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Hitters to Buy in 2020 Using Earned Home Runs and Deserved Barrels

Earlier this offseason I introduced the earned home run metric (eHR). I explained it here and analyzed some of the largest outliers from 2019 here. The metric’s backbone is barrels but included other variables including directional fly balls, home park factors, and exit velocity on fly balls and line drives. I also ran some regression analysis from 2018 to 2019 to determine how well the metric correlated from year 1 to year 2. The results showed weak correlation so there’s more work to do, but that article can be found here. What I ultimately determined was that while the correlations were slightly better than using strictly home runs per fly ball and home run per plate appearance, the results, as a whole, are inconclusive. That is for extremely small samples and for the players where eHR and HR totals did not differ by a significant margin. Where the value lies in eHR is with outliers.

Alex Chamberlain of RotoGraphs developed a deserved barrel (dBRL%) metric this offseason which has been extremely helpful. His research is great and makes a lot sense so I found a way to use his analysis in conjunction with my earned home run metric. Chamberlain’s introduction to the deserved barrel metric can be found here. But, he refined the dBRL equation earlier this month and the results are much more reliable. In the second article, he explains that the adjusted r-squared (r^2) improved to 0.8 up from 0.68. That’s a huge bump in reliability. Please be sure you check the article out. He still uses a slight bit of caution in that the metric is more valuable when looking at outliers. The way I’ll be using the two metrics together is identifying players that extremely over or underperformed their actual barrel rate based on the deserved barrel percentage but also earned their home run total from 2019. OR, even better, in the rare instance when a player either over or underperformed both deserved barrel% and earned home runs.

That sounded confusing as I wrote it, so let me give you an example. Mookie Betts. His barrel rate in 2019 was 10.3%. Chamberlain’s dBRL metric pegged him for an 11.6% BRl% given his dBRL equation that includes exit velocity and launch angles (aka quality of contact). That’s great, so Betts deserved more barrels in 2019. More barreled balls mean better results. Looking at the earned home run metric, Betts earned an additional 4.68 home runs in 2019 compared to his actual total of 29 home runs. But, I use his actual barrels produced in 2019 in my equation, not dBRL. So Betts’ quality of contact did not directly reflect his bottom line so given his actual barrel rate he actually earned almost an additional five home runs. If the ball remains unchanged, Betts is a guy who could reach a new career-high in home runs in 2020.

Alright, let’s take a look at the players who have a nice buying opportunity in 2020 given this analysis. The second column is simply deserved barrel% minus barrel%. The third column is earned home runs minus home run. I’ve included each player’s HR/FB rate from 2019 as I’ll come back to this article to determine whether or not improvements were made.

Earned HR & Deserved BRL% Underachievers (Buys)

Up for 2020dBRL%-BRL%eHR-HRHR/FB%
Jose Ramirez2.50%0.9012.00%
Mookie Betts1.30%4.8613.10%
Byron Buxton2.60%5.7510.10%
Renato Nunez1.40%5.1516.70%
Shohei Ohtani-1.00%6.4626.50%
Matt Chapman1.20%3.9919.00%
Marcell Ozuna-0.50%7.4022.10%
Rafael Devers2.20%0.3417.70%
Lorenzo Cain2.40%0.629.90%
Andrew Benintendi0.40%5.767.90%
Josh Donaldson-1.30%10.3925.70%
Enrique Hernandez2.70%1.8412.20%
CJ Cron-2.70%14.4719.50%
Brandon Belt1.70%3.718.80%
Yoan Moncada0.30%6.5120.20%
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.0.20%5.8712.10%
Bryce Harper-1.80%10.9323.50%
Rhys Hoskins2.10%3.5214.30%
Aaron Judge0.40%8.2135.10%
Travis Shaw4.10%4.0510.10%
Howie Kendrick0.30%6.1817.90%
Matt Olson0.30%5.5423.70%
Jose Abreu-0.60%14.0921.00%

Source: Alex Chamberlain – RotoGraphs & BaseballSavant



2020 Players to Buy – Under-performed eHR & dBRL

If you’re looking for something positive in Travis Shaw‘s profile that might indicate a bounceback, this is it. Keep in mind, he only managed 270 plate appearances, so his sample is small and therefore, not as reliable. Even still, he maintained a high pulled fly ball rate and hit the ball. He needs to get his contact rate under control but if he gets 100% run at 1B in Toronto, he should get back to 25+ home runs. That’s a steal at his current ADP of 410.

Byron Buxton really surprised me here. His approach completely changed last year as his launch angle jumped seven degrees. Additionally, his exit velocity shot up while cutting his strikeout rate. That’s huge. But, fewer ground balls portend to a lower BABIP and fewer stolen base opportunities, especially with his five percent jump in popup rate. The health cloud is always surrounding him, so he’ll remain an enigma for me.

Annnnnd just like that I’m back in on Rhys Hoskins. His stock has dropped like a rock after being taken inside the top 50 in 2019. He’s all the down at 115 but still has 35-40 homer power (given the juiced ball). Plus, the Phillies lineup is still very good. He’s not going to help in BA or stolen bases but 35 home runs with 200 R+RBI is gold.

It looks like Jose Ramirez is coming in at a discount in 2020 with an NFBC ADP of 18 as of today. Using dBRL%, he earned 10 additional barrels bringing him up to 36 barrels in about 3/4 of a season. While eHR only has him adding about one home run, he still deserved at least six to seven additional home runs in 2019. Assuming the ball remains unchanged and a full season, I’d expect 30-32 home runs from Ramirez in 2020.



I’m inclined to grab Renato Nunez as my corner infielder in all of my 15-team formats. His ADP is currently 277 after players like David Peralta and Joey Votto. He hit 31 home runs last year and actually earned 36. Chamberlain’s dBRL says he should have had five additional barrels. We are creeping dangerously close to 40 homers given these two metrics. His park is extremely favorable and the lineup is not as bad as advertised. I won’t project him for 40 home runs in 2020 but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a .250-35-95 season from him.

Based on my quasi-scientific calculation, Mookie Betts earned approximately 36 home runs in 2019. His stolen base total dropped but his power is as strong as ever. He was the same steller hitter, just unlucky. Fenway Park doesn’t help either and he’s staying put for this season. Unfortunately, the fantasy community is not buying Mookie’s “down” year as he’s the 4th player off the board in 2020. I would not be surprised if he finished 2020 hitting over .300 with 35+ homers, 20 steals and vying for the number one fantasy player next season.

As if we needed another reason to be giddy about the 23-year-old Rafael Devers, he deserved 12 more barrels in 2019. My eHR metric was neutral but go ahead and add those barrels onto his season total and you’ve got another eight homers! Now, remember, Fenway is difficult for power, so maybe his earned total is closer to 38 but still fantastic! Here’s a fun one for ya. Devers hit his first home run on May 3rd last year. From that point forward, here’s his line: .314/.357/.593 112 R, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 4 SB.

It’s nice to see that Jose Abreu, earned home run’s second-largest underperformer, deserved all but 2-3 of his barrels. He’s on the wrong side of 30, so expecting some performance decline is inevitable based on age. However, given these results, I don’t see why he can’t repeat his 2019 statline with maybe a few extra homers and natural regression in RBI.



Aaron Judge is still among the top one percent in all of baseball in terms of crushing baseballs. A healthy Judge can still hit 50 home runs and would be a lock for 40 bombs if he can manage at least 600 plate appearances. Nothing flashy, just simple analysis here.

Marcell Ozuna has under-performed his Statcast metrics two years running making his 2017 breakout seem like an outlier. Ya boy Max doesn’t see it that way. His home parks combined with some poor luck have held Ozuna’s numbers down the last two seasons. He remains unsigned this offseason and it looks inevitable that he’ll be back with the Cardinals. I’ll hold out hope that he goes elsewhere because Busch Stadium is one of the worst parks for offensive production.

Earned home runs pegged Matt Chapman for just about 40 homers in 2019 and his quality of contact was BETTER than his barrel rate indicates. Oakland Collusiem performs relatively neutral for home runs despite conventional thinking. I love Chapman and his price is reasonable. My only concern is his high variance in launch angle tightness. This high variance could mean a wild swing in production. A few of those deep fly balls could turn into popups or low line drives. That being said, the power is legit and I have no issue expecting a repeat of 2019 while adding a few points in batting average.

Similar to Abreu, Josh Donaldson is an aging veteran who had a very nice 2019. He was finally healthy and finished as one of seven players to surpass 60 barrels last season. Deserved barrels docks him five or so barrels and given his age and health history, it’ll be tough to repeat. Luckily for early drafters, his ADP hasn’t changed much over the last year (105 overall in NFBC drafts). I’m grabbing him at that price but it’ll be interesting to see how his value rises now that he’s with the Minnesota Juggernauts.

Deserved barrels dropped Bryce Harper BRL% to 13% which is still very impressive. Including dBRL to earned home runs cuts his eHR difference in half but 5-6 additional home runs in 2019 setting his home runs total at 40. Given Citizen’s Bank Park’s favorable right field, I am fully on board with Harper reaching the 40-homer plateau in 2020.

