post

What Hitters are Over and Underperforming Based on HR/BRL Rate

Last month, I developed home run park factors using Statcast’s metric – Barrels. I used four full seasons of Statcast data to determine the most favorable and unfavorable parks in Major League Baseball. Let’s put this information to work and determine which players have been unlucky or are underperforming and players who have been lucky or are overperforming their power metrics based on HR/BRL rate. I’ll look at how players have performed in the past, look at park factors, and compare their numbers to the league-average HR/BRL rate in 2019. Speaking of which, that metric (HR/BRL%) is currently 55.96%. I deduct home runs that do not qualify as a barrel in that calculation. I separate them out and call those home runs “lucky” or non-barreled homers.

First, let’s look at the underperformers. You’ll want to sort the column to the right (HR/BRL%). Remember 55.96% is league-average, so sort the column further to the right to if you want to to see the largest underperformers. The HR (BRL) column are all the home runs that were also barrels and the number from that column plus the Lucky HR column should equal the player’s total HR to date. Hit me up if you have questions or want to know about a player on the list I didn’t cover.

HR/BRL Underperformers (5/31/19)

PlayerBRLHR (BRL)Lucky HRHR TotalHR/BRL%
David Dahl1750529.4%
Andrew Benintendi1451635.7%
Jose Ramirez1140436.4%
Brandon Belt1662837.5%
J.T Realmuto1871838.9%
Anthony Rendon23911039.1%
Christian Walker22911040.9%
Freddie Freeman291301344.8%
Jose Abreu311411545.2%
Mookie Betts1990947.4%
Dansby Swanson211001047.6%
Mike Trout251201248.0%
J.D Martinez221101150.0%
Domingo Santana201001050.0%
Ketel Marte201021250.0%

David Dahl – How in the hell does a Rockies hitter have the lowest HR/BRL rate? When we go over the overperformers, we find Nolan Arenado (85.7%) and Trevor Story (71.4%). Of course, we know based on their home park, those numbers are not out of bounds. I absolutely hate his (Dahl’s) approach and his contact rate is atrocious but Coors field! He’s due some serious positive power regression as long as the Rockies stick with him. Unfortunately, he’s running an elevated BABIP inflating his batting average, so it’s not like you can get him for cheap. I wouldn’t be surprised if he goes on a binge over the summer months and ends up close to 30 home runs.

Andrew Benintendi has picked up his pace in recent weeks. I was high on him this offseason and expected him to take a step forward in terms of power. The good news is he’s just about halfway to his total number of barrels from 2018 but has only produced six homers. Fenway isn’t great for left-handed pull power which is what Benny produces. I still think he’s due some positive regression and a 20-20 season is well within reach.

No surprise here, Jose Ramirez has been unlucky this season. That doesn’t mean he’s been good though. Ramirez thrives by commanding the strike zone, making a ton of contact and doing damage to the pull side. This year, he’s declined in all three facets. As far as his power, he’s not hitting 39 homers, sorry. But, for a home park that’s neutral for power, he should have a couple more home runs. I think he’ll heat up and end up with around 20 home runs to go with 30 steals which isn’t so bad but not a top five player.

Yes, Christian Walker homered last night, but he’s been ice cold. With the addition of Kevin Cron to the MLB roster, Walker will fade in the remaining four months. Yes, he’s been unlucky, no I’m not buying.

J.T. Realmuto plays in a favorable park with a stacked lineup. His power and Statcast metrics look great and clearly, he’s been extremely unlucky in terms of HR/BRL rate. Find an owner who is tired of his mediocre statistics and pluck him up for cheap because, I think he ends up around 25 homers this year with career-best counting stats.

This offseason, I predicted Anthony Rendon would win the MVP this year and even after missing over two weeks to an elbow contusion, he still ranks sixth in the NL in WAR. He’s only managed 10 home runs on 23 barrels (1 lucky HR) to date. Just regressing Rendon to league-average HR/BRL, he would have 14 home runs in just 43 games played. If he can stay healthy and luck falls on his side, he should have no problem reach 30-35 homers with a slash line of .300/.400/600 and a top 3 MVP candidate.

Freddie Freeman is currently underperforming his HR/BRL rate for the third straight season. New Suntrust Park did not fair well (25th in HR Park Factors) since inception in 2017. Freeman hits a ton of line drives at high exit velocities that may be registering as barrels. However, they might not have enough loft or backspin to reach the seats, especially in Suntrust. It’s too bad because he may be having the best season of his career with a career-low 16.7% strikeout rate.

You might be surprised to find out that the 2019 barrels leader is Jose Abreu. Abreu heats up in the Summer months and already has 15 home runs. He’s striking out more also making more contact on pitches in the zone. His HR/FB rate is the highest since his rookie season and at age-32, he’s at the back-end of his power prime. Given the current environment and the improved White Sox lineup, I like Abreu to match or even best his home run total from his rookie season. I can envision a .270-40-120 type of line.

LOL Mike Trout LOL

I have to touch on my guy Ketel Marte. He just hit a ball 115.8 MPH yesterday which is harder than any ball Joey Gallo has hit this year. The metrics back up his power improvements and he’s actually pulling 39% of his fly balls which is key for power. The point is, I don’t expect regression from Marte going forward. I’d put him down for 25-28 home runs with a good batting average and plenty of R+RBI hitting 2nd or 3rd in the Diamondbacks lineup.

