Weekly Rundown – Here’s the Story with Machado

HOT HITTERS
Paul Goldschmidt has finally broken out of his two month slump and is hitting .448 with six homers in the past eight days. If you visit the site, you know that back in mid-May I wrote a post about Goldschmidt’s struggles. There was a point in mid-May where Goldy had a .171 wOBA, a 20% hard contact, and a 42% K rate. The wOBA was the lowest of his career and his K rate was its highest since 2012. I haven’t dug deep yet into the numbers but this appears to have been a mental block with Goldy. Good for the owners that stuck it out, hopefully he didn’t dig you in too big of a hole.

Trevor Story is hitting a blistering .500 with three dingers, nine RBI and a steal this past week. He’s actually started to hit on the road for the first time this year and that could be dangerous. Story is making strides in the contact department now with a 6% jump from 2017, a career low SwStr rate and that has helped cut his K rate down below 27%. He’s basically looking a lot like his rookie season with a lower strikeout rate. He’s been a little unlucky in terms of power and he just stole his 9th base of the season, a new career high. His sprint speed is in the top 98 percentile. Add Coors to the mix and he could be a .270-35-18 type player this year.

Max Muncy continues his onslaught on the league mashing .350 with four bombs in the last seven days. Muncy is an OBP league’s dream. I recently compared his 45 games stretch (now 47 games) to Hoskins’ 50 game run at the end of 2017 and they are nearly identical. Muncy’s patience and great plate discipline makes him a viable option in all leagues. Sure, regression is coming but his clear swing and approach change makes him a solid .250-ish hitter with good power. Injuries and poor performance has given Muncy an everyday role and he can play almost anywhere.

Future 2018 NL MVP Freddie Freeman is hitting .409 with four homers and a steal this past week. Freddie keeps getting better, he’s cut his K rate for the third straight year and he continues to steal bases 6 for 8 on the season. He’s everything you hoped Paul Goldschmidt would be this year. Combine that with a career high hard contact and pull% and Freeman’s HR rate may actually improve. I can envision Freeman going .330-35-120-14 this year.

The Seattle Bombers Ryon Healy, Nelson Cruz, and Mitch Haniger have combined for 12 HR and 18 RBI this past week. What, only 18 RBI? Haha, that’s right, they kept hitting back-to-back bombs so no one was on base. Anyways, I read a comment on Twitter @bdentrek that the Seattle hitters busted into Cano’s medicine cabinet. LOL, that’s joke but damn, the ball seems to be flying out of Safeco. Cruz’s early season struggles are behind him, I’m convinced he can hit 40 homers until he’s 50 at this point. I love Haniger and the Diamondbacks have to be kicking themselves right now. Healy is on a hot streak, but I don’t love him in shallow formats. If I’m ranking them ROS, I’m going Cruz at 1A, Haniger at 1B, and Healy in a distant third.

Evan Gattis is hitting .320 with four homers and an amazing 15 RBI in the last seven days! Jesus man, slow down. A week like that from a Catcher will vault you into the top 5. Searching….searching…and he’s the number 1 ranked catcher. OMG, that’s hilarious. Rounding out the top 3 is Grandal and Cerevelli. Realmuto is 4th and I think by season’s end, he’s top 3. This is case and point why you never draft a catcher inside the top 100 overall.

Hot Pitchers
Trevor Bauer seems to be a regular on this list, he’s got 24 Ks in his last two starts with a 2.30 ERA and 0.89 WHIP. If you didn’t believe he was an ace before this week, you should now. If I told you in Mid-May that Bauer would end 2018 with better numbers than Gerrit Cole, you would have punched me in the face and laughed. Sure, the win totals are down for Bauer, but come on, luck can change on dime, all other numbers are almost identical between the two. It’s not a long-shot anymore. Bauer Power!

Anibal Sanchez has somehow managed a 1.46 ERA with a 0.73 WHIP with 2 wins and 11 strikeouts in his last two starts. On the season he’s below 2.00 for an ERA! I think you know just like everyone else, he’s regressing. A near .200 BABIP with a below average K rate means you need get out now before your left rostering him when that blow up happens. I did see that he’s inducing 28% soft contact, so maybe his cutter has improved. Something to watch but he’s still a streamer.

Dylan Covey of the White Sox has put together several solid starts including 2 W with a 1.38 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in his last two. Covey has dropped almost 5.50 off his ERA from last year. Yup, you read that right. It’s odd because his WHIP is 1.30 which doesn’t jive with a 2.29 ERA. Listen I like 61% GB rate and increased velocity but I’m setting the over/under ROS at 4.15. I mean Covey hasn’t even given up a HR yet after allowing, get this 20 HR IN ONLY 70 IP last year. I’m take big the over.