C.J Cron’s 15% barrel rate last year seemed to good to be true. As it turns out, it was. But, a 12.3% barrel rate is still among the elite. When we combine the two metrics, Cron should have eclipsed 30 homers for the second straight season instead of finishing with just 25. The move to DET is not great but he should play every day in the middle of that lineup, so he’s another nice late-round flier.



Yoan Moncada’s elevated strikeout rate may keep him from hitting .315 again but I’m projecting a power breakout in 2020. While his 2019 strikeout rate was high at 27.5%, it was a 6% improvement from the previous year. Growth from a young player is always a very good thing. As a prospect, his hit tool was rated well-above-average, so if he can continue to improve his contact rate the sky is the limit. Unless Moncada’s ADP settles inside the top 50 (currently at 68), I’m going to be all over him. Don’t be surprised if he reaches 35 home runs in 2020.

Nothing to see here. Matt Olson just earned 40 home runs in just 127 games! Look, Olson is being hyped by just about everyone. His ADP is soaring because of it, but as is he’s going 30 picks after Pete Alonso. I think they are very similar, so give me Olson over Alonso every time given the discount.

Despite a 50+% ground ball rate, Vlad Jr. still earned nearly six additional home runs last year. He just crushes the ball evidenced by hitting the hardest ball of 2019. Check out my piece at Pitcher List on his power potential. I can understand the lofty ADP. His combination of exit velocity and high contact could yield 35+ homers with a .300 batting average in the future.

Unfortunately for Kike Hernandez, the Dodgers have so much positional depth making him a utility option; a part-time option at that. Even still, he should have finished closer to 23-34 homers in 2019 instead of 17. The power breakout we saw in 2018 is real and he’s a nice option in NL-Only and deep-leagues for cheap power.

Normally, I’d been in on Lorenzo Cain with this data but he’s going to be 34 years old. His speed is dwindling and so is the power. While he deserved better in 2019, I don’t expect 15+ homers in 2020.

Here we go again with Brandon Belt. Oracle Park is brutal for left-handed power. Moving the walls in a bit could help but I’m still not buying unless he’s traded. Plugging in dBRL into my eHR equation, he still would have finished with 24 home runs in 2019 across 616 PA. That’s the first time he’s surpassed 600 PA since 2016 so the probability of a repeat is low. Besides, 24 homers in this era does not move the needle.

Andrew Benintendi needs to go back to what he does best. Using his elite hit tool and driving balls all over the field. The dream of 30 home runs for him may likely never come to fruition but eHR shows that he still has some pop. If he can get back to hitting .290 with 20 homers in the Red Sox lineup, he’s a good value at pick just after 100 overall.

Howie Kendrick’s age-35 season was so impressive when you consider his career. His zone contact rate was the best of his career while posting the second-best HR/FB rate. He’s still just a part-time player so his value will lie in NL-Only leagues and for streaming purposes.

Pitching every sixth game is going to limit Shohei Ohtani‘s value as a hitter. Then again, Joe Maddon claims he could use Ohtani as the team’s DH when he pitches. So, there’s that. Ohtani is a unicorn. If he managed 600+ PA, he would hit 35 home runs and steal 12-15 bases. If he threw 200 innings, he’d be a top 10 arm. Neither will happen but we can still enjoy his talent wherever he’s at on the field.

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





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Is Alex Bregman the Next Jose Ramirez?

If I used this article title exactly one year ago today, you might think Bregman has a chance to lead all of fantasy in terms of overall value. As I write this today, the perception has a negative connotation. Jose Ramirez put together arguably two of the best back-to-back fantasy seasons in recent years from 2017 through 2018. Below are Ramirerz’s Roto numbers throughout 2017 and 2018.

Seasons Runs HR RBI SB AVG
2017-2018 217 68 188 51 .294

You don’t need to be a fantasy expect to realize the brilliance in those numbers. Ramirez averaged 200+ R/RBI, 34 homers, and 25 steals over those two seasons and combined for 13.5 fWAR. Meanwhile, Bregman is in the midst of following up his 2018 breakout where he had a 157 wRC+ and earned 7.4 WAR per FanGraphs (fWAR) with a very impressive 146 wRC+ and pacing for 6.4 fWAR in 2019. He’s on pace to best his 31 home runs from last year and other than a dip in stolen bases, the similarities to Jose Ramirez the previous two seasons are extremely similar. Let me explain.



It’s not just the small stature and elite production from these two players that make them alike. It’s also their plate discipline. Bregman is walking more than his did last season and is currently sitting with an elite walk rate of 17.3%! His plate approach is arguably the best in the league. Among qualified hitters, Bregman has offered at pitches outside the zone just 17.4% of the time which is nearly two percent better than the next closest hitter in Mookie Betts and almost four percent better than Mike Trout. Let’s do our first comparison since that’s basically what the title is inferring. Here are the key plate discipline metrics for each player (Ramirez 2017-2018 and Bregman 2018-2019).

Player O-Swing% Z-Contact% SwStr% BB% K%
Ramirez (17-18) 23.7% 92.4% 5.1% 11.8% 11.1%
Bregman (18-19) 19.1% 92.5% 4.4% 15.2% 12.5%

These numbers are extremely similar across the board but clearly, Bregman has the edge in terms of laying off pitches outside the zone. Still, you won’t find many players with better plate discipline over a two-year span than these two guys. OK, so what’s the point here. We have two elite level talents with similar approaches who are both below-average in stature. So they are little more similar, what’s next? How about the batted ball profile?

Neither Ramirez in 2017/18 nor Bregman in 2018/19 have shown great Statcast metrics. Take a look at their hard hit and exit velocity in the images below. The top image shows Ramierz’s metrics from 2018 and Bregman’s for this year.

Sure, those are fine and both have managed very solid xwOBA but that doesn’t quite jive with elite-level production. Back to the batted ball profiles. How can a hitter maximize his power without being able to regularly barrel balls up? How about pulling the ball with regularity? Yes, pulling the ball, but also pulling the ball in the air. A hitter’s bat speed is higher at the point where contact is made on pulled balls because the further along in the swing path, the faster the bat head is traveling. In addition, balls don’t have to travel as far as the fences are shorter down the lines. It seems obvious, but here is the evidence. In 2019, pulled fly balls are home runs 34.1% of the time in 2019 compared to just 11.1% and 6.0% on balls hit to center and the opposite field, respectively. In other words, by just pulling the ball in the air, a hitter’s probability of a home run is tripled compared to hitting a fly ball to center and the probability is nearly six times higher than hitting it the other way.


After knowing what we know about each of these players, you’d think that both players pull quite a few fly balls. Let’s find out if this is true.

Player Pull% Fly Ball% Pulled Fly Ball% HR/FB on Pulled FB
Ramirez 17-18 48.1% 42.8% 34.1% 34.2%
Bregman 18-19 47.7% 43.8% 33.1% 32.2%
League AVG 17-19 40.2% 35.5% 23.8% 33.4%

A few things jump out at first with this table. The first thing I notice is that Ramirez and Bregman once again have a very similar approach when it comes to batted balls. Both players clearly emphasize pulling the ball and getting the ball in the air. Both players pull the ball in the air about 10% more often than league-average. I can’t argue with their approach, both have had an insane amount of success pulling fly balls. You’ll also notice that both players are essentially league-average in terms of home runs per fly ball (HR/FB) on pulled fly balls. That’s because, as I discussed above, neither player has been able to generate elite exit velocities or above-average power metrics. Only hitters with elite power metrics and exit velocities can succeed with power to all fields. Ramirez and Bregman do not qualify in those respects. Both players have provided high-end power outputs with this approach but Ramirez has struggled to do so this year.

Now that we’ve seen both players have very similar plate approaches and batted ball profiles, I wanted to take a look at each player’s spray charts. Remember, Jose Ramirez is a switch-hitter, but his approach is the same regardless of which side of the plate he hits from. He wants to pull the ball and pull it in the air. So, for the sake of comparisons, I’m looking at Ramirez’s spray chart hitting from the right side between 2017 and 2018 and Bregman’s spray chart for just 2019.  This way, the number of plate appearances is a little closer (386 PA from Ramirez and 451 PA for Bregman).





Pretty damn close isn’t it? If you’re wondering about some of those short homers to left from Bregman, only a few were at home in the short Crawford Boxes as he’s hit 17 bombs on the road! He’s still taking advantage of wall scrapers even on the road. Now for the final item, popups or infield fly balls. With an increase in fly balls and pulled fly balls often comes an increase in popups. Popups and infield flys are essentially automatic outs. For this portion, I want to focus on Statcast’s popup metric because it’s an isolated batted ball type. Over a FanGraphs, the infield fly ball (IFFB%) is a percentage of the fly ball category. Typically, players with well-above-average popup rates will have suppressed BABIPs. Ah, there it is. The main reseason for Ramirez’s struggles this year and in the second half of 2018 were due to a very low BABIP. His BABIP since the All-Star break in 2018 is just .230. A big reason why is due to the number of popups Ramirez has hit. Since the All-Star break in 2018, he’s hit 66 popups which are over 12% of the batted balls he’s hit. Of those 66 popups, only one has fallen for a hit, a batting average of .015. 

