Some hot streaks catch national attention and some just don’t. Streaks that happen at the beginning of the season are naturally more likely to catch the media’s attention than those in June. However, the sample size is equally small. Although it’s important not to overreact to small sample sizes, it is necessary to notice whose streakin’ and to see if it’s because of an important change or because it’s a small sample size. Here are some guys who have been extremely streaky in the month of June to see if it’s fluky or not.
Pedro Alvarez, Pirates 3B
Is there a chance that Pedro Alvarez is going to become the elite prospect that many thought he was? Alvarez is currently having the best month of his career as he has 10 homers and a .337 average in 100 plate appearances. However, it’s not time to buy into Alvarez as anything more than a power hitting corner infielder. This month Alvarez has posted a .417 BABIP to go along with a k-rate north of 30%. While it’s extremely nice to see Alvarez is only hitting 3% IFFB as opposed to 11% in the other two months, Alvarez’s only major change is that he’s hitting an additional 5% of his balls for fly balls instead of groundballs. Alvarez has always been known as a power-option and the additional fly balls can only help, but there is nothing here to suggest Alvarez will hit for enough average in the long-term to be anything more than a plus-power hitter.
Leonys Martin, Rangers OF
Martin hasn’t set the world on fire this month, but he’s provided eleven homers + steals as well as thirteen runs and a .288 batting average. While most wouldn’t be overwhelmed by those numbers, that’s good enough to be the second best outfielder on the player rater over the last fifteen days. The best part for fantasy owners is that most of it seems sustainable. While the power may be a bit much, the ball starts to carry in Texas over the summer and Martin always projected as a guy to hit double-digit homeruns. The biggest help to Martin’s average this season has been an increase in his Z-Contact rate (pitches in the strike zone). Martin has gone from 76.6% to an impressive 86%. This has helped Martin cut down significantly on his strikeout rate and by putting the ball in play more often his speed is on display. The most important sign for the young speedster is that this month he has the highest groundball and line drive rate of his career. If Martin keeps having this success, playing time will not be an issue. Martin is a nice piece to try and add as most will think of him as a steals-only option, but he could turn into a bit more.
Jay Bruce, Reds OF
Jay Bruce has been a rather large disappointment since coming into the big leagues for me. Much like teammate Drew Stubbs, Bruce has yet to take that next step. While Bruce is significantly more valuable than Stubbs, he’s been a mostly power-only guy for the majority of his career. It seems, like Stubbs, it might be time to just accept that. Bruce has had an impressive month of June as he’s already launched ten homers to go along with seven in May after a disappointing April where he only hit one. There is nothing here to suggest that Bruce has made steps to becoming a better average hitter, as his .292 June number would suggest. With a K-rate over 27% and a line-drive rate under 18%, it would be fair to expect Bruce to be hitting for a lower average than his career mark and not a higher one. With the lowest Z-contact rate of his career, look to trade in any Bruce ownership you have right now.
Derek Holland, Rangers SP
This piece didn’t just have to be about a specific month, but it seems like people are finally starting to realize how good Holland can be. Holland has always been a personal favorite of mine and he currently is tied for the fWAR lead amongst pitcher this season with Max Scherzer. The key to Holland’s success this year has been the reliance on his slider, which he is throwing over 25% of the time now. This has been offset by barely throwing his curveball and throwing his fastball a bit less. This seems like a good decision for Holland, as his curveball has not been a positive big league pitch in terms of value since his rookie season. The increased strikeout rate should not be surprising to most as he’s in a better position to strike hitters out with his slider. Many would expect the slider would not be an effective weapon for Holland against righties, but they are only hitting .239 against him this year and getting under the slider as they’re hitting 20% more fly balls than their lefty counterparts. While a 2.75 FIP might be an unrealistic expectation, a lefty with a plus breaking pitch and a fastball that averages 94mph should be plenty of big league success in his future.
Matt Schwimmer is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis. Look for his work all season long on RotoAnalysis.com & CBSPhilly.com and follow him on Twitter @Schwimingly!
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