HR/BRL Rate Overperformers (5/31/19)

PlayerBRLHR (BRL)Lucky HRHR TotalHR/BRL%
Tommy La Stella1010212100.0%
Jesse Winker88210100.0%
Jose Peraza1145100.0%
Alex Bregman151431793.3%
Hunter Renfroe111011190.9%
Jose Altuve1090990.0%
Derek Deitrich171521788.2%
MItch Haniger161401487.5%
Joc Pederson161421687.5%
Dan Vogelbach151321586.7%
Albert Almora761785.7%
Nolan Arenado141231585.7%
Cody Bellinger241822075.0%
Paul Goldschmidt151101173.3%
Eric Hosmer1181972.7%
Victor Robles753871.4%
Trevor Story141031371.4%
Wilson Contreras141021271.4%
Eugenio Suarez171221470.6%
Eduardo Escobar14951464.3%

Jose Peraza is probably the luckiest hitter in the league in terms of home runs. He has totaled five home runs on just one barrel! I can’t put a whole lot of stock into these metrics because #1, it’s such a small sample and #2, he plays his home games in GAB, the best park in MLB for homers. He also did similar things last year hitting 14 homers on 14 barrels. I’m not interested in Peraza going forward but he could still luck his way into 10 HR and 15-20 steals. 

Wow, another Red, surprising. After hyping Jesse Winker for the better part of a year now, I’m cooling a bit on him. His batted ball metrics have taken a dip over the last three weeks. It could just be a minor injury or an approach change (not in a good way) but I still like Winker going forward. Even with the extreme homer-friendly park in Great American Ballpark, I don’t think he’ll continue his power pace. He’s still on pace for just under 30 homers but I’d expect something closer to 25 with improvements in batting average. He’s still a top 200 player going forward.

It probably doesn’t take an expert to figure out Tommy La Stella has been extremely fortunate in the power department this season. He’s managed to hammer out 12 home runs while only barreling 10 balls. He’s homered on all 10 of his barrels and assuming league-average HR/BRL rate, he should have between five and six home runs. He’s also hit two “lucky” home runs and five of his 12 home runs were hit with an exit velocity under 100 MPH. Everywhere I look, I see regression including his 20.4% HR/FB rate which is seven percent higher than his previous career-high. His average HR distance is 392 feet. His average EV on FB/LD is only 91.6 MPH which ranks 152 out of 204 batters with at least 100 batted balls sandwiched between Steven Duggar and Amed Rosario.

Alex Bregman has homered on over 93% of his barrels and has totaled more home runs than barreled balls. This is a guy who hit 31 home runs on 39 barrels last season and averaged only 384 feet on his home runs. Interestingly enough, Bregman is not taking advantage of the short Crawford boxes in Minute Maid Park. In fact, only one home run was aided by the Crawford Boxes. It was hit on 5/22 and went just 352 feet with an exit velocity of only 93 MPH with an xBA of just 0.068. He doesn’t have monster power but his short and quick swing generates enough power to all fields. I think his home run rate declines on balls to the opposite field, but the rest of his profile looks legit.

I was stuck between Hunter Renfroe and Franmil Reyes in the preseason but after the first two months, I’m much more excited about Framil. Renfroe still has some solid value, especially if he plays every day but it will likely come with a drain on batting average. He’s been lucky in the power department but as I learned last month, Petco Park is a top 10 park for home runs. I also noticed Renfroe is pulling 53% of his fly balls which is the most in the league among hitters with at least 40 fly balls. That’s a great why to inflate your HR/FB rate, so while I expect some regression, it shouldn;t be drastic. I think Renfroe reaches 30 homers for the first time but might have to wait another year or two in order to reach to 40 homer milestone.

Mr. Swag himself, Derek Dietrich has been fortunate to have a home run total of 17 through the first two months. It’s been impressive, there’s no doubt but in a list of 23 overperformers to date, four of them play for the Reds. He’s another guy pulling a high eprcentage of his fly balls. He’s selling out for power increasing his fly ball rate by 16%! He’s also improved his hard contact but is popping up too much as well. He’s going to go through slumps and crater batting averages but the backdrop of GABP should net Dietrich another 15 or so homers.

Joc Pederson is interesting because he hits some absolute moonshots. Three of his home runs this season were hit at 35-degree launch angles or higher, one reached 43 degrees! He also love hitting in LA where 11 of his 16 home runs have come at home. Dodger Stadium scored as the 11th best park for home runs (1.05 PF) but where it’s very favorable is down the lines where it’s 330 feet. Pederson is able to take advantage of the short right field fence and can hug several moonshots. He still can’t hit lefties and will be on the bench against them, so manage Pederson accordingly.