League average batting average on popups since 2018 is just .022. In other words, if a batter hits a popup, he has a 2.2% chance of the ball dropping in for a hit. In addition, the league average popup rate is about seven percent. OK, so we understand why Ramirez has struggled with batting average and BABIP but if you remember in 2017, Ramirez hit .318 but curbed his popups that year near league-average at 7.7%. How does Bregman fair in the category of popups? Bregman hit .286 in 2018 with a popup rate of 10.7%. That’s relatively fortunate. Some people saw his .289 BABIP and thought Bregman could hit .300 this year. I projected him for a slight dip in BA because of the elevated popup rate. This year, Bregman has taken those lazy fly balls to a new level. He’s sporting a 13.4% popup rate this year which is nearly double the league-average. In addition, his fly ball rate is up a tad while line drives are down. Yes folks, Bregman’s current .242 BABIP is not an illusion, it’s real and it’s warranted. 

Bregman might very well end up being the next Jose Ramirez. In fact, I think he already is the next Jose Ramirez. His pop up rate is up since the start of June. The home runs have continued but I don’t expect an increase in Bregman’s BABIP moving forward unless he curbs those popups. He’s already at a disadvantage when it comes to BABIP given his elevated fly ball and heavy pull rates. One point in Bregman’s favor is defensive shifts. He’s shifted on under 50% of the time despite a heavy pull rate on ground balls. Even when shifted on, his BABIP remains steady, so it doesn’t appear to be much of a factor. Ramirez, on the other hand, is being shifted on about 2/3rds of the time and his wRC+ against the shift is down 30 points.

Owners are obviously very happy with Bregman’s production, and while I don’t expect a complete collapse as we saw with Ramirez from July 2018 through June 2019, there is still some downside despite the elite plate skills. But what happens if he goes through a Ramirez-like slump with a sub-220 BABIP? Bregman doesn’t have the stolen bases to lessen the blow to fantasy teams (just four steals in five attempts this year). His power numbers are extremely inflated based on his home run per barrel rate (HR/BRL%) and lucky home runs. He’s carrying a 94% HR/BRL rate (league average is around 59%) and has hit 10, yes 10 non-barreled home runs or as I call them, lucky home runs. Given his heavy pull rate, Bregman has been known to hit these lucky homers, he did it 11 times last year but the difference is he barreled up 39 balls last season compared to just 17 thus far in 2019. You can see with his spray chart, there’s a fine line between a home run and an out with the majority of his home runs. Jose Ramirez is currently on the other side of that line in 2019. Bregman might just be the outlier and continue hitting for a respectable average with 30+ homers every year. But if he hits .235 with 18 homers and six steals next year, don’t be surprised.


Keep in mind, I don’t dislike Bregman, he’s a fantastic player. His plate discipline is elite and he plays on one of the best teams in the league. His floor is still pretty safe given his patience and surrounding cast. Where are you taking Bregman in 2020? First round, second round, thrid round? I’ll be slotting him in the third round as of now. There is just too much upside in the first two rounds to take the chance on Breggy.

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


Image Credit Shutter stock

 

 

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Using xBABIP to Find Outliers – Players to Buy/Sell for the 2nd Half

Last season I ran a similar analysis using the now defunct xStats.org site. Andrew Perpetua, the creator of xStats is now with the New York Mets, so he knew what the hell he was doing. Here are the two articles from last year covering the players overperforming based on their xBABIP and the players under-performing based on their xBABIP. Below is a table showing you each player’s current BABIP, their xBABIP, and their BABIP for the rest of the season.

2019 xBABIP - 2018 Recap.

Through Mid-June, 2018 ROS 
PlayersBABIPxBABIPBABIPRegression (Y/N)
Bryce Harper0.2160.2960.341Y
Johan Camargo0.2220.2930.352Y
Anthony Rizzo0.2270.2870.315Y
DJ LeMahieu0.3010.3460.294N
Trey Mancini0.2780.3220.289MEH
Ian Happ0.3850.2970.358Not enough
Matt Kemp0.40.320.29Y
Starling Marte0.3520.2910.3Y
Albert Almora0.3680.3120.31Y
Domingo Santana0.3680.308.500*N/A*
Scooter Gennett0.3890.3410.333Y
Nick Castellanos0.4110.3560.329Y
*Only received 35 plate appearances since June 11th

So, pretty decent results. I suppose if a player was carrying a .400 BABIP, there is really nowhere to go but down. However, in the case of Matt Kemp, Scooter Gennett, Albert Almora, and Nicholas Castellanos, they both fell well-below even their xBABIP. Likewise, we saw massive positive corrections for Bryce Harper, Anthony Rizzo, and Johan Camargo. All three were fantastic buy lows and owners who were able to buy them at a discount were rewarded in the second half of 2018.

This year, I don’t have the luxury of utilizing xStats.org. Luckily for me, Baseball Savant has a search tool where you can basically come up with anything you want based on the features and settings. It does take a little more leg work, but we are able to get it done. It’s important to note that expected statistics are not predictive. They are descriptive and merely show what a player’s expected numbers should be based on the quality of contact, launch angles, etc from his past performance. So knowing that we can find the player’s on the far end of each spectrum (the largest difference between BABIP and xBABIP). The probability of regression for these extreme cases is much higher than the rest of the group. That’s what I’ll be focusing on in this article.

Before we dive in, you’ll notice a bunch of Rockies on this list. The xBABIP equation does not account for Park Factors. Since Coors Field inflates BABIP as much as 20-25%, we can almost eliminate them from the regression list. If a Rockies hitter shows up on the positive regression list, that’s a completely different story. The other factor to consider is speed. xBABIP doesn’t include a speed component. So while guys like Elvis Andrus, Christian Yelich, and Tim Anderson show up the overperformers list, we need to consider that their speed could be playing a role that isn’t quantified. I won’t be expecting as much regression from those players with well-above-average speed. OK, enough rambling, here is the list of overperformers and I’ll discuss the negative regression candidates below.

Overperformers

2019 xBABIP Overperformers

player_nameBABIPxBABIPxB-BABIP
Rhys Hoskins0.3080.242-0.066
Omar Narvaez0.3240.249-0.075
Charlie Blackmon0.3490.285-0.064
Brandon Lowe0.3890.314-0.075
Nolan Arenado0.3170.261-0.056
Eduardo Escobar0.3070.250-0.057
David Peralta0.3500.297-0.053
David Dahl0.4100.367-0.043
Miguel Cabrera0.3610.312-0.049
Trevor Story0.3610.307-0.054
Christian Vazquez0.3210.272-0.049
Gleyber Torres0.3190.266-0.053
Eric Sogard0.3190.272-0.047
Corey Seager0.3220.273-0.049
Elvis Andrus0.3490.294-0.055
Christian Yelich0.3280.295-0.033
Brian Goodwin0.3550.313-0.042
Marcus Semien0.2920.266-0.026
Austin Meadows0.3680.332-0.036
Tim Anderson0.3720.329-0.043
Jorge Polanco0.3490.320-0.029
Jeff McNeil0.3800.340-0.040
Byron Buxton0.3130.282-0.031
Adalberto Mondesi0.3520.322-0.030
Xander Bogaerts0.3280.301-0.027
Juan Soto0.3650.323-0.042
Joey Votto0.3260.296-0.030

Negative Regression 

Brandon Lowe (2B – TB)
Surprise, surprise. No, not really. Lowe has by all accounts been a pleasant surprise for fantasy owners this season. He’s hitting for average, power, and chipping in with some speed. Anyone can look at Lowe’s BABIP and expect regression but what is interesting is that xBABIP is still .314. That means his batted ball quality has been great. His barrel rate is fantastic and he hits a ton of line drives and high-quality fly balls. It’s going to be difficult to keep up that quality of contact but even if he does, the expected metrics drop his BABIP by .075. That means his average goes from .279 to around .230. He’s a clear sell candidate but try and get a top 100 player for him. He’s ranked 71st on the Razzball Player Rater so it should be possible.

David Peralta (OF – ARI)
Peralta had an unexpected breakout last season at age-30 in terms of power. As we peek at his player page, we can see that his barrel rate, average exit velocity, and hard hit% are all down this year compared to 2018. On the plus side, his batted ball profile is similar to last season and while his exit velocity on line drives and fly balls (LD/FB) is down, it’s still pretty strong at 94.3 MPH. I don’t think Peralta is a complete lost cause, but there’s just no way he can maintain his .350 BABIP given his quality of contact. I don’t think he falls to the .250 range, but something around .270 with moderate power is what I expect going forward.

Eduardo Escobar (SS/3B – ARI)
Wait, did the Diamondbacks remove the humidor this year? What is going on? Escobar also showed up as a potential negative regression candidate on my home run per barrel (HR/BRL%) article earlier this month. His over-performance was largely due to a significant portionof his home runs were not barreled, aka lucky homers. It also appears he’s due for some BABIP regression. It’s not that his actual BABIP is that high but his quality of contact is awful. His hard-hit rate is just 29.2% and has just a .316 xwOBA. I would not be surprised if he hits around .250 going forward. In addition and as previously mentioned, he’s still vastly outperforming in terms of home runs. Just regressing his barrels to league-average HR/BRL% (I know, that’s lazy but hear me out), he should have between 10 and 11 homers. Sell him immediately for anything inside the top 200. He might very well hit .250 with 10 HR from here on out. You can find that on the waivers.

