It’s hard to always know the right way to attack an article. From the beginning of writing this weekly column, I’ve tried to go away from a more traditional “Buy Low / Sell High” methodology, and at the least include criteria like “Buy High” and “Sell Low,” which offer at the very least a less-traditional approach. This article will try something just a bit different.
This article won’t be organized by “Buying” and “Selling,” but whether just by the individuals themselves, with the goal of the piece being to determine a verdict on some of the more intriguing players currently being debated in Fantasy Sports circles. I’ve tried to include a similar volume of quantity as well for those who are simply looking for players to target, and may not be able to get that from just these players.
I’m curious as to how this will be received, so please leave a comment here or any additional Social Networking platform and let me know if you’d prefer to see a more direct Buying / Selling structure in the future, or if you enjoy the focus on giving 3-Dimensional view points of intriguing players.
Revisiting Previous Outlooks
I’ve always felt like the Ron Paul “It’s Happening” GIF is the most over-used in Fantasy Sports, but otherwise I’d have one posted right here, because it is starting to feel like it’s happening: Brandon Nimmo might get a shot at being an everyday player for the New York Mets.
Anyone following my weekly pieces knows that more than just about any hitter in the game of baseball, I have tracked Brandon Nimmo as someone who I believe has a lot of talent, but isn’t being given the opportunity he deserves. As my site-mate Kyle Amore pointed out during one of my rants on Nimmo in an earlier MLFS Radio Show, when teams are winning like the Mets were they don’t make changes. Except for now: the Mets aren’t winning, and have looked poor enough that the NY Media is currently getting into arguments about whether they should start considering shopping DeGrom and Syndergaard. Cespedes is on the DL, to make no mention of fourth-OFer Juan Lagares being on the shelf now for the entire season. Bruce still has plantar fasciitis and while Adrian Gonzalez hasn’t necessarily been “Terrible” he’s not an investment that needs protected.
And what has Nimmo done during it all? Only a .443 OBP and .483 SLG, and while his numbers have taken a bit of a dip in the month of May, he still possesses the overall skill-set to warrant wide-spread fantasy intrigue if he gets the full-time role. And the dip of his numbers is both largely justifiable due to his lack of playing time, and also still comes with a .389 OBP for the month of May.
Previously I’ve called Nimmo a luxury hold. The luxury part is gone. He doesn’t possess 5×5 fantasy upside to the extent that I would go out and get him in every league, but he should be great as a back-end Outfielder in a 5-OF league who chips in at all five categories with some added upside from his Run total.
And if you’re in an OBP, he could be a five category contributor PLUS have the ability to be a top 10 finisher in that category, as a .400 OBP is quite rare and I think Nimmo will possess one for the majority of the time he plays in the 2018 season.
As Matt Davidson continues to have success, I continue to reevaluate my opinion, but stand true to the idea that I still don’t completely buy this idea that Davidson is baseball’s most improved hitter. Being solid in April and May is better than just April, but it’s still nothing like sustained success. And the specific holes that I have evaluated in Davidson’s game from Day 1 have to date still not changed in a substantial way that would make me feel confident in his abilities as a baseball player.
My complaint from Day 1 about Davidson was 4-Seam Fastball and Curve-ball performance. These have not changed. I understand that he’s performed admirably, or at least above my expectations of a .200 BA again in May, but against 4-Seam Fastballs he has 22 PAs, 18 ABs, 3 Hs (1 HR), and 9 Ks (.167 BA / .389 SLG) in the month of May. Throughout his entire career he has struck out on roughly 50% of his ABs ending in 4-Seam Fastballs. This is simply unacceptable.
One thing that’s happening with Davidson in May is that pitchers haven’t been able to throw the Curveball for strikes. Does he get some credit for laying off these pitches? Absolutely! But he’s not going to sustain a 68.0% Ball% on Curveballs. Pitchers are just bouncing him Curveballs instead of trying to spot it low in the zone. This will be adjusted. It is partially skill that only 1 AB in the entire month of May has ended in a Curveball (0/1), but I don’t think he can sustainably lay off this much successfully.
VERDICT: WAS SELLING, STILL SELLING, STILL CONFIDENTLY SELLING
%PA v. LHP
*HR per 600 PAs
The most added player in ESPN leagues currently is Reds Second Baseman Scooter Gennett, who has had massive statistical growth since arriving in Cincinnati. The first thing to note about the above table is that despite his improved numbers, these haven’t come with the Reds protecting him from Left-Handed pitching, but rather from him being used far more regularly. Scooter Gennett has always been a great Fastball hitter (.316 BA pre-2017), but has greatly improved against off-speed pitches in what is now, to me, a legitimate sample.
Some of these changes are more mild, and the aggressive Batting Averages on Curveballs and Change-Ups no doubt come with a bit of fortune, but the general take-away is that Gennett, who has always hit fastballs well, now hits Change-Ups and Curves well, and while he does not excel at Sliders compared to other pitch types, he has greatly improved in that area of weakness as well, from a .330 SLG to a .448.