Dan Vogelbach doesn’t hit many wall scrappers. He has hit two lucky home runs but it’s likely due to the low launch angle of the home runs, not the lower exit velocity we see with the likes of Tommy La Stella. To give you an idea of what I mean, 10 of his 15 home runs have been hit at launch angles of 23 degrees or lower. Most of those were absolutely crushed at exit velocities of 104 MPH or higher. Most home runs are hit between 22 and 32 degrees +/- in terms of launch angle. Vogelbach is trying to buck that trend. As the weather heats up, the balls will only travel further, so I’m not expecting regression from Vogelbach, even though he finds himself on this list.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


Cover Photo Credit:Mitchell Layton
2019 Getty Image
post

Fantasy Baseball Hitter Rankings – Late-April Update

I plan on updating my rankings once every month but decided to split up hitters and pitchers. I feel like, given the small samples and some of the crazy stat-lines for many aces, I’m going to hold off for a couple of weeks. I’m not ready to drop certain pitchers based on a couple of bad starts because there are many early-season factors to consider. My updated hitter and positional rankings are shown below. Below the table, I’ll cover a few interesting risers and fallers for each position and the reason for their changing stock. Keep in mind that the +/- shown are based on Expert Consensus, not my preseason rankings. If you’d like to compare these rankings to my preseason ranks, feel free to check them out here.

Cover biggest risers and fallers with how many spots they moved

 

Third Base

Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – KC) – Movin’ on up
Dozier was somewhat of a forgotten man on draft day but has gone off in the first month of the season. He’s hitting .304 with seven home runs and batting in the middle of a surprisingly decent Royals lineup. I’ve written about him here and here. I wouldn’t just move him up over 100 spots without some sort of improvement. I’ve explained it in the linked articles but his plate approach and discipline has improved greatly without sacrificing any contact. He’s actually improved his exit velocity and barrel rates.
Note: Check he status because he left Monday night’s game with back spasms, sigh. 
Other risers: Matt Chapman, Josh Donaldson, Yandy Diaz, Maikel Franco

Travis Shaw (3B – MIL) – Get Low
It pains me to drop one of my preseason favorites in Travis Shaw but he has been straight up bad. It’s mostly a contact issue as his strikeout rate is up almost 14% from 2018! His contact rate is down by the same amount but he’s not expanding the zone or swinging less frequently. He’s just missing balls in the zone that he should be hitting. It’s too bad because his quality of contact is just fine, in fact, it’s better than in 2018. All is not lost but if I’m the Brewers, I might sit him down for a few days to clear his head.
Other negative movers: Justin Turner, Miguel Andujar, Wilmer Flores

Shortstop

Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL) – Movin’ on up
Yes, that’s right, Swanson is a post-post-hype sleeper. Let’s just compare his 2018 to his to-date metrics in 2019 because a picture says a thousand words.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wow! Not much to say here. He’s already barreled eight balls after just 15 in all of 2018 and his exit velocity is up four MPH. He’s also swinging a lot less often, especially outside the zone. These are astronomical changes that should yield significantly better results in 2019 for Swanson. I’m buying in for sure as he could be solid producer of power and speed from the MI position.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS – CIN)
I was off Peraza this preseason but obviously not enough. His approach has gone to sh&t. He’s swinging at everything outside the zone and has extremely weak contact. He’s dropped to the bottom third of the batting order and could be in danger of losing playing time going forward. He’s hit just one homer and stolen two bases thus far and has yet to draw a walk in over 60 plate appearances. He’s never walked much, but this is not a good sign. He can be dropped in shallow formats.

Catcher

Wilson Contreras (C – CHC) – Movin’ on up
Contreras has seemed to put his poor 2018 behind him as he’s hitting .321 with six home runs and ranks number one for all catchers in terms of wOBA at .483. His launch angle has improved and he’s never hit the ball harder in his career. Remember, he was the number two catcher off the board in 2018 drafts and he looks 100% back here in 2019. With how shallow the position is, Contreras looks like a great investment given hos draft-day discount.
Other positive movers: Omar Narvaez, Willians Astudillo, Mitch Garver

Negative Movers: Danny Jansen, Robinson Chirinos, Francisco Mejia

First Base

Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL) – Movin’ on up
My man Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini is looking like he’s breaking out in his age-27 season. His strikeout rate is down, walk rate is up, and launch angle is up. His power metrics are actually right in line with 2018 but he’s hitting the ball in the air more frequently. He underperformed based on his number of barrels last year but his luck is changing this year. No, he’s not a .300 hitter but could carry a .275 average with 30 Home runs.
Other positive movers: Cody Bellinger, Joey Gallo, Pete Alonso, Dan Vogelbach

Jesus Aguilar (1B – MIL) – Get Low
Aguilar is suffering from an extremely low BABIP but it’s his lack of power that is so surprising. He has yet to homer and his playing time is at risk. I debated moving him down even more but his plate discipline and contact rates are still solid. He’s not hitting the ball quite as hard, so there is some concern here. The Brewers are competing and have other options at first base (Eric Thames and Ryan Braun), so they may not be as patient with Aguilar to figure it out. He’s still inside the top 20 1B, but he’s in danger of dropping even further.
Other negative overs: Joey Votto, Mat Olson, Eric Hosmer

Outfield

Clint Frazier (OF – NYY) – Movin’ on up
This one is obvious because everyone on the Yankees is going down with injuries. The Yankees’ preseason starting outfield is entirely on the injured list and Frazier has finally gotten his opportunity. All he’s done is hit six bombs in only 17 games. The metrics look good so far and Yankee Stadium is certainly helping out. I think we will see an elevated strikeout rate from Frazier but as long as he continues to get playing time, he’s a must own.
Other positive Movers: Christian Yelich, Domingo Santana, Kike Hernandez

