It’s very early, and the sample sizes are tiny. So it’s generally not a good idea to come to conclusions based on this many games and at bats. But here are some slow starts worth monitoring:
Names are linked to BB-Reference player pages.
Joc Pederson: The Cubs opted not to sign Kyle Schwarber and instead went with left-handed platoon outfielder Pederson. So far it’s been a very slow start for Joc. He’s not hitting righties or lefties. The Cubs have allowed him to face lefties 26% of the time , (11 of 42 PA). The Dodgers got to the point where they only let him face lefties 10% of the time. The Cubs will get there too.
Yoshi Tsutsugo: I had my doubts about his batting lines being able to translate to MLB, which I expressed HERE. Last year he hit .197/.314/.395. He did hit 8 homers in 187 PA, so some of the power came with him. But his value is being sapped by continued low B.A. and OBP. He’s still making the adjustment to MLB and he won’t be a free agent until 2026. But he’ll be in his mid 30’s by then. He needs to figure it out sooner rather than later. If any organization can help him do that, it’s probably the Rays.
Keston Hiura The Brewers have to be wondering what happened here. He crushed the ball in College. He crushed the ball in the minors. He Crushed the ball in the Arizona Fall League in 2018. He Crushed the ball to the tune of .303/.368/.570. 179 OPS+ and 19 HR in just 348 rookie PA in 2019. But since the start of 2020 in 286 PA he’s hit just .198/.287/.385 79 OPS+ Not a very good defender, he’ll need to regain hitting form or he’ll start to lose playing time.
Miguel Sano: He has a TON of power. He’s averaged 39 HR per 162 games in his career. But he’s often challenged to make enough contact to keep his B.A. and OBP high enough to be playable every day. Signed through next year, the Twins also have a team option on him for 2023. He’ll need to turn it around or the Twins are likely to want to move on by then.
Tommy Pham: Pham broke a hamate bone last year and struggled to hit. Then this past off season he suffered catastrophic injuries in a stabbing incident outside a strip club. It’s all added up to disappointment in his Padres tenure so far. He’ll be a 34-year old free agent next year. He needs to get untracked or he might have difficulty getting a contract this next off season.
Joey Votto: He is clearly in steep decline now. From Age 31-33 he averaged 159 games and hit .320/.449/.557, 167 OPS+. He seemed on a sure HOF track. But in 2018 he dropped to just 126 OPS+ and hit only 12 homers. Since 2019 in 882 PA he’s hit just .247/.348/.413. .761 OPS and a well below average 93 OPS+ . He’s still batting 3rd in the Reds lineup every day however. One wonders how much longer that lasts. Votto is owed over $80M through the end of 2023. Such a hard landing in his late career might be hurting his HOF chances.
Jackie Bradley Jr. : Not a great hitter by any means, (career 93 OPS+), but his slow start is mostly notable for D-backs fans who wanted Mike Hazen to sign him to play centerfield. Milwaukee signed him to rotate in their outfield instead at the price tag of 2 years, $24M. It’s very early and there’s still plenty of time to post some better numbers. But imagine the kvetching around here if Hazen had signed him. He’ll be interesting to monitor.
Marcel Ozuna: Following his monster season in 2020, he was finally resigned by the Braves just prior to the start of Spring Training for 4 years, $68M covering ages 30-33 through 2024, with a team option for 2025. He’ll get better, but this deal may not ultimately work out great for them. He does not profile like a guy that will age particularly well.
Giancarlo Stanton: Well at least he’s on the field. He played in just 41 games between 2019-2020. He’s hit fine when available, although not quite up to the level one might expect for a guy on a contract that size. Just 7 years and $213M to go on his deal. The Yankees don’t care.
Charlie Blackmon: Through 28 games last year he was still hitting .405. Fortunately we were spared the asterisk talk of posting a .400 season playing in Coors field over a 60 game season. He hit just .200 with 3 HR for a .603 OPS over his final 31 games. Now 34 years old, he’s still slumping. The Rockies will owe him a total of $53M if he exercises his PLAYER options for 2022-2023. Why wouldn’t he ?
Now, based on my track record of calling guys out the game before they go off you’ll probably want to go grab these players in your daily roto leagues. On that note, honorable mention to Paul Goldschmidt, who homered 5 minutes after I posted something about reviving the trade comparisons. Sadly for the Cardinals and Goldy fans everywhere he went 0-4 yesterday and dropped back to .234/.280/.320, .620 OPS, 76 OPS+. He has 1 homer on the year so far in 50 PA. I’m sure a hot streak is coming. 4 years, $104M left on his deal through age 36.