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Fantasy Baseball – 2019 Rankings Recap: Hits and Misses

After each season comes to a close, I like to take a look back at my proverbial victory laps but also analyze where I missed on certain players and why. I use this time of reflection on my fantasy season to find flaws in my analysis to see where I can improve for next season. In some cases, there was nothing wrong with the process but rather an unexpected incident or variable that derailed a player’s season. One main variable was the ball. We were not privy to any information before the season starter that the ball would be more lively. From the limited information available, MLB does not plan on changing the properties of the ball for 2020 or at least to start the season. This means that valuing hit tool, high contact rates, and fly balls will be important yet again in 2020. It’s something I wish I had valued more in the preseason in 2019 but you’ll see below that I was able to identify players with these skills early on once data determined that the ball was extra bouncy.

I’ll have a complete assessment comparing my projections with the actual 2019 outcomes within the next couple of weeks. Of course, the juiced ball has really inflated offensive numbers while pitchers have taken it on the chin. I’m not expecting the results of the statistical analysis to be as close as they were last year, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. The list below is in no means to complete list of my hits and misses. If you’d like to check my preseason rankings, here’s the table. OK, let’s dive in!


Players I got right for 2020

Ketel Marte (2B, SS, OF)
I was extremely high on Ketel Marte coming into the season. I originally had him ranked around 150 overall until the D-Backs decided to sign veteran snoozer, Adam Jones to play Centerfield. I have nothing against Jones, he was a very good player for a long time and by all accounts a great guy. Marte was slated to play a lot of CF along with 2B and SS. That’s nice position flexibility which added to his overall value, especially in deeper formats. Assuming Jones would cut into Marte’s playing time a little bit, I knocked 10-15 games +/- off his projection which dropped him to 175 overall. Yahoo! Must have had a personal vendetta against Marte because they ranked him 274 overall!

When Marte was traded to Arizona in 2017, I was intrigued. His speed combined with high contact skills and developing power was too much to ignore. Going into his age-24 season and I noticed huge gains in hard contact, barrel rate, and extra-base hits in 2018. There was no reason to expect him to decline entering his age-25 season. High batting average and speed potential with moderate power were enough to skyrocket Marte up my ranks. I had him in over 50% of my leagues. I touted him all over, like here in the preseason, and here through two months of 2019, and here on Twitter. I love me some Marte! I’m most proud of this call if you can’t tell.

Xander Bogaerts (SS – BOS)
Don’t worry, the rest of my blurbs won’t be as in-depth as my Marte blurb. After a down year in 2018 due to a hand/wrist injury, Bogaerts was coming at a discount in 2019. Given his age and past performance, I compared Bogaerts to Bregman without the fanfare. Go ahead and take a look at both player’s final numbers. Not bad, right? I ranked Bogaerts 26th overall, which was probably higher than anyone (I think). Most big-box sites had him around 45 overall and he slipped to pick 50 in many drafts. On the Razzball Player Rater, he’s ranked 15th overall, so he was worth the lofty rank. I ended up with Bogaerts on many teams because I knew I could wait until the fourth round in most drafts.

Anthony Rendon (3B – WSH) and Eugenio Suarez (3B – CIN)
I’m pairing Rendon and Suarez together because they were both pushed down in the 3B rankings thanks to the helium of Vald Guerrero Jr. and the Kris Bryant believers. I had both Rendon over Bryant and Suarez over Guerrero. It sounds crazy now but almost everywhere you looked, both Bryant and Guerrero were ranked ahead of these guys. Rendon is ranked seventh on the Player Rater and Suarez is 32nd. Bryant is around 60 while Guerrero is much further down. I’ve always loved Rendon and he’s criminally underrated every year who also showed up on my HR/BRL underperformers this offseason. Well, he stayed healthy and finally delivered with an MVP-caliber 2019 season. Suarez just keeps getting better. I tweeted this last week. Players aren’t supposed to continue trending up like that! Can he do it again? I’d say no, but then again I have no idea. Either way, I’m just happy I Owned these guys in 67% of my leagues in 2019.


