There weren’t a whole lot of games on Monday, so I wanted to take a moment and go a little bit more in-depth about a player I’ve been following closely since Spring Training. If you’ve been disappointed by Carlos Gonzalez this season, I understand. In most leagues, he was drafted around the 3rd-5th round and he has not produced to those numbers, until lately. On Monday, he went 0-3, 1 R, but that’s not necessarily what I’m here to talk about. I’m here to talk about why he’s gotten so hot lately, and why it’s totally legit. Coming into September, CarGo had a pretty rough slashline of .239/.308/.356 on the year, but since September 1st, he’s been slashing .429/.568/.893, and it’s all thanks to a change in his approach. Thomas Harding, MLB.com’s Rockies reporter, wrote that Gonzlaez has changed the way he holds the bat, which has lead to a change in his swing. Initially, CarGo had been falling into a bad habit he used to do as a kid, and did as a prospect until Don Baylor, the Rockies’ hitting coach up until his death from cancer this past August, helped him fix it. CarGo would wrap his hands around the bat, which means that he’d hold the bat so that his palms were on the handle, wrapping his fingers inwards. This lead to the barrel of the bat dropping and a more undercut of a swing, which caused him to either swing under the ball or to strike out. Baylor told him to loosen his grip and hold the bat more with his fingers than his palm, which helped level out his swing and led to quite a bit of success. But on August 30th, Harding writes, Gonzalez noticed that he was wrapping his hands again and had been doing it unconsciously all season. Since then, he’s gone back to holding the bat the way Baylor told him to all those years ago and the results are noticeable.
Here’s CarGo in August going against Aaron Nola. He swings at a fastball and you can see the uppercut in his swing, which results in a fly ball out:
Here’s CarGo in September, going after a curveball from David Hernandez. You can see how his swing is much more level, and the result was far more positive (a double):
Essentially, what I’m saying is that CarGo’s success lately is completely legit. Now that he knows what his problem was all year, he’s fixed it and he should continue hitting with a good bit of success. I’m not saying he’s going to hit .400 the rest of the way, but he should be the CarGo you wanted on draft day, and in the playoffs, there’s little better you can ask for.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:
Mark Trumbo (OF, BAL) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 1 RBI. I know, Trumbo has been really bad. Over his last 20 at-bats, he’s got two hits, and in the second half of the season, he’s been slashing .212/.249/.397. Initially, I thought he could get over this slump, but the more I look at the numbers, I just don’t think it’s going to happen. When you have Trumbo on your fantasy team, you have to expect a bad second half. I generally don’t take a lot of stock in first/second half splits, but with Trumbo, they’re noticeable, they’re consistent, and they’re real. On his career, Trumbo’s slashline in the first half of the season is .263/.316/.498. In the second half, it’s .234/.285/.424. You hope for an awesome first half (like last year) and then expect the slump and sell high, that’s the Trumbo strategy. Looking at his second half numbers, his BABIP is a little low, but not terrible given that he’s a power hitter, but the thing that sticks out to me is the fact that his walk rate has dropped from 8.2% in the first half to 4.2% in the second, and his strikeout rate has jumped from 20.7% in the first half to 30.2% in the second. Things aren’t looking good for Trumbo and I don’t expect them to get better at all.
Todd Frazier (3B, NYY) – 1-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. Speaking of power hitters that have been bad, hey there Todd Frazier. Frazier’s been slashing .197/.340/.434 over the past month, and while that’s not terrible in an OBP league, that’s brutal in a standard league. So what’s wrong with Todd Frazier? I’ll be honest, I’ve been trying to answer that question all year, and the answer keeps coming down to BABIP. He’s got a .226 BABIP on the year, and over the past month, his BABIP has been .216. Even though he’s a power hitter, you don’t usually ever see a BABIP that low sustain all year, but somehow it has, and while I think it could easily correct itself eventually, there’s no reason to think he’s just going to turn it on all of a sudden out of nowhere. Unfortunately, Frazier’s season has just been borderline useless in standard leagues, as both the power and the speed (his two main assets) have diminished so much.
Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA) – 3-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 2 RBI. Haniger’s been hot since he came back off the DL, slashing .342/.358/.633, but it’s important to know that that hot streak has come with a .393 BABIP. Still, it was this kind of a hot streak that made him so valuable at the beginning of the year and there’s no reason to think he can’t keep it up for the fantasy playoffs. Just pay attention, because once the BABIP catches up with him and he starts slumping, get him out of your lineup.