Joey Votto (1B – CIN)
Votto’s decline continues. As bad as he’s been, his xBABIP thinks he should be worse. Everything is out of whack with the future Hall of Famer. His strikeout rate is up, his walk rate is down, and the power is once again diminishing. While his .319 BABIP is right in line with his previous two seasons, his quality of contact is down. Votto has never been an elite Statcast guy except for the xwOBA metric. Since Statcast’s inception in 2015, Votto has finished the season with an xwOBA in the top two percent in every season except 2019. He’s not even close. His xwOBA of ,.326 is right at league-average. That’s not what we are used to seeing with Votto. The good news for owners is that his hard contact has been up in the month of June while his strikeout and walk rates are much closer to a one-to-one ratio this month. At this point, I’m not selling, you can’t get anything for him. I’m riding it out and this given the properties of the ball, he could partially turn his season around. I think Votto can finish around .275 with 20 homers. That’s not what you drafted him for, but is useful ROS.

Rhys Hoskins (1B/OF – PHI)
Whoa, looks like we are in for some steep regression with Hoskins. When looking at his metrics, he’s essentially the same player he was a year ago. The only differences are he’s hitting the ball a little harder, walking more, AND hitting more infield fly balls. So while hitting the harder with help with his BABIP and home runs, the increased popups will hurt his BABIP. In other words, his BABIP should mirror last season’s .272 BABIP. That’s a steep drop and I’ll take the under on THE BAT’s .259 BA going forward. He’s still a great source of power and RBI and of course a hold in OBP leagues but I’d sell him in BA leagues to someone who thinks he’s a third-round value.

Quick hit: Jeff McNeil has been so impressive in his brief career thus far. He’s carrying a .370 BABIP thus far in his career over 526 plate appearances. That’s not exactly a small sample. It’s hard to see how he’s able to maintain such elevated marks without the elite quality of contact and foot speed. Don’t get me wrong, his quality of contact is good and because of his very low strikeout rate, he’s also a threat to hit .300 but I can’t envision a .380 BABIP going forward.

Underperformers

2019 xBABIP Underperformers

player_nameBABIPxBABIPxB-BABIP
Yonder Alonso0.2000.2790.079
Justin Smoak0.2320.3040.072
Kyle Schwarber0.2680.3250.057
Robinson Cano0.2700.3230.053
Jason Kipnis0.2720.3220.050
Franmil Reyes0.2520.3000.048
Maikel Franco0.2010.2420.041
Nick Markakis0.2890.3290.040
Evan Longoria0.2660.3050.039
J.T. Realmuto0.3100.3460.036
Jose Ramirez0.2370.2730.036
Mike Trout0.3170.3510.034
Dansby Swanson0.2890.3230.034
J.D. Martinez0.3110.3430.032
Enrique Hernandez0.2350.2650.030
Lorenzo Cain0.2900.3200.030
Niko Goodrum0.3120.3420.030
Joc Pederson0.2040.2320.028
Albert Pujols0.2150.2430.028
Amed Rosario0.3110.3380.027
Marcell Ozuna0.2740.2990.025
Anthony Rendon0.3200.3450.025

Positive Regression 

Kyle Schwarber (OF – CHC)
Looking at the bottom of the list, you’ll notice a theme. It’s speed or lack thereof. So while I’m expecting quite a bit of positive regression for Schwarber, I don’t think he will manage a .325 BABIP going forward. That being said, he’s absolutely killing baseballs this year. His hard-hit rate is over 50% which ranks inside the top two percent of Major League Baseball. He doesn’t waste his balls in play as his soft contact rate is third lowest to only J.D. Martinez and Justin Turner, and right in front of Matt Carpenter. I mention Carpenter because I think Schwarber could have a stretch similar to what we saw from Carp last season. All the metrics are pointing to elite numbers but so far the surface stats are a little bit pedestrian. Schwarber’s limited by the shift but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hit .260 with 16-18 homers the rest of the way.

Franmil Reyes (OF – SD)
Coming off a two-homer game, Franmil is not someone you will likely to be able to buy low on. Reyes reminds me of a right-handed Schwarber but without the elite walk rate. His power metrics are off the charts and the results have been there. In his 551 plate appearances to start his career, he has already racked up 38 home runs. That’s Aaron Judge/Cody Bellinger territory. OK, this isn’t about his power, it’s about BABIP. He’s hitting .247 but based on the xBABIP, he should be closer to .280. His strikeout rate near 28% will limit his batting average upside, but I’ll lean closer to .260-.265 the rest of the way with 40-homer power. That’s some good stuff right there.

Anthony Rendon (3B – WAS)
Wow, really? Rendon is already hitting .314 but based on his xBABIP, he should be closer to .340! I’ve discussed Rendon at nauseam because I think he’s an MVP candidate and doesn’t get enough love. He showed up on my HR/BRL underperformers from about a month ago and is still underperforming. This is a guy who could honestly his .350 with 20 home runs the rest of the way and I wouldn’t be surprised. There’s not more I can say, he’s great!

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B – CLE)
Ugh, I just traded Jose Ramirez, Domingo Santana, and Chris Paddack for Nolan Arenado and Kyle Gibson in a 12-team league. I thought it was more important to get an elite player for a bunch of mid-tier options in a shallower 12-team league. Part of me wanted to hold on to Ramirez to see if he could turn it around. He’s been better of late but even if he improves to his actual talent this year, he’s still a .250 hitter. I am a believer in that his power will increase with the weather heating up. If he hits .250 with 10 homers and 12-15 SB, owners should take it. I would have as well but with Arenado dangling, I couldn’t resist. 

I won’t go into too much detail with the top two names: Yonder Alonso and Justin Smoak. Both have been very disappointing and typically underperform based on their xBABIP but not to this extent. Neither player is fleet of foot so I wouldn’t expect full positive regression from either. Still, both players have good power and if healthy could hit around 15 home runs in the second half. If their BABIPs come up 30 or 40 points, both are useful in 12-team leagues and a CI or utility spot. In 15-team leagues, I’d look to acquire them (Smoak over Alonso) as a throw-in to a bigger deal.

Mike Trout, LOL

Dansby Swanson (SS – ATL)
We are in the midst of Swanson’s breakout. If you missed out, that’s OK because I don’t think he’s being fully appreciated. Maybe it’s prospect fatigue and the fact that he didn’t bust out in his first couple seasons. I don’t know, either way, I think there’s more upside here. He’s still just 25 years old, already has a career-high in home runs and has more barrels through the first half of this season that he has in his last two seasons combined! In addition to huge gains in hard contact, he’s swinging at pitches outside the zone less often and smoking line drives and fly balls. There’s no reason his batting average should be in the .250s. I think he will comfortably sit around .275-.280 going forward with good power numbers and a prime spot in the Braves offense. Don’t sleep on his speed either, 10-12 SBs plays in today’s fantasy game.

Amed Rosario (SS – NYM)
This one snuck up on me a little bit. After a decent audition in the second half of 2017, he was pegged as a potential breakout in 2018. He didn’t quite live up to the hype but was serviceable, especially for a 22-year-old. He’s already matched his home run total from 2018 with nine but his batting average is right in line with last year. He’s improved his exit velocity by 2.5 MPH on average and is a few more line drives and fly balls while hitting fewer popups. That will boost ones BABIP for sure yet his current BABIP matches what he did last season. He makes enough contact and has great speed so I’d expect something closer to his xBABIP for the second half. He also has an outside shot a going 20-20 which is rare in today’s game.

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


Photo Courtesy of the Sun Times

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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

Comparing FreezeStats Rankings vs Yahoo! Rankings (Fantasy Baseball)

Earlier this week I covered players I was higher/lower on compared to ESPN rankings. Today, I’m looking into Yahoo! rankings and comparing where we differ. After reviewing both sets of rankings, I think Yahoo! is a little bit more accurate with their rankings compared to ESPN. I’ll be highlighting a few players on each end of the spectrum to help you prepare and find values in your draft this weekend. First, let’s start with players I’m higher on and the guys I’m targeting in Yahoo! leagues.