Greg Allen (OF – CLE) – Get Low
I know, he was largely undrafted but looked like he could be a solid source of stolen bases given the shallow depth in the Cleveland outfield. He’s really struggled to get on base and the Indians have signed Carlos Gonzalez and Jake Bauers is also getting some time in the outfield. Allen can play some defense and really run, so he’s still going to get playing time but sparingly. He’s a drop in all formats expect AL-Only.
Negative movers: Kris Bryant, Ender Inciarte, Jackie Bradley Jr.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


2019 Fantasy Baseball Rankings powered by FantasyPro
post

Hot/Cold: Mid-Week Buy/Sell/Hold (Fantasy Baseball)

This series is going to be a little bit different than your typical buy/sell/hold article. I’ll be categorizing players as either HOT or COLD based on their performance over the past week. I won’t just be covering players that are available on the wire or can be bought for cheap. While those players will be discussed from time to time, I will also discuss the early round players who are showing improvements and could outperform their ADP or vice-versa. I’ll be referencing FanGraphs, BaseballSavant, etc showing metrics that back up my claims. Let’s get to some polarizing players over the last week.

Hot

Hunter Dozier (1B/3B – KC)
Would you believe that Hunter Dozier is hitting .300 with four homers and has dropped his strikeout rate by 11% from last year? His metrics back it up, he’s in the top seven percent in terms of average exit velocity, expected wOBA, and expected slugging. Dozier had a solid barrel rate last season but his high strikeout rate killed his batting average. Now that he’s improved his contact rate by six percent and his O-swing (swings outside the zone) by a whopping 12.8%, he’s become a complete hitter. He hasn’t even sacrificed his power or hard contact.

That tells a nice story there. What’s also interesting is that his speed is above average. He only stole two bags on five attempts last year but given the Royals aggressiveness, I wouldn’t be surprised if Dozier chipped in with 5-8 stolen bases this year. I don’t think he’ll sustain a .300 BA but I’m BUYING here.

Jose Altuve (2B – HOU)
Well, it’s official, the juiced ball is back! Altuve was hampered by injuries last year and now has blasted six bombs in the last week+. This is more than just the juiced ball though. Altuve has increased his launch angle to 16.2 degrees, an jump of nearly seven degrees from the last two seasons. He’s also hitting the ball harder, which is great given his new fly ball approach. Now, his contact rate is down a bit, so he might be selling out for power. That’s OK, because we have seen what it has done for Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez in previous seasons. Maybe Altuve’s average drops to .285-.290 but he has a legit shot at 30 homers if he can carry this approach through the entire season. I’d BUY him as a top 10 player but I doubt his owners are selling.

Marcell Ozuna (OF – STL)
Any chance I get to write about Ozuna, I do it. I loved Ozuna coming into the season and he has not disappointed hitting .293 with seven homers and even chipped in with two steals. His batted ball profile looks great, his launch angle is up nearly four percent and his barrel rate is at an impressive 15%. BUT, yes there’s a but, his contact rates are bad. Like, really bad. His in-zone contact is down 12%! That’s a big problem. Part of what made Ozuna so good was his ability to hit for power and limit the strikeouts. If his K% jumps to 25-26%, then he’s more of a .250-.260 hitter rather than a .290 hitter. The good news is, if he maintains his elevated fly ball rate, he could reach 30 to 35 homers. I’m holding and hoping his contact rate improves, if it does, he’s a HUGE BUY.

Joe Musgrove (SP – PIT)
Last night, Musgrove just gave up his first runs of the season in his third start and his ERA sits at a cool 0.81. His control is simply fantastic evidenced by his 21:4 K:BB ratio. Keeping walk rates down and inducing weak contact is how Musgrove thrives. I’m intrigued by his maturation as a pitcher but I have two concerns. One, his injury history, he’s never thrown more than 150 innings in a single season (including minors) and never more than 115.1 innings in a Major League season. The second concern is pitching to contact. The way the ball is flying, I have some concerns that his normally fantastic HR rate will jump up. That being said his slider and changeup have both generated a ton of swinging strikes and combined for 12 in last night’s start. I believe in his upside and can foresee around a strikeout per inning, he just needs to stay healthy. HOLD/BUY

Marcus Stroman (SP – TOR)
Wait, Marcus Stroman is striking out more than a batter per inning?! It’s true and he’s really increased his slider usage at the expense of his sinker. The good news is he hasn’t sacrificed much in terms of ground ball rate. His slider is a  very good pitch, it’s getting more horizontal movement and is allowing less contact on the pitch. Unfortunately for Stroman, the only other pitch that generates a swinging strike rate over 10% is his cutter at just over 11%. I like the pitch mix change but once the home runs start flying, his ERA is going to inflate. You likely got him on the cheap so I’d hold while he’s pitching well and flip him after a few more starts.

Cold

Mookie Betts (OF – BOS)
This really pains me to write this about my beloved Mookie Betts but he’s off to a very slow start. He’s currently hitting just .212 with three homers and only one stolen base. What’s going on, a slow start or something else? Well actually, Betts’ O-Swing 13.6% with a swinging strike rate of 4%, both would be career lows. His swing rate sits at just 33.3%. He’s being ultra-patient and his contact rates are off the charts but it hasn’t translated into success. His walk rate is great but his BABIP is a paltry .220. That’s not going to last but it’s thanks to an extremely low 13.7% line drive rate. Let’s all sit back and relax, this is Mookie Betts we are talking about. He’s, of course, a BUY/HOLD. I’d buy him for $0.95 on the dollar if possible. Maybe you can flip Yelich for him? Then again Yelich is out of his mind right now with four homers in two games.

