Welcome to Hit It Or Quit It, a weekly column where Ben Palmer joins Pitcher List to look at five of the most added players in fantasy baseball and tell you whether or not what they’re doing is likely to continue. In other words, should you buy (hit it) or sell (quit it)? Note: my rulings are generally for 10-team standard leagues. Let’s dive in:
Randal Grichuk – .231/.293/.444, 11 HR, 36 R, 33 RBI, 3 SB
In just about every league this year, Randal Grichuk was drafted because he showed last year that he was worth drafting. In 350 plate appearances, he hit .276 with 17 home runs last year, and everyone expected something similar, if not better this year. But it wasn’t to be, and he disappointed the whole beginning of the year until heading to the DL and being dropped in most leagues.
Now Grichuk is back, and in the past month, he’s hit .324 with three home runs, and its lead a lot of people to add him back to their teams, hoping he’s back to what he was last year.
Grichuk was the victim of some bad luck this year (and being hurt probably didn’t help either), and it’s looking like he’s getting back to form. His BABIP on the year is .259, which should go up, and his plate discipline has gotten better. His walk rate is at a career high, and his strikeout rate has dropped nearly 10% from last year.
The only thing I don’t think will continue from last year is his power pace. Last year his ISO was .272, which is insanely high, and that kind of power isn’t going to happen the rest of the year for him. Currently his ISO sits at a still excellent .214, and I think that’s a fair estimate for the rest of the year.
Because of his increased plate discipline and low BABIP, I would expect the average to go up, though not too much considering his K% is still at 22.7%, however Grichuk isn’t what he was at the beginning of the year. I’d project him to hit about .250 the rest of the year with about 8-10 more home runs, and 20-25 runs and RBIs each.
Ruling: If someone gave up on Grichuk, and a lot of people did, he’s worth grabbing, because his average won’t kill you and his power is very useful – HIT IT.
Howie Kendrick – .271/.329/.376, 4 HR, 36 R, 21 RBI, 7 SB
At 33 years old, Howie Kendrick refuses to quit. Over the past month, Kendrick has hit .337 with two home runs and nine RBIs, and that, along with how many positions he’s eligible at (depending on what site you play on), is why so many teams have been grabbing him.
Essentially, there’s nothing to suggest that Kendrick will stop doing what he’s currently doing. His BABIP is right at .316, which is perfectly reasonable, his walk rate is at a career high, and his hard hit rate is about two percent higher than last year. All of these suggest that his current numbers on the season are perfectly reasonable.
Now, the reason people have been picking up has been his hot month, and that’s not going to keep up, but that doesn’t mean Kendrick isn’t useful. He should hit for a good average, about what he’s hit on the year so far, and being in the Dodgers’ lineup, he’ll get runs and RBIs. He’s not as fast as he used to be, so I don’t expect the steals to keep up, I’d only project a few more from him, but aside from that, what you’ve seen from Kendrick should keep up.
Ruling: I’d project Kendrick to hit about .277-.280 the rest of the way with another 3-4 home runs, 25-27 runs, and 22-24 RBIs. He’s only borderline useful in 10-team leagues, but in leagues beyond that, especially with his position eligibility, he’s definitely worth having. His average will be good, and as long as he’s playing regularly for the Dodgers, his RBIs and runs will be solid – HIT IT.
Hector Santiago – 7-4 (9 QS), 4.27 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 93 K
Now you may look at that stat line and think “why is Santiago even on this list?” Well, that’s because he’s been added a bunch in fantasy leagues lately because of the excellent month he’s had. Over the last 30 days, Santiago has pitched four quality starts with an ERA of 1.95 and a K/9 just under one an inning.
Looking at that month, it’s tempting to add Santiago, but all of his numbers present major warning signs that he’s not worth it. First off, even if you want to ignore his awful 4.27 ERA for whatever reason, take a look at his 4.99 xFIP or 4.87 FIP. Or how about the fact that his BABIP is only at .256 and he still has an ERA over 4.00? By the conventional logic of BABIPs, Santiago should be doing a lot better with a BABIP that low.
