Panic Meter on MLB’s Big-Name Stars Off to Slow Starts in 2022

As the month of May winds to a close, we’re no longer in “small sample size” territory when it comes to assessing a player’s individual performance over the first two months of the season.

What could be written off as a slump or a rough patch in mid-April now becomes a much greater concern as the calendar flips to June and the weather starts to heat up.

That said, it’s not time to panic about every player who is off to a slow start this year, as underlying metrics can often be a good indicator of positive regression to come based on some early bad luck.

Ahead we’ve taken a closer look at 10 big-name players who have struggled in the early going and placed a 1-5 panic-meter rating on all of them based on how concerning their slow starts are.

A “1” means that with some patience things should turn around. A “3” means the early trends are troubling, but there’s still reason to believe the player can turn things around. A “5” means sound the alarm; it’s time to start considering other options.

Let’s get to it!

 

Other Struggling Stars

Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies

After posting a career-low 96 OPS+ last season, Blackmon has been even worse this year with a .221/.288/.403 line and 86 OPS+ in 167 plate appearances. The 35-year-old has an $18.3 million player option next year, but given his age and the direction his production has been trending over the past few years, a bounce-back seems unlikely.

        

Yasmani Grandal, Chicago White Sox

In years past, Grandal has made up for his low batting average with elite on-base skills and plus power at the catcher position, but things have reached a tipping point this year. The 33-year-old is hitting .170/.276/.230 with only two home runs, and his 12.8 percent walk rate is below his 14.8 percent career mark. His batted-ball metrics are decent. But even his defensive play has declined this year, and he has a long way to go to return to his 2021 form.

         

Justin Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers

There’s a reason Turner wasn’t able to secure the four-year deal he was seeking in free agency, and it’s the regression risk that comes with a player his age. The 37-year-old is hitting .208/.265/.364 for a 75 OPS+ on the year, but he’s showing some signs of life with a .271/.328/.559 showing over his last 15 games. His production is clearly trending down, but he may still have one more solid season in the tank.

                

Jesse Winker, Seattle Mariners

For all that was made of the Cincinnati Reds’ decision to trade a controllable All-Star in Winker, he is hitting just .216/.314/.296 with two home runs in 188 plate appearances. His hard-hit rate has plummeted from 47.1 to 31.2 percent, and his metrics are down across the board, making it difficult to envision a dramatic reversal of fortune anytime soon.

Author: Lucy Green