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The “Cole Miner” Buys and Sells Week 8 Hitters

As a bit of a departure, last week’s Buy/Sell hitting article moved away from an organization based on player distinction and focused more on the profiling and analysis of individuals. While I didn’t get much direct feedback about this methodology, the number one player I intended to discuss, Scooter Gennett, drove a lot of the comment discussion and it seemed that many preferred this more individualized approach. So, as I move forward, I’m going to continue to attempt to give more complete profiles on some of baseball’s more interesting Hitters and eventually give my verdict on if they should be bought, held, or sold.

New Outlooks

Nomar Mazara

Taking Scooter Gennett’s place as the primary player that I wanted to discuss, Nomar Mazara of the Texas Rangers is a player who’s talent has rarely been called into question. When Mazara first cracked the bigs he was two weeks away from turning 21-Years-Old, and the most vocal take seemed to be “Good now, special eventually.”

The “good now” has certainly been true for Mazara. Mazara has more “survived” than “thrived,” compiling fair marks, and being an acceptable player, but never really taking that next step. His WAR (via Fangraphs) between 2016 and 2017 was 0.8, or essentially the equivalent of creating the same amount of WAR over the course of two seasons that Mike Trout has accumulated this year in two weeks. His wRC+’s of 94 and 92 suggest a slightly below average hitter.

But something is different about Mazara this year. For starters, in April and May he has already essentially matched his career WAR from 2016 and 2017. His wRC+ is up to a very strong 120. His OPS is up roughly 100 points. This begs the question everywhere— is this the next step?

2016

2017

2018

XBH v. LHP

2

8

8

ISO v. LHP

0.036

0.089

0.262

First things first, this graph, specifically the XBHs, are not in anyway doctored by “sample size” or “plate appearances.” In 2016, Mazara hit ONE double and ONE homer the entire year against Lefties. He improved the numbers a bit in 2017, but still having less than 10 XBHs in a season v. LHPs left a lot to be desired. Thus far in 2018 however, he is hitting Lefties with far more authority. His career HR total v. LHPs has increased from 2 to 6 and his Isolated power in 2018 v. LHP is greater than double the sum of his previous two seasons.

Change-Up

Slider

Curveball

pre-2018 SLG%

0.394

0.401

0.243

2018 SLG%

0.706

0.750

0.500

Again, these samples are small and perhaps don’t mean anything quite yet, but I’ll always take a player who’s improved his “weakest link” in his hot stretch than one who has not. Take Curveballs for instance. This is still probably a problem pitch for Mazara, and he has one Homer and one Double early bringing up this small sample, but in the previous two seasons combined he had 1 Homer and 3 Doubles, so just the fact that he’s done so much better against this pitch in the early going has to give you a level of confidence.

This is the point where he goes from “surviving” to “thriving.”

VERDICT: STRONG BUY

Jonathan Villar

A name that still stings plenty in the fantasy community, one of 2016’s best players and 2017’s biggest busts has heated up so far this year. Based on his playing time and performance this year, Jonathan Villar is pacing a fantasy stat line of a .283 BA with 6 HRs and 25 SBs. That might not be the glory year of 2018, but IF he could produce that he would be one of the more valuable late-round MI’s in the draft. Problem is I don’t think he sniffs it.

I’ll cop to it right away— I LOVED Villar last year. In fact at this time last year I was probably still preaching some degree of patience or at least some belief that he can turn it around. But the person who has shown up since the beginning of 2017 is not the man who tore through the fantasy league in 2016.

The biggest and most shocking difference to me with Villar, and one I find to be quite a bit understated, is how GOOD his plate discipline was in 2016, and how BAD it has been since.

O-Swing

Z-Swing

BB%

2016

23.2%

64.4%

11.6%

2017

29.5%

68.3%

6.9%

2018

28.2%

65.8%

6.7%

Looking at the O/Z Swing’s independently, his plate discipline the last two years doesn’t look too awful, but going from a much above average walk rate to a below average one has certainly hurt Villar considerably. His Whiff%’s have never been particularly bad for a guy who strikes out so much, but he has struck out in this manner for three straight years now. I expected his K% to go down in 2017 to match his Whiff%, but instead it continued to climb. One possible explanation is that Villar completely lacks a two-strike approach, and is put away easily in two strike counts.

