In the first of our new Four Bagger columns, we'll take a look at four players who all have one thing in common: They are at the very least perceived as having a sub-par season. All of these hitters -- Jimmy Rollins, Magglio Ordonez, Alfonso Soriano and Matt Holliday -- ranked among the top options at their position but have had a rough first half. But a bad first half doesn't necessarily mean that they are done. Take a look at the reasons to believe in them, not to believe in them and our predictions for the rest of the season.
Reasons not to believe in Rollins: Age (30), recent lack of production (.238-8-37-56-16), and of course that the legs are usually one of the first things to go on a guy known for stealing bases.
Reasons to believe he can turn it around: Rollins is a career .275 hitter who has exceeded that number every one of the past five years. Even the worst season of his career he hit at least .245. He's raised his average 33 points in the past month from .205 to .238. He's still on pace to exceed last year's pace in home runs, RBIs and Runs.
Prediction: A correction in average towards .260 seems very likely. Get him now and reap the rewards by getting him at the biggest discount you have seen him for since 2001.
Magglio Ordonez (OF, Tigers): It's high risk, high reward time when it comes to Magglio. Both age and health are huge considerations. His play has earned him a platoon role, with him missing games more often than not against right handers.
Reasons not to believe in Ordonez: Age (35), three seasons of declining production including this year where he is only hitting .261-5-32-33-3. His mysterious bone ailment of 2004-5 has not been explained.
Reasons to believe he can turn it around: Magglio has never hit below .280 in the majors, and over the last five seasons his average has been (from past to most recent, not including this current season) .292, .302, .298, .363, .317 -- hardly the numbers of a guy in tremendous decline. He also managed over 21 home runs in each of the past three seasons. Hitting two of his five home runs in the last three weeks may be a sign that at least the power is coming back.
Prediction: Magglio will earn more playing time and will raise his average back towards .300, his power however will tap out somewhere around 12-16 home runs at best. That's not a terrible second half, but there are better options out there unless you can grab Magglio very cheaply.
Alfonso Soriano (OF, Cubs): Soriano has been an anchor around the neck of owners who drafted him as a top ten fantasy outfielder this season.
Reasons not to believe in Soriano: Age (33), the fact that he's suddenly reached the point in his career he's becoming injury prone and managed just 453 AB last season and already has 358 this year. His home run to at bat numbers have declined this season as have his number of stolen bases per AB. He dislocated a finger earlier this week which could lead to lingering hand pain. He's definitely lost a step or two speed wise and isn't beating out as many infield hits, which is contributing to his low OBP (.308). It's easy watching his swing to believe that the .243 average (36 points lower than his career norm) is for real and that the skills are declining rapidly.
Reasons to believe he can turn it around: If Soriano can dodge the worst of the injury bug and the dislocation doesn't slow him down (he hit two home runs already since the dislocation) he's on a pace for over 600 AB. That alone should allow him to finish with between 25-30 home runs. He's on a pace to score more runs last year and roughly match last season's RBI numbers and that's with the Cubs collective lack of offense all season. If the Cubs can get hot Soriano could be a solid across the board contributor once again.
Prediction: Soriano will finish with an average below .260, but will have solid peripherals in every other category except steals where he'll finish with about 15 -- his lowest total since 2000, making him a three-, but not five-category player the rest of the way.
Matt Holliday (OF, A's): Even as I wrote this week Holliday seemed to have begun a miraculous recovery from the malaise that had beset him all season.
Reason not to believe in Holliday: He changed the mechanics in his swing for some reason this season. It's lead to more groundballs and an across the board decline in his numbers (except in RBIs which look to remain about the same). He may not end up traded to a contender since his trade value has fallen along with his numbers, very possibly to the point that Billy Beane would rather get a first-round pick and sandwich pick between the first and second rounds in the draft if he allows Holliday to depart via free agency, and he signs with a team in the top half of the standings.
Reasons to believe he can turn it around: He's managed three home runs in the past week and claims to have made adjustments to his swing to recreate the one which made him a superstar to begin with. If he's traded to a contender he'll move to a much more hitter friendly park with a better lineup all around him to help boost his peripheral numbers.
Prediction: Holliday will not be traded and will continue to produce at this level in Oakland. Finishing with over 20 home runs and a .280 average will have to be good enough.
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