Trey Mancini (1B/OF – BAL)
I was encouraged by Mancini after diving deep into his Statcast Metrics after 2018. His barrel rate was fantastic but his results in power didn’t quite match up, especially with a favorable park for home runs. The Orioles had no depth on offense (or anywhere, really), so Mancini was going to be a fixture in the middle of their lineup. I thought we could see his first 30-homer season and here we are. Again, thanks in part to the juiced balls but Mancini has taken steps forward and ranks inside the top 40 on the Razzball Player Rater. However, he’s also improved his walk and strikeout rates along with his launch angle. His groundball rate has dropped nearly 10% boosting his expect batting average and home run totals. Sometimes guaranteed playing time and lineup spot matter. Also, in Mancini’s case, Camden Yards is a great place to hit. My analysis, while not all that analytical with Mancini but was correct for 2020.

Matt Boyd (SP – DET)
OK, so Boyd fell off in the second half thanks in part to an insanely elevated home run rate. The strikeouts certainly remained, so he wasn’t a total dud in the second half. While Boyd’s ratios did not improve from 2018, the league-wide ratios went up between 10-15%. Where Boyd improved was the whiffs. He struck out 238 batters this year after just 159 in 2018 with only 15 more innings. That’s a ton of value. He was being ranked between 70 and 90 on most sites and I placed him around the 60th SP. where is he in the Razzball Player Rater? The 43rd SP for 2019. Boom!

Matt Olson (1B – OAK)
Despite breaking a hamate bone in his wrist during the opening series in Japan, Olson has set a new career-high with 36 home runs.  Once again, Olson was yet another player I have interested thanks in part to my analysis on his unlucky home run per barrel rate. He had shown extremely promising Statcast metrics and was coming into his age-25 season. The surrounding lineup in Oakland was encouraging as well with improving stud Matt Chapman and Ramon Laureano combined with established veterans Khris Davis and Marcus Semien. Olson has 50-homer power in this environment and will likely be undervalued again in 2020.

Patrick Corbin (SP – WSH)
Corbin was a favorite of mine coming into 2018. I correctly projected him as a top 20 starter coming into 2018 based on past performance, pedigree, and being a second-year removed from Tommy John Surgery. His slider was the catalyst to his success in 2018 and he introduced a “slow slider” that was essentially a third pitch because of its change in velocity. The results against his slider were ridiculous. His chase rate on the pitch was over 50% with a swinging strike rate a hair short of 30% with whiff rates north of 50%! That’s crazy, over half the time hitter offered at his slider, they flat out missed it. While others were expecting regression, I didn’t see anything from 2018 that showed me that hitters were going to change their approach against his slider. And, they haven’t. His numbers are nearly identical in 2019 despite the league-wide jump in ERA.

Carlos Correa (SS – HOU)
Injuries. That’s the main reason for my skepticism on Correa, especially his back issues. I’ve always been a huge fan of Correa and it’s disappointing how injuries have derailed his last few years. Since the injuries started, he basically stopped running as well. In other words, Correa required the trifecta to provide value at his ADP of power, batting average, and health. I wasn’t going to risk spending a pick in the first four to five rounds on Correa given the low probability that all three would come to fruition. That and the depth at Shortstop was vast.

Matt Carpenter (3B – STL)
I highlighted Carpenter in the preseason as a third baseman to avoid coming into 2019 here at Pitcher List. Typically I stay away from older, established players coming off of career-years. Carp had a fantastic 2018 where he went nuts for about three months. He also was finally healthy. Previously, he had nagging injuries that either sapped his performance or forced him to miss time. I was not interested in betting on that to happen two years in a row given his age and history. This was kind of an easy call. However, you’ll see below when I discuss Josh Donaldson how this strategy backfired.




Brandon Nimmo (OF – NYM)
Fantasy baseball is funny because I was big on Nimmo’s breakout before the 2018 season. I tabbed his potential power riser after he began increasing his loft and fly ball rate in the preseason. Throughout the season his power played up and his patience made him a massive asset in OBP leagues. I noticed, however, that his contact rates were very poor to start 2019 and knew that he would struggle to keep his strikeout rate below 25%. I ranked him a touch lower than most big-box sites and quickly turned away completely after two weeks in 2019. I discussed how his elevated BABIP was not likely to remain and his contact rates continued to plummet. I didn’t own him anywhere but I recommended that all owners jump off the sinking ship early. 