FreezeStats vs Yahoo! Rankings - Players I'm Higher On

PlayerFreezeStats RankYahoo RankDifference
Jose Ramirez, CLE3107
Francisco Lindor, CLE12219
Manny Machado, SD132310
Xander Bogaerts, BOS263913
Trevor Bauer, CLE254621
Patrick Corbin, WSH486113
Marcell Ozuna, STL406424
Adalberto Mondesi, KC516514
Justin Upton, LAA597415
Matt Olson, OAK639128
Luis Severino, NYY529644
Michael Conforto, NYM589739
Joey Gallo, TEX719827
Matt Chapman, OAK8910314
Robinson Cano, NYM7011141
Aaron Hicks, NYY8211230
Max Muncy, LAD8711932
Eloy Jimenez, CWS10512015
Craig Kimbrel,6212159
German Marquez, COL8412945
Stephen Piscotty, OAK10913627
Travis Shaw, MIL7714063
Yadier Molina, STL13516126
Nick Pivetta, PHI13616226
Ryan Braun, MIL12017050
Kenta Maeda, LAD16018222
Max Kepler, MIN15018838
Domingo Santana, SEA16620337
Jackie Bradley Jr, BOS14920455
Hunter Renfroe, SD16120948
Jesse Winker, CIN16821446
Ramon Laureano, OAK15421763
Shohei Ohtani, LAA13923293
Tyler Skaggs, LAA17423965
Joe Musgrove, PIT147250103
Ketel Marte, ARI17527499
Trey Mancini, BAL19028393
Danny Jansen, TOR20428480
Jimmy Nelson, MIL191291100
Anibal Sanchez, WAS201N/R-

This is the second straight year Yahoo has disrespected Jose Ramirez. He was WAY down in the 60s last year believe it or not. I guess a jump to 10th overall is an improvement. There’s a lot of talk about his second half because he hit .218 on a .208 BABIP. I’m sorry, but that BABIP won’t happen again. He might not reach .300 but a .275-.280 BABIP makes a lot more sense. Besides, even with the poor BABIP his full season pace using his second-half numbers comes out to 25 homers, 35 steals, 104 runs, and 88 RBI! You know I love Trevor Bauer, no surprise there, but Yahoo doesn’t seem to like Patrick Corbin either, gimme that slider! Marcell Ozuna and Justin Upton are guys who are slipping in rankings but shouldn’t be. They have not shown any signs of decline in their profiles, I’ll take both as my number two OF but could finish borderline top 12. Maybe Yahoo is devaluing power a little bit with their rankings of Matt Olson, Michael Conforto, and Joey Gallo. Did they know that power was down across the board last year? Kimbrel is low because he doesn’t have a job, so I’ll gladly grab him at his ranking.

I will gladly take 220 strikeouts from German Marquez at pick 129 overall. Thank you! Looks like I’m waiting until Ryan Braun through Ramon Laureano to grab my third outfielder. There’s a ton of talent there with power and/or speed there. I have another question. Why does Yahoo! hate players with multi-position eligibility who hit cleanup for one of the best lineups in the league and have back-to-back 30 homer seasons? Hi Travis Shaw. If you think I hate catchers, just look at Yadier Molina and Danny Jansen. Looks like those guys are my catchers in Yahoo leagues!

FreezeStats vs Yahoo! Rankings - Players I'm Lower On

PlayerFreezeStats RankYahoo RankDifference
Nolan Arenado, COL936
Javier Baez, CHC24177
Corey Kluber, CLE32257
Juan Soto, WSH392712
Starling Marte, PIT39309
Carlos Correa, HOU573522
Vladimir Guerrero Jr, TOR674918
Jack Flaherty, STL1005149
Corey Seager, LAD975443
Jameson Taillon, PIT865531
Jose Berrios, MIN986335
Gleyber Torres, NYY856817
Eddie Rosario, MIN916922
Matt Carpenter, STL79709
Jonathan Villar, BAL957817
Josh Donaldson, ATL1247945
David Price, BOS1068719
AJ Pollock, LAD1079512
Dee Gordon, SEA14110635
Tim Anderson, CWS17710968
Cesar Hernandez, PHI18413252
Kyle Schwarber, CHC23113893
Miguel Cabrera, DET245143102
Willson Contreras, CHC18814444
Billy Hamilton, KC23914891
Eric Hosmer, SD17914930
Dallas Keuchel,20815256
Buster Posey, SF18215527
Rick Porcello, BOS25516392
Jonathan Schoop, MIN24316578
Byron Buxton, MIN25417678
Jake Arrieta, PHI24618363
Odubel Herrera, PHI293187106
Gregory Polanco, PIT26019466
Jon Gray, COL29519798
Kyle Seager, SEA26720265
Alex Colome, CWS325222103
Arodys Vizcaino, ATL30822583
Miguel Sano, MIN28923851
Brandon Morrow, CHC340240100
Chris Paddack, SD30524758
Julio Teheran, ATL34127764

Oh my goodness Juan Soto! Yahoo! is extremely high on Soto expecting him to finish inside the top 30 overall. For reference, last season on the Razzball Player Rater, Paul Goldschmidt finished as the 28th player overall. Goldy hit .290 with 33 homers, 7 steals, and over 170 combined runs + RBI. Do we really expect Soto to pull that off this year? I’m out on Soto (for this year at least). So Jack Flaherty is an ace now? There are way too many question marks with Flaherty and quite a bit of regression in his numbers. He managed a .257 BABIP with a 9.6% walk rate, 79.3% strand rate, and a 1.19 HR/9. His zone rate was only 41.8% nearly four percent below league average and he didn’t induce swings outside the zone at an above-average rate. I don’t see a decrease in his walk rate and once the BABIP and strand rate stabilize, those home runs are going to hurt a lot more. Other 2nd & 3rd tier pitchers like Jameson Taillon and Jose Berrios are also being inflated in Yahoo’s rankings, I’ll be passing there as well. I’d much rather have Trevor Bauer and Patrick Corbin in the 4th and 6th rounds and basically have two aces.

Josh Donaldson and Miguel Cabrera are two old/broken veterans that I will be avoiding in my drafts. I think they both still have some of their skills intact but I just can’t trust them to stay healthy at all. Cesar Hernandez is a guy I really like but with the additions of Bryce Harper and Andrew McCutchen, he’s likely relegated to the bottom of the lineup where his counting stats will take a big hit. Tim Anderson is simply too high. He will be at the bottom of a not so great White Sox lineup. He should provide solid power and speed, but I’d rather have Yoan Moncada at a cheaper price. I mentioned how I don’t like the rabbits the other day and again, I’m the low man on them.

I’m not buying back into Byron Buxton this year. Hitting ninth is not good, I don’t care if he has a ton of homers this spring. Why is Gregory Polanco ranked inside of the top 200 overall? He’s out at least through May and likely to be sluggish upon his return. I’m not paying top 200 for a player who might just give you three months of production. Yahoo! has clearly bought into the Chris Paddack hype but is he going to give more than 100 innings?  I doubt it. I like him a ton and he’s shown his skills this spring but give me teammate Matt Strahm or Joe Musgrove instead.

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



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Second Baseman Rankings for 2019

Let’s dig into one of the deeper positions in fantasy baseball for 2019. Yes, believe it or not, second base is deep this year. It’s not quite as deep as shortstop but the additions of Travis Shaw, Max Muncy, Yuli Gurriel, and Zack Cozart have certainly helped make this one of the deepest classes in recent history. It doesn’t hurt that Jose Ramirez retains 2B eligibility for at least one more year. My ranks are loosely based on my projections, but not completely. I also am using standard 5×5 roto scoring for my rankings as well. I’ll breakdown the tiers below and highlight a few interesting players for 2019. So, here we go!

Rankings Updated 3/13/19.

Second Base Ranking 2019

Pos RankPlayerTeamPositions
1Jose RamirezCLE2B/3B
2Jose AltuveHOU2B
3Javier BaezCHC2B/SS/3B
4Whit MerrifieldKAN2B/OF
5Daniel MurphyCOL1B/2B
6Adalberto MondesiKC2B/SS
7Robinson CanoNYM1B/2B
8Travis ShawMIL2B/3B
9Matt CarpenterSTL1B/2B/3B
10Max MuncyLAD1B/2B/3B
11Gleyber TorresNYY2B/SS
12Ozzie AlbiesATL2B
13Scooter GennettCIN2B
14Rougned OdorTEX2B
15Jonathan VillarBAL2B/SS
16Brian DozierWAS2B
17Jurickson ProfarOAK1B/2B/SS/3B
18Garrett HampsonCOL2B/SS
19Adam FrazierPIT2B/OF
20Cesar HernandezPHI2B
21Ketel MarteARI2B/SS
22DJ LeMahieuNYY2B
23Yuli GurrielHOU1B/2B/3B
24Lourdes Gurriel Jr.TOR2B/SS
25Yoan MoncadaCWS2B
26Jed LowrieNYM2B/3B
27Asdrubal CabreraTEX2B/SS/3B
28Marwin GonzalezMIN1B/2B/SS/OF
29Jonathan SchoopMIN2B/SS
30Starlin CastroMIA2B
31Ian KinslerSD2B
32Joey WendleTB2B/3B/OF
33Jason KipnisCLE2B/OF
34Luis UriasSD2B
35Jeff McNeilNYM2B
36Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF
37Joe PanikSF2B
38Niko GoodrumDET1B/2B/SS/3B/OF
39Enrique HernandezLAD2B/SS/OF
40Kolten WongSTL2B
41Zack CozartLAA2B/SS/3B
42Ben ZobristCHC2B/OF
43Devon TravisTOR2B
44Josh HarrisonDET2B
45David FletcherLAA2B
46Keston HiuraMIL2B
47Dustin PedroiaBOS2B
48Eduardo NunezBOS2B/3B
49Bo BichetteTOR2B
50Hernan PerezMIL2B/SS/3B/OF
51Jedd GyorkoSTL2B/3B

Tier one starts with Jose Ramirez and goes to Whit Merrifield. It consists of the only player to hit 35+ homers and steal 30+ bases in 2018. A poor second half where Ramirez hit just .218 has some experts left with a sour taste in their mouths. Despite the poor average, Ramirez still hit 10 HR and stole 14 bases in just 63 second-half games. For those wondering at home, that’s a 26 HR-36 SB pace over 162 games. The low average was partially due to some poor contact but also an unlucky .208 BABIP. Ramirez will either hit .270 with 30 homers and 30 steals or revert back to a line drive machine and hit .300 with 22-25 homers with 30 steals, both sound great to me! Yes, I like a bounce-back for Altuve, but more of an 18 HR – 22 SB type season with a .300+ average. Merrifield belongs in this tier. He hits for average, lead the league in steals last year and is not completely devoid of power.

