Even at a top-heavy position, Jesus Aguilar entered 2019 threatening to join the elite tier of first basemen. The 28-year-old bashed 35 homers last year and drove in 108 runs as the Brewers edged the Cubs for the NL Central crown. So why does Aguilar lead this week’s Droppables nearly a month into the season? A quick glance at his statistical profile provides an easy answer.
Aguilar has gotten off to an abysmal start this season, slashing .134/.234/.164. He has yet to leave the yard in 79 plate appearances, one of just nine players to do so with at least 75 trips to the plate. Aguilar has struck out 18 times, nearly quadrupling his RBI total of five. He’s been lapped by the top-end fantasy first basemen, and is sinking more and more every day.
We’d be more inclined to give Aguilar the benefit of the doubt following an impressive 2018, if he had a longer track record, but his All-Star campaign from a year ago already looks like an aberration. He hit 16 homers in 311 plate appearances in 2017, and was supposed to be a part-time player last year before Domingo Santana flamed out. What’s more, his manager doesn’t seem inclined to give him much of a leash. Aguilar was on the bench for the Brewers’ entire three-game series in St. Louis, giving way to Eric Thames, who has three dingers in his last six games. Just like Milwaukee was deep enough to turn to Aguilar for a struggling Santana last year, so, too, could it tap its surplus of quality bats and relegate Agular to part-time duty. His time as a bankable fantasy asset may be coming to an end sooner than we originally believed.
With that, let’s to the rest of this week’s Droppables.
Marwin Gonzalez, 1B/2B/3B/SS/OF, Twins
Gonzalez will earn him plenty of at-bats in Minnesota, and the appeal of his eligibility at five positions makes the Swiss-army knife an intriguing fantasy option. If only his bat matched his versatility.
Gonzalez enters play Thursday slashing .177/.250/.242 with just two extra-base hits in 68 plate appearances. His game hasn’t translated from Minute Maid Park to Target Field, and Gonzalez’ slide to the bottom half of Minnesota's lineup hasn’t helped matters from a fantasy persepctive. Waiting for a significant jump in production may be a fool’s errand.
Like Aguilar, Gonzalez is a bit of a one-year wonder. He finished 19th in the AL MVP voting in 2017, slashing .303/.377/.530 with 23 homers and 90 RBI. The year before, he posted a .254 batting average, and he hit .247 last season, with a combined 29 homers those two years. Take out his stellar 2017, and you get an average offensive performer who relies on his defensive versatility to remain an MLB regular.
Jose Peraza, 2B/SS, Reds
Peraza’s value stems from his ability to get on base and steal bases, while adding significant run-scoring upside at the top of what was supposed to be a high-powered offense. Neither he nor the Reds have cooperated with the fantasy community’s best-laid plans.
Peraza is slashing .159/.171/.232 with 17 strikeouts against two walks. An OBP of .171 has afforded him just three steal attempts. He’s been successful twice, but that doesn’t really matter if he isn’t getting on base in at least one-third of his plate appearances. The Reds, meanwhile, rank 26th in the league in runs per game. Peraza could lose his spot at the top of the order, and that would land him in the bottom-third, the spots where fantasy production goes to die.
Zach Eflin, SP, Phillies
Eflin began the season as an intriguing fantasy sleeper after pitching to a 4.36 ERA, 3.80 FIP and 1.31 WHIP with 123 strikeouts in 128 innings last year. He hasn’t followed through on that sleeper upside, amassing a 4.15 ERA, 4.92 FIP and 1.35 WHIP through five starts covering 26 innings. He has surrendered 30 hits, including six homers, in his 26 innings, and has failed to pitch into the fifth inning in two of his last three starts. Over his last three starts, losses to the Marlins, Rockies and Mets, he has allowed 11 earned runs on 21 hits in 14 innings, striking out just nine while walking four. There’s no reason to hold onto him at this point.