Ray's Ramblings - Bautista, Mancini & Others
Bautista isn't hitting anything. Is it time to panic with the veteran? Mancini has gone nuclear on pitchers. Should you care? Bellinger has been dynamic in the outfield. When is the Dodgers' youngster going to get the call? Betts finally struck out. He's a hell of a player, but where do we stand with his power stroke? Semien is out for two months now with injury. Meanwhile, Story can't put the bat on the baseball. Which players are having too much BABIP success, and which guys should see their offensive totals improve substantially once the hits start to fall?
WHO IS JOSE BAUTISTA?
Been getting lots of question about Jose Bautista who had another horrible outing Thursday going 0-for-4 with four whiffs. That effort dropped his average to .109 and he’s struck out 22 times in 15 games. Oddly, Bautista has never been a huge strikeout guy with a career-high of 116 strikeouts, a number he’s on pace to dust in ‘17. What’s going on here?
1 – Bautista is 36.5 years old. Father Time is closing in.
2 – In three of the last five seasons he’s failed to reach 120-games played. An aging guy who is dealing with injuries... that’s the norm folks. Seems like so many didn’t take this into account with Bautista this season.
3 – Bautista has hit .250 and .234 the last two years. He’s not helping in that category. Never has other than two seasons out of 13 years.
4 – He’s never hit 10 steals and swiped just two bags last year. He’s not helping there.
5 – Though he’s never been a big strikeout guy given his overall game, people did seem to overlook the fact that his K-rate, under 16 percent each year from 2012-15, flew up to 19.9 percent last season, a seven year high. Still, the 33.3 percent rate he is currently saddled with is absurd and double where he normally is.
All the above is true. At the same time, homer production isn’t linear. Each of the last seven years his HR/FB rate has been at least 16.3 percent, so pretty sure things will improve off his o-fer right now.
I was not a huge fan heading into the 2017 season, but as long as Bautista’s on the field there’s no way things don’t improve substantially.
WHO IS TREY MANCINI?
Trey Mancini was supposed to be the Orioles designated hitter this season. Then the Orioles signed Seth Smith and brought back to town Mark Trumbo. So much for that. Mancini made the team as a bench bat, and when the lineup is whole it’s hard to envision him having a spot in the daily lineup (don’t forget Pedro Alvarez is waiting in the wings in the minors as well). The good news for Mancini is that he is scalding hot and Smith is dealing with a hamstring. He will be in the lineup on most days in the short-term. He has to keep hitting to stay in the lineup, or there will have to be an injury (like the one to Smith), to keep him in the lineup.
Mancini is a solid bat, one that has 20-25 homer potential. He has a nice stroke and keeps his hands inside the ball well allowing him to keep the bat in the strike zone for a good deal of time. He’s a pretty aggressive hitter, and he saw his strikeout rate jump a good deal last season from 16 to 22 percent. He’s not overly athletic, and that has led to concerns about his ability to play defense.
The best-case scenario when he develops is a Brandon Belt. Best case. I highly doubt that happens this season with Trey. In fact, I wouldn’t expect him to be close that level of performance. I’d be thinking more like Travis Shaw from 2016.
IS BELLINGER COMING?
Cody Bellinger had two homers Wednesday to give him five bombs in 13 games. He’s also swiped four bases. The first baseman can play in the outfield, but folks, where does he play in Dodgerland? Unless there is an injury, I just don’t see it. Have to think it will be at least mid-May in a best case scenario as the Dodgers will look to keep him under control for longer. A great prospect, one of the best in the game, but Cody has not place at the moment in the big leagues.
Cheesy-poofs can be hard to eat.
BETTS WHIFFS – POWER A CONCERN?
Mookie Betts lost his run of regular season plate appearances without a strikeout at 129. He saw 119 pitches with two strikes during that time. That was the longest run avoiding the strikeout since Juan Pierre at 147 in 2004 and the second longest ever by a Red Sox player (Denny Doyle went 159 PAs in 1975). He’s got a great eye, and elite hand-eye coordination, but as I’ve discussed previously there are some issues to deal with. Betts, who hit 31 homers last season, is like 5’9” and 175 lbs. He’s simply not a big guy, at all. He’s no 30-homer bat. Let’s look at his HR/FB situation. As a rookie, the mark was 8.2 percent. In 2015, the mark was 8.2 percent. This season, the mark is 8.3 percent. Pretty clear who he is there, right? So how did he hit 31 big flies last season? His HR/FB rate was up at 13.2 percent. Seems like an outlier to me. He will be really good, but he’s way more a 21 homer guy than he is a 31 homer bat.
This is for you Jeff Mans... The Chappelle Show and Prince.
SOME BABIP NOTES
Here’s the deal from the Sabermetric Primer.
BABIP, also referred to as a player's hit rate, is the rate at which batted balls end up as base hits. There is a caveat with BABIP – it removes home runs from the equation because technically the ball isn't in the field of play on a home run. The major-league average is usually in the .290-.300 range year after year, but players establish their own levels so that some hitters consistently come in at the .270 range while others record marks in the .330's range year after year. The league leaders are usually above .380, a level that is nearly impossible to repeat year after year.
Some guys who will start losing hits quickly.
The end of Furbies.
Some fellas who should start seeing the hits fall.
THIS AND THAT...
Marcus Semien has been placed on the 60-day DL. Yikes. He had surgery on the scaphoid bone in his right hand and will now miss at least two months. The A’s are going with Adam Rosales and Chad Pinder at the moment. They have said that their best prospect, Franklin Barreto, is not yet ready to be promoted to the big leagues. Meanwhile, teammate Bruce Maxwell, who everyone was all excited about, has been sent back to the minors.
This is what happens when you stick your hand in a toilet.
Trevor Story has 25 strikeouts in 15 games (52 at-bats). Everything I warned everyone about with Story last season is coming true - everything. He’s been dreadful with a .589 OPS. Things will obviously improve, but there are huge holes in this guy’s game, even if no one wants to hear it.
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).