Tim Anderson – Player Profile

I want to start doing some deep dives on player profiles as the season progresses. Now that we are in our fourth week of the season, many statistics begin to stabilize.  We can start weeding out some players who had hot starts and find out whether you can drop, hold, or buy these players. The first player I’ll write on is Tim Anderson.

If you slept on Tim Anderson this off-season, please do yourself a favor and check out his category juice to date. I wouldn’t worry about the 5 RBI total, focus in on the power-speed combination. He’s currently ranked second in the league in combined HR + steals with 11 with Mike Trout (of course) leading the way with 14. Not bad for a guy drafted after 175 overall in most drafts this off-season. I was guilty of being off Anderson coming into 2018 mostly due to his 24.6% K-BB rate. No, that’s not his strikeout rate, it’s his strikeout rate after you subtract his walk rate! What’s changed with Anderson this year? The guy who only stole 15 bases in 2017 in over 600 plate appearances now has eight in less than 20 games.

Anderson did steal 49 bases back in 2015 in Double-A and totaled 95 steals in 331 minor league games. That’s about one steal every 3.5 games. Anderson only attempted 16 steals in 2017 and was successful on all but one. Ok, so a 94% success rate is pretty good. The White Sox aren’t winning this year (and most likely next year) so why not get aggressive on the bases? I like the aggressive approach from Manager Ricky Renteria with some of the young athletes the Sox have, that includes Yoan Moncada who is getting hot of late. It’s clear that Anderson has been given the green light evidenced by a stealing a base when down by four runs in the ninth inning of a ball game. Or when he attempted to steal third in a five-run game with Justin Verlander on the mound. This one is just funny. Fantasy owners are going to be just fine with this aggressive approach.

Let’s check out Statcast speed scores. Anderson is tied for 9th best in the league with the usual suspects near the top like Buxton, Hamilton, Gordon, Trevor Story….. Wait, what?? I better dig deeper on Story, but that’s for another day. Part of the issue in 2017 with Anderson was his lack of on-base skills. His .276 OBP was the worst for any leadoff hitter and ranked third from the bottom among qualified hitters. This year, that awful 2.1% BB rate currently sits at 9.0%. Now, that’s only seven walks, but that’s just six less than all of 2017. Is this walk rate for real?

Tim Anderson Plate Discipline  
SeasonZone%Swing%O-Swing%F-Strike%
201643.950.336.467.5
201745.354.741.366.3
201845.753.137.668.0

Not quite. He’s simply swinging just about as much as ever, he has cut down on his O-Swing (or chase rate) a bit but has actually seen more first-pitch strikes. So he’s working from behind more often than he has in the past. The only reason I can muster is the fact that he’s swinging and missing more which of course means his contact rate is down. In reality, this could help his walk rate but should also be a hindrance to his strikeout rate which is actually down about 5% this year. Based on this information, I expect a steep decline in walks going forward, which is bad for his stolen bases.

We haven’t talked about the power yet. In those 331 minor leagues games mentioned earlier, Anderson popped a total of 19 homers. He’s already got 29 bombs in 260 Major League games and three early this year. I believe in his power production, he’s increased his fly ball percentage each of the last three seasons. He currently has an average exit velocity of 93.8 mph on his fly balls and line drives and has barreled nearly 7% of his batted balls. Compare that to last year’s 91.4 mph EV on his FB+LD and only 3.6% of his batted balls were barreled. I know it’s early, but Anderson looks a lot like a 20 homer hitter to me.

This is where shizz gets sexy!  We now know that the 20 homer pop is legit based on the increased fly ball rate, increased hard contact, and his pull percentage which currently at 54% (typically around 42%). This leads me to believe that an improvement from his 14.4% HR/FB rate in 2017 should improve to somewhere between 15-18%. Given about 600 plate appearances, I see 21 dingers from Timmy. Oh, and those steals. Well, given a high ground ball rate and his foot speed, the .294 BABIP should jump up little to somewhere between .325-.335 giving him a .260-.270 batting average. The OBP should sit around .300 which isn’t great but better than 2017.

The positive outlook for Anderson in terms of steals is there because he’s attempting a steal about 30% of his possible opportunities. That’s a blistering pace to keep up, it’s basically a Billy Hamilton-type pace. Even if we drop that to a more realistic 20%-22%, he should push 35-42 SB attempts, call it 38. At a 75% success rate, that’s 29 steals to go along with his 21 HR. Ok, so we have Byron Buxton from 2017 with these projections.

While these are clearly realistic projections, I tend to believe they are more in the range of a 75% projection. That being said, those numbers push top 50 overall and even something similar to last year’s 17 homers with an uptick to about 25 steals means a solid bargain for what owners paid on draft day. I’d be buying for a reasonable price especially if you need speed.

 

 

Week 4 SP Streaming Options 4/23 – 4/29

Ended up with some solid streams last week with a final line of:

2 Wins 2.92 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 28 K in 31 1/3 innings

Let’s keep it going this week.

