Patience or Panic: Marcus Semien, Julio Rodriguez and Luis Gil

What should we do with these struggling players?

How we react to short-term performance in fantasy baseball can be the difference between a championship run and a wasted season. As the All-Star break approaches, trust can be worn down and patience becomes a luxury for fantasy teams with high aspirations. Are the currently struggling players who we expected to anchor our teams more likely to continue with their slumps, or will their form return? Learning to determine where to rightfully panic, and maybe more importantly, where to have patience while capitalizing on the panic of others, is a skill that comes from looking past the box scores, the bad weeks, and the major slumps.

Romanticism aside, I’m excited to be a bi-weekly writer on this important article. Luck is naturally such a massive part of any game of inches, and baseball is certainly not immune. The process of the at-bats, or the pitches thrown, will always be more predictive in the long run than just assuming players that are performing poorly will continue to do so and vice versa. We know it doesn’t work that way and it would be boring if it did. So, let’s check out some of the players that have been hurting rosters recently and see if, based on whats going on under the hood, we can figure out how to proceed.

All stats in this edition are through through July 2nd.


Marcus Semien, 2B, Texas Rangers

Last Season: .276/.348/.478, 122 R, 28 HR, 100 RBI, 40 2B, 72 BB, 14 SB over 753 Plate Appearances

This Season: .234/.298/.382, 52 R, 11 HR, 45 RBI, 16 2B, 31 BB, 3 SB, over 379 Plate Appearances

Month of June: .202/.297/.298, 12 R, 2HR, 10 RBI, 4 2B, 13 BB, 2 SB over 118 Plate Appearances 


The statistical fall off of Marcus Semien this season is undeniable, and it continues to worsen as the season goes on. Each month that the All-Star second baseman has played in 2024 has seen his OPS decrease, as well as the RBI and XBH decrease. Semien actually started the year pretty well; he slugged .459 in April with 11 XBH in 120 PA, but that’s been the only flash of last year’s quality.

The June production is alarming, he hit to an OPS under .600 for the first time since June of 2018 when he was still with the Oakland Athletics, an eye-popping stat. He’s as rated one of the worst high-owned players in the last month in 5×5 roto, and although he carries a high ranking on the Hitter List, the question is certainly beginning to bubble up for some fantasy owners, ‘Should I sit him?!?” 

Verdict: Patience – I’m here to tell you no, you should not sit Marcus Semien, you should not trade him for pennies on the dollar, and, if anything, you should be trying to acquire him for cheap from a frustrated manager. It is hard to come by such ability at the keystone and a few down months do not define a player, especially when the underlying numbers tell a different story than solely looking at the production.

What if I told you that Semien’s xwOBA is actually higher this season than it was last year? Just the difference between the actual and the expected is much wider. In 2023 that differential was -0.004; a .358 xwOBA to a .354 wOBA. This season, in 2024, the differential has ballooned to -0.065; a 0.365 xwOBA to a .300 wOBA. The value of the outcomes he’s generating at the plate are expected to be very similar to last year, he’s just not getting the same luck.

In 2023 Semien’s BABIP was .291, while this year it’s a six-year low of just .246. His HR/FB% is below 10%, compared to last season at 12% and his other All Star season with Toronto of 20.3%. There’s certainly some reason for concern, it’s not all just bad variance; his Barrel Rate is at 4.5% compared to 6.4% last season (and 8.5% in the Toronto season), but his Ideal Contact Rate is actually 3% higher this year than last. His xBABIP is 40 points higher than his actual at .286, xAVG is 45 points higher than actual, and, most notably, his xSLG is at .508 compared to his actual of just .384! That’s a massive difference. That’s the difference between an ISO comparable to Alex Verdugo and JP Crawford to an expected ISO that resembles Pete Alonso and Teoscar Hernández.

So, yeah, I’m buying Marcus Semien wherever I can and holding tight where I have shares. Even if there’s a slight tax to acquire him for his past years, pay it. The Rangers have one of the easiest schedules remaining in all of baseball. There likely won’t be too many more stretches this bad in the short term and there’s heaps of upside waiting to be uncovered.



Julio Rodriguez, OF, Seattle Mariners

Last Season: .275/.333/.485, 102 R, 32 HR, 103 RBI, 25 SB over 714 Plate Appearances

This Season: ..244/.294/.324, 37 R, 7 HR, 29 RBI, 17 SB, over 364 Plate Appearances

Month of June: .206/.270/.304, 13 R, 3HR, 8 RBI, 3 SB over 111 Plate Appearances 


Julio, what am I supposed to do with this? The difference between JRod and Semien is that you probably didn’t use a top-10 pick on Semien and you certainly almost had to in order to own Julio in fantasy this season. That, or, you paid a high price to acquire him in a trade. Look, it’s been bad, especially given the draft capital spent. The concerns of a .625 OPS in April were maybe quieted by an uptick to .688 in May. ‘Okay he’s trending the right way’, you told yourself. Well, that didn’t keep up in June and he put together one of the worst statistical months of his young career. Even the steals fell off.

