Every season has its share of surprises and disappointments, but some players play so far below expectations that they are tossed away to the darkest places on your free agent wire or oppositions' roster. However, as the season continues marching toward September, some players begin to emerge from the darkness. By the way, what ever happened to The Darkness ?
These three players represent the biggest of the busts (think clean thoughts people), but they also represent some hope for a late season's surge.
Using Yahoo! owned percentages
Aaron Hill - 75 percent
Hill's monstrous 2009 performance has been followed up by a miserable .211/.286/.390 line to this point. However, the power numbers have still been quite good and ZiPS projects seven more home runs this season, which would give Hill 23 by season's end. The problem has been a severe lack of line drives. For most of the season, Hill's line drive rate was sitting around an extremely low nine percent. That rate has been trending in the right direction over the last month or so.
In July, Hill raised his line drive rate to 15 percent, which is still not good, but an improvement. In 15 at-bats so far this month, Hill is 6-for-15 with two home runs.
If you need a second baseman, with some potential to put up good power numbers over the season's final two months (Hill hit seven home runs in May), then try buying low on Hill before he really gets his home runs swing working.
Pablo Sandoval - 88 percent
Sandoval is a free swinger, we all know that, but he is a very good contact hitter. Last season, Sandoval got by with his free swinging ways. A .350 BABIP with only an 18 percent line drive rate helped in that regard, but this season his hacking ways have made him a fantasy bust.
Last season, Kung Fu Panda swung at pitches outside the strike-zone almost 42 percent of the time. That is an astonishingly high chase rate, but this season Sandoval is going after even more bad pitches (44 percent). Clearly, as the results continued to turn out negative, Sandoval lost some of his confidence. As a result, Sandoval has been less aggressive on pitches in the strike-zone.
Swinging at fewer good pitches and more bad pitches is never a good thing.
(O-Sw = Swings at pitches outside the strike-zone, Z-Sw = Swings at pitches inside the strike-zone)
This approach has led to a very low 16.7 percent line drive rate, but just like Aaron Hill (even more so than Aaron Hill), Sandoval is showing signs of regaining his stroke.
In July, Sandoval maintained a 20 percent line drive rate. Despite hitting more line drives, Sandoval's BABIP was only .286. If Sandoval can continue to hit line drives and has a bit more luck in BABIP, there is a chance his AVG and confidence rises over these last two months. We've all seen how big his potential is.
Matt Wieters - 71 percent
Every now and again I hear someone at a ballgame or bar yell out the line from Old School, "You're my boy Blue!" It's been almost two full seasons since I first got on the Weiters train and still to this day, every once and a while, and not as loud, I say to myself, "You're my boy Matt. You're my boy."
There have been times when it felt like Weiters had left this earth as I couldn't seem to find him in any highlights or any statistical leader boards. But things started to shift a little last month and the plate discipline that I loved from his minor league days may have returned.
A look at Weiters' overall numbers makes me cringe. A .258 AVG and eight home runs doesn't spark much enthusiasm, but in July Wieters hit .289 and drew eight walks to only three strikeouts in 54 plate appearances. Also in July, Wieters held a season high 23.3 percent line drive rate.
He simply looks more comfortable and confident at the plate and his upside is among the best in the game. If you need to make a move for a catcher and want to buy low, Wieters might just be the man for the job.