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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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Home Run / Barrel (HR/BRL) Under-Performers from 2018

The Statcast metric Barrels is largely becoming one of the best statistics that link a player’s power. Just glancing at the leaderboard will tell you all you need to know. The Barrel statistic came out in 2015 and we now have four years worth of data. I’ve looked into a simple metric that is simply a ratio of a player’s home run per barrel percentage. The reason I am using this measure is to determine the previous year’s over and under-performers. Also, Al Melchior and Alex Chamberlain of RotGraphs determined that not only do barrels per batted ball event (BRL/BBE) and barrels per plate appearance (BRL/PA) have very good year-to-year correlations but are also the best metrics for measuring power.

Unfortunately, the juiced ball may have tainted some of the year-to-year correlations for this metric, but we can still find outliers. Let’s take a look at the league-wide averages for HR/BRL since 2015.

2015 2016 2017 2018
70.7% HR/BRL 70.5% HR/BRL 77.1% HR/BRL 66.1% HR/BRL

If you remember, the juiced ball made its appearance in the second half of 2015 but it seems like the ball was “extra” juiced in 2017. Then, last year in 2018, the ball was completely de-juiced. Without actual knowledge of how the ball will perform in 2019, I am going to assume, the ratio of barrels to home runs will be closer to 2018 than 2017. Today, I’ll look at players who underperformed their HR/BRL numbers in 2018.

Home Runs Per Barrel Under-Performers

Player2018 BRL2018 HRHR/BRL
Mookie Betts613252.5%
Nicholas Castellanos532343.4%
Matt Olson512956.9%
Trey Mancini502448.0%
Teoscar Hernandez492244.9%
Anthony Rendon472451.1%
Freddie Freeman462350.0%
Marcell Ozuna462350.0%
Jose Martinez411741.5%
Jackie Bradley Jr.351337.1%
Ramon Laureano12541.7%
2018 League Average66.10%

I’ll start with Mookie Betts because, HOLY HELL! Not only did Betts absolutely earn every single one of his home runs, he actually underperformed a bit. What’s not shown is that Betts only managed 25 barrels on his 24 homers in 2017. We know Betts had a “down year” (for him) in 2017 but bounced back in a huge way proving that he is, in fact, a power hitter in addition to everything else the 2018 AL MVP does well. I wouldn’t read too much into the below-average ratio of HR/BRL because I feel that the Green Monster may be turning a few of those barrels into doubles. Betts looks like a safe bet to reach 30 homers again in 2019 even if his barrel rate drops just a bit.

Jackie Bradley Jr., WOW! Maybe he was also a victim of the Green Moster taking away some home runs but his HR/BRL was about half of the league average. JBJ should have been right around 20 homers in 2018, rather than the pathetic 13 he posted. I should note that in 2017, he hit 17 homers on 27 barrels for 63% HR/BRL, so its possible, he could be a player who always under-performers based on this metric. I figured that I should dig a little deeper and sure enough, xStats had him at 17.5 xHR in 2018. I believe even that was low because his high drive (HD%) was an elite level 16.1%! For context, here are some other players who had 35 barrels in 2018: Cody Bellinger, Tommy Pham, and Nolan Arenado. I was already buying JBJ in 2019 and now I’m bumping him inside my top 150 with a likely 20-15 season in store. Take a look at all of JBJ’s barrels in 2018 overlaid on his home park (Fenway). I count at least 13 balls that could/should have been home runs (4 taken away thanks to the Green Monster), but that’s nine more dingers for JBJ.

Jose Martinez looks to be stuck in a tough situation in terms of playing time. I was optimistic that the Cardinals would move Martinez to an AL club where he could be an everyday DH. However, as of now, he’s a bench bat that can fill in at first base or a corner outfield spot. That’s a shame because he’s a professional hitter. For reference, his 41 barrels puts him the company of Jesus Aguilar and Travis Shaw, both of which hit over 30 homers in 2018. Keep an eye on Martinez if he’s traded, because, despite a low fly ball rate, he could still reach 25 home runs while hitting near .300 over the course of a full season.

