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Deal for Marlins Caleb Smith | The Case Against Nationals Juan Soto

Deal for Marlins Caleb Smith | The Case Against Nationals Juan Soto
Chris Mitchell May 24, 2018 10:00PM EDT

In-Depth Fantasy Numbers To Know with Roster Tips

Top Tier Trends

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks

2018 Season Stats: Five HRs – 13 RBI – .198 Batting Average

I feel like I need to bring Goldy back to the article this week because while I was suggesting that owners bench him before, I am insisting now. If you have been delaying, then I am sorry that you lost or fell in the standings the last two weeks because you didn’t pull the trigger. He is so far down the rankings at this point that I can’t list all of the first baseman that have been better, but here are a few Noteworthy ones:

Jose Martinez: Five HRs – 30 RBI – .311 BA

Jesus Aguilar: Seven HRs – 20 RBI – .321 BA (in 66 fewer at-bats)

Mitch Moreland: Six HRs – 21 RBI – .313 BA (in 73 fewer at-bats)

Miguel Rojas: Seven HRs – 21 RBI – .265 (Also qualifies at SS and 3B)

John Hicks: Five HRs – .17 RBI – .279 (68 fewer at-bats and qualifies at Catcher and 1B)

Adrian Gonzalez: Five HRs – 20 RBI – .255 BA (in 62 fewer at-bats)

 When was the last time any sane analyst recommended starting a catcher at first base? And when was the last time any sane analyst recommended starting a catcher at first base over a first round pick? I am recommending it now, for the first time and undoubtedly the last. For what it’s worth, this likely means that the coming week will have us see Paul Goldschmidt’s breakout. That’s Fantasy Sports in Trump world. Embrace the Bizarro nature of the Juiced Ball Era.

Carlos Correa, SS Houston Astros

2018 Season Stats: Eight HRs – Two SBs – 31 RBI – 28 Runs – .268 BA

21-Day Snapshot: Four HRs – 10 RBI – Eight Runs – .177 BA

 

If you spent a top pick on Correa then I feel for and blame you at the same time. I wrote during draft season that spending at SS was a mistake. There isn’t a lot you can do if Correa is your guy in the middle and unlike Paul Goldschmidt, he isn’t killing you.

If you play in leagues with Middle Infielders, Correa has to be in your starting lineup, but if you are in leagues with SS only, there have been some low-profile shortstops that justify the benching of Correa. Gleyber Torres may qualify at SS in your league, Brandon Crawford’s .465 batting average and three home runs over the last three weeks is a tempting alternative as well.

At this point, I am putting Correa owners on notice rather than sounding the bench alarm. We are far enough into the 2018 season that sacred cows can no longer be started if the trends are long enough and bad enough. Correa isn’t there..YET, but a .177 batting average over the last three weeks puts him under scrutiny here.

Bryce Harper, OF Washington Nationals

21-Day Snapshot: 6 HRs – 1 SB – .221 BA – .274 OBP – 13 SOs – 4 BBs

2018 Season Stats: 15 HRs – 4 SBs – .238 BA – .394 OBP

He isn’t striking out at an exorbitant rate and/or walking like we are used to over the last three weeks, which suggests to me that this is an issue with Harper rather than a result of how the league is approaching him. The question I have with both Harper and my next profile, Aaron Judge; when does batting average significantly impact how we value a player? Most player-to-player comparisons and value evaluations are based primarily on home runs and stolen bases with the other categories sprinkled in for some flavor and maybe used as a tiebreaker. But, when a player is dragging you down like Goldschmidt, Harper and Aaron Judge have been recently, when in yearly leagues do you add to your chances of winning by subtracting them from your roster? Harper is batting .209 over the last 30 days, while Judge has been an acceptable .247 over the last 21 days.

Harper has 15 home runs and I can only assume is seen in most yearly leagues as a buy low. Owners should start taking meetings about what exactly other owners consider “low” in trade discussions.

Aaron Judge, OF New York Yankees

21-Day Snapshot: Five HRs – .227 BA – 22 strikeouts

High strikeouts bother me and yet I must admit, they shouldn’t. In this era, players that strike out a lot still dominate Fantasy sports and in Aaron Judge and Kris Bryant’s cases, hit for good batting averages too. Judge’s recent  line isn’t as sparkling as Fantasy owners may like, which is why I mention it in a “Trends and Noteworth’s” column, but at this point there isn’t a reason to act on the Trend. Food for thought. Nothing more.

Noteworthys

Sean Newcomb, SP Atlanta Braves

2018 Season Stats: 52.2 IP – 58 Ks – 2.39 ERA – 1.14 WHIP

21-Day SnapShot: 25 IP – 24 Ks – Four Quality Starts – Four Wins – .36 ERA – .76 WHIP

82% Owned in Yahoo Leagues

Over the last three weeks Sean Newcomb was the second ranked pitcher in total points, behind only Chris Sale. That period includes a no-hitter from James Paxton, a complete game and 40 strikeouts from Gerrit Cole and 39 strikeouts from Max Scherzer.

