Weekly Rundown – Young Guns Edition: Acuna and the Master Bader

So many of the top hitting performers from this past week are available is shallow mixed leagues and some can still be scooped up in deeper leagues. I could talk about Jose Ramirez, Freddie Freeman, or Paul Goldschmidt, who are all having great weeks, but we all know how great they are. The first player I’ll kick off with is universally owned, but he has earned a spot a top this list even after taking a 97 mph fastball off his elbow.

Hot Hitters
Ronald Acuna Jr. has been a man possessed this past week hitting over .444 with 6 home runs and 2 steals to go with 11 runs and 12 RBI! Let’s see, Acuna is in the top 10 for Barrels per plate appearance and in the top 10 for sprint speed. That’s what we in the industry call Tooled Up! (sorry nobody says we in the industry). Anyways, Acuna is a special talent. I’m excited to see what he does the rest of this year. Even in redrafts, he could end up being a top 25 pick next year at this rate. Acuna is my number 1 Starboy.

Amed Rosario has joined the youth movement! He’s hitting .323 with 2 homers and 3 steals with 9 runs and 6 RBI this past week. I love that category juice, especially from a guy who was next to useless before the All-Star break. But, you know what I like about Rosario? He’s got great speed (16th fastest sprint speed), cut down on his strikeouts and improved on his walk rate, oh AND, he’s only 22 years old. I like him as a sleeper already for next year, but he needs to take another step forward to really be a solid 15 HR -25 SB type player.

Harrison “The Master” Bader has really been ballin’ out lately. Bader is hitting .429 with 3 homers and 7 RBI this past week. He doesn’t have a steal but has managed 12 over 282 plate appearances. Do you know how fast this Bader is? He’s tied for the 5th fastest sprint speed in MLB per BaseballSavant. His speed combined with his 27% line drive rate make his .378 BABIP a little more believable. Although a near 21% IFFB rate leaves a bad taste in my mouth…… Anyways, I like Bader, he should continue to get playing time but a high strikeout rate could lead to some slumps, so be aware of that going forward.

Michael Conforto has mashed 3 homers and driven in 7 while scoring 8 runs this week thanks to his fantastic walk rate. Wow, 2 Mets on this list! Conforto’s shoulder is finally healthy. How do I know? Check out my Tweet from yesterday. He’s absolutely crushing the ball and able to pull the ball at a higher rate meaning his bat speed has improved. Conforto does have a little bit of an elevated strikeout rate, but that’s largely due to his patience. As long as his shoulder is healthy and he’s being selective, he will produce. I’m selfishly hoping conforto stays under 25 HR this year so I can draft him at a bigger bargain next year, tehe.

My boy Marcus Semien has finally joined the party hitting .400 with 3 home runs, 8 runs and a steal in the last seven days. The steals are there, but the power has fallen short. He does have 27 doubles, so maybe it’s the de-juiced balls? I love that he’s making more contact, so that should help his batting average but unless he gets out of Oakland, he may just be a 15-15 guy.

Miguel Andujar is hitting over .300 this week with 3 home runs and 7 RBI. Miguel has been a solid source of average and power this year. Hitting at Yankee Stadium in that lineup doesn’t hurt. I know there’s even more power in his bat but his batted ball profile needs a bit of face lift (get it? Lift). He reminds me Marcell Ozuna, big power, too much ground and pound. I’ll keep an eye on him and look for an approach change for next year.

Freddy Galvis has been quiet this year but he’s provided value this past week. He’s hitting .280 with 3 HR and 2 SB with 7 RBI. Galvis literally plays everyday and his overall season statistics are pretty terrible considering. A .237 average with 10 homers and 6 steals in 124 games…. Sorry, I just fell asleep. Anyways, there’s not much to see here, he’s not worth a pickup except in 16 team  or NL-Only leagues.

Hot Pitchers
Who to lead with? Hmmmm, how about Blake Snell? Sure, Snell has only gone 10 IP in his last 2 starts since the Ray are easing him back into action. However, he’s earned 2 wins, with 12 strikeouts, 0 earned runs and a 0.30 WHIP! Is Snell in the top 10 for Starting Pitchers next year? He does have several plus pitches and the strikeout rate to go with it. However, his walk rate sits just below 10% and he’s getting by with an elevated strand rate. I love Snell, but I think he needs just a little refinement before he’s a top 10 SP.

