Trends and Noteworthy Players: In-Depth Stats and Tips
Top Tier Trends
Noah Syndergaard, SP New York Mets
30-Day Snapshot: 30.1 Innings Pitched – 28 Ks – One Win – 3.26 ERA – 1.35 WHIP
Most of baseball’s league leaders in Average Pitch Velocity, as no surprise, are relievers. Noah Syndergaard is one of the few starters that makes the top of the list and he does it with three different pitches. His two-seam fastball, four-seam fastball and sinker all average slightly more than 97 miles per hour. That’s not a peak number, that’s an average. (I discuss a somewhat surprising member of this list later.)
In 2016, he struck out 218 batters in 183.2 innings pitched, while in 2018 he has struck out 61 batters in 51 IP. However, over the last 30 days – five starts, that percentage has dipped to 28 strikeouts in 30.1 innings pitched. It’s a small sample, but interesting after a 2017 season that Syndergaard was limited to 30.1 IP due to injury. Dynasty League owners shouldn’t think anything of this small trend, but if you’re in yearly leagues you might want to send out some feelers about what the market might bear if you were to sell. Maybe this is a sign of a slight decline from his norm in 2018, or it could just be a small-sample blip in the road or a consequence of the competition.
The Mets are currently fourth in a competitive National League East and seventh in what could be an extremely crowded Wild Card race. The organization could decide they can’t win or aren’t willing to invest assets to upgrade their roster at the deadline, resulting in limited starts during the Fantasy playoffs. It’s very early, but something to think ahead on.
Zack Godley, SP Arizona Diamondbacks
30-Day Snapshot: 28.1 IP – 27 Ks – 4.26 ERA – 1.62 WHIP
Godley was a popular breakout prediction during the draft season, ranked as the #102 player in Yahoo leagues entering the season. A 4.08 ERA and especially his 1.42 WHIP cannot be what owners were hoping for, and his K/9 is down from his 2017 campaign.
What was ignored by Godley’s champions about his breakout 2017 season was that his BB/9 was the same as his 6.39 ERA, 1.49 WHIP 2016 season, when he struck out 60 batters in 74.2 IP. He allowed fewer hits and not surprisingly, fewer earned runs in 2017 as a result, but most of the peripheral statistics were in line with his career norms rather than being signs of meaningful improvement.
The one Noteworthy difference in 2017 was the increase in his K/9. His 2018 is looking a lot more like his career norms, making 2017 appear more like an outlier than a breakout. If you don’t want to be stuck holding the diminished bag, you might want to sell before the believers stop targeting him as a buy-low and start believing that this is what Zack Godley always was and will continue to be going forward.
Justin Upton, OF Los Angeles Angels
2018 Season Stats: 11 HRs – 34 RBI – .263 Batting Average
14-Day Snapshot: Seven HRs – 20 RBI – .340 BA
Upton has always been a lock for 25-30 home runs and five to 10 stolen bases and yet that security doesn’t appear to positively impact his Average Draft position. He was drafted after players like Marcell Ozuna, Andrew Benintendi, Rhys Hoskins, and Christian Yelich. I must admit, I can’t argue that I would have drafted Upton before any of those players with the possible exception of Ozuna, but when you KNOW what you’re getting it should enhance a player’s value.
Upton’s career .269 batting average isn’t going to help or kill you and the reliability of his power makes him an intriguing buy for me. He is on a hot streak and that’s not usually the best time to approach owners about a player, but the guy is a reliable slugger who isn’t really appreciated as much as he should be. I wouldn’t mind owning him going forward if the price is right. It doesn’t need to be a bargain, just a fair swap.
C.J. Cron, 1B Tampa Bay Rays
46% Owned in Yahoo Leagues
2018 Season Stats: Nine HRs – 21 Runs Scored – 25 RBI – .284 BA
Cron has been better than all of the high profile first basemen and is still owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues. He always had power but he didn’t always have opportunities. That’s not the case in Tampa Bay in 2018 and the production is reflecting that.
He is viable in standard leagues if you were an owner like me that didn’t spend high draft picks at first base, and he is a must-own in deeper leagues. He is going to hit 18-25 home runs with a helpful batting average, Claim him and start him.