Marcell Ozuna is an interesting case. After an absolute monster 2017 that included 37 homers and 124 RBI, Ozuna let owners down with only 23 home runs last year. Ozuna dealt with a shoulder issue in which caused offseason surgery, it’s probable that affected his production. When I check his batted ball profile, I don’t see a dip in his metrics. In fact, in 2017, Ozuna had 44 barrels on the aforementioned 37 homers, two fewer than in 2018. Keep an eye on how his shoulder progresses but if healthy, Ozuna is in line for around 30 home runs with a boatload of RBI (welcome Goldy).

Teoscar Hernandez shows up near the top of the Statcast leaderboards but his production seems to be lacking. Unfortunately for Hernandez, his contact rates are extremely low and only got worse as the season wore on. We are talking Joey Gallo-type contact rates here folks. Despite the poor contact rate, Hernandez still managed 22 home runs on an incredible 49 barrels. Given a full slate of plate appearances, Teoscar could reach 35 home runs in 2019. However, his inconsistent production and poor contact rates could limit his playing time going forward. A classic risk-reward play for 2019.

In case I needed another reason to push for Anthony Rendon as the 2019 NL MVP, here it is. It may seem like Rendon is a mid-20s homer hitter based on his last two seasons (25 HR in 2017, 24 HR in 2018), but there’s another level to his power. Rendon increased his barrel total by a whopping 19 in 2018 but was left with one fewer home run. I understand that juiced balls were a factor but Rendon should reach the 30 home run plateau in 2019 given the similar quality of contact. If you’re concerned about injuries, don’t be. Rendon has averaged 616 plate appearances the last three seasons. Given Rendon’s elite contact and the expectations I have for increased power, Rendon should provide second round value in the fourth round of fantasy drafts.

If you want to find a sleeper that could provide Top 50 overall value, Ramon Laureano is your guy. He’s been shooting up draft boards in NFBC and has crept just inside the top 200 overall, but still lacks popularity based on FantasyPors Consensus ADP going around pick 240. Laureano provided a small sample of just 176 plate appearances in 2018 but impressed with barreling up 12 balls and stealing seven bases. Speed was Laureano’s best-known attribute and he displayed 43 steals in the Minors in 2016. The power was expected to be around average but he popped a career-high 19 home runs across Triple-A and the Majors in 2018. Unfortunately, he swings and misses a bit too much but has a realistic shot at going 20-20 with 25-25 upside as soon as 2019.

Matt Olson showcased his immense power during his 59 game sample in 2017 smashing 24 homers! It’s too bad Olson didn’t play the whole season with the big club during the 2017 season with the juiced balls. He could have hit 50 home runs. He ended 2018 with “just” 29 home runs which disappointed owners who expected 35-40 across a full season. He wasn’t all that unlucky in 2018 but I bring him up because he only had 21 barrels on his 24 home runs in 2017. That’s a quite a contrast. Especially after I dug in and saw that his hard contact rates improved as did his contact rates and chase rate. I really think Olson is in for a career year at age 25. I fully expect 35 home runs with an improved batting average. His ADP is about 40 picks too late as he’s going just outside 100 overall.

I’ve lumped Freddie Freeman and Nicholas Castellanos together because both are very consistent in their hard contact and barrel rates from year to year. Both, however, saw their power production decrease in 2018. Juiced balls? Unlucky? Well, I think it’s a little of both. Freeman and Casteallos seem to underperform in terms of power every year. Freeman matched his 46 barrels from 2017 and Castellanos managed an increase of two barrels in 2018 from the previous year. Both saw a decrease in home runs, however so while I expect both get back to 25+ homers in 2019, I’d cap them both at around 30. You’re getting solid batting average and run production from both players so I like them but I’m not predicting massive power bumps for both players.

Last but not least, Trey “Boom Boom” Mancini. At first glance this offseason, I didn’t think Mancini had much power upside other than what he’s shown us the last two seasons. Mancini now has two straight seasons on 24 home runs but he actually bumped his barrel total to 50 in 2018, nine more than in 2017. Mancini is a guy who hits too many ground balls but really smokes the ball when he gets it in the air. Could he have a Christian Yelich type season? LOL, no, he cannot. To me, he feels like Castellanos but with less batting average upside. Mancini could blast 30 home runs in 2019 but he could also be a player that feels the de-juiced balls more than others.

You can follow me on Twitter @FreezeStats

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September Moves for the Stretch Run

No, this isn’t a weekly rundown, but I feel that this type of article is more valuable to fantasy owners at this point in the season. Let’s jump right in to some hitters that I think can help you win your league.  I also cover some hitters who’s ownership’s are too high and can be let go. I will have an article out on Sunday highlighting starting pitchers to stream for the upcoming week. Don’t worry, pitchers won’t be left out.