And I’ve obviously ignored the “easy way” to point out Villar’s fluke— his current .400+ BABIP is something that no one is going to believe is sustainable, provided they pay attention to it.

Villar is looking like someone who is going to see his BA drop much closer to the .241 he posted last year. He’s doing very little differently for me to believe he sustains anywhere near .280, and with him not getting on base or hitting a particularly strong number of HRs either, I’m not touting Villar as someone to go back to investing in.

VERDICT: SELL / STAY AWAY

A Quick Tout Review

Brandon Nimmo — Leads the Mets (and baseball) in OBP. His 3 HRs and 3 SBs would be between a 16/16 and 20/20 season on a per PA basis for a full season. I don’t think he gets there in speed, but with his frame and size more unlocked power wouldn’t shock me. Might be Eddie Rosario of yesteryear, give or take some power and some BA, but adding an elite eye. Some are concerned still with long-term playing time. I’m really not. The only way he stops playing is if he stops performing, or if I’m still underrating the incompetence of the Mets. Right now his OBP and OPS are far-and-away the best on the team, and every other option for PT pales in comparison to what Nimmo is providing the team right now. (BUY)

Jorge Soler — Might be injured of course, but he has started to struggle again and a lot of that is coming from those pitch types we’ve talked so much about. In the past two weeks Soler has managed 2 2Bs and an 1.100 OPS v. 4-Seamers. Against Change-Ups, Sliders, and Curveballs, Soler was 2-for-25 with 1 2B and 13 Ks. Maybe if he can get healthy he can bounce back, but he does seem like he’s back to being obliterated by secondary offerings. (SELL)

C.J. Cron — Not much for deep diving here just one week after his profile in last week’s article, but since that article and his hot streak of 3-straight-HRs, CJ Cron has gone just 3-for-24 with 0 HRs and 1 RBI. Cron may be a hold, as I think he will have a solid opportunity with decent numbers, but I don’t think he’s on the cusp of being anything more than another fill-in-the-blank CI. (HOLD/SELL)

Michael Brantley — Not much to say here either, but as just an inclusion in last week’s Final Hitter Notes, Brantley is absolutely a skill-set I believe in. I’d still be willing to sell however based purely off of his recent string of injuries, but most likely Brantley represents a player most likely to change your team if you simply hold him instead of trying to exchange him for another piece. (HOLD)

Final Hitter Notes

The New, New Blood

Here are just a few names: Juan Soto, Tyler O’Neil, and Austin Meadows. My position on young players is rarely a popular one, but to me young players have one of the most truly variable stock markets. Unlike a 26-Year Old breakout, a young breakout is seen as “the next big thing,” and unlike any veteran player, a strange and obscene performance above expectations for young players is often seen as the next lightning in the bottle. My opinion for the majority of these players because of that is fairly standardized. I never trade FOR them. You usually have to pay a premium there. If I can get them on the wire, I’m not against holding them and trying to see if they can be that next big thing, but in the Young Player Stock Market, at least in my opinion, when you have a Gleyber Torres who starts to go off, you start to look to trade that player. I’ve gone over this in probably over 50% of the articles at this point primarily dealing with Torres/Acuna, but all should be aware of the new young crop, and if you have a hold on one and can find via trade a strong player you can feel confident in for a highly variable one, I probably make that move. 

The Dropped

Matt Adams — This one is tricky for me. I like the skillset, but Mark Reynolds has been brought in to handle a lot of the duties v. LHPs, and the promotion of Juan Soto clogs up the Outfield for Adams as well. Still, Adams’ lack of PT I think has actually been a bit overblown. Adams didn’t play for three consecutive days recently– but that was only because the NATIONALS didn’t play for three straight days, raining out the 16th and 18th with a day-off scheduled for the 17th. I still think Adams will get the lion’s share of the PAs as the strong-side platoon partner, and with the way he’s been hitting still think he has a good amount of value particularly in a deeper, daily transactions sort of league.

Maikel Franco — Just wanted to point out he’s being dropped again. If you’ve followed my articles, you know that I am not a Franco believer and think that he’s just coming back down to earth now.

For those that enjoy my work on this piece, moving forward I’ll be dealing with a few more pitching touts as well. Until next week,

Cheers


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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.

Bachelors in English and History from Indiana University. Borderline-Obsessed Fantasy Baseball Writer who also dabbles in Football, Basketball and Combat Sports.

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