Jose Peraza (2B/SS – CIN)
Peraza turned a nice profit for owners last year who invested hitting for average, stealing bases and providing unexpected mid-teens power. The expectations were that he would hit atop an improved Reds lineup but the Reds have realized that getting on base is more important than speed. I discussed how I believed Peraza’s power was a mirage last season, here. This year, he’s hit one homer and stolen just one base while batting near the bottom of the Reds lineup. What’s really concerning is his plate discipline. He’s offered at pitches outside the zone over 50% of the time and has not drawn a single walk. His in-zone contact is still very good but he’s gotten behind in the count nearly 75% of the time and it’s lead to an uncharacteristic 26.4% strikeout rate. His contact rates are weak and his fly ball rate is 50% which is not ideal for a weak hitting speedster. I’d SELL for 85 cents on the dollar but wouldn’t give him away because I think he bounces back to give 80% of his production from last year.

Aaron Nola (SP – PHI)
Aaron Nola has now given up five earned runs in three straight starts and owns a 7.66 ERA with a 1.66 WHIP. Scanning his metrics, his velocity looks good, pitch mix is fine, BABIP is neutral, so what is it? Well, his first-pitch strike rate is an abysmal 48.3%, down 21% from last year! Yes, 21%! Instead of getting ahead of batters nearly 70% of the time, he’s working from behind far too often which has elevated his walk rate. Combine that with a 60% strand rate and a home run rate three times higher than last year and here we are. Nola’s zone rate is OK, so I’d expect him to improve his F-Strike% and lower those walks. Given the juiced ball and his home park, Nola will likely end up with a HR/9 slightly over 1.0, so if you’re expecting a sub-3.00 ERA, you may be disappointed. I think something closer to 3.40-3.50 is where he ends up with a little over a strikeout per nine innings. I’m holding Nola unless you can’t get close to 100% of his preseason value.

Corey Kluber (SP – CLE)
I could write about a dozen top 20 starters having poor starts to the season but let’s discuss Klubot. His 6.16 ERA and 1.84 WHIP are very ugly but his walk rate sits at a career-high 10.8%. He’s never had a walk rate higher than 6.6% in any full season in the Majors. His skills look fine to me but his zone rate is down five percent. The difference between Kluber and Nola is that Kluber is still getting ahead of hitters over 65% of the time. He’s suffering from an inflated BABIP (.390) and a low strand rate (60%). Both metrics will stabilize at some point and Kluber should get back to his low-3s ERA with a great WHIP. I’d probably slot him just ahead of Nola going forward and call him a moderate BUY candidate.

Follow me @FreezeStats. Check out my work at FantasyPros and Pitcher List.


Photo Credit: John Sleezer

Weekly Rundown – Jesus, this Eflin’ Soto is HOT Pham!

We are just about smack dab in the middle of the season. Most teams have played between 79 and 81 games. Ok, so let’s just double every player’s stats to figure out their final season numbers. Unfortunately we can’t just extrapolate, but it’s a fun exercise and we there is sufficient sample size to back it up. Let’s roll right into the this week’s rundown.

Hot Hitters
I almost led with JDM (see below), then 19-year-old phenom, Juan Soto blasting two more bombs last night. SOTO IS GOD! He now has 8 homers in his first 35 games as a big leaguer! Let’s marvel at his slash line of .336/.446/.621! No, that’s not Mike Trout’s line, that’s a 19-year-old’s slash. I don’t know what to say! Is a 26.7% HR/FB sustainable, probably not with his batted ball profile, but his plate discipline is that of a veteran. In keeper leagues, owners stumbled upon a goldmine. I think he ends up around .290 with 18-20 HR but in redrafts you could probably get a top 25 player for him right now. He could present an interesting sell opportunity. Let me be clear, in keeper and dynasty, you don’t take anything less than Mike Trout if you’re selling. Hell, just hold him in keeper/dynasty.

This just in, J.D. Martinez is good a hitting baseballs! After his 25th home run on Tuesday night, he now has an astonishing 71 home runs in his last 200 games! He’s on pace for 52 homers this year and has been healthy. There’s no better slugger in the game right now than JD. What might be overlooked in his game is his batting average. He hasn’t hit under .300 since 2015 when he hit .282 for the Tigers. This is a guy who understands hitting and launch angles, his high drive percentage is more than double the league average! I wish I had the guts to rank him over Stanton in the preseason, but alas I stuck JD around 15 and Stanton just inside the top 10.

Cody Bellinger has picked up the pace hitting .333 with 4 HR and 8 RBI this past week. Anyone who wrote him off after a poor first two months definitely jumped the gun. Bellinger’s 23rd birthday is next month. Look Bellinger doesn’t have a perfect batted ball profile, he swings and misses a bit too much and hits too many popups. What he does do well is hit for power, he pulls a high percentage of fly balls, so he should still hit around 35 homers this year. It just might come with a .245 batting average. The walks are coming back, so he gets a bump in OBP leagues.


