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“The Cole Miner’s” Hit & Run Buys/Sells Mid-Season Edition

Those who have followed this piece over the past few weeks have gotten used to a new “Pitching & Hitting” Format. While next week’s article will return to that format, due to some switch ups in scheduling, I have been asked to produce this week’s piece as two separate works, with hitting today and pitching due out on Monday.

But that’s enough for the housekeeping, this week’s Hitting section deals with a heating up Bregman, an ice cold Dozier, and who you should invest in on your Waiver Wire at the outfield position.

New Outlooks

Alex Bregman

It was a bit of a slow start for Alex Bregman, but now with a .277 BA and pacing 27 HRs, 14 SBs, 98 Rs and 96 RBIs (ESPN), Bregman is looking like one of the better Third Base options and one of the more well-rounded fantasy options in a traditional 5×5 Roto League. Bregman has shot up to the 36th best player on the ESPN Player Rater, making him now appear to be a value pick at an ADP of 39. I still think he has room to move up.

I was aggressive on Bregman in the preseason. I ranked him about a full round higher up at #28 and in my first Radio appearance with this Website came under fire by suggesting that my comparison for Alex Bregman was Mookie Betts. It was, and it still is. At the least, Betts with slightly less power and less speed.

The specific angle for that comparison and one of the biggest things I held onto in defending Bregman was his very underrated contact tool. Bregman by no means struck out a lot in 2017, but many saw 15.5% as closer to his peak. After all that’s a very solid number for a full year player with decent power at corner infield. But his contact rates suggested to me he could do a bit better, and here’s why:

BB%

K%

SwSt%

Contact%

2017

8.8%

15.5%

6.4%

85.7%

Percentile

47th

73rd

85th

88th

2018

13.2%

12.7%

4.8%

87.3%

Percentile

88th

92nd

98th

93rd

What I liked about those 2017 numbers was that the SwStr% (or Whiff%) and the Contact% were both closer to the 85-90th percentile while the K% was a bit lower. In 2018, we’ve not just seen the K% drop and enter into the 90+ Percentile range, but we’ve also seen further improvements in the SwStr% and the Contact%. Bregman doesn’t quite have the elite Z-Contact% that hitters like Brantley, Ramirez, and Betts do, but he does have an excellent eye at the plate, good plate coverage, and a still-underrated contact ability. Many would say he has a good or even great contact tool, but I don’t think many would expect these metrics to grade out quite as well as they have over the last few seasons.

Despite walking more than he’s striking out, and not striking out that much, Bregman’s BA isn’t great or elite but simply above average at .277. His BABIP however started pretty low, has been rising, and I believe it will continue to rise. Yes there are a few things I don’t like about Bregman’s batted ball profile— he does have a bit of a pull tendency, and a bit of a pop-up tendency. But the pop-ups haven’t been nearly as bad this year (9.3% in 2018 v. 16.7% in 2017), and the Pull% really isn’t that bad. Closer to the “non-ideal” section of the scouting report terminology then the “problem area” section. Most of this simply suggests to me that Bregman won’t have an elite BABIP (.330-.350). I still think he will have an above league average BABIP, which would regress his current .287 mark another 20 or so points, and putting his BA closer to that .300 threshold.

Verdict: Buy. These verdicts are obviously always hard, but if the definition of “Buy” is to look at a top 40 player and say I think he’s top 30, I think he’s top 30, and I think he’s a buy.

Brian Dozier

The first thing anyone will say when mentioning Dozier is the obligatory “he does this all the time.” And to a large extent, he does. In 2017 he had a .745 OPS before the break, .985 OPS after. But firstly, that’s not anywhere near as bad as Dozier has been in 2018. Dozier has hit only .218, failed to get on base at a .300+ clip, and had a bit of a power outage. Last year he didn’t hit below .242 or a .315 OBP for any individual month let alone the entire first half. And while I do think it does get better, I just don’t believe in ignoring legitimate problems because “hey, he just ‘does this.’” That’s not a strong argument in my book.