10th HR from CJ Cron today. Hot start a continuation of impressive 2H in '17. Harder contact, fewer Ks; room for more if he rediscovers last year's loft…
— Ryan Bloomfield (@RyanBHQ) May 17, 2018
Brandon Belt, 1B/OF San Francisco Giants
76% Owned in Yahoo Leagues
2018 Season Starts: Eight HRs – 23 Runs Scored – 21 RBI – .298 BA – Two SBs
Belt has outperformed Jose Abreu, Joey Votto and Eric Hosmer through 40 games (not to mention the dismal season from Paul Goldschmidt) and while I don’t know if he can be better than Votto or Abreu the rest of the way, he is a Top 15 first baseman who also qualifies in the outfield. He was a free agent at the start of the season in many leagues and is only owned in 76% of Yahoo leagues now, but he is a must-own 1B/OF qualifier.
Odubel Herrera, OF Philadelphia Phillies
2018 Season Stats: Six HRs – .360 BA – 23 Runs Scored – 24 RBI – Two SBs
He contributes to all of the counting categories and can carry you in batting average. Runs scored and Runs Batted In aren’t statistics I use heavily to judge a player’s value, but when a player does it all without being a “category dominator,” they matter more. Herrera isn’t going to hit .360 for the season, but his career .288 BA suggests that this kind of contact isn’t a fluke, just a career year. It’s always nice to have shares of a player the year he has an outlier season and it looks like 2018 is Herrera’s year to remember.
Tyson Ross, SP San Diego Padres
44% Owned in Yahoo Leagues
30-Day Snapshot: 29.2 IP – 39 Ks – 3.34 ERA – 1.11 WHIP
2018 Season Stats: 47.2 IP – 53 Ks – 3.40 ERA – 1.15 WHIP
Ross always had plus stuff along with consistent stints on the disabled list. Over his career he went from being a potential breakout candidate, to a “value,” to a sleeper and eventually to a “don’t waste your time” player. It looks like he’s healthy and the 1.15 WHIP and K/9 suggests that he is pitching better than his current ERA. He has a chance to be a must-start pitcher going forward and he is owned in less than half of Yahoo leagues. He needs to be owned.
Jeremy Hellickson, SP Washington Nationals
41% Owned in Yahoo leagues
14-Day Snapshot: 17.1 IP – 17 Ks – .52 ERA – .52 Whip
2018 Season Stats: 32.2 IP – 26 Ks – 2.20 ERA – .86 WHIP
Hellickson used pitching acumen, plus movement and plus-plus command to average more than a strikeout per inning and an ERA of 2.85 in his minor league career. He showed that potential early in his Major League career in Tampa Bay, but has struggled from 2013-2017 with the exception of 2016, when he flashed that ability again and now 2018 where it looks like he may have it back. Strikeouts aren’t the strength of his game, but he can contribute low ratios while being in a position to stack up wins every start as a part of the Washington Nationals’ rotation. He is a good streaming option at the very least with the potential for more, especially in two-start weeks.
Under 40% Owned
Niko Goodrum, 1B/2B/OF Detroit Tigers
11% Owned in Yahoo leagues
14-Day Snapshot: Three HRs – .360 Batting Average
The Tigers are in a rebuilding situation that should provide opportunities for anyone that performs. Goodrum has a little pop and some quicks in his legs. He isn’t a stud on the rise or a must-own player, but he is worth monitoring and should be available on your waiver wire.
Manny Pina, C Milwaukee Brewers
4% Owned in Yahoo leagues
14-Day Snapshot: 10-37 – .270 BA – Two HRs – Six RBI – Six Runs
Catchers make me nauseous, which is why I often stream the hot hand rather than spend anything on them at the draft. Pina and my next profile are the flavor of the week. #Noteworthy.
John Hicks, 1B/C Detroit Tigers
17% Owned in Yahoo leagues
14-Day Snapshot: 19-51 – Two HRs – 9 RBI – 10 Runs – .373 BA
I like my catchers to hit for average since very few hit for enough power to matter. I also like when a catcher qualifies at another position and it’s even better if they actually play other positions, which Hicks does. It suggests they are good athletes and the more at-bats they receive outside of catcher, the less defensive wear-and-tear can negatively impact their offense. If I had to invest in one of the non-must-own catchers for the next 4-6 weeks, Hicks would be it. He was second to JaCoby Jones in total at-bats for the Tigers in the last week.
Travis Jankowski, OF San DIego Padres
8% Owned in Yahoo leagues
14-Day Snapshot: 15-37 – .405 BA – One HR – Three SBs
The Padres are throwing everything against the wall when it comes to opportunities and most recently it’s Jankowski who has seized his chances the best. Fantasyland loves Cordero, Margot is the best Dynasty League option, but recently Jankowski has been the best. I don’t recommend with any conviction that you covet any of them, but if you want to know what’s-what, its Jankowski right now.
