Prior to the season everyone considered Nate McLouth a solid outfield option, yet just six weeks into the year the majority of owners have already jumped off the bandwagon.  He’s now owned in 54 percent of CBS leagues and 40.3 percent of ESPN leagues.  How do so many owners give up on someone so quickly?

Well, a horrific start is a good reason.  Just look at this line through Saturday:

103 At Bats
.184 Batting Average (19 Hits)
3 Home Runs
10 RBI
12 Runs
1 Stolen Base
.309 On Base Percentage
.330 Slugging Percentage
.229 Batting Average on Balls in Play

Right off the bat you can see that he’s suffered from some terrible luck thus far.  That alone should be enough for owners to stay patient with him, because sooner or later the luck is going to swing the other way.

The other thing, in regards to his average, is his strikeout rate.  Just look at his rates since 2008, when he assumed a full-time job:

  • 2008 – 15.6%
  • 2009 – 19.5%
  • 2010 – 30.1%

There’s just no way I can believe his strikeouts are going to take this drastic of a jump.  It’s not like he has a terrible eye, as his walk rate has actually increased thus far this season:

  • 2008 – 9.5%
  • 2009 – 11.5%
  • 2010 – 13.5%

He’s just not making contact.  It’s a slump, plain and simple, and something that with time, he is going to emerge from.  With a drop in strikeouts and an increase in luck (aka BABIP), you can safely assume that his average is going to take a significant jump up in the coming weeks.

The stolen bases haven’t been there, but that can be because of two things.  First, he hasn’t been getting on base as much as he has in the past.  Second, he’s not hitting at the top of the order anymore.  Once he starts hitting, I fully believe the stolen bases will come.  I would be surprised if he wasn’t at 15 by years end.

The power is there at the same type of rate it’s been at in the past.  His HR/FB is at 9.7 percent, right along the lines of his career mark of 10.9 percent.  His flyball rate has also been consistent, at 43.7 percent for ‘10 vs. 44.2 percent for his career.  In other words, there’s no real surprise here.

The moral of this story?  Don’t give up on McLouth.  It really is that simple.  I’m shocked that I’ve seen him dropped in multiple five-outfielder formats and have happily snatched him up for my teams.  I recommend you do the same thing, because it’s only a matter of time before the hits start coming and the stats improve significantly.

What are your thoughts?  Is McLouth someone you have given up on already?  Is he someone you’re staying patient with?


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