Jurickson Profar (1B, 2B, 3B, OF – OAK)
The post-post-post hype sleeper finally delivered in 2018 with the Rangers. I, however, was not buying it. He popped up on my HR/BRL over-performers this offseason and was moving from friendly Globe Life Stadium in Texas to cavernous Oakland Colllusium. He also didn’t show great speed despite double-digit steals as well. His contact and K-BB rates were pedestrian and he didn’t have a position locked in with the Athletics. Ultimately, the juiced ball helped him reach decent power numbers but his batting average completely cratered. Besides, 20 homers aren’t as valuable as it used to be.

Early Season pivot due to performance

Austin Meadows (OF – TBR)
I wasn’t on Meadows in the offseason where I had him ranked between 150 and 200 but wasn’t completely out either. I realized early in the season that the Rays were not going to play games with platooning Meadows against lefties which was a concern coming into 2019.  Here’s what I said in a FantasyPros article on April 15th:

“He walked more frequently than he struck out last week, and his batted-ball profile is a thing of beauty. His hard contact via FanGraphs is 47.6%, and he’s hitting fly balls 42.9% of the time. His barrel rate (BRL%) is 17.9%, nearly triple his 6.4 BRL% from 2018.”

He was so hot at that point it would have been difficult to buy him from an owner but he lived up to the hype. He will be a target of mine in 2020 as I expect big things from Meadows for his encore. He’s an easy 35 homer 10-15 stolen base type of player hitting atop a good (not great) Rays lineup.

Eric Sogard (2B/SS – TOR)
I was able to identify Eric Sogard as a potential value through the first four weeks of 2019. It wasn’t his quality of contact or Statcast metrics but his elite contact rates and consistent playing time. He doesn’t even show up on the NFBC ADP list which covers nearly 1,000 players. The fact that Sogard was 15-team relevant for most of the season and even 12-team relevant for about half the season is pretty amazing. I think valuing guaranteed playing time and high contact rates are undervalued, especially in this era. Sogard was a huge plus in batting average without completely killing you in power and speed. It’s part of the reason I am interested in Luis Arraez next year.

Players I missed on for 2019 and why

Jesse Winker (OF – CIN)
I was really buying into the approach with Winker. He already had mastered plate discipline walking nearly as often as he strikes out. He was basically becoming a young Votto. Younger players with a good hit tool and approach can often develop more power as they age. I was expecting that jump in 2019 for Winker, but I was wrong. His hard contact rates dipped and he wasn’t walking as frequently. I think he’ll be dirt cheap and still young enough to improve. I’ll be back in is his ADP is after 250 for 2020.

Trevor Bauer (SP – CLE/CIN)
Trusting a pitcher with more than four years of MLB experience with one ace-level production was partially where I went wrong here. The other variable that clouded my judgment of Bauer was his constant tinkering. While I looked at his relationship with Driveline as a positive based on his performance in 2018, I failed to see it as a potential issue in 2019. Given his mentality, he’s always going to want to get better and improve even after a Cy Young caliber 2018. I think he’s also stubborn. My analysis of Bauer and his metrics was not wrong, but understanding the person behind the numbers is where I missed.


Jackie Bradely Jr. (OF – BOS)
I went in hard on JBJ this offseason and boy was I wrong. Sure, he improved on his power, but so did everyone! I fell in love with his power/Statcast metrics and figured it would translate into a huge bump in production. Combining 20+ homers with 15ish SB on one of the best offensive clubs in the league was intriguing to me this offseason. I failed to ignore the poor approach and contact rates and his slumps were just too deep to dig out of. After another sub-.230 season with under 10 steals, I’ll probably be out on JBJ next year. 

