Cold Starts: For Real or For Naught?

After writing about my thoughts on some of the hottest players around the league last weekend, I wanted to continue by looking at the coldest players to start the year. In this post, I’ll look at a hitter and pitcher whose cold starts will continue, and a hitter and pitcher who will turn things around.

Jean Segura, Brewers SS

Much was made of Segura’s first and second half splits last season, and his poor second half has continued into 2014. While he will run, I believe his bat is average and his power is just a fringe-average tool. He is hitting ground balls at an absurd rate this season – over 75% of the time, tops in the league. Last year he hit them 59% of the time, and with so few fly balls his home run total should remain in single digits. I hate Segura’s fantasy potential, and expect last year’s #1 shortstop on the player rater to end in the 7-10 range this season. Sell while you can.

Matt Cain, Giants SP 

Cain declined in 2013, and I think he'll continue to this season.

Cain declined in 2013, and I think he’ll continue to this season.

From 2007 to 2012, Cain was one of the most consistent starters in all of baseball. He may not have been elite in any category, but was always a safe pick and somebody you could rely on in your fantasy lineup. Now I’m not so sure. He took a step back last season with a higher home run rate, and that has continued into his first three starts this season. His ERA has consistently beaten his FIP and xFIP, but it appears the luck is catching up to him. I’d try to deal him where possible, and am not trusting him on any of my teams.

Pedro Alvarez, Pirates 3B 

While he does sit first on ESPN’s player rater, Alvarez’s average sits at just .167 and absolutely kills your team in true rotisserie leagues. Despite that drop, he has displayed a lot of encouraging signs. Alvarez’s BABIP sits at just .097 (the lowest mark in MLB) and his walk rate is the highest of his career while his strikeout rate is the lowest; if he is able to keep those rates up, his BABIP should return to the .250-.300 range and Alvarez could actually turn in a career year. Given how few true power hitters there are in the league at the moment, Alvarez remains a valuable asset and his owners shouldn’t under-value him due to a slow start in terms of average.

Homer Bailey, Reds SP 

As we tweeted last night, Bailey is probably the most obvious candidate of “bad luck” to start this season. He has always allowed a relatively high HR/FB rate (11.6%), but 60% is just ridiculous. The highest HR/FB rate in the past decade was 18.9%, and Bailey should still easily fall below that. He has an ERA of 8.16 yet an xFIP of just 2.80, and has continued to raise his strikeout rate from last season as he really broke out. Given Bailey’s strong performance last season and continued success in terms of K’s and BB’s, I’m trying to buy him wherever possible. He and Cain may have started the season #16 and #18 in terms of ADP, but I would leave Bailey in the 15-20 range while sliding Cain back to the 25-30 range.

Matt Cott is a co-founder of RotoAnalysis. Follow him on Twitter @KidCotti21! 


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