It’s time for our semi-regular look at which shortstops have been up an upward, and downward, trend over the past two weeks.
After a blazing April that saw him hit .389/.433/.579 Jeter looked to be on his way to another good season, quieting his detractors once more. Since then, however, he has hit just .249/.285/.333. Over the past two weeks he’s been the 916th best player according to Yahoo! What’s been his problem? In May his ground ball percentage was over 70%. Unless you’re Billy Hamilton or Willie Mayes Hayes that’s not a good thing. He’s always hit a lot of balls on the ground, but when the number is that high, and you’re 38-years-old, you’re not beating many of them out. He also has a .575 OPS on balls hit to left field, by far the lowest of his career. And lastly, he’s swinging at more pitches out of the strikezone than ever before – 32%. He’s not worth a starting spot at the moment.
Much like Jeter, Castro had a really good April, a subpar May and a bad June. Coincidentally he ranks just ahead of Jeter at 915. Also like Jeter he’s hitting far too many ground balls; 56% in June, 8% higher than April. His game is entirely predicated on his batting average since he refuses to draw walks. I mentioned in my June tier rankings that he was succeeding but was also swinging more freely than ever before. That seems to have caught up to him. His O-Swing% is 38.3, six points higher than the previous two seasons and he’s making less contact on those pitches, as well as all pitches in general. If he doesn’t make contact he’s not getting hits. If he doesn’t get hits his average and stolen bases suffer. It’s a vicious cycle.
He’s having a better season than 2011, which is saying something. After hitting 25 home runs last season he had just six through the first two and a half months of 2012, but has caught fire and blasted five over the past two weeks. He’s walking much more and striking out much less than a year ago and has increased all three slash line categories. There’s a chance he can reach .300/.380/.500 which would help keep him atop all shortstops in terms of wOBA. He’s been the best at his position over the two weeks in the fantasy world. The best hitters in the real world don’t always make the best fantasy players; case in point Joey Votto is ranked 17th overall at the moment. Cabrera is showing that 2011 wasn’t a fluke, laying waste to other shortstops in his path.
The shortstop with the second highest ISO is…Ian Desmond? He’s currently ISO’ing .208, which is .104 points higher than last season. He had 40 extra base hits all last season in 154 games and already has 39 in 76 games this season. He’s been FAR more aggressive this year, swinging 10% more than last season but making 2% less contact. In the past two weeks he’s hit .347 and slugged .714(!) which is obviously not sustainable, but his progress this season shows the 26-year-old isn’t done growing as a player yet. He’s owned in only 79% of leagues which is just a touch higher than Dee Gordon and lower than Mike Aviles. He’s far better than both those players and is currently the third ranked shortstop overall.
Erik writes for DraysBay and has also written for Bloomberg Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ehahmann.