The other extremely worrying stat is his hard hit rate, which currently sits at a career-high 35.5%. People are hitting Santiago, they’re hitting him hard, and they’re going to keep hitting him. And if they’re not hitting him, they’re probably being walked by him, as his walk rate is 9.9%, good for bottom-ten in the league.
Ruling: Don’t be fooled by the excellent month Santiago has had, he’s going to implode very soon. That 4.27 ERA he has now is closer to reality than anything. He’ll pitch an over 4.00 ERA the rest of the year and will probably end the year as one of the ten worst pitchers in walks – QUIT IT.
Didi Gregorius – .295/.325/.466, 11 HR, 38 R, 41 RBI, 5 SB
I would bet that it’s safe to say that no one expected this out of Didi Gregorius this year. The rate at which he is hitting home runs, and especially the batting average, have been really pleasant surprises for Gregorius owners and Yankees fans. The problem is, there’s nothing to suggest that Gregorius has changed in any way, whenever I see a player surge and get hot, I look for a tangible skill change, and there’s just nothing to suggest that Gregorius has done that.
First of all, the fact that his walk rate is at a miserable 3.4% does not bode well for his batting average. He doesn’t strike out a ton (K% is 11.5% right now), but you can’t swing at everything like he does and maintain that kind of an average. Sure, there have been some players that have swung at everything and still had great batting averages, but Gregorius isn’t Vladimir Guerrero.
Other than that, virtually every stat of his looks identical to last year. His HR/FB rate is very elevated, which should lead to a decrease in the home runs, but otherwise, every other stat out there suggests that what he did last year is what he’ll do this year, which means that average is going to drop hard and soon.
Ruling: I’d project Gregorius to hit about .265-.268 the rest of the way with another 5-6 home runs and 25-28 runs and RBIs each. That’s not a player that’s going to hurt your team necessarily, but it’s definitely not someone that’s going to help much. Unless you’re in a really deep league, I wouldn’t recommend Gregorius – QUIT IT.
Brandon McCarthy – 2-0 (1 QS), 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 22 K
In his short time back from the DL, Brandon McCarthy has impressed. He’s only started three games, but he allowed three runs in one game, and pitched shutouts in the other two, and everyone’s been adding him.
Now, it’s a little early to judge McCarthy’s stats in any meaningful way, three starts is hardly any kind of decent sample size, but we can take a look at what’s been happening so far and try to see if this looks legit or not.
The biggest concern with McCarthy is playing time. He’s injury prone, 33-years-old, and has pitched 200 innings once in his entire career (and it was 200 exactly). And even when he has been starting, he’s only going five or six innings before he’s getting pulled out. The Dodgers are being understandably cautious with him, and if they’re going to keep that up all year, his value in fantasy will diminish greatly.
To stay positive, McCarthy’s xFIP is his biggest critic from an ERA perspective, and it’s still only 2.42. His K/9 has been fantastic, sitting at 12.4 right now, something that I believe won’t keep up at all. You can, however, see how fortunate he’s been getting with his .226 BABIP which will definitely come up as the year goes on (assuming he has that many more starts).
Personally, I’m worried about McCarthy from a health perspective, and I’m not totally sure how many more starts he’s going to get. Could he finish out the season? Sure. Could he get hurt tomorrow and be done for the year? Absolutely, and that’s a risk I’m not interested in taking.
With the small sample size we have available, his pitching stats should regress a bit, especially considering that BABIP, but that regression isn’t going to be terrible. If he pitched the rest of the year, I’d project him at a 3.80 ERA with a K/9 around eight, which is absolutely serviceable.
Ruling: McCarthy is about as risky as a player gets, and honestly I just don’t think he’s going to start the rest of the year without any issues. Every single time you start him, you run the risk of him pitching three innings, giving up five runs and then leaving early with an injury that will nag him every start until he’s out for the year. He’s a good pitcher, and I’d love to see him stay healthy, but I just don’t know if that’s going to happen this year. If you want to try and ride his streak while it’s going, go for it, but I wouldn’t recommend owning him – QUIT IT.
Ben Palmer (@benjpalmer) is a writer for Pitcher List who’s obsessed with sabermetrics, virtually all Baltimore sports, music, and playing guitar. He currently lives in Annapolis, Maryland and spends his summers watching way too much baseball.