Robinson Cano and Daniel Murphy are old and underrated. Hitting .300 has become a rare feat, just 16 qualified hitters reached that mark in 2018. Both Cano and Murphy should end up right around .300 with Murphy getting the edge thanks to Coors Field. Adalberto Mondesi is in this tier, but he already gets so much pub. I have him around 60 overall because he could go 20-45 but also go 10-20 with a .220 average and back in the minors #RISK. I love Travis Shaw and adding 2B is great for flexibility. I wrote about Shaw earlier this offseason and see him as a potential value pick coming into 2019. Give it a look.

The third tier goes from Matt Carpenter to Brian Dozier and is actually pretty exciting. I’m a little lower on Matt Carpenter than most because he had a career year at age 32 and has dealt with back issues in the past. Carpenter’s metrics are off the charts, but then again so are Max Muncy’s. Muncy is five years younger and not getting the same love. My projections have Muncy outpacing Carpenter but Muncy’s playing time is not guaranteed. He’ll get 450+ plate appearances, but needs close to 600 to surpass Carpenter, hence the rank. Gleyber Torres and Ozzie Albies seem to be overrated this year thanks to outpacing their projections in 2018. I was all over Albies last year (here) and (here), so I was able to benefit, but he will regress in the power department in 2019. Once his value drops, I’ll be back in.

In the fourth tier, which goes from Ketel Marte to Starlin Castro, there is some solid value. The ADPs in this group range from the low-100s to around 250 overall. The players I love from this tier are Ketel Marte, Cesar Hernandez, Adam Frazier, Jed Lowrie, and Asdrubal Cabrera. If I’m playing in a 15-team league or deeper, I might wait to grab one of these guys as my starting second baseman and get depth elsewhere. In shallower formats, these guys are great middle infielders, especially with some of the multi-position eligibility. Marte is going to earn OF eligibility early in the season as the Diamondbacks will try him out in center field. 

Tier 5 goes from Marwin Gonzalez to Keston Huria. There are a few old veterans in this tier who can still be fantasy relevant. That’s why they are in this tier. I’m not interested in many players beyond this tier. You’ll also notice a bunch of young guys/prospects in this group. Keston Huria might be my favorite of this group longterm because I think he has 20-25 HR power with 15 steal speed and high-end batting average. For this year, I think he gets the call around June 1st, which limits his value. Garrett Hampson is now partially blocked by Daniel Murphy who will likely slide over to second base against righties to get Ryan McMahon playing time at first base, limiting his upside. However, an early-season injury ( I hate projecting injuries) could provide massive value for Hampson. Keep an eye on him, he’s got 10+ HR power with 30 steal speed given the opportunity.

I’ve made the last tier extra long and will make this quick because you’re either bored, left the site already, or don’t play in a 20-team AL/NL Only League. Bo Bichette is awesome, I love him, but the Blue Jays have no reason to call him up. He might just be a September call-up, but keep him on your watch list if the Blue Jays change their mind. Niko Goodrum has an interesting power/speed combination and is eligible at a million positions, so I like him as an injury and deep-league fill-in. RIP Dustin Pedroia, it’s been a hell of a run. Even if he’s relatively healthy, don’t expect any power or speed. The next time we talk about Pedroia will involve whether or not he deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.

Peace out Fam! Do people still say peace out?

Hit me up on Twitter @FreezeStats

Photo Credit: (Getty Images)


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Weekly Rundown – You Spell Khrush with a K

Player’s Weekend is upon us and I think my favorite nickname is Rich Hill who has been dubbed, “Dick Mountain.” You really can’t top that. I read somewhere that Brock Holt coined that nickname for Rich back in his Red Sox days. Turns out Brock Holt is useful! The next best nickname is Brad Boxberger’s in which the back of his jersey simply displays an emoji of a cardboard box and a cheeseburger. Clever. Ok, let’s dive in!

Hot Hitters
Kendrys Morales has woken up in the month August and is hitting a blistering .500 with 6 homers with 9 RBI as he’s your Flavor of the Week. Over at BaseballSavant, he’s the hitter who has underperformed based on xwOBA-wOBA more than any other hitter in the league. While I don’t fully trust MLB’s expected numbers, Morales is clearly starting to catch up to his career numbers. I understand that’s cliche, but look at Morales’ last four seasons, he’s a .260 hitter with mid-20s pop at this point in his career.  

Khris “The New Krush” Davis is at it again against the Rangers, well, all teams really. This beast has an MLB leading 39 homers thanks to 5 homers this past week. He also has 10 RBI in that span with 103 on the season. Davis has cut his K rate by nearly 5%, upped his hard-hit rate by 5% (although everyone has), and increased his fly ball rate by 6%. He’s likely going to slow down (well obviously), he has 18 homers in 32 games since the break! I think he’s a lock to go in the second round next year as he finally gets some well-deserved respeKeD.

David Peralta is hitting nearly .500 with 3 homers and 6 RBI this past week. Peralta has always been a guy who has shown moderate power with a little bit of speed and good contact skills. He’s a guy that always seems to be available on shallow league waiver wires. Until this year, of course. Is this for real? The answer, kind of. He’s only increased his fly ball rate slightly from the high-20s to 30%. Meh, but his hard contact is WAY up to 47% and has doubled his HR/FB from last year. He’s also hit fewer infield flys, so do I think he’s a .300, 30 HR hitter next year? Not quite, but a.290 with 22-25 HR hitter, yes sir.

Xander Bogaerts has been an RBI machine with 10 RBI in the last 7 days with 2 homers and a .357 average. Bogaerts was sick of his soft contact ways of 2017 where he barreled 1.3% of his batted balls in 2017 (brutal) and is up to 10.5% this year. I was down on Bogaerts coming into the year because his fly ball rate was low, his hard contact was bad, and his IFFB% was way up. This year, he’s improved in all three aspects. At 25, Bogaerts looks like a .300-25-10 guy for the foreseeable future.

Whit Merrifeld and Jose Peraza both have two homers and two steals apiece with .400 averages. I lump them together not only because their stat lines are so similar this past week but are they really that different? Sure Merrifield has shown more power in the past with 19 home runs last year so he’s not quite a White Rabbit. Merrifield has 9 homers and 28 steals in 548 plate appearances this year. Peraza has 8 homers and 20 steals in 540 plate appearances. Sure, I prefer Merrifield, but Peraza is a nice consolation prize going into 2019 and he’s five years younger.

Justin Turner just hit his third home run in the last seven days to go along with 9 RBI and even threw in a stolen base! Is Turner the Red Rocket or is Kole Calhoun? I think Turner’s nickname is just Red. Anyways, Turner is Red-Hot! Ok, I’m done. Seriously though, it took Turner a little while upon his return to get his power back, but since the All-Star break, Turner is .390 with 5 homers, 8 doubles, and a triple in only 89 plate appearances, good for an ISO of .325! If you waited it out with Turner, you have been handsomely rewarded.

Hot Pitchers
David Price has given up only 2 earned runs with a 0.67 WHIP and 15 strikeouts in his last two starts. He’s starting to look like the top 25 pitcher I envisioned in my preseason rankings. Since Price’s July 1st 8-run blow up, he’s essentially been an ace. His fastball and cutter have combined for a 12.0 pitch value in only 8 starts! That’s insane. Unfortunately, he has no other good pitches. I don’t think Price is an ace anymore but he’s a smart veteran pitcher who can be your #2.



Now, this is an ace! Aaron Nola is Str8 Ballin’ and making his case for NL Cy Young with a 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP and 20 strikeouts in his last two starts. Nola does so many things well, but the best skill he has is home run suppression with his 0.46 HR/9. He’s rocking a 50% ground ball rate and an elevated IFFB rate which is how he can limit those dingers. In addition, Nola has boosted his swinging strike rate by nearly 2% but his K rate remains slightly lower than 2017. You know what this means? I’m expecting a strikeout bump next year, and Nola will be in my top 5 SPs going into 2019.

Walker Buehler really has lived up to the hype as he’s gone 20 innings giving up just 1 earned run with a 0.85 WHIP and 23 strikeouts in the last two weeks. Yes, that’s cheating, but his last two starts have been dominant as well, I just wanted to point out how great he’s been. Buehler threw just about 100 innings last year and is currently at 103 IP this year. We are dealing with the Dodgers, so we have to be careful with Buehler and an innings limit which I think will be about 130-140. If the Dodgers believe Buehler will be part of their Postseason rotation, he could be skipped a couple of times before the regular season is done. Owners, be aware.