Mike Clevinger has 16 strikeouts with a 1.98 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP in his last two starts. Cool but what’s up with his sub-8.0 K/9 though? Yes, he’s around the zone a little more and sacrificing some swings and misses for called strikes and weak contact. He’s another Indians pitcher without a good fastball but has an ELITE slider. He’s finally throwing it over 20% of the time. His change up is pretty good too, if he ups his slider usage, I think his K rate settles in around 9.0/9. Me like

Jhoulys Chacin has managed to grab a couple of wins along with solid ratios and 14 strikeouts in his last two starts. Chacin is so boring, but you know what, he’s been useful with his ratios and has provided 6 wins. That’s about to change, I’d be moving on quick at this point. Everything is pointing in the direction. When your K rate is less than twice your BB rate, we have problems. When the BABIP and HR rate come up, he’s donzo.

The Dodgers Ace Ross Stripling, yeah I said it! Who else can claim that title thus far in 2018? I’m getting tired of writing about him on these rundowns, HAHA JK, it’s great! A near 30% K rate with a 4.2% BB rate, what!?! If I were to tell you a Dodgers pitcher has those ratios at the start of the season, Stripling would probably have been the 7th or 8th choice. Sure, there’s some luck with L-O-B% and I’m still down with O-P-P. However, that BABIP looks just fine, I don’t see regression there. Every pitch he throws has registered a positive pitch value, which is crazy. I said it before, the K rate may drop 3-4% but he’s still a top 30 SP if he keeps this up.

Freezing Hitters
Tim Anderson is 2 for his last 20 with no homers and a steal but somehow has 3 runs. That’s because he’s actually walking! An 8.3% BB rate up from an abysmal 2.3% in 2017, allows him for more stolen bases opportunities to weather these cold streaks. He’s still likely a .240-.250 hitter but with his change in approach (increased patience and increased fly ball rate), he should have no problems reaching 20 HR and 25 steals.

Giancarlo Stanton is 3 for his last 21 with no homers. If I’m being honest, I think Stanton is kind of a jackass but damn he can hit the ball hard. Yes, he’s in a funk right now but his 24% K rate from 2017 is up to nearly 32% this year! He’s also got a career worst 16% SwStr rate and a career low contact rate to back up the elevated strikeouts. Stanton has also decreased fly ball% and is pulling the ball less. So, less contact, lower fly ball rate and less pulled balls equals no where near 58 HR. I’m sorry, the people claiming “this is exactly where he was last year” are wrong. He never has contact issues like this last year. Expect a .250-35-40 HR season from Stanton.

Matt Kemp, what happened? After going nuts this past month, Kemp got old and fat quick, hitting .188 with one homer this past week. Damn, just last week I had him back with Rihanna and now he’s dating one of the Kardashians (and not the good ones). His K rate keeps heading north and his hard contact has dipped a bit. If this is a younger hitter, I’m not concerned but shizz can go sideways with Kemp in a hurry, so I’m keeping a close eye on this one. Another week like this and HE GONE!

Anthony Rendon has never really got on track this year; he’s 4 for his last 20 and no homers and no steals. He’s driving in runs because he’s in a great Nationals lineup, but what’s going on here? Rendon has really taken the launch angle Revolution (is that what’s it’s called now?) to heart the last two years. There are too many popups but he’s still stinging the ball when he doesn’t pop it up, his barrel% is up 5% and he’s nearly doubled league average for value hits. He still makes a ton of contact but he’s expanding the zone a bit which could be the reason for the elevated popups. It don’t matter, I’m buying Rendon right now. DO IT NOW!

Edwin Encarnacion is only 1 for his last 16 and he’s even seen the bench a couple games. I believe he’s harboring an injury. Either that or he’s finally aging and it’s showing. His fly ball rate has increased along with his K rate, but it’s become a detriment to his batting average. His hard contact and HR/FB rate still looks great but if he continues to sell out for power, his value will drop. The walk rate is also no longer elite and his O-Swing and SwStr rates are at career highs. He still might hit 35+ HR but it may come at a .230 AVG and a .310 OBP. I’d sell, but not at a draft day discount.

Speaking of high strikeout rates, Joey Gallo has a measly two hits this past week although one of them was a bomb last night.  All of that talk of him lowering his strikeout rate is out the window as he’s back above 36% on the season. This makes me sad and I thought Gallo was going to take a step forward this year. He still can and I do believe his 0.088 BABIP of fly balls and 0.171 BABIP on ground balls should rise, but he’s still pulling too many balls into the shift. I guess Gallo is just a .210-.220 hitter with 40+ homer power. Sigh

I was going to write about Kris Bryant and Nolan Arenado but they both hit bombs last night and had multi-hit nights, so…. Let’s talk about Manny Machado. Machado is only 3 for his last 18 with no homers, runs, RBI, but 1 steal! I guess you’re the only top tier 3B that sucks Machado! Totally JK obviously. Machado is still killing it this year. The K rate and BB rate are at career bests and his BABIP normalized from last year’s outlier. I don’t love his batted ball profile, he’s hitting too many popups as he continues to increase his fly ball rate, so a 40 homer season is a possibility but not at a .300 average. Although a 91% zone contact rate goes a long way in terms of batting average. Machado will be on the move before the deadline, so a lot will depend on where he goes. Either way, I think he can be around .285 with 40 bombs with his first 100 RBI season. 

