I spend every day watching baseball. Many times a week I try to set-up multiple screens on game day and flip through games for a few hours. It is my favorite sport to watch, analyze, and study. But even I cannot withstand the whirlwind that is the NFL Draft.
It is the same for baseball though, right? The first week of June rolls around and every media outlet, major sports reporter, and more casual sports fan tunes into the “First Year Player Draft,” don’t they? Not really. The FYPD in baseball is an event that even fans in baseball do not spend all that much time studying or researching. It won’t (likely) be shown on ESPN and these players won’t be making the same kind of impact as the NFL prospects, who have had their own “Minor Leagues” in College Football. Don’t ignore it completely though.
To start, as fans of the sport, I do feel that more people should just tune in to see and begin to learn about the picks that could make-up the future of their franchise. But in terms of Fantasy Baseball, just because a player is a really long way off doesn’t mean you can’t begin the basis for your evaluation. I got Trea Turner in multiple keeper leagues before his breakout, and the reason I have always been so high on Turner is a Scouting Report I read leading up to the 2014 Draft that just happened to be adjacent to a report on College teammate Carlos Rodon. Just because it is Day 1 doesn’t mean you can’t start evaluating players. Do yourself a favor and take at least a look at a basic list like this one from MLB.com sometime in the next month, and keep an eye on the Draft when it comes around on June 4th.
And a special shout-out to new Chicago Bears ROQUAN SMITH, JAMES DANIELS, and ANTHONY MILLER, as well as GM RYAN PACE. It is one thing to draft talent, but these three are true super-star individuals. Pace has worked to create a Team, Organization, and Culture for sustainable success into the future, and I absolutely love these three people.
Buying and Selling After Week 4, 2018
A rough start to the season, Margot is a high-end prospect and talent who I still believe can easily reclaim his lead-off spot. Margot has slipped to under 50% ownership and with speed at a premium, I believe Margot deserves a little bit more run in fantasy leagues. Key statistic: Margot is legitimately struggling at the plate, but the .178 BABIP after a .300+ BABIP in 2017 shows that perhaps there’s a bit of luck involved here as well.
This is another textbook buy-low. Now, it’s not a buy-low if you’re in a shallow league. The upside isn’t significant enough to warrant the move. But in deep leagues or AL-Only leagues, Calhoun is a solid, proven Outfielder who has a playing-time guaranteed position and glove as well as a solid Line-Up in front of him. Maybe not an OF3, but very likely an OF5 or better by season’s end.
With Carlos Gonzalez hitting the DL and Parra having a nagging injury already this season, the Post-Hype David Dahl steps into the friendliest situation in fantasy baseball. His ownership is rising— but not enough. By my last check Dahl’s ownership was sitting at 18.8% in ESPN leagues. Dahl has easy OF2-3 upside and his barriers to Playing Time aren’t strong enough to keep a former highly regarded Rockies prospect if he’s performing. I’m willing to pay for the ticket and take the ride. Key Statistic: In 2016, David Dahl posted a .314 BA, 25 HRs, and 22 SBs in 572 PAs between AA and the MLB, including 7 HRs, 5 SBs, and a similar .315 BA in just over 200 MLB PAs.
Not ranking Semien in my preseason Rankings was a mistake I regretted even before the season started. Semien has power and speed and is a priority in the Oakland A’s line-up. He is hitting at the most premium line-up positions often and is starting to heat up in terms of average as well. I’m not paying too much for Semien, don’t get me wrong. But this isn’t a flash in the pan. The point of Buying High is the idea of counter-intuitive logic. If someone is trying to maybe “hot potato” Marcus Semien, I’d be willing to make the first step to ask about the price. Key Statistic: Semien‘s fantasy line per-600 PAs over the past three years: .247 BA, 21 HRs, 13 SBs, 79 Rs, 68 RBI. Adding in a 15 HR, 11 SB season from 2014 with a better average doesn’t hurt the line too much either.
Gleyber Torres / Ronald Acuna
For Torres and Acuna, it’s not a matter of what is possible but what is guaranteed. It’s also not a matter of trying to get rid of a player. I’m not saying you should SELL Torres or Acuna. They are talented players and the ride could be worth it. But prospects like this often see their prices skyrocket when they make debuts and especially when they hit successfully. Both have hit successfully so far, so I’d be looking to see if someone is willing to pay me a ransom to get a hot young prospect.
This comes down to the confidence level you have in the playing time situation. Personally, I think the Yankees still really like Brandon Drury. That might not sound like an overwhelming name to be afraid of, but Drury doesn’t have to beat out Andujar, he just needs to get a decent amount of playing time when he returns from his migraine issues to affect Andujar’s potential value. Maybe not the best information, but the Yankees broadcast referred to Drury in a game I was watching prior to his injury as a player the Yankees felt was a potential 30 HR hidden gem. I think they want to give Drury more ride, even at the expense of Andujar.