Hitters Under 40% Owned to Add

Trey Mancini (BAL – 1B/OF), 39% owned
Mancini is literally the same player he was last year just without the BABIP luck. The difference in BABIP from 2017 to 2018 is a drop of 70 points. However, since the All-Star break, Mancini is hitting .292 with nine home runs with a more respectable .320 BABIP. He’s also bumped his hard contact up to nearly 40% without changing his approach. Unfortunately, Mancini does not provide speed and hits too many balls on the ground for significant upside. He’s a solid batting average/power replacement for someone like Yonder Alonso whom I’ll discuss later.

Colin Moran (PIT – 3B), 3% owned
OK, so the launch angle increase I predicted from Moran didn’t exactly happen, or did it? It’s actually somewhere in between, sorry to be so anticlimactic. Moran’s ground ball rate has dipped to 45% and his line drive rate is up. He’s also a guy who makes a lot of contact with an 88.5% zone-contact rate. Previously, Moran was on the strong-side of the 3B platoon with my brother from another mother David Freese, but Freese has been shipped to LA. Moran should get just about every start at the hot corner moving forward with a prime lineup spot. Unfortunately, Moran isn’t hitting for power, but has hit .329 since August 1st and should help in batting average, runs, and RBI the rest of the way. Moran is strictly a deep 15-team and deeper league add.

Adalberto Mondesi (KC – 2B/SS), 18% owned
Finally, someone who is actually exciting!  Mondesi is somehow owned in under 25% of leagues and is capable of power and elite level speed. Mondesi is a guy I’ll be all over in drafts next year because of the upside he possesses. For the final month of the season, taking a chance on a guy who could win you the stolen base category without hurting you in the power department is gold. I realize he hasn’t been overly productive recently, but with six home runs and 18 steals in less than 200 at-bats, what more do you need to see? I liken him to a Jonathan Villar-type player whose ownership finally got his well-deserved Mass Appeal, so here’s the next best thing! There’s going to be a ton of helium going into 2019, so keeper league owners should be all over him now because, in dynasty, he’s long gone.

Ryan O’Hearn (KC – 1B), 7% owned
Another Royal, come on now! I’m going with O’Hearn over Brian’s brother Hunter Dozier (they are not brothers) for these reasons: the walk rate and the plate discipline. Both O’Hearn and Dozier have very good power with strikeout issues but O’Hearn does not expand the zone as much as Dozier. I can actually envision a strikeout rate drop to below 25% for RO. Combine that with an 11% walk rate and an incredible 50% hard contact rate and you have…. Rhys Hoskins from 2017! Sure, Hoskins has come down to earth and I don’t expect O’Hearn to go full 2017-Hoskins, but we are talking about only three weeks of baseball. If he stays hot, he could help boost average, home runs, and RBI before the season is over.

Harrison Bader (STL – OF), 19% owned and Brandon Nimmo (NYM – OF), 25% owned
I will forever link these two players who have similar skill sets. Both and high energy athletes who are all-out maximum effort. Bader certainly has more speed and but I think Nimmo can provide more power and OBP. Nimmo has missed a little time in August, but since the beginning of the month (August), Nimmo has been on fire. He’s slashing .351/.432/.636 with 3 homers, a steal, and 14 extra-base hits in only 88 PA! Bader hasn’t been as hot but has the higher SB upside. He’s compiled 10 homers and 13 steals in only 349 plate appearances. Depending on your team needs, grab at least one of these guys.

Francisco Mejia (SD – C), 15% owned
His ownership is sure to jump up after a two-homer performance last night. In Yahoo! Leagues, he does not have catcher eligibility yet, but in ESPN league, he does. Fear not! Only four more starts at catcher will earn him the big “C” next to his name in Yahoo leagues which should happen by early next week. If you’re rostering Tucker Barnhart or Robinson Chirinos, go ahead and make the switch. Mejia projects to be a high contact, high average hitter with moderate power. These days, moderate power means around 20 homers over the course of a full season. I do not see how he doesn’t perform as a top 12 catcher ROS.

