Weekly Rundown – Chris Arrrrrrcher Walks the Plank




Welcome back to another round of the Weekly Rundown! A lot to cover this week and I want to start by saying I was dead wrong about Javier Baez this year. As a Cubs fan, I had seen too much of how reckless he was at the plate, not looking like he had a plan. He swings at everything and plays like his hair is on fire. As a fantasy writer, his plate approach still makes no sense to me, but I love that he’s doing it and is clearly inside the top 3 for the NL MVP.

Hot Hitters
I have to lead with Trea Turner who is running wild with 8 steals in the last 7 days! He’s also hitting .339 with a home run and 9 runs this week. I kept Turner inside my top 10 through the May Rankings but dropped him to about 15 overall in my All-Star ranks and now I’m kicking myself. A player with 60-steal speed with 20-homer power in an era where no one steals is fantasy gold. I had Turner ranked #3 overall in the preseason and while he won’t reach those heights thanks to Trout, Ramirez and Betts, I think he ends up inside the top 10.

Oh my goodness Rougned Odor! Odor has 5 homers, 10 runs, and 10 RBI this past week with a .421 average and a 1.642 OPS! What’s most impressive is that he walked 5 times in a single game AND hit a homer! This is a guy who typically walks 30 times a year. Yeah, nobody is hotter than Odor right now. He’s walking more and luck is more on his side this year. I expected a bounce back from Odor and he’s finally proving me right! Expect him to slow a bit, but should still end up close to 20 homers and 15 steals.

50 year-old Nelson Cruz has 5 more home runs this week with 9 RBI. OK, he’s not 50, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was still hitting homers at ago 50. What’s amazing about Cruz is the fact that his first MLB home run was hit at ago 26 and he wasn’t even a regular player until he was 30 years old! He’s managed to hit 351 home runs in his career. That’s basically in nine and a half seasons. Now at 38, nothing’s really changed. He’s actually making more contact inside the zone and while I don’t expect him to hit .290, I’d love to see him reach 40 bombs for the fourth time in five years.

Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini is actually hitting with 3 homers and 6 RBI this past week. I didn’t love Mancini coming into the year after his impressive rookie season, but I expected some better numbers. This is what happens when a .352 BABIP comes crashing down. His average goes from .293 to .231. Mancini has no speed and hits 55% of his batted balls on the ground. That’s not going to be a recipe for success. He also doesn’t make a ton of hard contact and his plate approach is the same as last year. It’s regression to the mean for Mancini, he can be left on waivers. I’ll have to call him Trey Meh-cini.


Daniel Palka (who?) is hitting .500 with 2 homers and 7 RBI this week in only 10 at-bats. Palka is kind of a meaty human being. He’s crushing baseballs though and he’s tied with Matt Davidson in home runs with 16 with 70 less plate appearances. Remember Matt Davidson? He hit 3 HR on Opening Day and had 6 in the first week? OK, here’s my analysis of Palka. He’s a classic free-swinging slugger. Palka has a poor approach with a lot of swing and miss in his game. His contact rate is trash and he hits a few too many popups. He’s a deep league flier if you need power, that’s about it.

Christian Yelich is rocking .367 batting average with 3 homers and 9 runs plus 5 RBI this week. He’s been elevated thanks to a .500+ BABIP in the last three weeks but I’m not selling Yelich. I was asked the other day is Yelich is a sell-high candidate. I basically said, HELL NO. I think Yelich is just reaching his potential. Remember, he’s only 26 years old, he’s hitting the ball harder than ever, and is 13 out of 15 on the bases. I think Yelich is a .300-25-20 player this year and for the next half-decade, especially now that he’s in Milwaukee.

Hot Pitchers
Carlos Carrasco is on fire with a 0.66 ERA with 18 strikeouts and a WHIP below 1.00 in his last two starts. If you were able to buy him when he was rolling with a 4.00+ ERA then kudos to you! Carrasco is the same pitcher he was last year, except he’s getting more swings outside the zone. That’s great but he’s also giving up more hard contact and less soft contact. That may explain the small bump in home run rate and WHIP. Otherwise, his K%-BB% is still elite and he should be a top 10 SP the rest of the way.