Kevin Gausman everyone! He loves Atlanta getting 2 wins with a 1.93 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP in his last 2 starts. Remember, Gausman has a really nice second half last year as well. It’s only been three starts with ATL, so we will have to wait and see. I don’t like that his strikeout rate has dropped and a 90% zone contact is not great. I’m in wait and see mode, but if you’re in a league where you need pitching, he’s not a bad guy to grab.

Carlos Rodon has been on fire. He’s gone an incredible 16 IP in his last two starts with a 1.69 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, sure the 11 Ks aren’t great but who’s complaining? I like Rodon’s future, but a 10.9% K-BB% is just not very good. He’s getting by with a .210 BABIP, I mean, I know Adam “Superman” Engel is roaming the outfield, but still. I’d ride this hot streak out, his schedule is set up with a very nice two start week against the Twins and Tigers. I’d grab him there but then he gets the Red Sox, no thank you.

Clay Buchholz is getting it done with a 1.69 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in his last two starts. Again, the strikeouts aren’t great but is Clay a guy we should be rolling out there during the stretch run? There are some numbers I don’t love under the hood with Clay, but (holz LOL) he’s limiting walks and isn’t giving up a ton of homers. Three of his five pitches has a pitch value of over 4 per FanGraphs in only 73 innings. I think he’s worth holding on to on this run because of how he’s been able ti utilize his repertoire. 

I was going to write about Wheeler, but it’s well documented how much I like (love) him. So let’s chat about Julio Teheran who has 13 strikeouts with a 2.08 ERA and a 0.69 WHIP in his last two starts. His strikeouts are up which is nice but his walk rate sits at a career high. He’s also giving up 1.55 HR/9 with a very lucky .221 BABIP. You need to run and hide from Teheran, cuz he’s about to get blown up. His fastball velocity is even down 1.5 mph. This run will not last.

I was going to throw in Scherzer and Carrasco, but you know they are on a roll. Cole Hamels has been nothing short of a Godsend for the Cubs since coming over from Texas. He’s got 4 Wins, 49 Ks with a 1.33 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in the last 30 days. That’s what I call Return of thee Mac. I’m not really sure how he’s doing this because his cutter has been his best pitch and his fastball has been his worst but he’s throwing the fastball a bit more. Then there’s his change up. In his starts with the Cubs where he threw his change up more, his strikeout rate was well over 9.0, in the other two starts, his K rates have been way down. He’s obviously a hold but I’d keep an eye on his pitch mix going forward.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Carlos Correa has not found his groove since coming off the DL. He’s hitting a miserable .111 with no homers or steals this past week. Damn Carlos, what’s up Bro? I can’t tell if I want to buy low on Correa for next year or not. On the one hand, he’s only 23 years old with a pretty incredible start to his career, on the other hand, he’s only played one full season out of three. The last two being the shortened seasons. He’s also just about eliminated running. I think I talked myself out of CC unless he drops in drafts for 2019.

Eugenio Suarez has gone cold for literally the first time this year. He’s hitting .174 with 3 runs, 0 RBI and no homers the last 7 days. I’m not concerned, although Votto to the DL could hurt his run production. I’m ok with that so he can be a little bit discounted in next years’ drafts. Over at TheSprotsDegens, I wrote a breakdown of how Suarez has morphed into an elite hitter. I know he cold right now, but you have to ride it out, he’ll bounce right back.

Starling Marte has only 4 hits this week with no steals and no homers. Marte has already surpassed the power numbers I thought he’d have this year and his plate approach and contact look just fine. It’s his .310 BABIP that’s hurting him. For his career his BABIP sits at .348. The culprit is his low line drive rate, but that can happen if you sell out a bit for power. But is .270 20 HR with 35 SB bad? No, that’s great, so move along.