Jack Flaherty (SP – STL)
The youth of Flaherty is why I shied away. His walk rate was high, his BABIP was low, and his strand rate was high. I included those items in my negative regression article this offseason for FantasyPros. When comparing his season on a historical basis, he was bound for negative regression. So again, the process was not wrong. However, not realizing his true talent and youth/ability to improve was not factored into play. That’s my mistake. Flaherty was coming off an impressive season and was just 23 years old! To my surprise, Flaherty has cut his walk rate by over two percent, decreased his BABIP against, and increased the runners he’s stranded. Thanks in part to an increase in velocity and first-pitch strike rate, Flaherty has turned into an ace.

Josh Donaldson (3B – ATL)
The analysis of Donaldson was strictly injury based. Given his recent injury history and age, I was not expecting 500+ plate appearances in 2019 from JD. I also was put off by his increasing strikeout rate which was backed by a trend of decreasing contact rates. Those may not have been skills deterioration but rather a result of his nagging injuries. So, I missed on Donaldson but hit on Carpenter. I will bet against injury and age more often than not and when they are combined, I’ll bet against it nearly 100% of the time. I just have to face the facts that I will be wrong every once and a while.

Travis Shaw (1B, 2B, 3B – MIL)
Ugh. I couldn’t understand why everyone wasn’t higher on a guy in his prime coming off of two 30-homer campaigns with a shrinking K/BB ratio hitting in the middle of a very good Brewers lineup. It turns out, I was the idiot. Shaw was a disaster with contact rates as low as Joey Gallo without a fraction of the contact quality. He was a complete disaster. I’m not sure how I could have seen a 32.3% strikeout rate coming when his previous career-high was 25.1%. Aside from the extreme contact rates, his BABIP dropped to 0.060 points below his career rate and while a five percent jump in fly ball rate explains a portion of the decrease, it doesn’t cover it all. Either way, he’s a mess and I’m out on his next year.

Early Season pivot due to skills performance

Cody Bellinger (1B, OF – LAD)
So, as you can see in my preseason ranks, I was not a believer that Bellinger would recapture his brilliance from his rookie campaign. I had looked at Bellinger as a hitter with a hole in his swing which had been exploited, limiting him in batting average and some power. However, that assessment was wrong as he clearly made adjustments. After just two weeks of games, he had improved on his hard contact/barrel rates and saw massive improvements to his contact rate. Here’s what I said in April:

“We already knew he could mash but his plate discipline is on another level early this year. He’s swinging outside the zone less often and his contact rates have jumped up. As a result, his strikeout rate is down nearly 10%. If he can manage improved contact rates, Bellinger could provide first-round value and a huge profit for those who drafted him this offseason.”


Nick Pivetta (SP – PHI)
Like many “experts,” I don’t love that word, I was high on Pivetta coming into 2019 based on his K-BB rate and ERA-estimators. However, after just one start, I was able to identify an issue with Pivetta that carried over from 2019. His fastball location and pitch selection were poor. It was a little more clear to me that his elevated BABIP and possibly home run rate were going to continue to plague him. Here’s the blurb I wrote at FantasyPros in my Risers/Fallers article.

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


Photo by Fred Thornhill / The Canadian Press via AP

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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

Top Waiver Wire Adds for the Stretch Run



We are approaching the end of July and playoffs in Head-to-Head leagues are just around the corner. Maybe you’re looking for an edge in your Rotisserie league to put you over the top. Either way, I’m taking a look at a collection of hitters and pitchers who may be available on your waiver wire. I’ll cover shallow and deep league adds to put you at an advantage over your league-mates. I’ll look at ownership rates based on FantasyPros.com ESPN/Yahoo combined.

Jesse Winker (CIN) – OF, 39% Owned
I absolutely love Winker’s approach. He’s walking more than he’s striking out and since June 1st no one in Major League Baseball has a higher OBP (.476). His .400 BABIP in that time frame is high, but when you consider his 53% hard contact rate combined with a near 35% line drive rate, it’s justifies an elevated rate. Winker doesn’t provide speed and I wish he’d hit the ball in the air more because a 32% fly ball rate isn’t going to yield more than 20 homers. Either way, he’s a great source of average/OBP, runs, and can provide some pop. Add in all leagues