Cole Hamels continues his dominance with the Cubs who desperately needed pitching help. He’s rocking a 0.56 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP in his last two starts. He’s not getting the strikeouts, but that’s fine, he’s basically the Cubs ace right now. It’s odd because Hamel’s four-seam fastball has not been good this year but he’s finding a way to be successful with it since joining the Cubs and is actually throwing it more! Maybe, it’s location, when he’s up in the zone with the pitch, it’s yielded some positive results. Let’s hope it continues because velocity is not his game anymore.

CC Sabathia is 38 years old, has dealt with issues with alcohol, went to rehab and is still killing it in the mound. Yes, he qualifies as a Return of the Mac. In his last two starts, CC has 15 Ks, a 1.50 ERA and a 0.92 WHIP in 12 IP.  Sabathia now has 2,960 strikeouts in his career which is 17th all time just behind John Smoltz. He’s also 6 wins short of 250 which I think are milestones that get him into the Hall of Fame. Congrats on a great career CC and being fantasy relevant at almost 40.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Mookie Betts is ice cold everyone. I know, it’s sad, but he’s hitting just .172 with no homers or steals this past week. He’s even got eight strikeouts to only one walk, this isn’t the Mookie-VP we know and love. Other than a few extra strikeouts, I’m not seeing anything in Mookie’s profile that concerns me. This is just a mini-slump got Mookie before he makes his MVP-push in September.



Ozzie Albies is 3 for his last 26 with no homers and no steals. This is not just one cold week for Albies, it’s been the better part of two months now. Albies is a player I’m worried about because his overall season numbers look solid (especially for a 21-year-old), but remember he was the hottest hitter to start the season in April. Since the All-Star Break, Albies is hitting .237 with 1 HR and 3 steals. His hard contact is down and he’s expanding the zone too much. He’s still making enough contact, but I think he’s being too aggressive. He might be over-drafted next year and should set up for a discount in 2020, I know I’m thinking way too far ahead.

Jose Ramirez is hitting just .160 without a home or an RBI this past week but has chipped in with a steal thanks to a healthy walk rate. Remember when Ramirez was hitting like .160 in April thanks to an extremely low BABIP? Yeah, this is the same situation. Since August 4th, he’s got a .222 BABIP but he’s still walking more than striking out and is making MORE contact. His quality of contact is down a bit, but that’s the only issue. Jo-Ram is just fine, he’s already given you 140% of his projected stats, be happy.

Rhys Hoskins is hitting just .192 with no HRs, no RBI, 2 runs, and a steal in the last 7 days. It’s essentially been a month-long slump for Hoskins as his .196 BABIP is the culprit. His hard contact is down and his line drive rate is at 15%. Hoskins hits a lot of fly balls and doesn’t run well, so unless he can maintain a 20+% HR/FB, he’s a .250-.260 hitter. Combine that with 30 homers and 90-100 RBI and you have a poor man’s E5. That’s a top 100 pick but not much higher. OBP leagues, he’s still borderline top 50 though.

Kole Calhoun, the red rocket, has fallen back on hard times after a blistering month and a half. Kole is hitting .182 with no homers or steals and carries a 43.5% K rate in the last 7 days.

I had to include a graph of Calhoun’s 15-game rolling averages because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a wOBA fluctuation from 0.089 to 0.525 in the same season. Fear not, the hard contact continues to trend upwards. I’m not telling you to buy him, but continue to hold unless the strikeout rate gets out of control.

Starling Marte again! Yes, he’s hitting .160 with zeros across the board. Oh, he did have stolen base last night though, so that’s good. His K rate is up and he’s expanding the zone with a nearly 40% O-Swing (swings outside the zone) in August. You know what helps in these “Dog Days” of summer? PEDs! Ouch, low blow bro! I’m sorry, but Marte was a guy who struggled to stay healthy for 162 and we all know how healthy Ryan Braun has been since getting busted. I’m going to be out on Marte next year, he turns 30 and he’s not getting faster. He’ll be over-drafted thanks to around 20 HR and 35 steals this year.

Freezing Cold Pitchers
Lance Lynn’s success with the Yankees has halted quickly where he’s been punished by the Blue Jays and Marlins of all teams. He’s given up 10 earned runs 19 baserunners in his last two starts. It was starting to look like Lynn was the saving grace after the horrific run by Sonny Gray. I can’t judge (All Rise) Lynn’s performances with the Yankees yet because his getting 11.6 K.9 with a 49% groundball rate but also has a .375 BABIP and a 66.4% LOB. His SwStr% is nowhere near matching his elevated K rate either. I’m chalking this up to small samples and using him as a streamer against weaker opponents.

My boy (he’s not my boy) Big Game James Shields is back to getting roughed up after a mini-resurgence with a 6.59 ERA, 19 baserunners and 3 homers in his last 13.2 IP. I admit I did recommend him once as a streamer this year. The start was OK, it didn’t kill your ratios or your week. The reason I was optimistic was his home run rate has been down (for him) and he’s getting more swings and misses but with a lower K rate. I think my (slim) optimism is gone. Good-Bye Big Game James, it’s been real, it’s been nice, but it hasn’t been real nice.

Zack Godley’s stretch of good starts is long gone as he’s given up 11 earned runs and 19 baserunners in his last two starts that spans 10 innings. The lone bright spot is his 14 strikeouts. Why is Godley bad this year? Well, his walks are up, his BABIP is 50 points higher, and he’s stranding fewer runners. His home run suppression remains intact but he really only has one plus pitch this year, the curve. Last year, his cutter was utilized much better, currently, it’s received a pitch value of -8.6 compared to 7.3 PV last year. I don’t trust him anymore.

Andrew Heaney has struggled in his last two starts posting an 8.74 ERA and a 1.85 WHIP in that timeframe. His last month has actually been relatively poor. He currently has thrown 146 innings this year coming off only about 50 innings last year and 6 IP the prior year. I just think Heaney is out of gas. He’s got a good changeup and breaking ball, so I think Heaney will be on my sleeper list for next year. At this point, he will probably throw a couple more starts then be shut down for the rest of the year. I like him to reach 175+ next year with solid ratios.

Clayton Richard’s nightmare season continues. In his last 8.2 IP, Richards is sporting an 11.42 ERA with a 2.31 WHIP with only six strikeouts. I understand Richard isn’t all that fantasy relevant but last year against lefty-heavy lineups, he was a solid streamer. Then there’s the home/road splits, his 3.94 ERA and 1.22 WHIP at home is playable but the 6.67 ERA with a 1.42 WHIP on the road is just brutal. Am I really recommending Richard as a streaming option at home against lefty-heavy lineups? I guess so, but let’s hope it doesn’t come to that.

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

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Weekly Rundown – When Wil Myers Ever Slow Down?

Welcome to a special edition of Weekly Rundown with the All-Star break coming up this week. There’s actually nothing special about it except I gush over Jose Ramirez. Just as we all predicted, he’s tied for the league lead in homers and the Phillies are in first place. Does anyone realize than Franky Lindor has 85 runs already! How about Scooter Gennett leading the NL in batting average with Nick Markakis right on his heals. That seems about right. Nope. It’s baseball.

HOT Hitters
Welcome back Wil Myers! Myers is on a homer binge as he’s blasted 6 HR in the last 7 days and has chipped in with 2 steals, he’s been the top player over the past week. Is it just me or has Myers put up more production since coming off the DL than Hosmer has all season? I’m kidding obviously, but Hosmer has really had a boring season hasn’t he? I’ll touch on him later. Anyways, Myers has got his groove back and is no longer swinging at garbage outside the zone as much and in return has got a 50% hard contact rate over the past week. Remember, Myers is a 30-20 type player, so he could rip off double digit homers and steals the rest of the way.

Brett Gardner is playing baseball everyone! At nearly 35 years old, he’s still putting up some solid numbers as he’s popped 4 dingers and stolen 2 bases this past week. Get this, in the last two weeks, Gardner has a 12.9% walk rate with a 9.7% strikeout rate to go with a minuscule 2.7% swinging strike rate and a 100% zone contact rate (yes, he has not had a swing and missed in the zone since June 29th). Now, the rest of his batted ball profile leaves something to be desired, but as long as he’s making contact and getting on base, he will have value.

Whoa Starling Marte has hit a couple home runs and stolen 6 bases while hitting .407 in the last eight days. I’ll admit, I did not expect Marte to bounce back so well offensively, especially in the power department. But, here we are and Marte has 11 HR and 24 steals. Yup, those are stud type numbers. Actually, it basically matches Trea Tuner’s output to date. The issue is that Marte rarely plays 150 games, a total he’s reached once in his career. So, personally, I’m selling high. Now that he’s killing it going into the break, maybe you can flip him for a top 10 SP or a top 25 hitter.