Trevor Cahill (OAK) 1% 4/23 on the road v TEX
I would have preferred that this one was is Oakland but Rangers are a big swing and miss team and haven’t hit their stride yet offensively.  Cahill looked good in his first start and his fastball velocity was over 93 mph along with an increased curveball usage (which is his best pitch). Maybe he can capture some early season success similar to last year. STREAM

Matt Boyd (DET) 6% 4/25 road  v PIT
The fact that this is on the road doesn’t bother me. PNC Park is a fine pitchers park and Boyd should face the pitcher at least twice instead of the DH. However, Boyd is a lefty and many of the Pirates best hitters are right handed or switch hitters. Boyd sports a 5.1 K/9, a 98% left on base percentage, and a .132 BABIP. I’m betting on shit going sideways in this one. STAY AWAY

Chad Kuhl (PIT) 3% 4/24 at home v DET
My love/hate relationship continues with Kuhl. He throws 96 mph with a very good slider. Except he’s throwing that slider less. Hmmm, that’s odd. He’s been hurt by a .371 BABIP but he also isn’t getting many whiffs or hitters to chase. I can’t recommend Kuhl against the Tigers. They aren’t scary but have some professional hitters that I believe will get to Kuhl knocking him out early in this one. STAY AWAY

Ivan Nova (PIT) 25% 4/26 home v DET
Seems like I’m picking on the Tigers this week. They have been heating up recently, so it might not be the cake walk most think. However, Nova has been solid over his last several starts going at least 6 innings with 3 runs or less in his last three while striking out an uncharacteristic 18 batters in just over 19 innings. His ground ball tendencies should hold up against the mostly weak hitting Tigers. The fact that the best hitters on the Tigers are right handed lies in Nova’s favor. STREAM

Tyler Anderson (COL) 3% 4/27 road v Mia
I’m not a fan of Tyler Anderson but a road start against the Marlins changes that. Anderson pitched well at home against the Cubs on Saturday, maybe he can carry it into this start. He’s inducing a lot of swings and misses which appears to be more smoke and mirrors. This one is risky especially if his control is bad. With warmer weather, I think his control will be better, I’m rolling with one. STREAM

Zack Wheeler (NYM) 22% 4/28 road v SD
The Mets have moved Harvey to the bullpen meaning Wheeler has a shot at staying in the rotation for the time being. Wheeler’s velocity looks good in his first 2 starts. He’s dropped the sinker and his slider is still a good pitch. I like his chances against a young inexperienced Padres team. STREAM

Weekly Rundown: 4/14 – 4/20

Alright fam, here’s another weekly rundown article with all of you hottest and coldest players along with buys/sells, holds. Stay up to date on the most recent fantasy baseball news. I’ll make sure you’re doing the right thing with these players.

HOT

The Todd Father, Todd Frazier has had a nice week hitting .409 with 3 bombs and driven in 8 runs. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I’m buying! I don’t expect this to last but right now, he’s swinging and missing less, hitting the ball much harder than last year, and not hitting popups which has really plagued him the last few years. I love that he’s walking at an 18% clip as well. Like I said, I don;t expect him to keep this up, but ride it until the wheels fall off.

Christian Villenueva is scorching hot. He followed up his 3 HR debut with three more dingers this past week and hitting a robust .588! Nope, I’m not buying it. His BABIP is .440 and his K rate is almost 32%. The 37.5% HR/FB will not last, not even Aaron Judge can keep that rate up. His plate discipline is a complete mess with an O-Swing near 40% and a SwStr over 17%. Check out the most recent episode of Benched with Bubba podcast, we discuss Villenueva among others on this list.

Mookie Ballgame! He’s really just Mookie Best, nothing new here. Move along.

Jed Lowrie everyone! Your AL RBI leader! He’s also bashed 3 homers this week. I’m holding Lowrie. Some of the gains are legitimate. Lowrie had 66 XBH last year but only 14 homers. Well, he’s hitting more fly balls and hitting them harder and as a result, more long balls. You likely paid nothing for Lowrie, I’d ride this out, but he is an injury risk.

Teoscar Hernandez was called up a week ago and has hit 2 homers and added on a steal. I wish he started the season with the big club but instead the Blue Jays needed 49 year old Grandy and trade for Grichuk. But I digress. He’s up now and playing well. I’m buying him everywhere. He’s a good source of power and speed, the batting average will be low but Teoscar is primed for a breakout.

Charlie Morton has continued his transformation from a Salt salesman into an Ace. But wait, the Astros already have Verlander and Cole! This seems unfair! Anyways, Morton has struck out 20 batters in his last 13 innings with a 1.38 RA and a 0.77 WHIP. He’s also manged a 60% GB rate which is just insane. He only threw 146 innings in the regular season last year but an additional 23 innings in the postseason. The 169 IP would be the second most of his long career. I wouldn’t count on 200 innings but 150+ of this would be like Rich Hill but better LOL.

Eduardo Rodriguez has 3 starts off the DL and has pitched excellent in in his last two games. He’s got 2 wins and 20 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. His velocity looks good and I like him long term. I’d be picking him up if he’s not owned. There are a couple red flags to be aware of including a BB rate sitting at 4.0/9, a 49% fly ball rate, and a low zone rate. If he continues to get hitters to chase at an above average rate, he should be fine but walks + fly balls in the summer equal bad starts.

