Batter’s Box: Some Fresh Alaska Pollock

Most people drafted A.J. Pollock around the sixth round this year in drafts, and he’s hardly returned what you wanted from him. In the first half of the year, he was...

Most people drafted A.J. Pollock around the sixth round this year in drafts, and he’s hardly returned what you wanted from him. In the first half of the year, he was solid, slashing .288/.331/.453, but then he got hurt, and his second half has been awful, as he’s been slashing .238/.317/.451, though he had a better game on Wednesday, going 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 4 RBI. I’m not sure if he’s still hurt, but to be honest, his second-half numbers don’t look like it. In fact, it looks like he’s just been the victim of some bad luck. In the second half, Pollock has a .247 BABIP, which is especially low for him, as he’s a guy who typically maintains a slightly above-average BABIP thanks to his speed, and that seems to be the main source of problems for him. If you look at his batted ball stats, everything looks normal: his hard hit rate is exactly the same as the first half, his soft contact rate is only up slightly, his HR/FB rate actually increased in the second half, ground balls are down, infield fly balls are down, it’s all fairly reasonable stats that should come along with a slashline similar to his first half, they just aren’t. Even looking at his plate discipline numbers, his strikeout rate is down and his walk rate is up. There’s nothing here that suggests that he’s bad all of a sudden, and the fact that his wRC+ is 94 in the second half compared to 99 in the first really shows you that he’s still the same guy, he’s just been having bad luck.

Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Wednesday:

Kevin Kiermaier (OF, TB) – 2-5, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. Just so you know, Kevin Kiermaier has been slashing .327/.361/.574 over the past month and there’s absolutely no reason he can’t keep it up. The average should go down a bit as the BABIP regresses to normal, but Kiermaier has a great speed/power combo with a good batting average and should be useful in the playoffs. And he’s available in around 56% of ESPN leagues.

Jed Lowrie (2B, OAK) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 RBI. He’s not going to give you much in the way of power or speed, but Jed Lowrie can provide a nice base for your team in average. He’s been slashing .311/.404/.489 over the past month, and that can be useful. He’s also available in around 70% of ESPN leagues, so if you need some help at middle infield, he’s not a terrible guy to look towards.

Matt Olson (OF/1B, OAK) – 1-2, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Matt Olson’s always been known as a prospect with a lot of power, but a .772 slugging percentage over the past month is just absurd. Now, he’s got a 38.3% HR/FB rate over the year so far, but he’s also got a 43.4% hard hit rate, so while that HR/FB rate is going to regress some, he’ll still maintain a high rate, which means the power will still be coming in droves. He’s available in around 48% of ESPN leagues, so go get him if he’s there.


Javier Baez (2B/3B/SS, CHC) – 4-5, 1 HR, 3 R, 1 RBI. A really awesome game for Baez who’s been especially good this year. He’s set career-bests in just about every category you can think of and it’s nice to see him finally fulfill his potential.

Mike Zunino (C, SEA) – 2-2, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI. Like I’ve said every time I’ve included Zunino in these, we all know his power is fantastic, but that batting average is pitiful. I know he’s been hitting .361 over the past month, but he’s still striking out 37.5% of the time, there’s no way that keeps up. His average will be back to the low-.200s soon enough. Still, in the desolate wasteland that is the catcher position, he can still be useful with his power.

Andrew McCutchen (OF, PIT) – 1-5, 1 HR, 2 R, 1 RBI. To say McCutchen has been bad this past month is an understatement. He’s been slashing .217/.278/.321 and it’s been miserable if you have him and are in the playoffs (like me). Cutch’s season has been streaky, and I think he’s just hitting another valley, it’s just unfortunate that he’s hitting it now. Just pay attention, cause he could heat up at any moment.

Ben Palmer

Senior columnist at Pitcher List. Lifelong Orioles fan (which can be....painful at times) and a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music and watch way too many movies.

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