Six Swingers to Avoid

I recommend avoiding swingers. They’re a…complication. I like to keep my life simple and tidy.

When it comes to fantasy baseball, we’re usually looking for our hitters to contribute in just five statistics. Around these parts, we know there is a host of peripheral statistics to evaluate quality of performance to date and expected performance going forward. One of my favorite peripherals is swinging strike rate (SwStr%). Whilst gazing upon the swinging strike leaderboard this morning, I realized the list was topped with six players I would really like to avoid. Maybe you would like to know about players I’m avoiding.

1. Nick Castellanos: .234/.265/.404, 3.9 BB%, 20.6 K%, 17.4 SwStr%

Castellanos entered the season as a moderately touted prospect, with an average major league bat. To date, he’s demonstrated the decent power he was known for in the minors with four home runs. Unfortunately, his whiffiness is hurting his ball in play rate. A low .250 BABIP is doing the rest of the damage, which is surprising given his ridiculous 32.9 percent line drive rate. Nor has he hit any infield fly balls, which is an alternate explanation for a low BABIP.

You may have observed his 20.6 percent strikeout rate, which is low given his swing-through rate. There’s an easy explanation – Castellanos has swung at roughly 60 percent of all pitches. The league average is a 45 percent swing rate. If you’re a hitter who whiffs a lot, aggression is a good way to cut down on your strikeout rate. Opposing pitchers will eventually learn to exploit his aggression, but thus far he’s seen an average number of pitches in the strike zone.

Recommendation: A couple flavors of positive regression could help Castellanos in the near future. His league leading whiff rate could very well decline. His BABIP is certain to increase. Based on his current batted ball data, he should be among the league leaders in BABIP. I don’t like the idea of starting him, but he could be worth a bench stash.

2. Danny Espinosa: .257/.303/.446, 3.7 BB%, 29.4 K%, 17.3 SwStr%

Back when Espinosa broke out in 2011, he looked like a regular 20-20 threat with a terrible average. Well he’s back. So long as he’s playing, Espinosa can help with some home runs and stolen bases. He’ll actively hurt your team in batting average, and he’s not likely to provide many runs or RBI.

Recommendation: Espinosa is a perfectly viable roster patch until Ryan Zimmerman returns. Just know we’re looking at his upside right now. We know what the downside looks like.

3. Chris Carter: .163/.267/.365, 10.8 BB%, 35.0 K%, 16.9 SwStr%

The king of whiffs is doing his usual thing – except with a terrible .220 BABIP. Aside from a slight elevation in his infield fly rate to 15 percent, nothing is “off” about his batted ball profile. Admittedly, I have not watched the Astros very closely this season. Are teams shifting Carter?

Recommendation: Carter was always expected to be a one dimensional power hitter. He doesn’t even have a platoon split to recommend him in certain situations. He’s just hard to use for more than the occasional spot start off the waiver wire.

4. Khris Davis: .233/.246/.405, 0.8 BB%, 27.8 K%, 16.6 SwStr%

Oh boy, this was not the start to the season we were expecting. I was studiously silent about Davis heading into the season. Something about him reminds me of guys like John Mayberry Jr. and Darin Ruf. We’re seeing the downside of a fringy profile. Davis is more physically capable than Ruf and appears to have more potential at the plate than Mayberry. Still, a demotion seems to be in order so he can get back into a groove. The Brewers let him get going against minor leaguers last season, so maybe they should do the same again.

His lone walk in 126 plate appearances is a worrying sign. The biggest problem in his profile is a 37 percent swing rate at pitches outside of the zone. No wonder he’s whiffing and making easy outs.

Recommendation: Since I think the Brewers should demote Davis, you can probably guess how I feel about his fantasy prospects. He has power upside, so deep leaguers may want to trade or bench him rather than cut him outright.

5. Jarrod Saltalamacchia: .299/.400/.557, 14.8 BB%, 27 K%, 16.5 SwStr%

Here’s the stud performer in our little group of six. Salty is matching his BABIP magic from last season (currently .377 BABIP), slugging for serious power, and hitting a ton of fly balls – over 50 percent. He’s also showing a career best walk rate. He swings at a ton of pitches in the strike zone – nearly three-quarters. However, he also whiffs on pitches in the zone 17 percent more frequently than the league average hitter.

Weird stuff is happening here, and it’s hard to parse conflicting effects to produce a future expectation. My biggest concern is his position. Catchers get banged up, it just happens. Can he maintain anything like these rates when he’s less than full strength? Probably not. Meanwhile, he might whiff more frequently.

Recommendation: With seven plus months of regular season mashing, Salty is starting to pass the smell test for a lot of fantasy owners. I recommend taking advantage and selling high.

6. B.J. Upton: .212/.293/.331, 10.5 BB%, 28.6 K%, 15.9 SwStr%

Shockingly, the above line represents a massive improvement from where he stood a few weeks ago. He’s really been swinging a decent bat recently. A .291 BABIP is disappointing since he’s definitely not unlucky this year. A low .119 ISO is a continued problem from last season. Altogether, I won’t go near Upton for any reason. He has explosive upside with his athleticism, but I worry we’re seeing his actual on field upside. The only way he can improve is by increasing his aggression or learning to whiff less frequently. I’m not holding my breath.

Recommendation: I hope you didn’t get involved in the first place. In case you did, get un-involved. If you’re in a very deep league, pull up his last 14 days and sell those numbers.

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K men
K men

What about starling marte?


He’s always struck out, but put up very good numbers last year. So I wouldn’t be worried about him, he seems a high LD/BABIP kinda guy anyway, especially with his speed.