Patience or Panic: Bailey Ober, Yordan Alvarez, and Victor Scott II

What should we do with these struggling players?

Happy fantasy season, everyone! With the season underway, the focus shifts from identifying draft targets to analyzing player performances. Baseball is a game filled with small sample flukes, but there are meaningful signals within those flukes that will provide useful information to you as a manager. However, it is still important to not place too much weight on one week of results. Remember why you were in on certain players and out on others, but also don’t ignore new information that contrasts with your initial perspective. With that in mind, here are three players off to slow starts this year and my recommendations on whether you should have patience or panic.


Bailey Ober, SP, Minnesota Twins


Ober put up the biggest clunker of the opening weekend against the Royals (of all teams!) on Sunday. He went 1.1 IP with 9 H, 8 ER, 1 BB, and 1 K. Ober allowed three homers in this one: a fence-scraper on a well-located two-strike change-up to Salvador Perez, a grooved change-up on 1-1 to Kyle Isbel, and an inner-third two-strike fastball to Maikel Garcia.

Ober soared up draft boards in March on the back of a spike in fastball velo. Though the terrible results might not show it, this did carry over to his first regular-season start. Ober’s average 4-seamer on Sunday was 1.1 MPH harder than last year, albeit on only 53 pitches. He somehow only managed to record one whiff (1.9% SwStr%) in the outing after posting a 15.2% SwStr% in 2023. It will take the entire month of April, maybe longer, for Ober’s ratios to look anything close to respectable after this one, and I feel for managers who confidently trotted him out there in a clear must-start.

Verdict: Patience. It’s too early to panic about a starter unless their stuff is seriously diminished. This is not the case with Ober, who was throwing harder and debuted a new cutter (21% usage) that should help deepen his arsenal and keep hitters off the 4-seamer. However, managers should monitor the performance and usage of Ober’s change-up, which has graded as his best pitch by PLV every season he’s been in the major leagues. He will need to spot it better than he did on Sunday to perform like a top-100 pick.


Yordan Alvarez, OF, Houston Astros


One of the best hitters in baseball this decade, Alvarez, is off to a putrid start. Through 23 PA, he is slashing .100/.217/.100 with 2 R and 0 RBI. Before Monday’s shellacking of the Blue Jays, the entire Astros offense was held in check to start the year, scoring only 12 runs during a four-game set against the Yankees in which they were swept.

Yordan Alvarez Plate Discipline

Because of the role batted ball luck plays in offensive results, the best way to analyze hitters in a small sample is to look at pitch-level data because there are more data points at that level of analysis. As shown by the O-Swing rates above, Alvarez has continued to show his usual plate discipline, which is supported by a 3:3 K:BB ratio. The decreased whiff and swinging strike rates also show he is making more contact. However, he has been hitting more pitches outside of the zone, and his batted ball quality is suffering as a result (11.8% LD%, 29.4% ICR). This partially explains his .117 BABIP, but a number that low cannot and will not last much longer.

Verdict: Patience. Alvarez’s 0.363 xwOBA compared to his 0.172 wOBA is a clear sign of what’s to come. The underlying skills remain strong, and Alvarez has perhaps been baseball’s unluckiest hitter this season. Through the games on April 1, no other player had as large of a gap between their wOBA and xwOBA. Managers should not look to sell Alvarez unless they’re getting a true first-round talent in return.


Victor Scott II, OF, St. Louis Cardinals


When news broke last week that Dylan Carlson would be starting the season on the IL, managers scrambled to add or draft Scott, sometimes spending enormous amounts of FAAB to do so. The allure was Scott’s game-breaking speed, as he swiped 94 bags in 132 minor league games last season. Aggressive managers have not been rewarded so far, as Scott has hit .111/.200/.167 in 20 PA with 3 R and 1 SB. Pitchers have been going after Scott so far to try to keep him off the base paths; 55.4% of the pitches he’s seen so far have been in the zone (90th percentile). Scott hasn’t been able to punish them, as he’s failed to barrel a single ball and has a 35% K%.

To Scott’s credit, he hasn’t been expanding the zone too much in the face of these poor results. His O-Swing% of 27.3% is slightly better than average. For this sound approach to start producing good results, Scott will need to do much more damage when he puts the ball in play. His xwOBA of 0.213 is above his actual wOBA of 0.180, but both marks are poor. Scott is clearly struggling with his first taste of MLB pitching, as many prospects do.

Verdict: Panic. There are very few instances where I would recommend that managers panic at this point in the season, but Scott’s situation is unique. Lars Nootbaar has already begun a rehab assignment in Triple-A and will likely rejoin the Cardinals next week, at which point Scott will lose significant playing time if not his roster spot. Redraft managers should look to trade Scott for whatever they can get if their league doesn’t have any NA slots and shouldn’t hesitate to cut him in shallower formats (12 teams or fewer). If you’re desperate for steals, he might be worth holding until he loses playing time, but Scott will likely be a drag in all other categories except for runs.

Patrick Fitzgerald

Patrick Fitzgerald is a Staff Writer for Pitcher List's fantasy team. He is an alum of Vassar College, where he pitched on the baseball team and studied economics and political science. Patrick is an avid O's fan and head-to-head fantasy baseball player (roto remains a work in progress).

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