Collette Calls: Stop the (Statistical) Madness

Collette Calls: Stop the (Statistical) Madness

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

We are approaching the two-month point of the current season, and we still have some statistical issues which are past the point of unbelievable and quickly zooming toward ridiculous. The positive side of the ledger shows us that we have seen the league-wide batting average improve week-over-week in May, jumping 11% from its .231 mark the first full week of the month to a .256 mark as play begins May 28. 

I began working on this article Saturday morning and my initial outline had Marcus Semien leading off because his home-run drought was full-blown absurdity. He had never gone this many plate appearances without a homer, but this was not the first time in his career that he has had a sustained homer drought. It was for that reason I made a prediction Saturday morning that he would homer that day and even went as far as predicting where the homer would go and who it would come against.

 The homer happened, even if the rest of the conditions in the prediction did not. Hopefully this can wake Semien up and get him moving from what has, to this point, been a massively

We are approaching the two-month point of the current season, and we still have some statistical issues which are past the point of unbelievable and quickly zooming toward ridiculous. The positive side of the ledger shows us that we have seen the league-wide batting average improve week-over-week in May, jumping 11% from its .231 mark the first full week of the month to a .256 mark as play begins May 28. 

I began working on this article Saturday morning and my initial outline had Marcus Semien leading off because his home-run drought was full-blown absurdity. He had never gone this many plate appearances without a homer, but this was not the first time in his career that he has had a sustained homer drought. It was for that reason I made a prediction Saturday morning that he would homer that day and even went as far as predicting where the homer would go and who it would come against.

 The homer happened, even if the rest of the conditions in the prediction did not. Hopefully this can wake Semien up and get him moving from what has, to this point, been a massively disappointing fantasy season. He would need to go on an incredible hot streak for his managers to have any hope of recouping their early-round investment into him, but perhaps this homer will get him back on a path to fantasy relevancy as it has after previous slumps. 

Semien is not the only player going through some type of hitting or pitching statistical slumps, so let's take a look at some others who can hopefully experience a moment of success such as the one Semien had Saturday when he finally snapped his homerless drought. Look at how happy and relieved he was in his post-game interview:

Robbie Grossman is coming off a career season in which he joined the 20-20 club for the first time in his career. He has two steals in 2022, but has now gone 201 at bats since his last home run on September 12, 2021. Grossman has hit a disappointing .204/.319/.249 during this homerless streak which has put a strain on fantasy managers in any format because both the average and the on-base percentage are tough to carry for someone doing little else. The 20 runs and two steals during this streak just are not enough to carry someone with this kind of Statcast profile:

Grossman is now on the injured list after experiencing neck spasms. When healthy, he is only usable in deep AL-only formats. There is no scenario where it is worth carrying him on a mixed-league roster until he shows some signs of a pulse. The disciplined approach at the plate has always been his strength, but nothing is happening when he is making contact.

Andrew Benintendi stole 20, 21 and 10 bases from 2017-2019 with Boston. He swiped eight bags in 2021 with Kansas City, but was also caught nine times. His last successful stolen base occurred on Aug. 6, 2021 and he has just two stolen-base attempts since that date. Mike Matheny has yet to permit Benintendi to attempt a stolen base this season, despite the fact he has a .394 OBP and has had 94 opportunities to attempt a stolen base. If you are carrying Benintendi for his stolen-base potential, it is clear last year's 8-for-17 effort left a lasting impression in the head of Matheny, who is just not going to let the outfielder give away outs in 2022. There is also the fact Benintendi simply isn't as quick on his feet these days as he was with Boston:

Benintendi is hitting .312/.368/.456 during this steal drought, so he has certainly helped in other areas even if he has been anchored to the base as a slowing 27-year-old.

The longest RBI drought in the league currently belongs to Tampa Bay's Taylor Walls, who has gone 20 games and 67 at-bats without driving anyone in. It is tough to drive in runners while hitting .075/.114/.090. Walls earned his reputation as an elite defender in the minors, but even that has failed him as he has struggled in the field as well with nine errors. He is getting mostly regular playing time with Brandon Lowe out because Vidal Brujan has been as bad if not worse than Walls, but even deep AL-only leaguers would be better off using a platoon player than Walls on a regular basis. (edit: Walls ended the streak on Sunday with a solo homer in the fourth inning.)

Speaking of defensive aces struggling, Cristian Pache has gone 20 games and 59 at-bats since his last run scored. Pache's defense is some of the best in the league, and only because he plays for the rebuilding Athletics is he in the lineup as often as he is. He is hitting .136/.191/.170 in this spell and really should not be playing as often as he is. 

On the pitching side of the ledger, there are a few streaks going on which can hopefully change soon. Five pitchers -- Nathan Eovaldi, Brandon Woodruff, Robbie Ray, Zach Plesac, and Vladimir Gutierrez -- have allowed at least one home run in each of their last five starts. Eovaldi is carrying a 5.02 ERA in that stretch, Woodruff at 4.32 and Ray is at 5.34, with each of those ERAs being much higher than fantasy managers expected. Woodruff has still been able to deliver three wins in his five starts, but he has certainly had some bumpy outings this season, and the right-hander is now on the IL with a high ankle sprain. Eovaldi has been on both ends of the spectrum, getting bludgeoned by his hometown Astros but then throwing a complete game win against Baltimore two starts later. Ray allowed four homers over his first two starts, then none in his next three, before allowing one in each of his May outings. His ERA has jumped from 4.15 to 4.75 this month while he continues to amass the strikeouts. 

There are also a few pitchers still searching for their first win. JT Brubaker has gone 10 starts without a win. Pitching for the lowly Pirates is part of the issue, but Brubaker should be rewarded better while allowing two or fewer runs in four of his last five outings. One has to figure a win will eventually come his way as he has a 3.06 ERA and has held opposing hitters to a .232 average over his last seven starts.  Jordan Montgomery has a 3.30 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, a 4% walk rate and zero wins to show for it. Montgomery has gone 11 consecutive starts without a win dating back to 2011. Only Zack Greinke has a longer active winless streak as his currently sits at 14 games. Greinke has not pitched nearly as well as Montgomery, but Montgomery continues to get poor run support when he is out there, or the bullpen takes over and gives up the lead. It is rotten luck that has to end at some point because he has certainly pitched well enough to fall into at least one win. 

Finally, because he may never get an article mention again, Ashton Goudeau is on an unfortunate run of allowing at least one run in nine consecutive outings dating back to April 17. He began the season with three scoreless appearances, but has since permitted 18 runs (16 earned) in his last 15.1 innings of work including three more in the doubleheader against the Nationals over the weekend. Reliever volatility always wins. 

It is important to not get too terribly impatient with certain players on long cold streaks. I say this as someone who is currently reserving Joey Gallo in three leagues after aggressively pursuing him this winter. I have a fear that finally dumping him will be the spark that sets him off and he puts up the homers I sorely need on my AL squads for a different owner. Every one of us has done that in the past where we cut bait on someone a week early only to watch someone else grab the player and fully enjoy the outputs. Learn from your past mistakes. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast every Sunday. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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