Freezing Pitchers
Vincent Velasquez is here mostly due to his 10 ER outing against the Brewers last weekend. He actually fired a solid 6.2 IP with 2 ER this week. Point is, his 12 ER in the past 10+ IP does not look pretty. These past two starts are great examples of VV’s volatility. Come to think of it, VV stands for very volatile. However, there are improvements, his K%-BB% is 20%, a career high. He’s also allowing less hard contact, his 1.2 HR/9 isn’t great, but it’s playable. If his LOB% and BABIP normalize just a little, he’s a 3.50 ERA guy with a great K rate.

Zack Greinke has given up 8 ER in his last two starts. He’s uncharacteristically given up 6 walks and 3 HR in that span. Greinke is averaging under 90 mph on his fastball. In the Spring, Greinke messes around and throws mid-80s but I think this lower velocity is real. Stinky Greinke is crafty AF but as the velocity continues to drop, his margins are razor thin. I’d look to move him while his K rate and BB rates are still fantastic. I think you can get 100 cents on the dollar for him (yes, that’s the same thing, I know that) but it needs to be done now. Try to get a Tommy Pham or Christian Yelich for him.

Luke Weaver, everyone’s second favorite young starter coming into the 2018 (first being Luis Castillo The question is, where did the strikeouts go? His Contact, SwStr, and O-Swing match last year’s number but his K/9 is down almost 3.0 to a sub-par 7.8 K/9. I think you can move on from Weaver this year, he’s still only 24 years old and I do like him long term to be a solid #2 on your fantasy team in the future. See if you can get anything for him, but if not, he’s safe to drop.

Jake Arrieta got absolutely blown up last night giving up 8 run but only 4 ER in 3.1 IP. In his last three starts, he’s given up 13 ER while striking out only 9 batters. That’s not good. His K rate sits at a career low 16.2% combined with an 8% walk rate. I don’t see anything in his profile that tells me that his K rate will rise much. He’s probably going to be around a 17-18% K rate guy while limiting homers. I just don’t see him being successful giving up that much contact, especially if he doesn’t have a great walk rate.

Whoa James Paxton, what happened? I don’t want to use the “I” word but how can you not when he’s always hurt and usually super effective when healthy. Big Maple has given up 8 ER in his last two starts but what’s also concerning is the 20 hits he’s given up in his last 17 IP. Well, let’s check his velocity, uhoh, it’s down about 2 mph in his last start. Ok, that could explain the ineffectiveness. If I’m the mariners, I’m putting him on the DL to skip a couple starts and give him some rest. You don’t keep going down this road with Paxton. Keep a close eye on his velocity in his next start if they don’t put him on the DL. Look for 95.5+, if it’s 94, we’ve got problems.

Mitch Haniger – Sleeper Post

Mitch Haniger was a popular sleeper going into 2017 when he was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Mariners.  He settled in nicely slotting in the two hole for the 21 games of the season hitting .342 with 4 HRs and 2 steals.  An oblique injury late in April caused him to miss nearly two months with a return to the lineup in mid-June.  It seemed to sap some of his power as he hit only three HRs through July.  Sure enough June and July is were he posted his lowest hard contact rates. He missed more time in August with a facial laceration before getting hot in September hitting seven dingers and stealing 2 bases.  Overall it was a bit of a lost year but the start and finish were encouraging and he’ll entering his age 27 season.

What’s interesting to me is that in the minors Haniger had solid K and BB rates but in the majors his 22.7% K and 7.6% BB rate left me wondering what was going on.  His O-Swing% was 24.7, Z-Contact% 88.6, and SwStr% 8.7.  All of those are quite a bit better than league average but the K rate and BB rate are just below average.  I’m expecting improvements in both BB and Ks meaning higher OBP and more balls in play.

In the past, Haniger hit well over 40% of the balls in the air but sat at 36.7% in 2017.  Now this may have helped his BABIP but in this day and age I think he goes back to his flyball ways and it’s possible that his injury changed his approach as well.  The elevated BABIP might drop but his power should improve as long as he can continue to elevate his pulled contact. His hard contact on fly balls is nearly 45% and his HR/FB on pulled fly balls was 48% last year!

He doesn’t have elite speed by any means but could easily steal 10 bases in 2018.  The additional walks will help.  His final numbers will come down to health and where he hits in the lineup. As of now  Roster Resource has him slotted in the six spot which I thinkis about right. The addition of Dee Gordon moves him down so his run total will suffer but his RBI numbers should be very good with Cano, Cruz, and Seager hitting in front of him.   I’ll take my chances with his current ADP per NFBC sitting at 210 overall around guys like Avisail Garcia and Odubel Herrera.  In a standard 12 team league, that’s around a fourth OF so he doesn’t cost much.

For 2018 I’ll give Haniger: .271/.343 24 HRs, 9 steals, 75 runs, 86 RBI
Remember, he was a hyped sleeper going into to 2017 and now he enters his prime at age 27, only injuries derailed what should have been a top 100 overall season in 2017.