The Braves have proven that they are more than just relevant, they could be the favorite in the National League East, and Newcomb has been their number one. He is striking out batters, while minimizing base hits and home runs.

What we are seeing from Newcomb isn’t anything we haven’t before. He struck out 412 batters, allowed only 271 base hits and a ridiculously low 14 home runs in 348.1 minor league innings. He hit three fewer batters than he allowed home runs. Another area where he has been similar in the Major Leagues that he was in the minors is his walk rate. He walked 186 batters in those 348.1 innings pitched and has 24 in 52.2 innings pitched this season for the Braves. That’s a BB/9 of more than 4.5 and this season, it has actually been slightly better than his minor league career.

I recommend owners continue to ride the hot wave because I don’t sense Newcomb is a roasting hot commodity in yearly leagues right now. Everyone is using every nickel they have in their FAAB on Juan Soto and Alex Reyes while Newcomb is straight dealing at an 82% ownership number in Yahoo leagues.

Newcomb’s ratios are slightly better than his peripherals suggest they should be, but they are in line with his career norms. His walk rate should result in some regression to his ERA and WHIP while it is reasonable to expect his peripherals to remain similar to what we have seen. He shouldn’t be treated like an untouchable, nor should he be shopped as a sell-high. Newcomb should be better than Alex Reyes going forward and if you look at 2017, he can be as good as Stephen Strasburg (175.1 IP and 204 SOs), Masahiro Tanaka (178.1 IP and 194 SOs) and Aaron Nola (168 IP and 184 SOs) with better ratios in 2018. That’s a draft day bargain.

Brandon Crawford, SS San Francisco Giants

21-Day Snapshot: Three HRs – One SB – .465 BA (71 at-bats)

That kind of batting average over a three-week period is ridiculous and worth consideration as a buy-low opportunity. Crawford ranks 20th in all of baseball and fourth amongst shortstops with a .309 batting average.

Shortstop has a reasonably significant amount of “viable” players that contribute to a variety of categories, but relatively few “impact” ones that are amongst the leaders in any. Crawford is an impact contributor in batting average, the least expensive of all categories to attempt to trade for. This makes him an affordable trade target if it’s a category of need for owners. He isn’t a sexy target, but that makes him more valuable at less cost. Brandon Belt is receiving all the love, but Crawford is where the trade value is.

Caleb Smith, SP/RP Miami Marlins

21-Day SnapShot: 20.7 Innings Pitched – 24 Strikeouts – 3.05 ERA – 1.16 WHIP

65 strikeouts in 49.1 innings pitched on the season is Noteworthy regardless of how you slice it. The fact that he has a 3.83 ERA and 1.22 WHIP on the season is convincing.

Smith’s changeup has been unhittable (.143 batting average against) while his slider has been borderline offensive for women and children to see (.103 batting average against). I am not ready to suggest owners target Smith in Dynasty formats, but the early season swings-and-misses has me buying for 2018, while I can’t imagine the cost being prohibitive.

Jose Berrios, SP Minnesota Twins

2018 Season Stats: 61.1 IP – 59 Ks – 12 BBs – 3.82 ERA – .91 WHIP

21-Day SnapShot: 26.7 IP – 23 Ks – Six BBs – 4.05 ERA – .90 WHIP

Berrios was rising up draft boards as the crazy season was hitting its end-of-March crescendo and he has pitched like a guy that deserved the boost. If you look at the game logs you’ll see that he has had a lot of four and five earned run outings and yet his WHIP is below one, suggesting either the Twins defense is negatively impacting his ERA or he has been a bit unlucky.

Berrios isn’t considered an ace and the numbers don’t suggest he is, but he is a low-end number two, high-end number three starter without being prohibitively expensive to acquire. He is worth inquiring about if you want to bolster your overall staff at an affordable trade cost.

Didi Gregorius, SS New York Yankees

21-Day SnapShot: 60 At-Bats – Zero HRs – Two RBI –  .100 BA

Gregorius has one home run, six RBI and a .222 batting average away from the Bronx and two home runs against left-handed pitching. Based on recent performance he justifies benching regardless of the matchups and Daily Fantasy players already know this, but if you’re in a weekly lineup league Gregorius justifies benching if the splits are against him.

For the remainder of 2018, owners need to be vigilant and disciplined with his usage. These are significant sample sizes that justify benching what otherwise appears to be a Fantasy stud in a monstrous offensive lineup. I don’t trust that Aaron Boone has a clue about what he is doing, but someone in New York must have told him the consistency of the negative splits in play here. In the wrong matchups owners should expect nights off or a drop in the lineup going forward as well.