Jesus Aguilar is a monster! He’s hitting .444 with 5 dingers and 7 RBI this past week. How does a 1.809 OPS sound? Pretty, pretty, pretty good. Here’s a guy with a superior batted ball profile to Bellinger. He’s older and slower than Bellinger, but that doesn’t mean the breakout isn’t real. His plate discipline could use some work, so I doubt he hits .300, but .280 with 35+ homers is possible.

Matt Carpenter kind of put that terrible April behind him and is hitting .524 with 2 HR, 5 RBI, and an amazing 10 runs in the last 7 days! Carpenter along J.D. Martinez, Betts and maybe two or three others are the only batters with more than double the league average in high drive percentage. Carpenter is on fire and probably should be hitting .290 with 20 HR right now if he weren’t so unlucky in April and part of May. I don’t love that he’s kind of selling out because his K rate is nearing 25% and he usually can’t stay healthy. If he stays hot the next couple weeks, I’d sell high on Carp.

Jose Peraza is running! Jose Peraza is hitting homers! Peraza is doing it all hitting .320 with 2 HR, 4 SB, 7 runs, and 4 RBI in the last 7 days. Talk about a buffet of statistics. The things to remember here are, he only strikes out 10% of the time and is fast. He makes contact with pitches he swings at in the zone 96% of the time! If he had Billy Hamilton;s speed, he’d hit .325 with 75 steals. But he doesn’t. So I’d expect this type of production going forward. If he’s available, pick him up. He’s like a cheap Whit Merrifield. He should be good for a .270 average with 6-8 HR and 25-30 steals.

Jesse Winker has started to heat up as he’s hitting just under .500 this past week with 3 homers and 8 RBI. That’s kind of a big deal because he only has six HR on the year. I went deep on Winker in an article on the SportsDegens last week. Basically, I Winker has incredible plate discipline and doesn’t strike out much. His power is still developing but he’s increased his launch angle. He’s a must add in deeper OBP leagues and shallow leagues need to start taking notice if he gets every day playing time.

Hot Pitchers
Madison Bumgarner just ripped off a couple nice starts striking out 16 batters in 15 IP without giving up a run. Is Mad Bum back? As long as he doesn’t go on some dirt biking vacation during the All-Star break, we should be good. Look I like Mad Bum, but it’s now about a year and a half since we’ve seen dominate Bumgarner. I’m concerned about his K rate in a day and age where everyone and their mother is striking out a batter per inning or more.His .226 BABIP and 83.3% LOB probably come back to earth a little. I think he’s a 3.40-3.50 ERA guy with a solid WHIP and just under K/9.

Lance McCullers is finally tantalizing us with ace-like outings. He’s got 16 strikeouts in his last 13.1 IP with a 2.08 ERA nd a 0.85 WHIP. Speaking of strikeouts, this guy’s got em! His K rate is lower than last year, but WAIT, it’s actually the same! His K/9 is lower but his K% is nearly identical. His SwStr% is better this year and contact against is lower. He may actually be a little bit better than the numbers indicate. If can keep the walks down a bit and improve on his LOB%, he could be a top 15 SP.

Zack Wheeler has looked sharp striking out a batter per inning with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in his last two starts. His velocity continues to climb. He’s averaging 96 mph but in recent starts was sitting around 97 and touching 100 mph. The fastball is good, no doubt, but I’d like him to use his slide piece a little bit more. Opponents are hitting just .186 off it. I don’t see Wheeler as a huge strikeout pitcher which limits his upside, but a K per inning is great if he can limit walks. I’m buying Wheeler in 12 team and deeper leagues.

Shane Bieber graces this article for the second straight week as he’s earned a couple wins with 14 Ks and only 1 ER allowed in his last 13 IP. There’s a bunch of small sample numbers that are way out of whack in both positive and negative directions. What I do know, is his control is solid and his fastball is terrible. Weird! An Indians pitcher with a bad fastball! Never heard of it. Kidding, obviously. The good news for Biebs is that his slider and curve are great, he just needs to bump the usage of both pitches up near 20%. I’d be buying to see if he makes those changes in almost all leagues right now.

Zach Eflin just keeps Eflin’ dominating! He’s compiled a couple wins with a 1.50 ERA in his last two starts. His strikeouts aren’t off the charts, but he’s starting to look legit. His velocity is up and he’s always had good control. I do think Eflin has made tangible progress but I don’t think he’s a 9.0 K/9 type pitcher. I see the K9 dropping to 8-8.5/9 which is still solid, especially with the low walks. I’m concerned that as a fly ball pitcher, he’s only allowing 6.5% HR/FB without a ton of popups. There’s a few rough starts coming, but he’s ownable in 12-team and deeper leagues.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Well, it looks like I’ll be taking the L on Joey Gallo this year. Prior to last night’s game Gallo was hitting a pathetic .150 this past week without a HR or an RBI. Of course, he jacks one last night. For the month of June though, here are his numbers: .135 with 4 HR and 33 strikeouts. I get it, a .172 BABIP is part of the problem but so is only 4 homers and a 40% strikeout rate. It’s a little fluky because he had a 60% hard contact rate with a 50% pull rate but his lowest HR/FB of the season. I still think he reaches 40 HR but he’s dropped in the order and is looking more like a .210 hitter than a .250 hitter.