Jake Faria has twirled two great starts giving up only two earned runs while striking out 13 batters in just over 1 innings. This coming after a disaster against the Red Sox on April 7. I loved Faria coming into the season but there’s a lot that has me concerned right now with Faria.  He’s been lucky in terms of HR/FB sitting under 8% with an over 40% fly ball rate. His ground ball rate is only 25% and his strikeout minus walk rate is 5.1%. That’s not good. I’m leaving him on the wire until he figures things out.

COLD

Matt Chapman had a great start to the season and now he’s hitting .136 with no homers the last 7 days. This is bound to happen. I’m not worried, Chapman looks even better than I anticipated. These weeks will happen. I’m holding him or buying if an owner isn’t feeling him.

Carlos Santana continues his early season struggles hitting .167 the past week with no homers and only 1 RBI. His BABIP is a sickly .135 but he’s near the leaders in exit velocity. Eventually, the hits will come. His K minus BB rate is about 2%, meaning he’s walking just about as much as he’s striking out. His 50% fly ball rate will result in a ton of homers but his batting average could suffer even with a correction in his BABIP. Hitting in behind of Cesar Hernandez (.430 OBP) and in front of Rhys Hoskins (BEAST) will yield great R + RBI production. BUY LOW

Joey Votto, what is going on? 7.8% walk rate? His previous career low is 10% way back in 2008, his first full season and hasn’t been below 16% since 2011. He hasn’t homered yet and has a total of one extra base hit! He’s not hitting the ball hard but he isn’t chasing, he’s not swinging and missing and he’s hitting a high quantity of line drives. Here’s some extremes: he’s hitting .087 on ground balls (typically about .240) and 0.067 on fly balls (typically about .205), so yes unlucky. I’m BUYING. It’s Joey Votto, he had a poor first half in 2016 and hit over .400 in the second half.

Matt Harvey continues his downward decent into fantasy irrelevance. Two more poor starts against the Braves and the Brewers. There’s even talk of sending him down to the minors. If he’s owned in your league, you can safely drop him and I’m sorry you had to endure his start to the season.

Sonny Gray has managed only 6 1/3 IP in his last two starts giving up 11 earned runs. Rough start for Gray but you have to hold him. What really concerns me is his 11 walks and several wild pitches early. The weather has been cold in his bad starts and it’s possible Gray is being a fair weather pitcher. He doesn’t appear to have feel for his pitches. I’d wait a few more start before doing anything drastic as the weather warms.

Masahiro Tanaka has back to back 6 ER outings in 5 innings. Would you be surprised if I told you that he’s been hurt by the long ball? No Yeah, me either. His K and BB rates are great, the ground ball looks fine. Listen, you understand the home runs will be an issue but should come with a 9+ K/9, low walks leading to great WHIP. Tanaka is a BUY LOW.

 

Week 3 Streaming Options 4/16 – 4/22

Chad Kuhl messed up a near perfect streaming week for me, but I’m still happy about the results. The numbers last week look like this: 1 Win, 2.22 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 17 K, 24 1/3 innings.

Again, the strikeouts were low. Obviously, most high strikeout pitchers are owned in over 25% of leagues, but I still need to do a better job of streaming some high K plays. Pivetta, Junis, and Chirinos were fantastic! Pivetta will be streamed again this week as he slides under the 25% ceiling. Junis is too high, so he’s disqualified. Minnesota got about 2 feet of snow this past weekend so no games were played in that series throwing off my Rey Lo pick last week. Reynaldo is now at 37% owned, so I can no longer stream him. (maximum 25% owned in ESPN/Yahoo leagues).

Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD), 11% 4/16 away v SD
This is less of an endorsement of Ryu and more about the banged up Padres. I’m not a believer in his 9+ K/9, but I do like his 50% ground ball rate so far in 2018. Wil Myers and Manual Margot are on the DL. I’m not worried about Hosmer too much. Franchy Cordero is an interesting name but, I think Ryu can go 6 innings with 2 ER or less and piles up 5 to 6 strikeouts. STREAM

Nick Pivetta (PHI), 21% 4/17 Away v ATL
I’m not sure how Pivetta is still under 25% owned but he is, SO GRAB HIM NOW!. Atlanta is on fire offensively and they just beat up on Cubs pitching. Oh, and some guy named Ronald Acuna should be called up any day, maybe tomorrow. I’m taking my chances because Pivetta has been great to start the year. Pivetta continues to average just about 95 mph on his fastball and can get plenty of whiffs on his curve and slider. He’s also limited hard contact to just under 21%. The Braves are the 5th hardest team to strikeout and in the top 10 in BB rate. I don’t expect a dominant performance but a quality start with 5 to 6 Ks is in order. STREAM.