Miles Mikolas, SP St. Louis Cardinals

2018 Season Stats: 60.1 IP – 46 Ks – Six BBs – 2.24 ERA – .98 WHIP

84% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues

What’s most impressive about Mikolas is his outstanding walk rate. As a prospect as well as a reliever and part-time starter early in his major league career, command was his strength while his raw “stuff” was lacking. After playing in Japan for three seasons his velocity has increased, combined with an uptick in his stuff and plus command. He is producing legitimate Fantasy ratios with acceptable, but not awe-inspiring strikeout totals.

Mikolas is a solid number three or four starter who lacks the dominant strikeout potential to be a sell-high or a buy-low. Owners should approach him as a reliable addition to a Fantasy staff rather than a stock to buy or sell to try and find value. He has been good and should continue to be.

Noteworthy

Socrates Brito, OF Arizona Diamondbacks

Injuries to Steven Souza and A.J. Pollock have provided Brito with an opportunity to be relevant in NL-Only and deeper mixed leagues. He isn’t going to win a league or wow us with explosive category busting numbers, but he has enough power and speed to contribute. #Noteworthy

Prospect Promotions

Juan Soto, OF Washington Nationals

Career Stats: 122 Games Played – 453 At-bats – 22 HRs – Nine SBs – .362 BA

2018 Minor League Stats: 152 ABs – 14 HRs – Three SBs – .362 BA – .462 OBP

Soto hadn’t performed or been hyped prior to the 2017 offseason. He popped up high on all of the Top Prospect rankings and in 2018 he has proven the prognosticators right. We are hearing speculation that he might be better than fellow National’s prospect Victor Robles and Braves superstar in the making Ronald Acuna Jr. and Fantasy experts were falling over backwards to spend their FAAB money to add him to their 2018 rosters.

In Dynasty leagues there isn’t an argument to be made against Soto. He has a plus-plus hit tool and the raw power to be a difference maker as he continues to mature and develop. However, here is the argument against Soto in yearly leagues for 2018.

Soto has never played more than 51 games in a minor league season, he has 453 total at-bats as an amateur and only 31 at-bats in Double-A or above. Ronald Acuna Jr. had 626 at-bats at Double-A and Triple-A and more than twice as many minor league at-bats (981) as Juan Soto before he was promoted to the Major Leagues. I remember thinking how quickly the Houston Astros promoted Carlos Correa from Double-A to the Majors in 2015. He had 215 Double-A at-bats when he was promoted, 288 minor league games played and 1,128 total at-bats. Ken Griffey Jr. had 465 at-bats and 555 minor league plate appearances before he was promoted. It is staggering how quickly Soto has been promoted and even more shocking how giddy experts are about spending their FAAB money to win the bidding to acquire him. He absolutely should be claimed, but at what cost?

The Nationals offense has been decimated by injuries, but with the exception of Howie Kendrick, eventually they are going to be flooded with players returning. They have Matt Adams, Michael Taylor, Wilmer Difo and Mark Reynolds healthy with Ryan Zimmerman, Daniel Murphy, Adam Eaton and top prospect Victor Robles staggering back with varying timetables and conditions.

Owners aggressively emptying FAAB budgets have to be assuming that Soto is the next Ken Griffey Jr. in order to justify the gluttony. He is a 19-year old kid with almost no minor league experience and even less production. Prior to 2018 he had never hit more than five home runs in a season and that’s not because he hadn’t developed the skills, it’s because he hadn’t played enough to produce. How do we even know what he can and can’t do without playing? And I hate to be a Fantasy analyst here, but he doesn’t steal bases. There isn’t a floor to rely on if God forbid he struggles as a teenager against the most talented grown men in the world in their chosen athletic profession. If he doesn’t hit for average and slug home runs in bunches then he goes to the bench or back to the minors.

The excitement is great for baseball fans and absolutely insane for Fantasy ones. Soto absolutely deserves to be owned, but he isn’t a must-start player right now and he isn’t worth spending any serious amount to acquire in yearly leagues, via trade or in FAAB money on your waiver wire. I would argue now is the time to sell high in Dynasty leagues as well. The Soto insanity has primed the pump for highway robbery by someone else. Smell the opportunity. It’s there to be realized by the bold.

Tyler O’Neill, OF St. Louis Cardinals

2018 Minor League Stats: 113 At-Bats – 13 HRs – Three BBs – .319 BA – .333 OBP

40% Owned in Yahoo Leagues

O’Neill is an imperfect Fantasy player. He doesn’t walk as much as I like to see from a slugger and he has struggled to make consistent enough contact to maximize his immense raw power and minimize the damage of a low batting average. But he has always hit for power and he runs enough to contribute some stolen bases and remain in the outfield.

His batting average could be a drag and he won’t make up for it in OBP leagues, but not unlike Joey Gallo, if he receives the opportunity he is going to provide Fantasy owners home runs and reports are that the Cardinals are going to give him chances to play. Dexter Fowler has been a bust, so it’s time to see if O’Neill can be their guy. He needs to be owned in more than 40% of Yahoo leagues.

Caleb Smith Featured Image: (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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