Firstly, let’s talk about what Dozier does poorly and has always done poorly: batted ball data. Yes he has the Hard% and the FB% for the HR ball, but he does not nor has he ever had a batted ball profile that lends itself to a good or even average BABIP. Dozier’s IFFB% or Pop-Up% has always been very high, he has always been one of the league leaders in Pull% and one of the league’s worst finishers in Oppo%. He has never produced Line Drives at a consistently above average rate, or even a consistently average rate for that matter.

From 2013-2015, everyone seemed to accept this almost a bit more above Dozier. His BABIPs these years were between .261-.278, his BAs between .236-.244. In 2016, Dozier set a new career high in BABIP (.280) and had a year that looked like an outlier at the time (.268 BA). While many, myself included, expected this BABIP to regress back closer to .260, it bumped up yet again to .300, his BA to .271. After back-to-back years of producing career highs, it seemed plausible that Dozier had improved. But I didn’t really like what I saw in terms of those BABIPs.

The problem is none of the problems that lowered his early career BABIPs appeared to go away. All the previously discussed elements were still there, just as strong, but not appearing in the season end numbers. I think these problems keep Dozier from perhaps having the second half explosion that many expect.

Again, we have to take everything as a degree. I expect Dozier to bounce back. But both for this year and moving forward, I think we have to lean on the lower BABIP/.240-.250 BA expectation of Dozier and not the .270 hitter we’ve seen the previous two seasons. I believe that was more likely a sort of anomaly.

The greater problem with Dozier I think is that, now 31 oears old, we’re seeing his other skills degrade a little bit, and so even discussing him as being the Dozier of 2013-2015 is a little short-sighted. Those years he stole at least 12 bases and as many as 21. Dozier went from a 90% conversion rate on 18 SBs in 2016 to a 70% conversion rate on 16 SBs in 2017. Those latter numbers are not going to continue to cut it, and he’s on pace to drop his SB attempts from 21 to 14 in 2018.

Verdict: Sell. I still think Dozier has mixed league value. And I wouldn’t just sell for scraps, or like he’s a .220 Hitter. But I never fully bought into the .270 hitting version of Dozier, and now that he’s a lighter stealing version, we may be looking at realistic expectations of .245/30/8 next year instead of the .270/30/20 potential many saw heading into 2018.

Special Edition (part 3): Finding Value

Last weeks piece focused on players from various ownership%’s that could be added at the Corner Infield positions, with the previous week’s piece dealing with Middle Infield. Today I will move on to the Outfield.

Outfield:

40-50%

Derek Dietrich

A player who’s ownership%’s have soared over the course of the last few days, Derek Dietrich is now owned in over 40% of ESPN leagues. But, as a player who is seemingly locked into the Marlins line-up and with Corner Infield / Third Base eligibility, Derek Dietrich is my favorite outfield value around 40% Owned in ESPN leagues. He’s unlikely to continue the power binge— now pacing 22 HRs I would still expect him to fall short of 20— but with the combination of BA+Counting Stats that will never hurt your team, Dietrich is worth a roster slot on pretty much any mixed league that has a bench. Especially in daily where his flexibility can add to the day-to-day as well.

20-40% — (The Injured and the Platoons)

Byron Buxton

Byron Buxton, who I finally bought into coming into the 2018 season, has been an absolute travesty for any fantasy owner who finally invested. And it hurts me to invest again, and it hurts me to buy back into someone who realistically does not have great baseball skills, but I still believe in the Roto, 5×5 game that we play that Byron Buxton has a chance to be a true impact player for the rest of 2018. Maybe he is just trash for the rest of this year. But at this point, you’re also not investing that much in most redrafts anyway. If I’m speed starved, I prefer Buxton to Billy Hamilton as a buy low, and am willing to go out and pay a price right now that is a fair middle ground between risk and reward to take a shot at getting that reward.

Joc Pederson & Gerardo Parra

Depending on the league depth, these players could be an add in Weekly formats. They are undeniably an add if available in Daily formats, and they are far too available in these types of leagues judging by their ownership%’s. Neither plays full-time right now, as both lefties give up playing time to platoon righties, but both lefties are being quite exceptional fantasy assets when they do play. Pederson, who also gets a premium in a Walk or OBP league, is batting .291/.383/.620 v. Righties, an over 1.000 OPS. Parra doesn’t quite have the hitting stats, but in a 5×5 game as opposed to an OBP/SLG game I actually prefer Parra’s skillset. The .300+ BA is far more believable in Coors and he’s also chipping in with both power and speed. Unlike Parra, while Pederson has some SB upside from his earlier days, we haven’t seen it very much recently. I love both of these players in Daily formats.