Daniel Mengden (OAK): 2% 4/17 Home v CWS
The White Sox are striking out 26.4% of the time, as a team! That’s not good and the White Sox are not good. While Mengden is not know for his strikeouts, he has a chance at a handful against the White Sox free swingers. Mengden doesn’t allow many free passes and his LOB% is an impossibly low 35.7%. His O-Swing is at 31.2% which is above league average, so some weak contact may be in order as well. The home park should limit the long ball this week as well. Plus he’s got an 80-grade mustache! STREAM

Sean Newcomb (ATL): 20% 4/19 Home v Mets
Newcomb is a high risk/high reward option. He just handled the Cubs with 5.1 IP, 7 Ks, and 2 ER. However, he tied to the WHIPing Post with 6 hits and 4 walks. That’s Newcomb though, his K rate is over 12.0/9 but his walk rate is 4.6/9. The Mets are hot right now but I need strikeouts as I mentioned in the intro. Newcomb has been unlucky in terms of BABIP and I like his ground ball rate which sits at 50%. His infield defense is very good with Swanson, Albies, and Freeman all well above average and Flaherty has held his own at 3B. The Mets strikeout and walk at above average clips. This is either a 6 inning 9 K QS or a 3 inning 5 K 5 ER blowup. I’m gonna take the risk. STREAM

Tyson Ross (SD): 4% 4/18 Home v LAD
No, he’s not out of the league and has posted 2 wins in 3 starts this season with a 3.50 ERA and a 1.22 WHIP. He’s pitched well and I do like his 54% ground ball rate but I think he’s due for some serious regression. He hasn’t induced a popup yet and is allowing an above average line drive with a below average BABIP. The heavy left-handed lineup of the Dodgers wakes up this week against Ross. Maybe this is what Bellinger and Seager need to get going. I’d STAY AWAY from Ross in this one.

Mike Minor (TEX): 10% 4/20 Home v SEA
The former starter and reliever is back in a starting role. His overall numbers are ok, but I find it odd that his ground ball rate currently sits at 19% with a fly ball rate over 60%! That explains his low BABIP but how he’s only allowed a 7.7% HR/FB rate with over 35% hard contact, I can’t figure. He’s also sporting a below average O-Swing and a 50% first pitch strike percentage. With the likes of Nelson Cruz back this week and hot hitting Robinson Cano and Mitch Haniger, I’m sensing a blow up here. STAY AWAY!

Matt Boyd (DET): 3% 4/20 Home v KC
YEAH BOYYYYYYD! Ok, not many strikeouts from Boyd, I understand that. That’s why I took Newcomb though! Boyd has a ton of luck on his side in terms of BABIP, HR/FB, and LOB%. I don’t trust him this season but against the Kansas City Royals in a great ball park, I’ll take my chances. Boyd doesn’t give out many free passes and his SwStr rate is over 10%, so maybe he can grab us a few Ks. Let’s give Boyd one more chance. STREAM

 

Weekly Rundown 4/7 – 4/13

Another week in the the books for the 2018 season! I’ll take a look at some of the hottest and coldest hitters this past week. I will give some thoughts on buys/sells/holds based on recent performance and underlying analysis. Quick note, my boy Ozzie Albies has 2 more XBHs today with a bomb and a double and continues to be the best 21 year old in the bigs. Tommy Pham appears to have corrected his issues with his eyes increasing his walk rate and swinging out of the zone only 20% of the time. Oh and has 2 steals today giving him 5 on the season. A 20-30 season is within reach.

Mookie Betts doing Mookie things. He’s hitting .375 with a homer, 11 runs and 9 RBI. He’s walking more than he’s striking out and is boasting a near 50% hard contact rate. His O-Swing and SwStr are both abut half of the league average. He’s poised for one of his best seasons especially if he keeps this up when the weather heats up.

Javier Baez had back-to-back two homer games earlier this week and he’s chipped in with a steal. He’s only hitting .211 in the last seven days. This is what you get from Baez. If you can sell him high, I’d go ahead and try it. His O-Swing and Swstr are just about in line with his career numbers. I don’t believe he’s improving in his approach even though his walk rate is up to 12% due to four IBB. There will be great games like this from Baez but there will be long cold stretches throughout the season.

Asdrubal Cabrera just keeps hitting. He was overlooked in drafts with the signing of Todd Fraizer and Amed Rosario in line as the starting shortstop. However, he’s basically been the everyday second baseman for the Mets. He’s hitting .440 with 3 homers this past week. This looks legit and I’m picking him up in 2 team and deeper leagues. He’s hitting more fly balls and making more contact than ever. He’s hit .280 each of the last to years averaging more than 18 homers. With more contact and more fly balls, he could hit 20-25 bombs given every day at bats.

Jose Martinez is for real! He’s on a .417 2 homer, 10 RBI week. The good: 7% K rate with a 10.7% walk rate backed up by a 3.8% SwStr rate and a 38% Swing rate. The bad: 51% ground ball rate, 20% IFFB, and only 29% hard contact rate. I’m not sure how to take all this information. It’s incredible that he’s able to make that much contact at 6 foot 6! I’d definitely own him but I wouldn’t buy high. I’m currently holding him in leagues where I own him. I want to see a little more from him before I make a conclusion, but he should be owned in all leagues (obviously).

Steve Pearce has had a nice week hitting 3 bombs and driving in 6 runs. That’s nice. Pearce is a decent hitter but a terrible fielder. With the injury to Donaldson, he may get some extra playing time but they recalled Teoscar Hernandez who I loike if he can stick around. Go ahead and sell Pearce of you can or leave him on the wire.

Edwin Encarnacion is 3 for his last 25 with no homers and RBI this past week. Most of the Indians forgot that the season started early this year and are taking a while to heat up. E5 bashed 3 dingers in week 1 but hasn’t done anything since. I’m a little concerned as his strikeout and walk rates are heading in opposite directions (in a bad way). His batted ball profile looks ok other than a low liner rate but that should stabilize. I’m holding for now, but keep an eye on E5 as he’s now 35 and the decline could be immanent.

