Patience or Panic: William Contreras, Jarren Duran

Some surprising success stories are experiencing some serious setbacks.


We are well into the dog days of summer and, by now, most players are a known quantity. Nevertheless, some breakouts are experiencing breakdowns. Are they slumping or were their successes merely flashes in the pan?


William Contreras, C/DH, Milwaukee Brewers


Contreras joined the Brewers in the offseason as a part of the three-team swap that sent Sean Murphy to Atlanta. With Murphy raking on the best team in baseball, it’s easy to overlook what Contreras has done in 2023.

In 99 games this year with Milwaukee, the 25-year-old has posted a .275 AVG with 12 home runs and a .342 wOBA, exceptional production for a catcher. This production continued until about a week ago when Contreras suddenly cooled off.

It’s a small sample size, to be sure, but Contreras has been awful in the past 5 games. Fantasy managers have taken note, with his ownership in ESPN leagues dropping to 70%. Over that period, he’s struck out at a 37.5% clip and batted just .182. Even more troubling is that these struggles have come against the lowly Rockies and White Sox, two squads notably low on starting pitching.

On the bright side, Contreras is still impacting the ball. In those 5 games, his barrel rate is north of 15%, so there’s some tough luck to account for.

Verdict: Patience. This is an obvious one. There’s not too much to write about in the way of Contreras’s struggles, but I wanted to include him because I’m shocked anyone is dropping him. This seems like an obvious buy-low position if you’re fortunate enough to have the opportunity. A productive player at a premium position will go a long way down the stretch.


Jarren Duran, OF, Boston Red Sox


For a long while this season, it looked like Duran had completely found his stride.

Once a top-100 prospect, Duran struggled mightily in his first two seasons with the Red Sox. Between 2021 and 2022, Duran played in 91 games and batted just .219 with 5 home runs and 27 RBI. He stole 9 bases, an underwhelming tally for a guy with 70-grade speed. He registered a 68 WRC+, struck out at a 30.7% clip, and walked in just 5.4% of plate appearances.

Entering his age-26 season in 2023, it was certainly now or never for Duran. To date, he’s made the most of it. In 97 games this year, Duran has a .297 AVG, 23 stolen bases, 44 RBI, and 40 runs. Never projected to be much of a power guy, he’s still posted a respectable 8 homers. Unfortunately, it’s been a tale of two halves for Duran.

Since the break, he’s appeared in 26 games and posted just a .235 AVG. His first-half OPS of .883 blows away a pedestrian .713 OPS in the second half. The most alarming shift comes in the form of the dreaded BABIP regression. Before the break, Duran posted a preposterous .429 BABIP. Since then, that figure has come down to a much more reasonable .270.

Verdict: Panic. The regression monster comes for us all. Outfielders like Duran are a dime a dozen; I’d be seeking more power upside in a player who likely won’t hit north of .270 the rest of the way.


Austin Hays, OF, Baltimore Orioles


There’s more than one similarity between Hays and Duran. Both play in the American League East and both are outfielders. Both far and away had the best first half of their careers. And both have stunk since the All-Star Break.

Hays, unlike Duran, appeared in his first Midsummer Classic this July and has done nothing since. In 27 games since the break, he’s produced a measly .180 AVG, 8 runs, 9 RBI, and 1 home run. He, like Duran, has seen his BABIP drop from an unsustainably high .389 to a (likely) unsustainably low .236. He’s hitting the ball a bit less hard, but not alarmingly so. What is alarming is a second-half GB/FB ratio of 1.95, nearly double the figure he posted in the first half.

Verdict: Patience. I’m willing to give Hays a bit more runway because of his track record as a reliable player. He certainly overperformed in the first half of the season, but it seems likely to me the real version of him lies between the two versions we’ve seen this year. And that’s still a solid outfielder.


Jack Connors

Jack Connors is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan. In his free time, he enjoys playing golf and the guitar, and hanging out with his dog.

2 responses to “Patience or Panic: William Contreras, Jarren Duran”

  1. Gloria says:

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  2. Mike says:

    Your material is great, but way behind most leagues. All of your recommendations were picked up weeks ago. One other thing that would be great is if you could keep your start’em, sit’em up to date daily. Most days towards the end of the week don’t align with the pitching match-ups.

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