Brandon Lowe (TB – 2B/OF), 5% owned
There are three Lowe’s in the Rays system and Brandon isn’t the one I’m most excited about, that would be Nate. However, he’s the only one up with the big club. B. Lowe has been hot hitting .414 with three homers and two steals in the last two weeks. Lowe graded out moderately across the board with slightly above-average power and speed. He’s patient which is great for OBP leagues but may elevate his strikeout rate a bit. I like him in deep leagues to help out with runs and provide some power and speed. OBP leagues, he’s a must add down the stretch.

Over 50% owned: hitters to drop

Eric Hosmer (1B – SD), 75% owned
Depending on what type of scoring your league has, Hosmer likely falls outside the top 300 overall. Most 10 to 12-team leagues roster less than 300 players. Do yourselves a favor and let him go. Hopefully, you’ve been able to find a viable replacement and are still in contention for the championship. I won’t bore you with all the poor numbers on Hosmer, but I will list off the areas where he’s under-performing compared to previous years: walk rate is down, strikeout rate is up, ground ball rate is up, soft contact is up, infield fly rate is up, chase and Swstr rates are up, and contact rate is down. Yup, that’s a lot. Stop owning him for name value, I’d even take teammates Mejia or Franmil Reyes over him right now.

Yonder Alonso (CLE – 1B), 50% owned
Coming into the season I thought Yonder Alonso had some solid value with an ADP well after pick 200. I projected Alonso to provide solid power numbers with a solid batting average as a floor while hitting 5th or 6th in one of the better lineups in the league. While the power has been relatively consistent, his batting average has fallen off the map which currently sits at .241 and is .214 since the All-Star break. It has nothing to do with a change in launch angle, his 22% line drive and 42% fly ball rates in that time frame mirrors his profile over the last 2 years. The issue for Alonso is his lack of hard contact, just 27.3% since August 1st and his chase rate, 35% in the month of August. Alonso will continue to be a batting average drain while providing poor power upside given his recent poor batted ball profile and plate discipline.

In redraft leagues, it’s safe to drop Vlad Guerrero Jr. and Eloy Jimenez as the team’s brass have decided to hold both down for the remainder of the season. No, they are not owned in over 50% of leagues, but in the playoffs, you need all the roster spots you can get. It’s unfortunate, but maybe they will both come at a bit of a discount next year. Clearly, both are ready to be up with the big club and no longer need refinement. Depending on service time, both could be held down for a couple weeks to a month to start the season similar to Acuna this year and Kris Bryant a few years ago. This would further decrease their ADP and I think they can both provide between 5th and 7th round value next year. It’ll be interesting to see their ADP’s coming into 2019 and I still see them as Star-Boys.

Odubel Herrera (PHI – OF), 70% owned
Over on the Sports Degens, I told you to sell Herrera back in early July before the All-Star break. At the time, he was on fire and ranked inside the top 75 overall. Since then, he’s hit .237 with seven home runs and 1 steal in 186 plate appearances. The power numbers are OK, but the lack of stolen bases and batting average has really hurt his value. Herrera’s hard contact is only 25% since July 5th and his plate discipline is a mess. The weak contact combined with an aggressive approach is the reason I was staying away from Herrera in the second half. There’s no reason for him to be owned in so many leagues. Drop him for one of the outfielders I highlighted above.

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BABIP Trailers – June Update Part 2 of 2

My last article highlighted some of the more fortunate hitters in terms of BABIP. I use xStats.org and find large discrepancies between xBABIP and BABIP. Today, I’m going the other direction and finding some potentially unlucky hitters in terms of their BABIP. Wow, ok I just typed BABIP a few too many times.

Someone you might expect included on this list that I will tell you upfront is not is Gary Sanchez. He’s hitting far too many popups (23.4% IFFB%) and hitting a career low line drive rate at only 13.9%. With his near 45% fly ball rate, that means that nearly 11% of his batted balls are pop ups or automatic outs and 8.5% of his batted balls are home runs which don’t influence BABIP. His profile lends itself to a very low BABIP and while his xBABIP and xAVG are higher, they don’t make the cut. Expect a low batting average this year with power and a decent OBP with his improved walk rate.

