Saturday, June 22, 2013

Can Matt Joyce Be Trusted?

In 2011, Matt Joyce played in 141 games for the Tampa Bay Rays.  It was his first full season of action and he was solid, hitting .271 that season with 32 doubles, 19 home runs and 75 RBI.  He even added 13 stolen bases.  But his June and July splits were terrible, batting .173 in June and .184 in July.  Last season he pulled the same stunt, with an average in the high .280's after May, but June and July saw .250 and .222 averages.  He finished last season batting .241.  Joyce is off to a hot start again, already with 14 home runs and 40 runs scored, but is that .299 average in May the only thing keeping him from being a .240 hitter?

They say you are what you are and you can usually look at the back of a players baseball card to figure out what kind of season they should have.  In Matt's case, that's not good.  He is a career .315 hitter in May, but baseball is a LONG season and they play well through the summer months.  Outside of May, Matt Joyce is just a .240 hitter and guess what, May was last month.  If you decide to add Matt Joyce to your team from this point forward, you might be disappointed.  He only hit .299 this May, well below his career average for the month and he has trouble against lefties, hitting just .216 this season above his .203 career average, which could lead to a platoon, if it hasn't already with Wil Myers being called up, if the struggles start to hurt the team.

The one positive this season is that the power numbers have been consistent with 5 home runs in April, May and 4 so far through June, with about a week left to hit his 15th home run.

The Rays happened to face 14 straight righties from May 27 to June 10, allowing him 14 straight starts, and he took advantage of them, so much that the Rays kept him in the lineup for a game against tough lefty Jon Lester Tuesday.  And Joyce responded with another home run, his sixth in his last 21 games.  If the Rays continue to trust him against left-handed pitchers and he continues to perform against them, he'll quickly become more than just waiver fodder in standard mixed leagues. Keep an eye on his playing time. - Scott White - CBS Sports (6/12)

On Monday June 17th (updated yesterday), Michael Beller of SI wrote an article that featured Joyce:

His advanced stats give off some mixed signals. His 11.4 percent walk rate is right in line with his career numbers, and he's not striking out nearly as much as he has in the past; his current 17 percent strikeout rate is about four percent less than his career average. He has a .268 BABIP, which would usually suggest that his numbers might actually improve over the rest of the season. However, his line-drive rate is 16.8 percent and his fly-ball rate is 46 percent, so he's earning that low BABIP to a certain degree. - Inside Fantasy Baseball

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