Justin Verlander did not have a great start a week ago but he was Str8 Ballin’ last night against the Dodgers. He struck out 14 batters and allowed a solo homer to Yung Joc Pederson. That gives JV 21 strikeouts in his last two starts. So guess what? Former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander is having the best season of his career. Oh and he’s 35 years old. He’s one win shy of 200 for his career, which in today’s game is quite a feat. His K%-BB% is a crazy 29%! If that was his strikeout rate, it would rank 11th in MLB! Did I mention he married Kate Upton after the World Series last year? JV has successfully lived out everyone’s fantasies. #LIFEGOALS

I guess I’m forced that mention Trevor Richard of the Miami Marlins. Who, you ask? You know, Garrett’s brother, I’m JK, I don’t think they are related because Trevor would already be on the DL if that were the case. Anyways, my man TR has spun 11 innings of one run ball with 15 strikeouts and a WHIP of 1.00. He’s actually been great for three straight starts now. Here’s the deal, Richards is 25 and has decent strikeout potential and showed good control in the minors. He’s been wild since the call up, so I’d expect some positive regression there. I don’t think I believe in the low HR/FB continues, even in Marlins Park. He might be more interesting next year but for this year is just a streamer.

German Marquez has a 2.45 ERA with a 0.65 WHIP and 17 strikeouts in his last two starts. If you read my blog, you know how I try to avoid Rockies pitchers like the plague. However, Marquez has managed a K/9 near 9.5, so he at least deserves some attention. Did you know Marquez is only 23 years old and has 300 ML innings under hit belt? Here are the pluses, his O-Swing is up, first-pitch-strike is up, and SwStr% is up. The bad, the HR/FB is up to almost 19% and his only plus pitch is his slider. I still can’t trust him, but will gladly stream him on the road.


Rick Porcello just threw a complete game shutout against the Yankees and in his last 14.2 IP with 4 ER with only 7 base runners and 14 Ks. Porcello is basically the same pitcher he was when he won the Cy Young back in 2016. Listen, we all know he shouldn’t have won and was relatively fortunate, but the fact remains, he’s been good. He’s lower his fastball usage to around 20% and he’s throwing his slider about 25% of the time, that’s great. He’s pretty capped with his strikeout rate, but keeps the walks in check. I like him as a top 35 starter ROS.

Freezing Cold Hitters
Ryon Healy is hitting a pathetic .091 with no homers, 1 RBI, and a 1 run this week. This is Healy you guys! I get that he has power, but his approach is trash and he has no speed whatsoever. His BABIP is sitting around .250 and should rebound a little bit higher, but up to what, maybe .270? Ok, so Healy is a .245 hitter with 25-28 HR power. I’m just not a big fan, you can find his production on the wire. I personally hope he gets to 30 HR this year so he can be over-drafted next year.

Through the first half, Matt Kemp was doing his best Return of the Mac impression. What happened to all the Matt Kemp hype talk? He’s down to .045 this week with no homers and RBI and 1 run. That’s not great. Is Kemp’s age finally catching up with him? Eh, not so much. He is swinging and missing a little more since the start of July, but he’s hitting the ball as hard as ever. He’s not hitting as many fly balls, but it’s coming in the form of line drives. He looks like he will be fine. I think he can hit .275 with solid power these last two months.

Eddie “Not so Money” Rosario is 3 for his last 25 with no homers or steals in that last 7 days. I don’t love Rosario’s aggressive approach, but he makes a lot of contact, so it works for him. His speed has slowed down considerably, at one point it was looking like Rosario was going to hit 35 homers and steal 18 bases. Now, he’s on pace for 25-26 homers and 10-11 steals, or basically the same as last year. His chase rate is up to an awful 42% and his zone% is 41.4%, so pitchers aren’t throwing him as many strikes and he’s chasing them. He’s only hitting .256 with 1 home run since July 1, plus his K% is up 4%. I would have sold him a couple weeks ago, but since his numbers are still solid on the season, maybe you can still sell relatively high.

Starling Marte was looking like he was going to lead the league in steals until TreaT Urner decided to go nuts this week. In the last 7, Marte has no homers, no steals, no RBI, and 2 runs, thanks to a 3 hit night last night. Marte is fine you guys, his fly ball and hard contact rates are up and as a result, he’s hitting for power. Marte typically gets at least one day off per week because he’s often injured/banged up, but that’s fine. He’s still going to hit 20-22 HR with 35 steals. No one will complain about that.

Max Muncy is back on the cold list for the second straight week after getting huge Mass Appeal. He’s only 3 for his last 19 without a homer and hitting .163 the last two weeks. This is actually concerning, after people we calling for Muncy as the NL MVP. The additions of Machado and Dozier along with the return of Justin Turner are squeezing Muncy out of some playing time. Chris Taylor may also feel it as well, but Taylor is better defensively and Muncy is struggling right now. Muncy is going through the struggles similar to Rhys Hoskins at the end of September last year. Muncy is chasing more pitches and making less contact, and of course the K rate bumps up as a result. I’m worried about playing time but if the Dodgers keep playing him, he’ll get himself out of it. I’m still on the Muncy bandwagon.