Rougned Odor (TEX) – 2B, 45% Owned
If you left Odor for dead months ago, I don’t blame you. Early on, Odor somehow looked worse than his did in 2017. There was a time in May where Odor had an infield fly rate of over 35%! At that time, he also had a high quantity of weak ground balls, it was ugly. Since the start of June, he’s cut his IFFB% to a much more reasonable 10%. His hard contact has been sitting around 40% and his zone contact is up around 90%. The results are there as well, he’s hitting .300 with six home runs and seven steals since June 1. Odor is an add in all leagues right now. Add in all leagues

Ketel Marte (ARI) – SS, 22% Owned
Marte basically did nothing the first month and a half like most of the Diamondbacks, but has been solid since. Marte has improved on his O-Swing and currently has a very solid 92% zone contact rate. Since June 1st, Marte turned up the power with 8 HR, 2 steals and a .281 average. His walk rate has also improved and his 43% hard contact rate since the start of June is well above league average. Marte hits too many balls on the ground to have huge power upside but also has more speed than he’s displayed. I love players with high contact rates that have 15-20 HR upside. Grab him for solid average, 5-8 HR and a few steals. Add in 14-team and deeper leagues

Jake Bauers (TB) – 1B, 23% Owned
Bauers is another young hitter with elite plate discipline. These are my kind of players and he’s got above average speed for a first baseman. Bauers is similar to Winker because he squares up a lot balls with a 46% hard contact rate but a low 33% fly ball rate will cap his power. He does strike out a bit more than Winker but it’s still just about league average. Bauers possess above average speed which is rare for 1B eligible players. He profiles as a 15-20 HR hitter with around 10 steals and a .275-.280 average over a full season. He gets a bump in OBP leagues. Add in 12-team and deeper leagues; add in all OBP leagues



Jason Heyward (CHC) – OF, 33% Owned
Yes, I know, it’s Jay-Hey. He hasn’t been fantasy relevant for about 2.5 years and it’s not like he’s killing it this year with only six homers and one steal. However, his .284 average with a .351 OBP are at least helpful in all formats. Plus, he’s hitting .302 with four home runs since June 1. Joe Maddon has even began slotting him the two-hole at times which has boosted his run production. The last two seasons, Heyward averaged 114 runs+RBI, this year he already has 94 runs+RBI, on pace for 150. His strikeout rate is also down to a career low 10.7%, so he’s likely going to keep the batting average steady. He’s still not 12-team viable but in 15 team leagues, he can help in two-three categories. Add in 14-team and deeper leagues

Charlie Culberson (ATL) – SS, 3B, OF, 2% Owned
Culberson has basically been a utility player for the Braves this season managing only 188 plate appearances in 2018. The leg injury to Ozzie Albies has given Culberson the start at second base the last few days but he’s also been used at 3B and the outfield. As the Dog Days of summer start rolling in, Culberson could find a little bit more playing time. Since the start of June Culberson is hitting .303 with 4 homers and 2 steals in only 117 plate appearances. No one is rushing out to get him but if you need depth at MI, CI, or in the outfield in deeper leagues, he’s a good bench guy to grab. Add in deep 15-team and NL Only leagues

Garrett Hampson (COL) – 2B, 5% Owned
The Rockies prospect was called up last week after hitting 8 homers and compiling 33 steals across two levels in 2018. He’s filling in for the injured DJ LeMaheiu but could stay up if he performs well. Hampson has great speed and should continue running in the Majors. He managed to get 51 steals in High-A in 2017 so I wouldn’t be surprised if he swiped eight to ten bags if he remains up with the big club. Hampson is also not a zero in terms of power, especially in Colorado. I’d be very aggressive in adding Hampson in all leagues because of his intriguing upside but understand he could be sent back down in a couple weeks. I’d roll the dice. Add in 12-team and deeper leagues