Andrew Heaney, SP Los Angeles Angels
29% Owned in Yahoo leagues
14-Day Snapshot: 20 Innings Pitched – 17 Ks – 1.80 ERA – .85 WHIP
Heaney has four straight starts of two earned runs or fewer and he is coming off a 10-strikeout performance against the Houston Astros on Monday.
Heaney has never pitched more than 105 innings in a season, so owners shouldn’t invest thinking they found themselves a sleeper, but for now he is throwing the ball well and should be owned while it lasts.
Advanced Metric Noteworthys
Yoan Moncada, 2B Chicago White Sox
Average Exit Velocity:
* 95.9 miles per hour
* Ranks tied for third
Moncada is surrounded by mostly power hitters at the top of this list. Earlier this week he actually led the league before dropping slightly to his current spot tied for third. His presence at the top of the list shows the kind of potential this young, “toolshed” athlete has. He should be a Dynasty League target for owners. He isn’t receiving respect in yearly leagues, suggesting Dynasty League owners won’t fully realize how good this youngster can be.
Other notable Non-Sluggers
* Jorge Alfaro: 95.6 Average Exit Velocity
* Chad Pinder: 95.4 Average Exit Velocity
* Franchy Cordero: 95.3 Average Exit Velocity
* Shohei Ohtani: 94.8 Average Exit Velocity
* Tyler Naquin: 93.7 Average Exit Velocity
* Teoscar Hernandez: 93.7 Average Exit Velocity
Mike Foltynewicz, SP Atlanta Braves
52% Owned in Yahoo leagues
2018 Season Stats: 47 IP – 57 Ks – 24 BBs – 2.87 ERA – 1.34 WHIP
Like Syndergaard, Foltynewicz has an electric arm, confirmed by his inclusion as one of the few starters at the top of the Average Pitch Velocity list. He has two pitches that qualify, his two-seam fastball (96.7 mph) and his four-seam fastball (96.2 mph).
Foltynewicz never had great command – reflected in his 1.34 WHIP, but how many pitchers that throw the majority of their offering at 96 mph do? How a pitcher with his high-octane velocity and an ERA of 2.87 is owned in only slightly more than half of leagues is beyond me. He has a chance to finish the season with 200 strikeouts and a sub-3.50 ERA. That’s a must-own starter and I haven’t even mentioned that he is pitching for the NL East leading Atlanta Braves. In Dynasty Leagues I would target him as well, but with less enthusiasm than in yearly ones. There has been speculation that he might not have a spot in the Braves’ future plans for their rotation. I would like to own him and wait and see on that, but there is some risk that a quarter of a season’s worth of success doesn’t eliminate that possibility, so be cautious about how aggressively you target him.
Walker Buehler, SP Los Angeles Dodgers
2018 Season Stats: Four Starts – 22 IP – 27 Ks – 1.64 ERA – 1.00 WHIP
The Dodgers’ injuries are piling up to the point where it looks like Buehler won’t have any time to ditch school for fun, they need him on the bump. The question with Buehler wasn’t if, but when and how much of an opportunity do the Dodgers provide him to contribute to Fantasy owners. Well, Kershaw, Ryu, Julio Urias, and off-and-on Rich Hill are the names of pitchers that won’t be starting in the foreseeable future. He may not be there for owners in the Fantasy playoffs, but from now until August it looks like he is going to be on the bump every five days. He needs to be owned.
Franmil Reyes, OF San Diego Padres
2018 Minor League Stats: 14 HRs – 38 RBI – .346 BA – 1.180 OPS – 31 Ks – 21 BBs
2018 MLB Stats: 1-7 – .143 BA – 3 Ks – 0 BBs
Reyes increased his home run production from 16 in 2016 to 25 in 2017 and 14 in only 36 games and 130 at-bats in 2018. With 14 home runs in 2018 he has earned this promotion.
Reyes wasn’t a hyped prospect in spite of his consistent improvements and relatively acceptable strikeout totals, so it’s difficult to be bullish on his chances to continue to surprise us. Combine the natural skepticism about what he can continue to provide, since he has done more than anyone expected he would, with the excessive amount of young players battling for at-bats in San Diego, and you have a prospect that is Noteworthy, but probably should be monitored rather than claimed.
Jeremy Hellickson Featured Image: (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)
Want to help fight blood cancer and compete for World Series tickets? Learn about the mission of DKMS and compete nightly for World Series tickets this MLB season on FantasyDraft. All for FREE. Sponsored by FNTSY and DKMS, learn about their mission and access the daily contests at dailyroto.com/dkms.