10-20% (3)

Kevin Kiermaier

Like Buxton, this is an absolute whiff of mine from the preseason. Here’s the thing about Kiermaier though: he’s still got underrated speed, and he’s healthy now. 2 SBs and a 5-Game hitting streak lead into this write-up for a player who was in my preseason top-100 and is now just 10% owned. I still believe that Kiermaier could be a top-100 player ROS. Am I going to project anywhere near that? Absolutely not. But I do like him a bit more than Buxton, the most of anyone on this waiver wire list, and think he could produce a .250 BA with about 7 HRs and 15 SBs in the second half— a line close to a top 100 player— and not surprise me much at all.

Jake Bauers

A little bit of Tampa Bay Rays exclusive here, but Jake Bauers is another player in this ownership threshold that I like quite a bit. Bauers is another player like Dietrich with CI eligibility as well, and while his tools don’t scream fantasy excellence, what they do point to is a solid all around player that seems to really understand how to hit and get on base. He may only hit about 7-9 or so Home Runs for the rest of the year even if he keeps playing, but I think the floor is fairly established here for a young player. I like the skill-set’s chance of translating a lot. And if he happens to get, let’s say “fortunate” and clubs 12-14 HRs, I think he’ll be a really solid and flexible option in fantasy leagues.

Jose Pirela

This one is more of a brief mention and a less confident mention than the two above. Having said that, Pirela, a player who I liked early on in the season, is a player I still like with the San Diego Padres. He has perhaps the best eligibility combination of the group (2B is a fairly shallow position) and also 4 SBs so far this season. The 2 HRs is the big red flag, but if he can manage a bit of a power resurgence, he’d be an excellent fantasy contributor even in mixed leagues.

0-10% — (The Mixed Bag)

The “0-10%” range is the most variable and as such it comes as a bit of a mixed bag. Eloy Jimenez is a player who should be owned if at all possible. Part of the reason you value flexibility on your bench in a Dietrich is so that you can have less active bench players and more Eloy’s, because if Eloy Jimenez gets called up, at WORST you have a highly valuable trade chip. Realistically the only reason that Eloy should be available in your league is if A.) You have almost zero bench spots or B.) You are at such a breaking point that you need every competitive stat right now to continue. Same with the Astro’s Kyle Tucker, who could walk into a very valuable position very soon. I might actually prefer Tucker to Eloy, despite the fact that Eloy is more owned. Also another prospect shoutout to Willie Calhoun, who’s problems as a baseball player will not show up on his fantasy 5×5 line (sans playing time concerns). Jesse Winker is a bit like Bauers. Doesn’t have a special fantasy skill set. But dude knows how to hit and get on base. Unlikely to hurt your team too much, and seeing a bit of an ISO spike right now that could turn him from a decent player to a pretty darn good one, if it were to hold. Winker’s probably my favorite option under 10% if you need production. And if you’re steals desperate, particularly in a Daily league, Rajai Davis is still doing his thing. Looking at 30 SBs again. Bradley Zimmer is also there as a SB option, but one that is quite a bit riskier both for health and skill reasons, but also has a fair amount of upside.

Usually I depart for an entire week. This time however I’ll be covering pitchers in just a couple of days. So until then, stay tuned, and,

Cheers.


Are you looking for a better experience? Fantasy Football League Openings 2018

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join host Cole Freel and Kyle Amore live on Sunday July 1st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #127 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 John GozziJohn is a baseball writer and football writer for majorleaguefantasysports.com.

Major League Fantasy Football Radio Show: Join host Corey D Robertsand Kyle Amore live June 21st, 2018 from 8-9:30pm EST for episode #83 of Major League Fantasy Football Radio. Call in number is 323-870-4395 press 1 to speak with the host. We will hit free agents, rookies, and fantasy football as a whole for each team for 2018. This week we will discuss everything  AFC North!

Kyle is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com going on his 5 th year. He focuses primarily on baseball, but is a fantasy football fan and analyst as well.

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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