The Gleyber Torres hype has really quieted down recently with Juan Soto and Ronald Acuna going nuts. It’s not all his fault, but he’s 3 for his last 23 with a run, RBI, but no HR, or steals. Torres has had a hell of a rookie season and is showing more power than anticipated, but I think he needs some work with his approach. He’s a little bit too aggressive and needs to make more contact. Let’s remember he’s only 21 years old, not every prospect is Juan Soto or Ronald Acuna.

Albert Pujols, I know he’s not even owned in over 50% of leagues, but he’s hitting only .217 without a home run this past week. I think (know) his time has passed. Ohtani has already proven he’s a better hitter than Pujols at this point and should be DHing nearly every day. Yes, Pujols was a fantasy GOD for the better part of a decade but his value is negative both in terms of fantasy and real life baseball. He still makes a lot of contact and his K rate is low, but he just isn’t a feared hitter anymore. Can we just marvel at his previous fantasy gold season such as back in 2009? Here’s his 5×5 line: .327-124-47-135-16!

Javier Baez is on the weekly rundown more than almost anyone thanks to his extremely streaky nature. He’s hitting under .174 with no HR or SB and 9 strikeouts. The King of O-Swing is at it again. His O-Swing (chase rate) is 49.2%, think about that. On nearly half of the pitches he sees outside the zone, he swings. It’s very difficult to be successful at making contact outside the zone unless your name rhymes with Glad Cherrero. However he’s doing it, I don’t really care how. Without him, the Cubs aren’t in first place and that’s a fact.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Dylan Bundy woof! In his last 2 starts, Bundy has giving up a whopping 19 hits, 14 ER, and 4 walks with 3 homers. It was nice knowing ya DB, but that’s what your fantasy owners are calling you after these outings (get it)? Let me just take a look at Bundy’s profile and OMG!!!!!! Sorry, I just saw that’s he’s given up 30 homers in just over 130 IP! That’s 2.05 HR/9. His fastball has been bad, his change is bad, and his curveball is even worse. Remind me to forget about Bundy until he leaves the AL East.

Ervin Santana needs to be shut down for the rest of the year. He’s given up 12 ER in his last 10 IP with 5 homers! I wrote about him last week, his velocity is gone. His velocity went up to 89 mph in his last start but is still 3 mph lower than last year. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Twins shut him down, I mean, they have been out f the playoff picture for a while. If they keep him in the rotation, please DO NOT STREAM HIM….. unless I’m playing against you.

Masahiro Tanaka has given up 8 ER in his last 11 IP with 3 homers, we are going to have to dig a little deeper on Mr. Tanaka. It’s starting to look like Tanaka is the better version of Bundy. Oh cool, so just kind of terrible. It’s now been two seasons in a row with a HR/9 over 1.7, that is just not good. He relies on an elite split finger and a good slider. The problem is the split finger can be inconsistent because it’s difficult to always have a good fell for the pitch. When it’s not working, he gets smoked, plain and simple. I’m sorry Tanaka, unless you have another plus pitch, I can’t recommend you.

Sean Newcomb has really fallen back down to earth. He’s got a 11.57 ERA with a 2.79 WHIP in his last to starts. His walk rate has always been an issue and this year is no exception. He’s also struggling to get many swings and misses evidenced by his 9.5% swinging strike rate. I think newcomb can develop into a low-end fantasy #2 or #3, but he’s due more regression this year. I’ll keep an eye on him for next year, but he has some work to do.

Jon Lester has a 7.45 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP in his last two starts but he actually pitched really well against Pittsburgh the other night. In the last month though, his ERA is a grotesque 8.16 with a 1.81 WHIP. Regression to the mean maybe? Earlier, I called Lester the luckiest pitcher in the first half of 2018. That was bomb from Matt Carpenter (can’t blame him for that, Salsa man was en fuego). I’m sorry Lester, great pitch tunneling or not, when your K-BB% is down for the fourth straight year, things are bound to go south, Here are his K-BB% since 2015: 19.3%, 18.2%, 15.7%, 10.3%. Oh, and his ground ball is down 9%, all of a sudden, he’s homer prone. In shallow 10 teamers, he can be left on waivers, in deep leagues, pick your match-ups wisely.

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