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R+RBI Fallers: 2018 MLB Season Recap

The 2018 season has now come and gone (so sad!), so it is now time to dive into trends and projections for next season! Run production, that is R+RBI, is a key trend to monitor, as there are tight correlations to both slugging percentage and on base percentage with the respective numbers.

Let's start with the fact that there were only eight players in baseball that tallied 100 runs scored and 100 RBI, with only two of those players repeating the feat from 2017. It is obvious those that fell off of those lists will be considered for this article, as well as others that fell off.

Of runs scored leaders year over year, there were only two players that were a leader in both 2017 and 2018 (Jose Ramirez and Charlie Blackmon). When you look at RBI, there were also only two players that were leaders in both 2017 and 2018 (Nolan Arenado and Khris Davis). Here is the list of the top R+RBI fallers from 2018.

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R+RBI Fallers of 2018

Marcell Ozuna (OF, STL): R+RBI Decrease 2018(157)-2017(217) = -60

Coming into the 2017 season, the 26-year-old Marcell Ozuna topped 80 RBI once and highest runs scored tally was 75 in 2016. Then he had a career season for the Marlins, hitting .312 with 37 home runs, 93 runs scored, and 124 RBI. He was traded to the Cardinals in the offseason and, in the prime of his career, much was expected for the outfielder.

While his former teammate Christian Yelich dominated in Milwaukee, Ozuna was very plain in St. Louis. His .280 batting average was not terrible, nor were his 69 runs scored and 88 RBI, but it was a far shout from his breakout 2017 season. All told, his OPS dropped from .924 to .758 and he was not even able to capitalize on the strong season from Matt Carpenter.

Fantasy owners need to look at 2017 as an outlier and evaluate him as what he is; look for around 25 home runs, a .275 batting average, and 175 or so R+RBI. Those are not terrible numbers in the least, but that is not the player he was in 2017, topping 100 RBI and approaching 100 runs scored. For what he is, Ozuna would be a decent OF3 in most mixed leagues.

Eric Hosmer (1B, SD): R+RBI Decrease 2018(141)-2017(192) = -51

After spending six seasons in Kansas City, Eric Hosmer had his best season in his free agent 2017 season. He hit .318 with 57 extra-base hits, 94 RBI, and 98 runs scored with what was a surprisingly decent Royals offense. Hosmer parlayed his huge season to a huge contract with the San Diego Padres, looking to build on his career averages of 78 runs scored and 84 RBI in the process.

While some of his woes could be blamed on a disappointing Padres offense (which was without Wil Myers for a majority of the season), Hosmer was a massive bust alone as well. He only slashed .253/.322/.398, knocking in 69 runs and scoring 72. This was the worst season of Hosmer's career and the first of seven that he will be in San Diego.

In San Diego, Hosmer's value is obviously suppressed and he is not a good option as a starting 1B for fantasy purposes. There is some promise in the future with the Padres farm system, which could put him in a better position for run creation, but he is not a traditional slugger. He might fit as a CI option in deeper leagues, as he is a good contact hitter.

Aaron Judge (OF, NYY): R+RBI Decrease 2018(144)-2017(242) = -98

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge was the 2017 Rookie of the Year, MVP runner-up, and was a potential first-round pick headed into 2018. He hit .284 with 52 home runs, 114 RBI, and 128 runs scored, gaudy numbers that made him one of the more valuable players in fantasy baseball. Then 2018 happened.

In late July, Judge was hit by a Jake Junis fastball, missed most of the remainder of the regular season, and ended with just 67 runs scored and 77 RBI. Judge was down a bit for the season before the injury, slashing .278/.392/.528, but the injury sapped his fantasy value. He also only hit 27 home runs and, injury or not, was one of the more disappointing players of the 2018 season.

Health is what held Judge back in 2018 and that is likely the only thing that will stop him from being a top-10 hitter in fantasy baseball next season. The Yankees are primed to put Judge in a position to thrive and he will likely approach 40 or 50 home runs if healthy. One small issue is that the Yankees do like Judge as their second hitter, which could stunt his RBI opportunities, but could also see him lead baseball in runs scored.

Jake Lamb (3B, ARI): R+RBI Decrease 2018(65)-2017(194) = -129

Arizona Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb had a solid 2016 season that he carried over to an All-Star 2017 season. In 2017, Lamb slashed .248/.357/.487, hitting 64 extra-base hits, scoring 89 runs, and knocking in 105 runs. While he had his problems against left-handed pitching, Lamb was seen as a starter at 3B in mixed leagues.

Then Lamb dealt with a shoulder injury that he could not shake for a majority of the season, playing just 56 games. While the injury could be the blame for a majority of his woes (as he finished with just 31 RBI and 34 runs scored), he did slash just .222/.307/.348 when on the field. His 14 extra-base hits were a massive disappointment after back-to-back seasons with 60+ extra-base hits.

With the Diamondbacks re-signing Eduardo Escobar, Lamb may be in a platoon in 2019 and beyond. The Snakes would obviously like to see Lamb healthy for the stretch run as well, so they may hold him back in the earlier part of the season. Lamb should not be seen as a great fantasy option to open the season, but could be a great waiver wire addition or buy-low candidate later in the season.

Jay Bruce (OF, NYM): R+RBI Decrease 2018(68)-2017(183) = -115

After breaking into the game a decade ago, Jay Bruce has made a solid career of hitting around 25-30 home runs per season and averaging around 175 R+RBI per 162 games. In 2017 with the Mets and Indians, Bruce had a .254/.324/.508 slash line with 36 home runs, 82 runs scored, and 101 RBI. In the offseason, he rejoined the Mets and was seen as a decent fantasy option as a CI.

During the 2018 season, though, Bruce dealt with a hip injury that limited him to just 94 games. When he did play, he had a .223/.310/.370 slash line that included 31 runs scored and 37 RBI. Sufficing to say, Bruce was off of fantasy rosters by the end of the season, which was his worst since 2014.

It is difficult to give up on Bruce, but he may be nearing his end as a useful player for the Mets. It is likely that he will only play first for the the Amazins in 2019, but, with Peter Alonso beating down the door, the Mets might be better off building for the future. He is a good player to keep on the waiver wire or pick up as a late-round flier.

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