His BABIP is really low compared to his career mark, so naturally, he will improve as we move forward here in 2021, but I don’t think his upside is massive since he hasn’t shown that penchant to steal bases and he’s simply not lifting the ball much. I wouldn’t buy for 2021, but in an OBP dynasty league, I think he still holds some value for rebuilding teams as well as win-now clubs.
OF, Clint Frazier – After having tons of promise, Frazier now finds himself being platooned, far from the Yankees’ vision of deploying him after acquiring Frazier for the former ALCS MVP Andrew Miller. Frazier is similar to Ian Happ given the fact he is still walking at a high clip but he just isn’t doing much damage to the baseball. His exit velocities, barrel rates are all down across the board, and after losing his full-time role you have to think it is taking a toll on the psyche of Frazier. I cannot endorse going out and picking him up in trade despite being a fan of Frazier for years, but I will not sell low on him in my dynasty leagues. I think he has too much talent to do that, but I don’t see enough positives in the profile to endorse you going out and buy him given the fact his performance has dropped and he doesn’t even play every day.
Util, Lourdes Gurriel Jr – Heading into his age 27 season on loaded Blue Jays offense, Gurriel has had a Freaky Friday swap, trading talents with his older brother, Yuli Gurriel, a player many folks wrote off but is having a great age 37 season. Simply put with Lourdes, he isn’t stinging the ball like he was in 2020, where he had a 50% hard-hit rate but in 2021 it has just been at 36%. He is also hitting further down in the order, closer to the 6 or 7 hole than some wanted. His horrible .274 OBP is really limiting his runs scored potential, only having scored 22 runs over 60 games. I do think this is a reasonably talented hitter who will have more good seasons in the future, but I really do not like what I have seen, and coupled with the fact he rarely walks, this isn’t a profile I like to invest in if it doesn’t come with speed potential.