MLB: Jeff Zimmerman on Evaluating Struggling Hitters

MLB: Jeff Zimmerman on Evaluating Struggling Hitters

In my last article, I discussed some lessons learned from the 2021 fantasy season. One area I wanted to improve on was how to balance patience in a long season versus moving on from a struggling player. Today, I'm going to start that analysis by diving into hitters. 

Ian Happ and Ryan Mountcastle are two hitters who I drafted multiple times and both struggled out of the gate. Using Steamer projections, Happ was projected for a .801 OPS, but was just at a .467 OPS after a month. During the same time frame, Mountcastle was supposed to be hitting around a .780 OPS but he was down at .515. Both rebounded over the rest of the season with Happ at a .813 OPS and Mountcastle at an .853 OPS. 

It was tough to roster one, let alone both as I did in a few leagues. I want to find the approximate point when I've waited long enough for regression to happen, but not continue to hold on to a player with a decline in talent. 

Besides avoiding cutting drafted players prematurely, the other way this information can be used is when other fantasy managers start dropping their struggling hitters. The following guidelines can be used to add hitters before they've been given a chance to rebound.

For the study, I took all the hitters from 2010 to 2021 (not including 2020) who Steamer projected for at least 300 PA, had at least 200 PA during the season, had at

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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