The 2021 MLB season is still young, but the Atlanta Braves and the San Francisco Giants are worried about some of their best players.
2 Notable MLB Players Struggling To Open The Season
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves
However, none of them has been more disappointing than left-handed pitcher Max Fried to open the 2021 MLB season.
In a couple of starts, the talented southpaw has an ugly 9.00 ERA, with seven earned runs allowed in seven frames.
His groundball percentage, usually well-above the 50% mark, is a meager 34.8% in the early going.
He has conceded a whopping 14 hits in those seven innings, one of which left the yard.
However, as bad as Fried has been, there are signs that point at a future resurgence.
For example, his Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP, is much better than his ERA at 3.59, while his expected FIP is 3.21.
His strikeout rate is higher than it was last season, at 28.2%, and that’s a great sign for his future performance.
He has been unlucky, with a batting average on balls in play (BABIP) over .500, when .300 is around average.
I'm not gonna say Max Fried has pitched especially well while giving up four runs this inning, but it's been some incredibly bad luck — couple of seeing-eye singles, couple of bloops that fell in, just one hard-hit ball.
— Chris Paul Towers (@CTowersCBS) April 7, 2021
However, Fried needs to manage the strike zone better, as he has been extremely hittable in his first two starts.
His WHIP stands at 2.43, which is insanely high and would prevent any future success if it maintains at that rate.
As long as he keeps missing bats, there will be potential for Fried to return to his dominant level (he did, after all, post a 2.25 ERA last season), but he needs to put it together soon if the Braves are going to hang with the Mets in the NL East.
Mike Yastrzemski, San Francisco Giants
The San Francisco Giants’ outfielder was one of the revelations of Major League Baseball last season, with a .297/.400/.568 line and 10 home runs in 54 games.
A year before, he had hit 21 homers in 107 games, signaling a breakout performance.
However, he has been performing poorly to start the 2021 season, hitting just .120/.214/.240 with a dinger and a steal.
When healthy, Yastrzemski is the Giants’ best hitter and one of the most dangerous in MLB, as he has patience, power, and also some speed.
Mike Yastrzemski gave us a scare, but looks to be all right (McCovey Chronicles)
The San Francisco Giants are counting on Mike Yastrzemski to be one of, if not their best player …
— SF Giants Briefly (@SF_Giants_b) March 30, 2021
Last season, for example, Yastrzemski had a 159 Weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, which is a statistic that allows us to determine how much better or worse a player has performed compared to the average.
It was the 10th best wRC+ in MLB.
In this case, Yastrzemski’s offensive output was 59% better than his peers, which is incredible.
But things haven’t been working out for him in the 2021 season.
It’s still early, but his 39.1 strikeout rate is extremely worrisome for a player that had a 26.0% mark in 2019 and a 24.4% in 2020.
Additionally, he hasn’t been hitting the ball as hard and consistently as last year.
He has been nursing a sore left hand ever since he was hit by a pitch back in spring training, and perhaps it’s affecting him in the batter’s box.
One thing is true: if the Giants are going to fight for a Wild Card spot in the National League, they need Mike Yastrzemski to turn it around.