One of the most difficult things for fantasy baseball owners to do is to cut bait on a player they expected to be a superstar for them this season. A cold start for anyone is understandable and fantasy pundits always preach patience when it comes to April baseball. But sitting here mid-May and still not seeing any signs of breaking through?
It’s time to say goodbye, and yes, Victor Robles, we’re looking at you.
Drafted as a 16-year-old out of the Dominican Republic in 2013, Robles has long been a hyped prospect in baseball. Even before physical maturity, he exhibited the tools big league GMs covet, and he landed on Baseball America’s top-100 prospects list once he arrived with the Nationals’ rookie league team. His breakthrough campaign in 2019 was impressive. He belted 17 home runs and stole 28 bases, and fantasy owners were salivating at the idea of his 20-homer, 40-steal potential.
Problems arose in 2020, as Robles’ plate discipline diminished and he routinely struggled to get good wood on the ball. He began to swing at more pitches overall, and his swings outside the zone were skyrocketing. He started swinging through too many pitches, and as the contact rates diminished, the concern grew. Despite a drop in both barrels and hard-contact rates, like many other players who struggled in the shortened season, Robles got a pass.
Faith was renewed after a strong spring this season. Robles looked dialed in at the plate, and manager Dave Martinez even announced he would bat leadoff this season. Fantasy owners were salivating once again, especially with stolen bases remaining at a premium. Unfortunately, once regular-season games began, he reverted to being the Robles of 2020. His contact was weak and his barrel rates stayed down, though he was drawing walks and getting on base nearly 35 percent of the time. He was a disaster on the basepaths, getting caught stealing three times in five attempts.
The calendar has flipped to May, and things are even worse. Robles still isn’t making contact and he has been dropped to eighth in the order. If he does manage to get on base, the red light is on. In fantasy, it’s time to say goodbye, as he is doing more harm than good by staying in your lineup. If you don’t have the guts to cut him outright, then park him on your bench or explore the trade market. But holding out hope for a return to 2018 seems like a waste of your time.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy baseball advice.