Nicholas Castellanos is on a 6 for 27 stretch with 1 run and 2 RBI this week. He’s without a home run on the season and I’m buying. See in an owner is getting tired of his lack of fire power. He’s hitting the ball over 50% of the time and is hitting nearly 30% line drives. He likely won;t maintain that percentage but he’s poised to hot for a high average and his fly balls should increase as the line drives go down. The homers will come. I’m not ruling out a possible 30 homer campaign from NC.

Pitchers

2016 Cy Young Award winner Rick Porcello has an ERA of 1.88, 0.56 WHIP, and 2 wins in 14 1/3 innings this past week. After a disappointing 2017, he was an afterthought in drafts. I’m buying back in 2018. No to the Cy Young level, but he looks different. He’s throwing his sinker, slider, and change more and his fastball (which is bad) is being thrown only 12% of the time. I wouldn’t grab him for Ks but should be able to check a sub 4.00 ERA with a good WHIP if he continues to limit walks. The Red Sox should be able to gift wrap a ton of wins as well.

Shohei Ohtani has been a man among boys so far from both sides of the plate. The pitcher Ohtani has been almost unhittable thus far. Owners likely aren’t selling and I’m ok with that. I know what we’ve seen to date has been incredible and he’s more than proven he’s a stud. I worry about the fatigue over the course of the entire season with Ohtani playing both sides and not getting enough rest. I also think the second and third time teams face him combined with fatigue could lower his value in the second half. I’m buying in dynasty but in redrafts, I might sell after a few more starts ONLY if you can get a haul. I’d sell him for a top 25 hitter or a top 10 SP, no less than that in redrafts.

Sonny Gray has not had a great start to the 2018 season. His 6.92 ERA and 1.92 WHIP is not what owners expected when he was drafted as a top 30 starter. His BB percentage is over 10% for the first time in his career and a .409 BABIP and likely the two culprits of Gray’s poor start. His 10+ K/9 however, is a great sign. Also, a 60% ground ball rate and a 27% hard contact rate make me want to buy Gray where you can. The velocity looks good and he’s throwing the curve over 30% for the first time, so the Ks may be there to stay.

Week 2/3 – Pitchers to Stream (4/9 – 4/15)

Last week was kind of a mixed bag in terms of streamers. I did not receive a single win and the strikeout numbers were low. The WHIP somehow managed below 1.00 and the ERA was over 4! It really was the Reynaldo Lopez show who of course I’m streaming again this week until his ownership goes over 25%. I suspect that to happen by week’s end. The final numbers from last week:

0 W 4.56 ERA 0.98 WHIP 19 K, 3 QS in 5 starts

I’m try to do better this week looking at more strikeout upside and hopefully a couple wins. Here are my streaming options for 4/9-4/15.

Jakob Junis (KC), 24% 4/9 Home v Sea
No Nelson Cruz or Mike Zunino which is good. Junis will still have to deal with hot hitting Cano among other left hand hitters Dee Gordon and Kyle Seager. However, without Cruz, the Seattle lineup just isn’t all that scary. I like that the game is in Kansas City which is not only a pitcher’s park but the weather is going to be in the low 40s so again, favor Junis. STREAM

Nick Pivetta (PHI), 5% 4/11 Home v CIN
Yup, Nicky P is legit. 12 strikeouts in 9 ⅔ innings against only 2 walks. He’s given up 9 hits but that’s fueled by am inflated .375 BABIP. I don’t love his home park and the Reds have some hitters that can take him deep but they also have a ton of free swingers. Now that Suarez is hurt (who I believe is their second best hitter), I’m not concerned outside of Joey Votto. The weather should be cool, so that should keep the ball in the yard and it’s not like Pivetta has given up much hard contact thus far, under 21%. STREAM

Hyun-Jin Ryu (LAD), 10% 4/11 Home v OAK
Ryu had a rough first start lasting only 3 ⅔ innings, striking out 2 and walking 5 batters. This is a home start against the Athletics who were just mowed down by Babe Ohtani. Ryu is no Ohtani though. The Athletics have a ton swing and miss in their game but also a ton of power. Much of it from the right side except for Olson. Ryu isn’t a big strikeout pitcher, so I’m concerned that if he can’t get his walks under control he’s going to pay against the As. He gives up a lot of hard contact and home runs have been an issue in the past. I can see a blow up with a couple of HRs given up with men on base. STAY AWAY

Chris Stratton (SF) 4/12 3% v SD on the road
Stratton is destined to be a streamer all year long. The positives with Stratton: great home park, limits homeruns (yes that’s a skill to a certain extent), and he’s improved his velocity. Negatives: Limited strikeout upside, control is average, and the Giants aren’t very good. I understand that the Padres aren’t good but the ballpark is actually a better park than AT&T Park. Stratton has limited homers more at home than on the road, so this makes sense. I need to see more from Stratton. This has the makings of a 5 IP, 5 hits, 3 BB, 3 ER, 3 K type start. STAY AWAY

Chad Kuhl (PIT) 4/13 4% v MIA on the road
Kuhl is one of my sleepers coming into 2018. He’s got good stuff along with a 96 mph fastball. He really just needs to execute to be successful. So far after two starts, he’s got a K rate over 9.0 and a walk rate at 2.5/9. He’s been a little unlucky in terms of BABIP against at .375 due to an unsustainable 37.5% line drive rate. I don’t love Kuhl’s pitch mix so far (more sliders please) but the Marlins don’t scare me. STREAM

Reynaldo Lopez (CHW) 4/14 22% v MIN on the road
Not much to say here, his percentage will keep rising, so grab him and hold him if he’s available. He’s been dominating and yes his walks are a little high and his BABIP is cannot be maintained but his swinging strike and first pitch strike percentages tell me that his K rate should rise his walk rate should drop. STREAM until you can’t anymore.