Hard hits are down, walks are down, strikeouts are up, and, most notably, the barrel rate is at 7.9% after his first two seasons saw him barrel up balls at a 12.1% and 11.3% rate, respectively. This has led to a HR/FB% of just 10.8% this season after averaging 25% in the last two and an ISO of .080 after two seasons above .200 in the isolated strength metric. There is little to no doubt that something is severely off with Julio, but is it enough to abandon ship and sell for less than he’s worth?

Verdict: Panic Yes, it is enough to abandon ship, or at least attempt to. You will still be able to command a high price for his potential and his (albeit brief) history of strong second halves. Take whatever value you can get for him wherever you can. The one caveat is that this really only applies to redraft leagues; in dynasty you’re probably just dealing with the off year and hoping that the player who was drafted as a top-three option this season is just having a junior year slump, if that’s even a thing.

One would hope that Julio’s wOBA to xWOBA differential in this down year would be large, that the expected value of his at-bats would be high and we’d have a benchmark on which to rest our proverbial hats. Unfortunately that’s not the case. JRod has a .277 wOBA compared to a .283 xwOBA. His launch angle is down, so the drop in HR/FB% isn’t just bad luck, it might very well be his swing. In fact, he’s not getting that unlucky – his BABIP is only seven points lower than it was last year. The contact rates look consistent to his past seasons, but the power has just dropped off a cliff.

He is in the 18th percentile in slugging and 23rd percentile in expected slugging. The xSLG number has dropped almost 140 points year over year… there’s just little to suggest it’s bad variance and more to think that pitchers are maybe just figuring out how to throw to the 23 year old. Theres absolutely nothing in his contact rates to suggest his discipline at the plate has fallen off. If anything, it appears he’s struggling to deal with the uptick in pitches thrown inside. He faced 31% of inside located pitches his first two seasons and is now seeing 36% this year. This is leading to a 5% increase in ground balls, and a 3% decrease in line drives. Julio is seeing more flares and burners than ever before in his career and his pull rate is down 7% year over year.

To me, that says the film has come around and pitchers are understanding that if you keep the ball inside on him, Rodriguez will not be able to pull the ball as much and the ceiling of his contact will fall off. At least, that’s what’s pretty clearly been happening. He’s seeing better pitches and doing much worse against them. There’s not much hope for a drastic turnaround unless he can adapt to the 97th percentile rate a which he’s being shown pitches located inside. Until then, you should be getting what you can if you have championship hopes this season.


Luis Gil, SP, New York Yankees 

Season: 89.2 IP, 17 GS, 9 W, 4 L, 7 QS, 3.41 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 102 K, 48 BB, 8 HR 

Since June 1: 26.1 IP, 6 GS, 2 W, 3 L, 1 QS, 6.83 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, 23K, 17 BB, 4 HR

I was really hoping I would have to substitute out Luis Gil for a different struggling pitcher after a potential bounce back spot against the Reds on July 2nd, but, alas, we only have more reason to dissect the wall the Yankees’ Rookie of the Year candidate has run into.

Theres an innate difference in evaluating a struggling pitcher compared to a hitter. Hitters surely have slumps and go through their issues, but pitchers, in my experience, tend to see a bit more of a periodic motion. They find their groove for greater lengths of time and then also struggle for similarly longer stretches. This can be due to fatigue, minor injury, or just mentally dealing with the struggles and being confident in what you’re throwing. That all on top of hitters potentially figuring out how to beat you and the never ending need to come up with new ways to deceive the best hitters in the game.

I tend to think the latter is at play here with Luis Gil, as it tends to often be with younger pitchers. Teams might just have figured out his approach a bit, and it’s coupled with a decrease in the quality of the pitches being thrown; specifically his fastball.

Verdict: Patience – Gil looked absolutely dominant in May: he won all six of his starts, had an ERA of 0.70 and a WHIP of 0.67 in the month against opponents including the Orioles, Astros, Rays and Mariners, and even a nice first start in June against the Twins. I just don’t think a player who has the potential to perform that well for a sustained period of time should be judged so drastically for three bad starts.

What’s going on under the hood? Well, you see, it’s the fastball. It’s not getting the same induced vertical break that was leading to whiffs during the dominant run. This means that the spin Gil is able to impart on his fast ball has lessened to a point that hitters are more likely to be able to predict the location of the heater, and specifically the high heater isn’t staying as high – which can be a distinct problem.

I’m personally chalking this up to fatigue and youth, and expecting that the All Star break will help Gil regain some of the nastiness of his most used pitch. The Orioles game where he got absolutely lit up was more of a testament to the Orioles attacking everything he put in the zone, and while that was the worst of the three recent stinkers, it’s actually the other two where his fundamentals looked the worst. I’m not immediately throwing him back into my line up for his final start before the break, but keep an eye on the fastball spin and the IVB – if that starts to look good again, even for a moment, you can probably expect another dominant stretch, or at the very least an above average one.  

2 responses to “Patience or Panic: Marcus Semien, Julio Rodriguez and Luis Gil”

  1. Firsttime Longtime says:

    Always love these articles. Can we get one with Ozzie Albies and Paul Goldschmidt? Both have been massive disappointments this season and I’m not sure what to do about them. Thank you!

  2. Chucky says:

    Julio is a victim of the deadened baseball

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