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.

 

Outfield – Speed

This is a new feature I’m doing for the month of March since draft season is in full swing. I’m comparing similar players at the same position using ZIPS Projections. The feature is called “The Choice is Yours.”For those of you who were either born in the 90s (or later) may not be familiar with the Hip Hop group Black Sheep or the song The Choice is Yours. Go ahead and give it a go, the lyrics are often giving you the option to either “get with this or you can get with that.” Of course, I’ll reveal the players in the table below and also give my personal analysis and thoughts on each player. So without further ado, I give you group of five relatively similar outfielders whose primary asset is speed.

ZIPS Projections      
OFNFBC
PlayerAVGHRRRBISBADP
Player A0.2781165522851
Player B0.2831476592268
Player C0.291989482291
Player D0.23415605625200
Player E0.2448722133210

Clearly, players A, B, and C are the most complete in terms of all-around talent with high batting averages 9-14 HR power and 20+ steals. Players D and E while don’t hit for a very good average, still provide similar power numbers and as much or more speed than the first three. The difference is you can wait 110 to 150 picks later to grab them. So who are these mystery players? Remember ZIPS is a little bit conservative with their projections and I’ll be sure to let you know where my projections are for each player after I reveal them.

Based on the ADP, you probably can figure out that Player A is Starling Marte. If you’ve read my blog, you know I’m not touching his this year. He was busted with PEDs last year and his 19 HR season back in 2015 seems to be an outlier. I know power wasn’t likely the reason Marte was taking PEDS, but it may have helped him stay on the field, now at age 29, without PEDs (probably), and coming off a year where is hard contact was a career low 26% and his soft contact at an even higher rate at a whopping 29%, I don’t think he hits more than 10 HRs this year. I have him at 9 HR in about 135 games. I wrote a sleeper post about him back in December, the ADP has come down since, but not far enough. Don’t get with this.

On to Player B, I believe this player provides the most value in terms of fantasy this year. He’s 31 and has got a new team this year where his home park is a significant upgrade from where he was in 2017. Ok, so that gave it away, it’s Lorenzo Cain. Cain has played 133 or more games in three of the last four season and 103 games in 2016. Cain has never stolen 30 bases in a year but here is a look at his 162 game averages since 2014: .300 AVG 14 HR and 30 steals. He’s now going to a team that has added Yelich and is looking to contend in 2018. Craig Counsell, the Manager, is known for his aggressiveness on the base paths and Miller Park is one of the most hitter-friendly in the league. In my opinion, both HR and SB projections by ZIPS are low, I have him around 16-18 HR and 28 steals for 2018 and should much more value than Marte this year. Get with this

Player C has a little less power but the highest projected batting average and run total. Based on this information, he must hit in one of the top two spots in the lineup. My projections are very similar to what Zips projects, and I think his ADP is about right (maybe a touch high). Player C is Ender Inciarte. Inciarte won’t provide the power upside that some of the other players on this list can provide, in fact, I think 12 HR might be somewhat of a ceiling for Inciarte. However, the high contact rate and speed will keep his batting average high and run total up hitting in front of Ozzie Albies (probably) and Freddie Freeman. He doesn’t profile as a player with elite speed either so I can’t see him reaching 30 steals. So the upside is limited but certainly has one of the safer floors in this group. Get with this (kind of), but don’t reach, I like him after pick 100.

Player D is projected for the lowest batting average from this group but also the most home runs. His current ADP is at 200, so the low batting average is baked into the price. Would you believe me if I told you that Player D had the third highest sprint speed in the majors last year behind only Byron Buxton and Billy Hamilton and one spot ahead of Dee Gordon! Well, I guess clicking the link gave this one away. Bradley Zimmer is not only a great athlete, he’s also 6’5″ and 220 pounds. He’s like a leaner more athletic Kris Bryant. I’m really just kidding with that comparison, Bryant and Zimmer are very different as ballplayers, they only have similar body types. Ok, so the K rate is terrible and his contact rates don’t lead to much optimism but Zimmer had shown patience in the minors so I expect his OBP to improve; combine that with a high GB%, elite sprint speed, and above average hard-hit rate. These abilities should lead to an improved OBP and a good amount of SB opportunities. His elite defense will keep him on the field, an OBP around .325 is possible and I could see 35+ attempts over the course of an entire season. Don’t sleep on his power either, 20 HR upside is in his bat down the road. Get with this.

Player E looks a lot like Zimmer but with more speed and less power. What’s confusing to me is how ZIPS projects him for 72 runs but a measly 21 RBI! How is that even possible? It sounds like a strong-side platoon leadoff hitter. if you haven’t guessed this player yet, you will after this comment; he was sixth in sprint speed in 2017. Yes sir, the son of one of my favorite childhood speedsters Delino DeShields. Jr. profile is almost identical to Sr. except he’s a little shorter and a little thicker. Jr. strikes out too much to have a good batting average but his patience will keep him on base and hopefully in the lineup. His defense should keep him in the lineup as well, but there is the risk for a platoon here but even with only 440 PA in 2017, he still stole 29 bases. The risk after pick 200 is going to be there for almost any player but if you need 30-40 steal upside at this point in the draft, then Get with this.