Pitchers

Shane Bieber (CLE) - SP, 47% Owned
Bieber has been impressive in his short stint in the Majors thus far. He was sent back down during the All-Star break to continue to get work but has since been called back up. He’s been fantastic and has managed a 3.52 ERA with an outrageously inflated .362 BABIP. Bieber has given up a high percentage of hard contact, so a low HR/FB might jump up a bit. That might be OK if the BABIP regresses. Plus, he’s got above average O-Swing, SwStr rate, and contact rate compared to league average. His walk rate sits at a minuscule 4.4%, so free passes are not an issue. I love Bieber, and he’s my top add of this pitching group. Add in all leagues

Kevin Gausman (BAL) - SP, 42% Owned
Gausman continues to be inconsistent but he seems to pull things together in the second half. The timing of this isn't great after the beating by the Red Sox, but Gausman's peripherals look as good as ever. His swings outside the zone sits near 35% and his swinging strike rate is a career high 11.5%. Gausman doesn't give up a ton of hard contact in a year where hard contact is up 3% across the board. Maybe it's the 3.58 career second half ERA with a strikeout rate that's 4% higher after the All-Star break. Either way, he's due some positive regression. Add in 12-team and deeper leagues

Jordan Zimmerman (DET) - SP, 27% Owned
After an awful start to the season, I had all but forgotten about Zimmerman. Prior to this season, he hadn’t provided a K/9 over 6.0 since 2015. That’s trash for fantasy purposes. This year, he’s over 8.0 K/9. He’s lower his fastball and upped his slider usage, which is great. In his last six starts he has a 2.21 ERA with a 30.1 K-BB% and 22% soft contact rate. As long as he keeps throwing the slider over 35%, I recommend him in all leagues.

Dereck Rodriguez (SF) - SP, 25% Owned
Ivan’s son might not play the same position as his Hall-of-Fame Father, but he certainly inherited his cannon for an arm. Rodriguez is another low-strikeout pitcher, which I understand isn't exciting, but that’s where the value is on the waiver wire. Everyone wants the 10 K/9 pitchers, so there’s less available. His best pitch is probably his changeup and his sinker is by far the worst pitch in his arsenal. Rodriguez’s sinker only gets ground balls 45% of the time. Sinker’s typically don;t get swings and misses and D-Rod’s is not different, but they are effective because of the high ground ball rates near 60%. A 45% rate will not cut it. It sounds like I’m talking you out of grabbing Rodriguez, but here’s the thing. Since June 16th, he’s cut his sinker usage and has thrown more change ups. Since then, he has a 1.98 ERA! The trend is getting better as well as his change up usage is over 20% over his last two starts compared to a season low for the sinker.Whew, sorry that was long winded. Either way, he and his pitching coaches are figuring out the combination that works. Go get em in 12-team and deeper leagues

Zack Wheeler (NYM) - SP, 23% Owned
Wheeler is healthy and slinging fastballs around 97 mph and has touched 100 mph several times in recent starts. Wheeler’s 4.44 ERA, 8.89 K/9, and 3.35 BB/9 don’t exactly jump off the page at you, but he’s been better than the numbers indicate. Wheeler is generating a ton weak contact and limits hard contact. He has two plus pitches, his fastball and slider which he throws a combined 77% of the time. He’s also increased his swinging strike rate to an above average 11% and has increased swings outside the zone. Since May 22nd, Wheeler has a 3.63 ERA with a 2.99 BB/9. His SIERA and FIP match his sub-4.00 ERA and I think the best is yet to come with Wheeler. He’s intriguing in most leagues.



Tyler Mahle (CIN) - SP, 17% Owned
Mahle is a young pitcher who has given up quite a few homers but has some decent swing a miss stuff. Since June 1 he sports a 3.78 ERA with nearly a strikeout per inning and his homerun rate is down 0.5 HR/9 from his season rate. Not bad but he still has an elevated walk rate. Mahle is a streamer in 12 team leagues but I'd grab him in 15-team and deeper leagues.

Michael Pineda (MIN) - SP, 1% Owned
Remember Pineada? He used to post great strikeout numbers, walk no one and give up a ton of home runs. Well, he's with the Twins now and is beginning to throw in simulated games. He's scheduled to be back by the start of September and plays in a better pitchers park and doesn't get to face much of the AL East. He's a deep league stash for some strikeout upside. It's risky, but for deep 15+ team leagues, you could do much worse.



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