As much as baseball is an independent game sometimes players don't have the type of production that they perhaps deserve. That's the beauty of baseball and much like variance- luck plays such a critical role in the overall results of a game. As much as we'd like process to always equal results it doesn't always happen.
This only becomes a greater issue in small sample sizes, which is what we are dealing with right now. Just two months in the season fantasy players can be left wondering what to do with their struggling players. Thus, deciding which struggles are legitimate and which players simply need better luck is critical for ideal roster management.
That will be the goal of today's piece. We generally analyze luck just based on expected statistics, but there is evidence that the difference between overall statistics and expected statistics doesn't necessarily become less during a season. Plus, the common fan can go and find which players have the greatest gap between their expected statistics and actual statistics. Rather, we'll be going under the radar to find players who will see better luck in less conventional ways. Between hitters who deserve better based on approach changes and pitchers suffering due to poor sequencing, or in other fashions, these five players should see better fortune in the future.
OF Jorge Soler, Kansas City Royals
Current Statistics: .174/.261/.303, 59 wRC+, 9.1% BB, 30.3% K
After consistently teasing loads of potential, Jorge Soler put it all together for the Royals in 2019, leading the American League with 48 home runs while posting a 136 wRC+. However, the results haven't been as pretty since then. Considering that he's a designated hitter and thus doesn't have a position, it certainly has been rough to roster him.
Fortunately, Soler's .237 batting average on balls in play indicates positive regression. However, I'm more interested in his overall approach. This season, his 72.5% zone swing rate is the highest of his career, while his 31.6% whiff rate is the lowest. Less called strikes and fewer swinging strikes lead to a career-low 27.9% called-strike-whiff-rate (CSW%) against, which should mean fewer strikeouts, right?
Wrong! Soler's 30.3% strikeout rate would be the highest for a full season in his career. Thus, not only will he have more success on balls in play, but more balls should be in play altogether. That greatly increases his batting average floor, as well as his on-base percentage if he can draw more walks. Plus, given the aggressive approach and the fact that his 7.8% home run/fly ball rate is astonishingly low, and there is definitely more power to come. In other words, there's a lot of room for improvement to bank on. If you've held onto Soler to this point, continue to do so. Assuming the right side of variance moving forward, your faith should soon be rewarded!
3B Alec Bohm, Philadelphia Phillies
Current Statistics: .209/.254/.301, 54 wrc+, 6.3% BB, 28.1% K
Selected with the 3rd overall pick in the 2018 draft, expectations have been very high for Alec Bohm to be a key offensive contributor for the Phillies. After posting a 139 wRC+ in 180 plate appearances last season as a rookie, the 24-year-old appeared to be on his way to doing that; he was a popular target for those who missed out on the "top-tier" third basemen.
That's what makes his struggles this season so perplexing. Currently, based on Fangraphs' Wins Above Replacement (fWAR), he's been the worst-qualified third baseman in baseball. That's not the trajectory we were expecting. With how much offense is present at the third base position, redraft fantasy owners of Bohm might be having a difficult time maintaining faith in a bounce back.
Bohm's .273 batting average on balls in play and 11.8% home run/fly ball will likely get better, but perhaps not enough to make him a viable offensive producer on its own. However, similar to Soler, I am very encouraged by his overall approach. With fewer chases (23.6%) and more swings in the zone (76.2%), his CSW% is only at 25%, which doesn't quite explain a 28.1% strikeout rate. In fact, Fangraphs projects that strikeout rate to go down to 21.8% for the rest of the year, which, combined with more walks, should greatly improve his outlook from an on-base perspective. I'm not as encouraged by the power, as he is hitting ground balls over half (52.4%) of the time and explains his low 8.2% barrel rate. However, if he can get on base enough, perhaps he can move up in the lineup, putting him in a position to drive more runs. Regardless, I have great confidence saying he'll be a much better player than he's been so far this season.
SP Patrick Sandoval, Los Angeles Angels
Statistics: 23.3% K, 9.5% BB, 3.95 ERA, 4.97 FIP, 1.65 HR/9
After generating 32 swings and misses last Sunday against the Mariners, Patrick Sandoval is much more on the fantasy player's radar than