Oh boy, Tommy Pham is hittless in his last 20 ABs. He’s been straight awful in June and wasn’t great in May. I know you don’t want to hear this but Pham was unlucky in May. So far in June, he’s just been bad. He’s expanding the zone and not being patient. His normally PHAM-tastic walk rate is below 4% and his K rate is nearing 30% for the month. I think he’s pressing and just needs a recharge because he’s still mashing the ball when he hits it. It’s all mental Pham.

George Springer Dinger is not hitting dingers these days, instead he’s only 1 for his last 25! It’s not like he’s flailing, he’s only got 6 Ks in his last 7 games. He’s pretty close to the same player he was a year ago expect he’s not hitting the ball quite as hard, hitting a few more popups and few less line drives. That’s it, though. It’s a simple tweak or one good month and he’s right back where he was last year. I’m holding and if he struggles for the next couple weeks, I might try to buy low.

Is the Eduardo Escobar experiment done? Here’s what I’ll tell you, the power is legit. He’s got a very high launch angle with very good hard contact. However, his plate discipline is trash. He’s swinging out of the zone more than 40% of the time and is swinging 54% of the time. As a result, pitchers are not throwing him as many strikes, his zone rate is down to 40% and his K rate is up to 25% in June. Cold stretches are coming but I do think he hits 25+ homers this year but at a .250ish average.


Brandon Belt just hasn’t been the same since he lost an organ last month. He did homer the other night but otherwise is hitting just .208 with 2 RBI this past week and .229 the last two weeks. It’s too bad because we were finally seeing the Belt breakout much like my pants at Thanksgiving. The good news for Belt owners is that he’s hitting the ball harder, so that’s not an issue. He’s not pulling the ball as much which has decreased his power production. I think he bounces back and if he struggles up to the All-Star break, I’d buy low.

Whit Merrifield is hitting .273 this past week which isn’t bad but without any speed or power. He actually hasn’t homered in the month of June and has only stolen 2 bases in the past 2 weeks. Did anyone think he was a 20 home run hitter? I didn’t think so, the 19 last year is going to be his career high. Look, the walk rate is up and his strikeouts are below average. He hits for a solid average and is on pace for 32 steals. You should be happy, he’s probably a .280 10 HR, 30 steal player.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Corey Kluber had a rough start against the Cardinals this week. A 6 ER outing without getting out of the 2nd inning is very un-Kluber like. I didn’t realize that Kluber had given up 16 HR on the year already! He only gave up 21 last year and never more than 22 in a single season! Kluber is giving up a lot more hard contact than he typically does and that justifies the home runs. He’s also getting less swings and misses and is allowing a career high 90% zone contact. The thing is, he never walks anybody and his LOB% is over 80% for the second straight season. Maybe Kluber isn’t a 2.30 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP pitcher this year but he’s still a stud

Remember when Dylan Covey was a thing? I do but only because I streamed him a couple times and the results were good! Covey hadn’t allowed a home run in his first four starts this season. In his last two starts, he’s allowed 5 homers! In those two starts, he’s got a 17.05 ERA with and allowed 17 base runners in only 6.2 IP! I hope you weren’t owning him, he was a decent streamer, but now we can forget about Covey for the time being.

Ahhh Nick Pivetta. He got smoked by the Nationals (again) giving up 7 ER in less than two innings. He’s now given up 15 ER in three starts against the Nationals. I won’t make many excuses for Pivetta, he’s been giving up far to many homers this past month (8 to be exact). That combined with his normally good control has put some crooked numbers on the board. Check this out though, as bad as he’s been since 5/27, his K/9 is 11.7 and his BB/9 is 3.82. Not bad, the walks need to come down oh and by the way his BABIP in that time .391! I’m cautiously optimistic with Pivetta and still holding in 12-team leagues.

Eduardo Rodriguez how now given up 9 ER in his last two starts where’s he’s given up 18 base runners in only 10 IP while only striking out four. E-Rod has also be BABIP’d a bit but he’s also struggling with strikeouts since his 9 K performance against the Mariners. I like E-Rod but he’s coming off a major injury and there will be some bumps this year. He’s basically the same pitcher he was a year ago. He’s introduced a cutter to his pitch mix which is decent but he doesn’t have a dominate pitch right now. I think he’s a 3.75-4.00 ERA pitcher this year but think he can be much better in the future.

Jose Quintana can’t seem to get on track, his last two starts weren’t complete garbage, he’s got a 6.10 ERA in 10.1 IP. However, he’s given up a whopping 16 hits and 5 walks in those 10.1 IP! This is killing me as a Cubs fan because other than Lester pitching way over his head, this pitching staff is on the rocks.For Q, it’s walks, walk, walks. A 10.7% BB rate isn’t going to cut it. His previous career high was 7.7%, and that was last year. What else, soft contact down, HR are up and his fastball is getting smoked to the tune of .288/.382/.477. Last year the numbers off the fastball were .215/.263/.333. This isn’t a buy-low and owners can’t drop him, he’s a vet, let’s hope he figures it out.