Bonus Stream: Yonny Chirinos (TB)
Yonny isn’t scheduled to start due to the Rays having a 4-man rotation, good luck with that. Chirinos did make spot start last week and was solid over 5 innings without allowing a run or a walk, while striking out four. I’ve been intrigued by Chirinos since the start of 2017. He’s has success at every level, isn’t a major strikeout pitcher but has incredible control, gets ground balls and there’s value in that. He’s not fully stretched out, but if he gets the start, he could see 80 pitches +/- which should be good for 5-6 innings, 4-5 Ks and good ratios. STREAM (if he gets a start)

Weekly Rundown 3/28 – 4/7

Charlie Blackmon continues to mimic a fine wine as he just keeps getting better with age. Since he just signed an extension with the Rockies, by the time he’s 38 he should be hitting .425 with 60 bombs per year! Ok, I may be exaggerating a little bit. He’s stinging the ball and doing most of his damage on the road to start. A repeat of last year is not out of the question. To throw some cold water on him, I don’t see many steals, like less than 10 for sure. The speed is gone, but who cares?

Yes, Justin Smoak is legit. And yes, he did break out last year at age 30. I don’t expect him to hit .270 with 38 home runs again as the strikeout likely rises up some from last year’s 20%. However, he’s continuing to hit a ton of fly balls and hits them hard. Expect an average in the .250s with 30-33 HRs and should drive in another 90+RBI hitting cleanup for the Blue Jays.

Joey Gallo is trying to hit 100% of his balls in the air, and he’s not that far off! Oh Joey, you are crazy. No, not Votto, he’s amazing! Now that I think about it, I wish I had them both! That’s a nice pairing. Be prepared for the slumps but if Gallo  keeps his K rate around 30% (currently at 31%), owners will be happy with the results.

Bryce Harper is doing something that is amazing. He’s hitting .286 with a .133 BABIP and his K/BB ratio is 9/4. Something tells me that he’s going to have one of those seasons where he walks more than he strikes out. The BABIP will normalize and at some point in May he’s going to be looking like an MVP candidate probably hitting .330 with 14 bombs and a .450 OBP.

Speaking of MVP candidates… Don’t look now but Freddie Freeman is looking quite a bit like a front runner as well, not saying I called it… oh wait, I did. How does a .408/.618/.818 triple slash line with 12 walks to 3 Ks sound? I guess that’s good. Pitchers can’t seem to get him out.

I might end up eating my words with Didi Gregorious who is leading the league in wRC+ at 304. He’s already got 3 home runs, all pulled down the right field line and under 400 feet. 100% of the fly balls he’s hit to the pull side have been home runs. Now I’m no mathematician, but I don’t think he keeps that up. Didi has a total of 3 hits up the middle or the other way. If I were a Manager Hi Phillies, I’m available), I wouldn’t throw Didi anything on the inner half. Everything away, maybe try that?

Patrick Corbin, more sliders please. No, I don’t expect him to keep this up but it’s not like he’s been lucky, his xFIP 1.13 and leads the majors! Do I love his 60% GB rate? Yes. Do I love him as around a top 30 starter going forward, YES! Do I love asking and answering my own questions? Only in this forum.

BUY/SELL

Bradley Zimmer as of 4/7 has a 52.4% K rate and a 0% BB rate. I’ve always liked Zimmer, but it might be time to SELL. His strikeout rates were awful in the minors and he doesn’t appear to be adjusting well to major league pitching. I love the power/speed combo, but in shallow leagues, I’m cutting bait. He’s a hold in 14-team leagues and deeper.

Paul DeJong doing his Paul DeDong  impression early in 2018. However, he’s also rolling with a .583 BABIP in addition to his 3 dingers. It’s not only the high BABIP, his K rate is 39% and his walk rate is 3.6%. As soon as that BABIP comes down, look for his average to plummet to the .240 range. The power is real and he should have no problem reaching 25 homers but with a low average and no speed. You need to SELL while the iron is hot!

Jose Ramirez has 2 hits in 31 plate appearances with 1 HR and 1 steal. He’s an obvious BUY for me but maybe an owner in your league is sick of the lack of production from their second rounder. His BABIP is 0.042 and he’s rocking a 6:1 strikeout to walk ratio. By the middle of June Jo Ram is gonna be hitting .295 with 12 HR and 12 steals and you’re going to have reaped the benefits!

Nick PivettaBUY NOW! K rate is good, walk rate is good and he’s actually been unlucky with a .375 BABIP. Yes small sample, small schmaple. Not a word. Ok, but his stuff is legit. I’d give him a few more starts before making a rationale decision.