Like Andujar, Solarte’s situation is completely based on the playing time situation around him. I like the talent as a modest-ceiling infielder, but with Josh Donaldson and Kendrys Morales healthy I don’t know if his playing time becomes a priority. You probably won’t get a lot of value, so maybe “hold” is the better option here, but if I can sell Solarte as a full-time player for the rest of the season, I would be willing to do so as I don’t think the path to playing time is so clear-cut.
I believe in the talent of Hanley Ramirez. I don’t, however, believe in him staying healthy. At the least, I would be looking to see if a different owner did believe in the health. A stock that is worth a lot right now but also has the potential to just collapse and be worth nothing is something to look into selling if you can find the appropriate buyer. Key Statistic: Ramirez has averaged just 490 PAs between 2013-2017, and has often been hindered due to injury during that time.
Another argument about confidence, I don’t necessarily disbelieve in Villanueva. But, unlike Jose Martinez or someone of this ilk, Villanueva I have not been sold on yet. I think he could be a good ballplayer, but between his fielding and his career to date as a minor leaguer, I would be shopping Villanueva around again to see if I could find an owner willing to buy for the price of someone I feel more confident in as a season long contributor. Key Statistics: Between pitches designated by BrooksBaseball as Change-Ups, Curveballs, and Sliders, Christian Villanueva has managed just 2 2Bs and 0 HRs. This isn’t a proven flaw by any means, but is a key reason why I at least believe Villanueva needs more time before I believe he is ready to be a contributor. I need to see this sample play out.
This section will be short, but I just wanted to make a quick note about Davidson’s 2 HR game. Jakob Junis, who allowed both HRs, is a sinker/slider pitcher. My scouting report on Davidson has constantly stated he struggled against the Curveball and 4-Seamer. I’ve heard many suggest that maybe you should try to stream Davidson against Lefties. Don’t stream him against lefties. If you’re going to stream a split for Matt Davidson, make it Ground-Ball pitchers, and avoid starting him against fly-ball pitchers. Seems counter-intuitive but he’s a low ball hitter who struggles with the high pitch, which is why I have been out on him since the beginning. On the season according to baseball-reference, against Fly-Ball pitchers Davidson has an OPS of just a hair above .500. THIS is the important split for Davidson, not handedness.
Final Hitter Notes
I didn’t want to get through this entire piece without mentioning Teoscar Hernandez, who is trending towards being a “Buy High” type of player. I love what we’ve seen so far from Teoscar Hernandez. His combination of Hard Contact, Line Drive contact, and a decent spread have me believing in some of the hype. I haven’t seen quite enough to put him into the “buy high” category, but I believe he will probably be there sooner rather than later. Key Statistic: An elite ratio of Hard/Soft Contact, with a 48.6% Hard% and 8.1% Soft%.
The Nimmo Report
Not much to say here, but as I’ve been following him in every article to date I felt odd just leaving him out entirely. I’m going to continue beating the drum on my prediction: Lead-off by All-Star Break.
The Detroit Top 2
I’ve discussed line-up positioning from the beginning of the season as one of the primary places you can find value. I’ve already re-addressed that to some extent in this piece with Semien above. Because of this point, I’ve been keeping an eye on and have added Jeimer Candelairo and Leonys Martin in some leagues since the beginning of the season, despite their struggles. Now both these players are heating up and with the PAs that they are slated to get, both are becoming more and more worth a look. My point here in my final hitter note is two fold:
1.) Candelairo and Martin, if they’re on the waiver, are worth a look
2.) Keep an eye on line-up positioning. It is a key place to find fantasy value.
And until next week… (Plus a note about pitchers).
As always I hope you all enjoyed this week’s “Buys” and “Sells,” but time for the “Buy/Lo Hitters” guy to call a shot in the world of pitching. I have a piece on Dylan Bundy coming up this weekend, my sequel to “Hot Young Thangs” (also incl. Blake Snell, Sean Manaea, & Chris Stratton). Bundy‘s been off to a red-hot start, and I believe he’s turned a legitimate corner. This past start against the Tampa Bay Rays to me represents the last legitimate buying opportunity that many may have for Dylan Bundy at a price anywhere close to where he’s going now. Maybe I’m wrong, but at 25 Years Old and with one of the best pitches in baseball, I think Dylan Bundy is hitting the next level.
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #167, 6/23/2019 Host Brian Roach, Jr., Co-Host Cole Freel, Guest Kevin Bzdek
Major League Fantasy Baseball Show Episode #169, 8/4/2019 Host Cole Freel, Guest Joe Iannone
@brandonziman You are more than welcome Brandon. You were a fantastic writer and a joy to work with. As we move through a very big transition for us hopefully we can continue to work with one anither.