Gennett’s biggest difference this year, which in my limited space I’ll leave to discuss either in the Comments or via another outlet like Reddit, is specifically the fact that he’s destroying Lefties. Of course that’s still a small sample size, but 13 hits with numerous XBH is fairly impressive this early in the season. He may still have some platoon splits of course, as he hit under .250 against LHP in 2017, and I don’t necessarily believe he’s going to continue to rake against lefties, but as a whole his evolution seems fairly defensible in the numbers.
Again, everything in fantasy sports has to be taken in a relative context. I’m not saying that I think Scooter Gennett is a top 5 second baseman for the rest of the season, but looking up and down the 2nd Base Rankings, do I think he has at least a strong possibility of finishing in the top 10? Yeah, I do.
Much of the analysis of CJ Cron will echo at the least the philosophies of the above section on Scooter Gennett, as my historic problems with CJ Cron have deeply involved pitch deficiencies. He has historically struggled throughout his career against both Sliders and Change-Ups, posting .363 and .296 SLGs against those pitch types prior to 2017. Unlike Gennett though, I don’t believe it is as likely that Cron has made a significant and sustainable change.
So the most obvious change is easily the ISO. Cron may not have improved in the rate of balls that turn into hits, but he has hit a lot more Homers. And, while this could be a simple “HR/FB” regression type situation, it could also mean slight improvements on how he makes contact when he gets a hold of the pitch. The problem is that I don’t think that the low BAs and associated low BABIPs are entirely based on luck.
Cron has a fairly high Pop-Up rate against these types of pitches, and also in general possesses a moderately high 21.1% Soft% on Fangraphs. By my estimates, he has always struggled with picking up the transition from recognizing when that Fastball is not a Fastball, but a Slider or Change-Up. I believe he has gotten better in this regard, but unlike Gennett, I still think he has quite a bit to work on. I think he still gives up far too many ABs with soft or harmless outs, and these are the types of things that Gennett and gone away from to improve his game. I’m intrigued by Cron, but if someone’s willing to buy…
Final Hitters Notes
Updating Jorge Soler
My last two articles, in regards to Jorge Soler, have focused on his historical struggles and the potential for his improvement against, essentially, anything not regarded as a “Fastball.” He managed a Single and a Double this week against Sliders, which has been his greatest Achilles’ heel, but did Whiff a bit on off-speed pitches this week. This is saved for the bottom because it is such a small sample update, but for the time being I may throw out a weekly performance report for Soler against these pitch types every now-and-then. Keep in mind, these stats in these samples aren’t supposed to suggest sustainable success, but more or less what I am tracking to determine how much I believe in Soler. I am still trending towards, but not yet at, a point where I’m willing to call Soler a “Buy.”
Is Michael Brantley Back?
Why not? I mean it’s kind’ve a hard argument to make because of where he’s been the last few years, but he is a relatively young player (compared to actually being “old”) who possesses an incredibly rare skill-set that is also often the kind that ages very gracefully. He makes elite contact and has an incredible control of the strike zone. Maybe the speed isn’t there anymore, and I wouldn’t expect it to come back, but when Michael Brantley was “Michael Brantley,” hitting under .300 would have been preposterous, so while you can’t be fully confident in the long term health, you have to imagine that this is a player you’re going to want to keep around.
Don’t Forget About These Players Returning From Injury
Now likely in most competitive leagues most of these players are stashed somewhere on the DL as many of them are widely owned despite injury, but especially in shallower leagues some of the following players may be available, and may be soon playing on a Baseball Diamond again, in no particular order: Jeimer Candelairo, Adrian Beltre, Todd Frazier, Dansby Swanson, Leonys Martin, and Bradley Zimmer. Each case is a bit different. Candelario and Martin I’ve been talking up as an underrated duo that sits at the top of a line-up in Detroit, but injuries to each have halted what had actually turned into somewhat legitimate momentum. Both injuries are minor and both will be back soon. Beltre is on a team with the opportunity to play some DH and I believe he still has enough strength in his legs to continue to contribute when he returns. Swanson was a 2017 disappointment but had been solid in 2018 prior to his injury. And Zimmer, who was a pre-season player I liked quite a lot, has the potential to be a 2017 Byron Buxton-esque player as long as Cleveland gives him opportunities.
As always, I’ll be discussing some of these topics and much more on the Sunday Radio Show on BlogTalkRadio at [8:00] PM EST, and until next week,
Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Brian Roach, Jr, and Cole Freel live on Sunday May 20th, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #121 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. We will discuss the latest information in the world of fantasy baseball.
Our guest this week is Andy Macuga former Head Coach of Borrego Springs High School in San Diego. Andy is also a veteran owner in Major League Fantasy Sports leagues covering baseball and football.