If you can find a pissed off owner of Luis Castillo and you can buy him for 80 cents on the dollar go BUY! He’s a slow starter and what we saw in the second half of 2017 is what you will get once he gets rolling this season. The change up is probably the best in baseball and his slider is very good. Once he puts it all together, you want to be owning him, not going up against him.

Lance McCullers has had a couple of interesting starts. I doubt his owner is done with him but keep an eye on him if he has another poor start. His GB% is nearly 70% and his BABIP is somehow .455! The K rate is nearly 15/9, so you won’t be able to get him cheap. If his next start is a disaster, go and BUY!

Marco Estrada is killing it so far through 2 starts with a 2.77 ERA. However, his left on base percentage is 100%, his BABIP is .171 and his K/BB ratio is slightly over 2. He’s a disaster waiting to happen. See if you can SELL him for a top 200 bat or mid/bottom tier closer.

 

2018 Breakouts Part 2 – Last Year’s Breakouts

In part one I highlighted three breakout players for 2018 including Ozzie Albies, Brandon Nimmo, and Steven Duggar. In part two, I want to analyze a few players who broke out in 2017 and see if it’s sustainable or not. I see a lot of pushback on Chris Taylor and Tim Beckham has been drafted criminally late in drafts (most after pick 250). There is some love for Josh Bell and his approach at the plate may have something to do with the optimism heading into 2018.

Chris Taylor seemingly came out of nowhere is 2017 to become the leadoff hitter for the National League Champion Los Angeles Dodgers. Taylor played his share of second base, centerfield and shortstop (Corey Seager missed some time). Prior to 2017, he owned a .598 OPS, 27% K rate, and 7% BB rate as a major leaguer, but that came in 318 plate appearances across three partial seasons. He also wasn’t on the big club on Opening Day but still managed to play in 140 games and make a huge impact. The 21 home runs and 17 steals were great but his triple slash was just as impressive at .288/.354/.496! A .361 BABIP is likely the cause for a high average but the breakout occurred nonetheless.

Before we analyze his approach change, I want to highlight his well above average speed measured at 6.4 Speed score on FanGraphs where 4.0 is about average. He’s also had a rare consistency for hitting line drives so an elevated BABIP seems to fit his profile. Prior to 2017, Taylor had a bit of ground ball heavy approach. That’s not necessarily a bad thing for a guy with speed, but with a GO/AO ratio of 1.3 without a ton of hard contact prior to 2017, he didn’t profile for more than a 10 to 12 homer guy. In 2017, that ratio fell to 0.97, nearly 1:1, that, combined with solid hard contact on fly balls fueled the power spike. I like that he sprays the ball to all fields, that’s great for his BABIP and batting average, but may not be ideal for home runs. He did manage to hit 13 of his 21 home runs in 2017 to either center or right field. That’s impressive, but unless he starts pulling his fly balls more, I don’t fully believe in a repeat of 20+ homers in 2018. I’ve got him down for 18, so not far off, but I don’t see power growth, unless…

He continues to increase his fly ball percentage. This spring, he went crazy fly ball heavy and posted a 0.55 GO/AO ratio with only two home runs but a solid nine XBH plus a 10 BB to 8 strikeout ratio. Based on Jeff Zimmerman’s chart, Taylor should see around 40% fly ball rate +/- this year if he maintains his current approach. That could be the difference between 18 home runs and 22 home runs for the upcoming season. The increased patience is a great sign as well and could help his OBP and stolen base opportunities. It’s possible the average dips to around .260 but if he goes 22/20 will you care?

Josh Bell had a reputation in the minors of a high contact, great patience, high average hitter with moderate power. He’s a big guy at 6’2”, 230 pounds but that reputation was based on his approach to hitting and his production in the minors. The power is there with Bell, he just needed to harness it. Bell ended up hitting 26 home runs in 2017 which was nine more than his previous career high. It wasn’t all roses though, he upped his strikeout rate to nearly 19% and lower his walk rate to 10.6% and his average dipped to a career-low .255. What’s interesting to me is that he didn’t change his approach, his fly ball and ground ball rates remained steady. He had a few more swing and misses and had a huge increase in HR/FB up to 19%.

I’ve broken his GO/AO ratios between minors and majors which are 1.44 and 1.58 respectively. That’s simply too ground ball heavy for a potential power hitter. This spring, however that ratio dipped to 0.94 in 48 at-bats which included four homers and eight XBH with six walks to five strikeouts. I really like that approach, he’s not going to the extreme in terms of fly balls. That “extreme” fly ball approach would kill his average, but if he can maintain a near 1:1 GB/FB ratio, I think we may see his first 30 home run season.

Players with the approach to hitting that Bell has shown in his young career have the best chance to succeed in my opinion. The ability to have a high walk rate without an elevated strikeout rate gives the hitter the ability to be patient and wait for his pitch. The likelihood of success is high with Bell. His .255 average was unlucky as his BABIP sat at .278. Bell hasn’t shown the ability to hit the ball with authority consistently evidenced by his below average exit velocity but his average home runs distance was 402 feet. When he hits it hard, it goes a long way. I’d like to see his exit velocity improve early is 2018 and maybe he can reach the levels I believe he has the potential to reach.

