Ramblings - Benintendi, Thames, Turner, Freeman
Did we totally miss the boat as an industry when we suggested that Trea Turner was a star? Were we too quick to anoint Andrew Benintendi as a star? What has happened with Eric Thames who has recently pulled back of late. Did you see the news about Freddie Freeman? How much time will he miss with his injury and whom will the Braves call on to replace him.
Let’s take a look at three of the men who were off to hot starts this season, or players that everyone had to have: Andrew Benintendi, Aaron Judge, Eric Thames and Trea Turner. Here are some table to consider.
The pace of the four men.
The work from each man in May.
Let’s look a bit more deeply at each guy.
Benintendi was a monster in April, and he’s been really bad in May. It’s even worse than it looks above with him though. Benintendi doesn’t have a hit in 7-straight games as his average has plummeted from .339 to .280. It’s not like there’s a single sane person in the world that wouldn’t take the numbers he’s on pace for, but his recent slump brings into focus yet again the fact that this game isn’t always that easy, even for great talents. The recent slump has dropped his average .015 points below last season, his OBP is down .004 points at .355 and his SLG is down to .427 (last year it was .476). The anointing of Benintendi as already being the “next big thing” might be a bit premature. Note that he’s appeared in 72 games as a Sox, and if we double that number to 144 games, basically a full season, we get a .280-14-74-76-8 line, solid, but as I suggested in the preseason not appreciably different than a guy like Melky Cabrera. I simply love the talent of Benintendi, but fantasy folks are expecting too much at the moment.
Thames is currently missing time with a leg issue as well as strep throat. He’s been wildly effective and on a mind boggling overall pace. However, the only number he’s currently on pace for that he even has a remote chance of attaining is the four steals. Some Thames facts.
Thames has produced two homers in 16 games. Over those 16 outings he’s struck out 17 times while batting .246. The HR/FB rate during that time is down to 11.1 percent, a way more manageable number than the ridiculous 34.2 percent mark he’s posted to date. This slow down was always going to happen in the homer column. As for the rest of the game, there is more slowdown coming there too. You have to like his large walk rate (15.6 percent), and his strikeout rate isn’t bad wither (22.7 percent). However, his BABIP is a bit high at .342, and that 52.2 percent pull rate isn’t exactly a great thing for a guy hoping to hit .300. I’ve been impressed, I’ll admit it, but he was so good early on that there really is nowhere for him to go but down. He still has a shot to be a top-10 first baseman, so don’t go all panic mode with him.
Turner... there are some pretty massive concerns there. Turner has been awful this season with a .713 OPS. He’s still running with eight steals, but really, there are concerns everywhere.
Let’s remove the four games Turner played at Coors this season. Here are the numbers he’s produced his other 26 outings. Hide the women and children. Remove those four games and...
Trea Turner is batting .179 with two homers, seven RBI, 12 runs scored and six steals.
Minus those four games he’s been a simply dismal offensive performer.
Let’s compare his effort last season to his work this year and in 2015 and this season. Pretty stark as you’re about to see.
*plate appearances per stolen base
So which guy is he? I’m guessing neither one of the above. The answer is in the middle, though I’m sure that will be a disappointment to everyone who foolishly took him in the second round this season.
Fore more, here is some audio of me talking about Turner and his struggles.
FREEMAN’s SEASON IN RUINS
Freddie Freeman is out an estimated 10 weeks, if not more, after suffering a fractured left wrist on a pitch thrown by Aaron Loup. Freeman entered game action Wednesday leading the NL in homers (14), was second in OBP (.457), third in slugging (.754) and sixth in batting average (.343). His loss is a massive blow to his fantasy owners.
What will the Braves do? Let me start by stating that there is no answer.
They recently called up Rio Ruiz, a third baseman, but he could see some time at first base (though it certainly does not seem like he will be deployed there with any frequency). Johan Camargo also has spent time with coaches trying to pick up the finer points of the position. Mark Bowman suggested that Ruiz isn’t likely to face lefties, even if he becomes an option at first versus righties, though again, it doesn’t seem likely he will play the position with any frequency. It sounds like Jace Peterson could be in the mix too. Peterson stepped in to take first base duties when Freeman was hurt Wednesday, and he will be covering the spot Thursday as well. It’s unclear how much time Peterson will see at first, and it sounds like a trade might be on the horizon. Some quick thoughts on all three men.
Camargo hit .267 with four homers in 126 games last season, and has been slightly better with a .307-3-15 line over 22 games at Triple-A. He’s not an exciting option, has little power, and doesn’t profile as a full-time performer.
Peterson has hit .235 with a .649 OPS in 324 big league games. He will never own the bat to play a corner infield spot on a consistent basis. He’s merely a nice piece to have around on a big-league roster, and if he’s not playing second base, his bat doesn’t play.
Ruiz has solid plate discipline and pitch recognition. He has a nice swing that is more of a gap stroke, think Joe Panik. It’s not a very exciting family game. He was hitting .262 with four homers and 40 strikeouts over 37 games at Triple-A.
None of these men are anything other than NL-only additions.
NOTE: The Braves did indeed make a move signing veteran James Loney to a deal. It's reasonable to think that he will handle the work against RHP once he proves he's ready for big-league action. It's also reasonable to suggest he will bring little value, even in NL-only leagues.
Ray Flowers can be heard Monday/Tuesday and Thursday/Friday, 7 PM EDT, Wednesday 8 PM EDT on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87). You can also hear Ray Sunday nights at 8 PM EDT PM on the channel talking fantasy sports. Follow Ray’s work on Twitter (@baseballguys).