Carlos Gonzalez has shown some life hitting three home runs, driving in 9 runs and hitting .450 this week. Now, the Rockies have been at home for a good portion of these numbers, but it’s still impressive. Unfortunately, I’m not buying this. He’s stockpiling stats at home but his IFFB% is up, his soft contact is up, and he’s swinging more but pitchers are throwing him less strikes. He’s also doesn’t run much anymore, so you aren’t getting value there. Oh and then there’s the Home/Road splits. He’s hitting .320 with 7 homers at home, good for a .409 wOBA but is hitting .243 with 3 homers good (bad) for a .280 wOBA on the road. Obviously, ride this out until the break, maybe you can flip him. He’s kind of a hitting streamer, but only at home from here on out.

We are past the 81-game mark and therefore Brian Dozier has started to go nuts. This dude has blasted 49 home runs in the second half the last two seasons! To put that in context, he’s hit 43 home runs in the first half of the last THREE seasons. Dozier basically turns into Aaron Judge in the second half. As I look at his profile, I’m not predicting 20+ homers in the second half this time around, but wouldn’t be surprised if he rips off another 15 with a handful of steals. That’s good for a top 35 player the rest of the way.

Mike Trout or Jose Ramirez, rest of season, who ya got? It’s seems crazy, but it’s not. Ramirez has four more home runs this week to tie him with Just Dong Martinez on the season, and has added a couple steals over the past 7 days. He’s driven in 10 runs over that time and there’s literally no stopping him. The best part about Jo-Ram’s transformation which began in 2017 is that he’s improved hard contact and increased his fly ball rate without sacrificing his already elite plate discipline. He’s actually improved on O-Swing the past three seasons. Oh and his .296 batting average could be unlucky with his .272 BABIP.

Hot Mentions: Alex Bregman has 4 HR and 8 RBI; Justin Smoak 4 HR and 7 RBI, Mookie Betts hitting .552 with 11 runs and 8 RBI this past week

HOT Pitchers
Do I have to lead with Chris Sale every week? No, but he’s striking everyone out and has allowed 1 ER in his last two starts. He’s struck out 24 batters in his last 13 IP, that gives him five straight games with at least 11 strikeouts. I think I’m bumping Sale up to number one overall for SPs in my All-Star break rankings coming out in a few days. Sale is kind of a machine. A really tall, rail-thin baseball slinging machine. At some point in his career he may breakdown, but I’m not betting against him at this point. No fire sale here.

Kyle Gibson just won’t go away. He’s grabbed a couple wins along with 18 Ks in his last two outings and this looks legit. Gibson is breaking out at age 30! I know, that’ seems late to be stuck with acne, but I digress. Look, Gibson has improved on his strikeout rate but he’s also throwing less strikes. As a result, the walks have jumped up. His hard contact against is up this year but the HR/FB is down. I’m not completely sold that he can keep this up. Walks + hard contact does not mix well. He’s 12-team viable, but as a back end starter.

Is Ross Stripling an Ace? I’m asking for a friend. Check out this post from @Smada_bb from yesterday basically comparing what Stripling has done in the first half compared to the best pitchers in the game. The answer is yes, he’s an ace. His strikeout rate is great, he doesn’t walk anyone, induces nearly 50% ground balls and an above average IFFB%. Sure, the LOB% isn’t going to stick at 90% and I do think the strikeout rate dips just a bit. Even still, he’s probably a 2.75-3.00 ERA pitcher with a great WHIP and solid strikeout rate. So, yeah, that’s a borderline top 10 SP.


I finally get to pour myself a nice glass of Jameson and discuss Taillon with you. He just came off a 10 K outing and has 16 over his last two starts. His 2.87 ERA and 0.87 WHIP in that time frame is more than solid. It’s all the slide-piece that he’s added. He’s had nine games started since the addition of the slider and here are the results: 3.29 ERA 1.19 WHIP 24.6% K%, 6.4% BB%, 11.2% SwStr, and a 3.07 FIP. MMM, that’s smooth, just like my favorite Irish Whiskey. I’m exciting for this development, but I still think Taillon is capped around a top 30-35 starter the rest of the season. That’s helpful, but I wouldn’t sell the whole barrel (get it) for him.

Zack Goldey has turned in a couple nice starts and even threw a scoreless inning in between this past week+. He’s given up only 2 ER in his last 13 IP with 16 strikeouts. Godley teased us earlier this year looking like he was getting back to last year. The problem is his cutter. It’s not good this year like is was in 2017. It’s way to hittable (if that’s a word), contact is up 8% against it and he’s given up an OPS of 1.015 when throwing the pitch. His control is off as well, so the walks are an issue. I’m not trusting this from Godley. You hurt me before bro, I won’t let you do it again.

Freezing Cold Hitters
I mentioned Eric Hosmer in the Wil Myers blurb and here he is! He’s been trash this past week netting 3 hits in 35 at bats without a homer or steal. I think Hosmer is the new example I use for Ground and Pound. I’ve been wanting to dig into Hosmer’s profile because I need a good dry heave. He’s upped his strikeout rate by 6%, swinging out of the zone more than league average and it’s backed up with an elevated 12.1% swinging strike rate. Here’s the kicker, he’s hitting the ball on the ground 62% of the time! That’s worse than Yelich, like way worse. Now he’s hitting under .250 with a .305 BABIP. Sure, he probably brings that up to .275 but with under 20 HR, he’s not worth much in terms of fantasy. No thanks.

Anthony Rizzo has just never got on track this year. He’s two for this last 23 without a home run. His power numbers are down but his season has been partially salvaged by driving in 60 runs. Really proving the the RBI stat is super meaningful. A .242 average and 12 HR is not going to cut it. Who does he think he is, Eric Hosmer? Rizzo has been unlucky with his .243 BABIP, especially with a solid 25% line drive rate, that does not compute. His hard contact is down, which is concerning because his fly ball rate is also down. Unless he changes his approach, we might have to expect a modest 20 homers from Riz this year. The average should rebound some and he will drive in over 100 runs, so there’s that.

Speaking of Chicago First baseman, Jose Abreu has been awful with only 1 hit this past week and a pathetic OPS of .100! Come on man, it’s the second half, you’re supposed to go nuts. Abreu has me more concerned than Rizzo. His hard contact is way down, like 6% down and his IFFB% is up. He may be pressing because his O-Swing is trash right now. He’s got to correct that by not chasing at bad pitches. If he’s not pressing, then he’s hurt. Either way, I cannot recommend him as a buy in the second half.

Trea Turner is hitting .138 this past week but has somehow managed 4 runs! “Thanks Anthony Rendon for driving me in whenever I’m on base.” That was Turner to Rendon after one of their games. Turner hasn’t stolen a base this week and I’m beginning to think he won’t sniff 50 SBs this year. Trea will be fine just as the Nationals heat up. He won’t reach the heights we hoped for but owners will be happy with Trea at the end of the season. Would I take Marte over Turner right now? Not a chance.

Hey Chris Taylor, maybe your 2017 was a bit of a fluke. It’s his lack of contact that’s the problem. He’s actually swinging outside the zone less but is whiffing more. His zone contact is nearly 5% below league average. That’s not good. I think he could still hit 20 homers but is only 4 out of 9 on the bases. Without a significant speed component to his game, he’s just another guy who is eligible at a bunch of positions. Best case scenario, he goes 20-10 with a .265 average.


Freezing Cold Pitchers
Mike Foltynewicz has been beaten around recently with 10 ER in his last 12.2 IP along with 4 homers! I’m willing to look the other way a bit because he came off the DL three weeks ago, but he was due for a little bit of regression prior to the injury. I am encouraged because his swing strike rates in the last three games have all been higher than his season rate of 10.6%. If Folty can prove that he can maintain his elevated strikeout rate, he’s a top 25 SP. A this point, I need to see a couple more starts before making a recommendation on buying or selling.

Dylan Bundy’s roller-coaster season continues as he’s allowed 10 ER in his last 7.1 IP with 5 walks and only 5 Ks. I recently rage dropped Bundy in my H2H 12-team mixed league. He’s too sporadic for H2H leagues and gives up far too many homers. His only plus pitch is his slider and when his control is off, you’re bound to get stuck with a 5-6 ER outing. A 1.74 HR/9 just isn’t going to play. I love the swing and miss stuff and believe in his upside, so I’d hold in 15-team leagues and deeper. Here are his earned runs given up in his last 7 games: 5, 5, 2, 4, 0, 0, 3. He also has two 7 run outings as well. Ugh, frustrating.

Tyson Ross was a pretty cool story for the first two months. Since then, he’s sporting a 5.91 ERA with only 29 strikeouts in 42.2 IP. Ross looks toast and probably needs the break more than anyone. Maybe he should take a couple weeks off on the DL. If he doesn’t, he is going to be a pitcher I look to stream against. Even if he does hit the DL, I can’t trust him again this year. Move along everyone.

Matt Boyd is another long-shot coming into the year. He showed some promise over the last year+ and with the addition of Chris Bosio as the pitching coach, I figured either Boyd or Norris would see some improvements. I don’t know what happened to Norris. He’s probably living in a van down by the river, literally. Boyd at least looked great for a couple months. He still wasn’t getting strikeouts. Turns out hes more or less the same guy he was last year. A low-end streamer. I guess Bosio isn’t some magic pitching genius. Oh well.