Freezing Cold Pitchers
Chris Archer has some new digs and after one start but I’d rather have him walk the plank. Archer got pummeled and struggled with control against the Cardinals. At least he’s not facing the Red Sox and Yankees, right guys? Well, to be fair, he’s getting BABIP’ed a bit in the past month but that doesn’t change my mind on Arrrrrrrrrrrcher. LOL, sorry had to do it. He’s striking less batters out, giving out more walks and doesn’t have a third pitch he trusts. Its well documented that the lack of that third pitch is forcing him out of games early and adding walks to the mix is really shortening his outings and killing his ratios. No thank you, Bucco. 

It’s been a great career for King Felix but I think he’s soon to become a pauper. Felix has given up 9 ER in his last 7.2 IP and his ERA is up to 5.49 for the season. He’s been dealing with some back luck in terms of strand rate but he’s not inducing much weak contact and his velocity is down 1.5 mph this year. He’s either injured or his career may be just about over. This is a cat that used to throw 95 mph on the regular and can’t even average 90 mph anymore. I’m sensing a DL stint is coming followed by an attempt to come back next year. Then…..retirement.

Marcus Stroman has given up 9 ER in his last 11.2 IP with a whopping 18 hits against. He somehow hasn’t allowed a homer in either start, but his ground ball tendencies are really working against him in Toronto. It’s not all his fault that the Blue Jays infield defense is trash, but it’s also not changing this year. I wouldn’t own him in anything deeper than 12-team leagues, there just isn’t enough upside with his low strikeout totals.

Andrew Cashner is anything but Straight Cash-ner Homie. How does 12 ER in his last 2 starts sound? How about a 2.35 WHIP in those two starts? Did you think his 3.40 ERA in Texas last year was for real? I apologize for all the questions, but this is a guy who probably had the luckiest season on record last year. A 4.64 K/9 and a 3.6 BB/9, with a 91.6% Z-Contact and a 6.1% SwStr rate make me sick. Those look like an elite hitter like Jose Ramirez. So Cashner was putting up elite hitter numbers, but was a pitcher. Is that bad? OK, no more questions. He’s just BAD.

Follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats



What’s up? BABIP, that’s what – June Update

BABIP across Major League baseball normalizes right around .300 league-wide. It’s a number we always look at when a player is running a very low or very high BABIP. We typically point to the outlier and expect it to regress back to the mean. Unfortunately, there are many factors that can sway a players BABIP one way or the other such as: sprint speed, hard/soft contact, fly ball%, line drive%, pull% on ground balls into the shift, etc. I could go on, but you get the point, not all BABIPs are created equal.

I’m focusing on players with elevated BABIPs and comparing them to xStats.org definition of xBABIP. I’ll also be referring to value hits, poor hits, and high drives so check the definitions here. xStats isn’t perfect, but what is? Even mlb.com Baseballsavant has issues with its expected stats. It’s still a great tool to use and is considerably more accurate than other expected stats. You’ll notice that many players with high sprint speed will often run a lower xBABIP than their actual BABIP. Knowing that, we can use that to our advantage. However, other players who are not graced with a high quantity of quick-twitch muscle fibers will have to rely of line drives and hard contact to boost their BABIP. Without further ado, here’s the

NameBABIPxBABIPDiffAVGxAVGDiff
Ian Happ0.3850.297-0.0880.2370.188-0.049
Matt Kemp0.40.32-0.080.3440.295-0.049
Starling Marte0.3520.291-0.0610.2940.248-0.046
Albert Almora0.3650.312-0.0530.310.261-0.049
Domingo Santana0.3680.308-0.060.260.239-0.021
Scooter Gennett0.3890.341-0.0480.3440.294-0.05
Nick Castellanos0.4110.356-0.0550.3360.304-0.032

Well, there’s Ian Happ. After a disastrous April which involves a near 50% K rate, he’s righted the ship a bit. But alas, his BABIP is an unsustainable .385! Not only should he regress, but xStats is calling for a drop of 0.091 and should have a batting average below the mendoza line.  Happ has above average speed, so I don’t expect full regression, but if he maintains his 40% strikeout rate, I don’t see him hitting over .220 this year. He’s getting by with a very good high drive percentage which has maximized many of his batted balls. But, how long can he keep this up with a 40% strikeout rate? I like Happ longterm, but he’s in a hole this year and is too risky to make it HAPPen.