Tim Beckham, the number one overall pick by the Devil Rays way back in 2008! Beckham’s career up until 2017 was a complete disappointment as he had accumulated all of 1.2 WAR through 2016. Last year alone he compiled 3.5 WAR, so yes Tim Beckham finally broke out. Is it sustainable though?

High strikeout rates and low walk rates are not usually my kind of player. However, he did have a well above average 39% hard contact rate along with limiting popups. That’s something I can get behind. But, he’s been a ground control (link) guy his whole career near 50.. His minor league GO/AO ratio is 1.54, in the majors, it’s 1.34. This spring, he decreased it to 0.87 in 55 at-bats with four home runs. Beckham is interesting because there is a lot of power in his bat. 2017 was the second time he had posted a 20+% HR/FB rate, the other being in 2015 in 83 games with the Rays. So, these aren’t small samples.

Given a full season of starts, it’s not out of the question that Beckham could hit 30 home runs. I think he needs to his strikeout rate below 30%, hopefully in the 26-28% range. The high BABIP makes him a dangerous option to continue his breakout. If the K rate jumps over 30% and his BABIP falls, we may be looking at .220 hitter without the walks to sustain prolonged slumps. Beckham is my biggest risk of this group to go belly up. If he struggles early and can’t right the ship, he could see the bench and be limited to a part-time roll.

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Week 1 Pitchers to Stream (4/2 – 4/8)

Every week I’ll post somewhere between three and five streaming options that are available in at least 75% of leagues using FantasyPros Yahoo/ESPN consensus ownership. I will keep track of the statistics for all my streaming picks to see how well I fared. It’s also fun, so there’s that. I’m calling 4/2 through 4/8 Week 1 since it’s the first full week of games.

4/3: Matt Boyd (DET) Home against the Kansas City Royals (2% owned)
Boyd did have a great 2017 but there was a lot of luck that did not go his way including a .330 BABIP and a 68.7% LOB. He has improved on his SwStr rates and induces a lot of popups and soft contact. Pitching at home, a decent pitcher’s park against one of the worst lineups, I’ll take a chance. I want to see what new pitching coach Chris Bosio can do with some of the Tiger’s pitchers (Norris being another intriguing name). Boyd is left handed and the most dangerous hitters the Royals poses are left handed, so if Boyd can neutralize them, he should have a shot at a quality start and a win. STREAM

4/3: Marco Gonzalez (SEA) Away against the S.F. Giants (4% owned)
High risk, pick here. Coming off Tommy John surgery, so I doubt he goes deep in this one. The Giants don’t strikeout much and are very patient, so they will see a lot of pitches. The park is good, but this one may blow up in your face. It’s a low risk, low reward on this one. The best you can hope for is five to six innings, 2-3 ER, and 4-5 strikeouts. STAY AWAY

4/3: Seth Lugo (NYM) Home against the Philadelphia Phillies (1% owned)
At first, Lugo was my favorite of the group owned under 5%. However, the Phillies roll out a ton of lefties and switch hitters. The good news is, he doesn’t have huge L/R splits and he’s at home where he dominates with a 2.54 career ERA at Citi Field.  Citi Field is known as a great pitcher’s park and Lugo has talent. Unfortunately he’s either been injured or hasn’t been given a chance, maybe this is his shot. STREAM

4/3: Jack Flaherty (STL) Away against the Milwaukee Brewers (12% Owned)
Flaherty may have the best stuff of the group under 255 owned but also is faced with an incredibly tough matchup. I believe he has the highest strikeout upside but could get bombed for 5 ER in 2 innings. Right now, the new Brewers are mashing led by Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, both hitting over .500 to start the season. They have great depth and can throw out a lineup mostly comprised of lefties which could give Flaherty headaches. This one might be too scary to stream. STAY AWAY

4/4: Ivan Nova (PIT) at Home against the Twins (13% owned)
Wow, Nova walked three batters in his first start! He walked three or more batters only three times in 31 starts in 2017. I don’t expect that to happen again, but also don’t expect a lot of Ks either. The Twins do have a few dangerous left handed batters with Logan Morrison, Eddie Rosario, Joe Mauer, and Max Kepler. That’s not exactly a murders row and if Nova keeps the walks down to a minimum a solo homer or two shouldn’t kill him. Expect a quality start with 3-4 strikeouts and a chance for a win. STREAM

4/5 Jordan Zimmermann (DET) Away against the Chicago White Sox  (5% owned)
Zimmerman went six innings and gave up four earned runs in his first start, but it wasn’t all bad. He struck out eight and only walked one batter without allowing a home run. He mostly induced weak contact on his balls in play and now gets to face one of the worst teams offensively at home. I still don’t trust him long term, and the White Sox have been swinging hot bats early. I expect them to cool down a bit and there’s a lot of strikeout potential with the Sox lineup. Roll Zimm out for one more. STREAM.

4/7 Reynaldo Lopez (CWS) Home against the Detroit Tigers (8% owned)
Lopez was slinging it in Spring Training with velocity reading around 97 and 98 mph. His results weren’t great but he’s got a great fastball and a decent change up. The Tigers aren’t exactly scaring anyone this year and while I’d hold off on keeping Lopez, he’s a nice stream this week. At some point, Lopez should tap into his strikeout potential, but for now he just needs to throw strikes and continue to induce weak contact. This one is risky, but if you need a pitcher late in the week this is your guy. STREAM.