Shortstop – The Choice Is Yours

The first article I did for ADP value picks was for outfielders with speed. This one is going to be similar but for shortstops in that most of these options at short will have some speed. As a reminder, I’m using ZIPS projections for 2018 and NFBC ADP for all the players. So how this works is, I display ZIPS projections for four or five similar mystery players at the same position and we figure out whether you should (to quote Black Sheep – The Choice is Yours) “get with this or you can get with that.” Yes, old school rap is the inspiration for this segment. Ok, here’s are the mystery players.

SS     NFBC
PlayerAVGHRRRBISBADP
Player A0.2731380522577
Player B0.28811586024131
Player C0.2737574727206
Player D0.25119676111230
Player E0.2599615120236

Based on the projections, Player A looks to be the most productive in terms of run production, has good speed and a little bit of power. The average is fine, but I’ll be honest, I don’t understand why this player’s ADP is up at 77 based on the projections. The 80 runs and 52 RBI tells me this player hits near the top of the lineup. That’s true, this player is slotted to hit second in a solid AL lineup with a couple of notorious veteran run producers hitting behind him. Yup, this is Mean Jean Segura. I actually agree with the power and speed production but can’t understand the low runs and RBI numbers given a full season of at-bats, especially with Cano and Cruz behind him and Dee Gordon in front. The .273 average appears a alittle low as well, Jean has hit .309 the last two years combined and will be 28 this year. His BABIP is high but matches his good speed, high GB% profile. Despite the low projections by ZIPS, I’d expect a .290 AVG with 90+ runs and around 60 RBI along with the power and speed. He’s a clone of Elvis Andrus 20 spots later, GET WITH THIS.

Player B looks a lot like Segura but with very low run production. Interesting, a player like this should hit near the top of the lineup and not at the bottom. The issue appears to be his almost non-existent walk rate (3.7% in 2017) and utility-type role. I may have given him away but if I didn’t he’s also only eligible at shortstop if your league requires 15 or fewer games played at a position. Yup, this veteran is Eduardo Nunez. I would love Nunez more if he wasn’t on Boston. I know that sounds odd because Boston has a stout AF lineup. Normally that’s great for production but Nunez will hit 8th or 9th when he plays. He’ll start at 2nd while Dustin Pedroia is out then fill in as a utility role player. So, 500 PA is going to be tough to get. The other issue is the fact that Boston doesn’t run much. If he was in San Diego for instance, I’d love him because he would start every day and hit first or second in the lineup while running wild. While I’d take a shot on him because Pedroia is going to have trouble staying healthy, he needs another position player to get injured for him to see nearly a full season of ABs. DON’T GET WITH THIS. Unless he slips into the 160-170 range.

Player C
Wow, more steals and even LESS run production than Nunez! He still provides a solid batting average but isn’t taken until after pick 200. This player’s SHIT-uation doesn’t look great. He looks to be slotted near the bottom of the lineup and could possibly be on the strong side of a platoon. However, this 23-year-old NL player clearly has some speed considering the playing time issue. Player C is Jose Peraza, everyone’s favorite speedster sleeper from 2017. Now, everyone is hating even though he’s been handed a starting gig. I understand the risk especially with the news that Nick Senzel is taking reps over at short. While I love Senzel, he isn’t a shortstop and I believe it will take him the first half of the season in the minors to get comfortable with the new position. At that point, Peraza would be a utility player at 2B, SS, and OF. He’s still a good bet to get 500 PA. The high contact rate and speed should give him a .270-ish batting average but you won’t get much power. So if you need speed around pick 200 GET WITH THIS. I don’t love him before pick 200 though.

Player D
Player D is my beau. If you haven’t read a lot of my stuff or follow me on Twitter (plug) you may not know who this guy is. Clearly he the most power out of this group but the least amount of speed. His run production is second to Segura but I actually think it’s a joke. My projections for this AL LEAD-OFF hitter are 22 HR, 14 SB with 80+ runs and 60 RBI. Player D is Marcus Semien. How ZIPS projects 67 runs from a lead-off hitter, I have no idea. Also, Semien stole 12 bases (yes it was a career high) last year but in less than 90 games and is now projected for only 11? The power is legit as well, his full-season projection for home runs last year was 19 BUT he missed significant time with a wrist injury which sapped his power upon his return in July and August. It’s all good though because he clubbed five HR in September to prove the wrist is no longer an issue. Did I mention that he’ll be 27 this year and already has a season where he hit 27 home runs? I didn’t? Oh, well he does and he’s being drafted as the 20th ranked shortstop. GET WITH THIS ALL DAY!

Player E
Being draft six picks behind my boy is Player E. The numbers here aren’t too bad as projected by ZIPS. He’s one HR shy of a 10-20 season with a near .260 BA. This is an NL SS with elite talent defensively and well above average speed. He basically going to be given the job because of his defense but needs some work offensively and there are veterans there to take his spot if he falters. Player E is Amed Rosario, previously the Mets’ number one prospect in 2017. Rosario had an awful debut hitting .248 with an atrocious .271 OBP and K-BB rate of 27%! Yes, you read that right. After last season, I did not like Rosario coming into 2018; I worry about the plate discipline and I’m not sure the power shows up this year. He also needs to get on base to steal and he will be batting at the bottom of the lineup, so he won’t have a ton of opportunities. I do think he will be a solid hitter in a few years something like .275-15-25, but not now. DON’T GET WITH THIS!