NameBABIPxBABIPDiffAVGxAVGDiff
Bryce Harper0.2160.296-0.080.2280.277-0.049
Johan Camargo0.2220.293-0.0710.2120.253-0.041
Anthony Rizzo0.2270.287-0.060.2380.274-0.036
DJ LeMahieu0.3010.346-0.0450.2840.312-0.028
Try Mancini0.2780.322-0.0440.2290.263-0.034

Would you look at that. How could I not start with Bryce Harper. That 0.080 difference is huge but the difference in AVG and xAVG is quite a bit less. That’s most likely due to his home run totals, since we are only talking about balls in play here. Looking at Harper’s value hits and high drive percentages this year, he’s actually hit a higher percentage of those batted balls this year compared to 2017. That’s great! His launch angle is just fine and his exit velocity is up from last year. His 18 home runs certainly back up those numbers, but why the low BABIP?

Here’s the deal, as I mentioned, he’s actually hitting the ball harder and barreling up a higher percentage of balls. He is swinging and missing a little more but that doesn’t affect BABIP. Based on the solid line drive rate and hard contact, you’d expect his BABIP to improve instead of decrease. Then there’s the pulled ground balls into the shift. I don’t fully support this argument except for the fact that he’s been a little unlucky on ground balls. His career ground ball rate when shifted against matches this years and his pull percentage is up a modest eight percent against the shift. So that’s a factor, but not a huge one. Take a look at his career BABIPs on grounders, fly balls and line drives and compare that to this year.

Bryce Harper BABIP Career 2018
Ground Balls 0.258 0.176
Fly Balls 0.139 0.067
Line Drives 0.679 0.459

There you have it. Based on the batted ball data and xStats, he’s been just plain unlucky, extremely unlucky. BUY, BUY, BUY!

Anthony Rizzo
Rizzo has turned it around of late but still lags quite a bit from his xBABIP. Similar to Harper, his power numbers have kept his difference between AVG and xAVG closer and therefore his fantasy value has not torpedoed many teams. If you’re a Rizzo owner, I’ve got good news for you! Rizzo has increased his exit velocity, launch angle and overall contact. I know what you’re thinking, his launch angle has increased due to an increase in popups. Nope, not at all. He’s hitting a ton of valuable line drives and fly balls, both up from 2017. He’s currently under-performing against all types of pitches: fastballs, offspeed, and breaking pitches. The only negative is a lower barrel percentage. It’s far from terrible though, and Rizzo is another buy here. Rizzo has been plagued by plain bad luck.

Johan Camargo
A relatively unknown and mostly a deep league option Camargo is holding down third base for the Braves right now until Austin Riley is ready. He’s part of the reason they let Bautista go, the Braves figured Camargo could handle the hot corner. Camargo has been a more patient hitter this year and he’s benefited by making more solid and hard contact. His K rate and BB rate are nearly identical. That’s fantastic! There’s no doubt Camargo has be dealt some bad luck but he’s also a slow runner and while launch angle has increased, he’s still hitting nearly 48% of balls in the ground. Combine that with a pretty terrible 23% IFFB rate and boom, low BABIP. I’m not buying in except in very deep formats and NL ONly leagues.

DJ LeMahieu
Previously known for his ground and pound approach, Lemahieu is elevating the ball a bit more. It’s not a huge increase but he’s attacking fastballs. Even with a short stint on the DL, he’s still managed to barrel more balls this year than in 2017 in one-third of the plate appearances.

Not bad right? It’s not that DJ is a power hitter now, he’s only decreased his ground ball rate by less than four percent. However, he’s increased the fly ball rate by almost six percent and he’s pulling the ball more. Oh wait, we are talking about BABIP here, not power. The two are related, more hard contact/barrels while limiting poor contact should boost his BABIP, not regress it. DJ is a moderate buy as I expect the average to hover around .300-.310 with 12-15 HR and 6-8 steals.

Trey Mancini
What a disappointment thus far after an unexpected rookie breakout. Am I right guys? Actually no, he’s the same guy he was last year in terms of his contact and batted ball profile. Now, he hits too many ground balls to really be a 30 home run hitter but he is ranked inside the top 20 for most barreled balls this season with 23. He’s also walking more than last year, so maybe he’s developing some patience. Mancini is kind of like a poor man’s Marcell Ozuna in terms of ground balls and hard contact. His line drive rate is solid and he sprays the ball all over the field. There’s not reason for Mancini to have a below average BABIP. Owners in shallow leagues have moved on, so give him a shot and grab him. In deep leagues add him as a cheap throw with a trade and reap the benefits.

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