No one is going to mistake Matt Kemp for having great speed now that he’s well into his 30s, so a BABIP of .400 is insane! What’s interesting, is how xStats still pegs him for a .320 BABIP which can still yield positive results, unlike Happ. What’s also interesting is his high percentage of value hits and a solid 15.5 degree launch angle. His expected home runs currently sits at a very impressive 12.2, he currently sits at 10 HR on the season. His plate discipline is poor (but it’s always been below average) however, he’s got a hard contact% of over 45% with a 12% soft contact rate. I’m not buying Kemp at face value, but while the average will come down, his power may jump a little. Maybe he’s got one more 30 HR 95 RBI season in him.

I won’t spend much time on Starling Marte. As I mentioned in the introduction, speed tends to trick xStats a little in terms of xBABIP. In fact, Marte has outperformed his xBABIP by nearly .030 on average the last three seasons. That being said, his current 0.061 difference is double last year’s difference. While his power looks just about right, there is some cause for concern with his low high drive (LOL sounds weird) rate and high poor hit percentages. I’m not completely selling Marte, but I’d expect him in the .280 range for batting average by season’s end. He’s still a valuable piece with mid-teens power and around 30 steals.

Albert Almora is basically getting by with smoke and mirrors. Sure an expected average of .261 isn’t the end of the world. The Cubs are deploying Almora in the lead off spot basically because they have no one else. That at least should give him a cushion, but he doesn’t walk much and has a xOBP of .317. It’s more than just outperforming in terms of average too though, he’s barreled a total of one ball out of 139 batted balls in 2018. His average exit velocity is 85.7 mph which puts him the bottom 10% for all qualified hitters. Get this, his xwOBA against off-speed and breaking pitches is under .210! No, that’s not his expecting batting average, it’s the expected weighted on-base average you guys! I don’t need to ramble because he’s hardly fantasy relevant, but a guy with no power and no speed should not be owned. If someone is loving this average boost move him immediately.

Domingo Santana has not followed his breakout with much success at all. He’s lost some playing time with the additions of Cain and Yelich and he’s really struggled to get on track. Would you believe me if I told you than Santana had a .363 BABIP and a 30.9% HR/FB rate in 2017? Yup, and that was in over 600 plate appearances. The difference is, he actually earned that elevated BABIP last year with an xBABIP of .373! Previously, he was a line drive machine, which other than speed will fuel a high BABIP. This year, he’s down about 5% from his previous two seasons. Here’s the deal, he strikes out 30% of the time, hits over 50% of his batted balls on the ground, and have average speed at best. He hits the ball hard but you probably got his career year last year. He could get hot, but should be left on the wire in shallow mixed leagues.

Nicky C, MY BOY! The hard contact King! The Exit Velo C-Lo-anoes. Annnnd we’re back. He somehow has a 48% hard contact rate with a sub-10% HR/FB rate. What!?!? The good news is xstats believes he should still be very good in terms of average and has been unlucky in terms of power. The bad news is, I don’t have any but it’s time to do the splits. Not that kind, the hitter splits. Castellanos is hitting .458 with a .543 BABIP against lefties! I’m not an psychic but I think that might not stick. There are no home/road splits and he’s hitting well to all fields. Here’s the issue with his power, nearly 78% of his fly balls are to center or the opposite field. He’s hit a total of 1 HR to center and 0 HR the other way. Detroit isn’t a great park for power and center is where homers go to die. He doesn’t hit the ball as hard the other way, so Nicky C needs to start yanking fly balls to the pull side if he wants to hit 30 ding dongs like I projected. Come on dude, pick it up to make me look good!

Last, but not least, may favorite non vespa, Mr. Scooter Gennett. His breakout last year involved a four homer game and a couple of multi-homer games. For some reason, fantasy owners held that against him as if to say, you’re not that good, you only a handful of great games! As good as he’s been this year, it’s nice to see his expected average above .290. The rest of his xStats metrics are relatively average in terms of exit velocity, launch angle, and value hits. That means he’s been extremely lucky in terms of home runs, xStats has him at about four homers less than his 12 to date. His 26% line drive rate is fueling the high BABIP and batting average, so I expect his average to creep back to or below .300 to match his expected batting average. I also would expect less home runs going forward but keep in mind, he out performed all of his metrics last year and is performing similar in terms of skills in 2018. I’d think of selling, but don’t take a discount on him. Try to get a top 50-75 player, if not, keep rolling with him.