Trending and Noteworthy: Inside the Numbers and What They Mean for You
Edwin Encarnacion, 1B Cleveland Indians
Five Home Runs – 13 RBI – .269 Batting Average – Four Walks – 16 Strikeouts
Like Joey Votto last week, the trends are substantive enough that it is time to insert Edwin Encarnacion back in your lineups. Unlike Votto, who I have zero concern about going forward, I would continue to monitor EE and make sure he doesn’t fall back into a slump. Encarnacion isn’t walking and the batting average is not exactly stellar, even while he has been hot with the homers. EE could be in decline and first base is a deep position.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks
7-47 – .149 BA – Zero HRs – Zero RBI – Six BBs
15-68 – .221 BA – Zero HRs – 28 Strikeouts – 11 BBs
Season Stats: .226 BA – Four HRs – Two SBs
It pains me to have to say this, but Goldy hasn’t been staying golden…boy. He was 1-25 in Week Six, single-handedly driving me to a head-to-head loss in a Dynasty league to a far inferior team. Two weeks is bad, three weeks is benchable, a season long .226 batting average and only four home runs makes him a must-sit.
Goldschmidt has all the skills to be one of those rare first baseman I accept using an early draft pick on and he isn’t using any of them right now. Chris Davis has been better than Goldschmidt over the prior three weeks and I have actually considered using him and benching Goldschmidt. Another 1-25 and I will be making the move. If you have a mediocre alternative, and I can’t imagine you can’t find one on the wire, Goldy sits in the coming week.
— azcentral sports (@azcsports) May 8, 2018
Matt Adams, 1B/OF Washington Nationals
Eight HRs – 20 RBI – 14 Runs Scored – Seven BBs – Seven Ks – .415 BA
Adams has struggled to hit for average against left-handed pitching, but he has always hit them for power well enough to justify more at-bats. It seems unlikely that the Nationals provide Adams with the full time at-bats that his recent rampage has earned and that’s why I am suggesting he is a “sell high.” Adams isn’t going to hit 35-40 home runs because he isn’t going to receive the opportunity, but this is your argument/sales pitch to other owners when selling high.
“Victor Robles isn’t going to contribute before September, Michael Taylor couldn’t hit water if he fell out of a freakin’ boat, Howie Kendrick can’t defend well enough to bench Adams’ bat and Ryan Zimmerman’s injury history will provide enough opportunities at first base for Adams to receive full time at-bats. Oh; and he qualifies at both first base and the outfield.”
All of this could actually come true, but I doubt it and that’s why I recommend selling. If I actually believed this all was likely rather than just possible, I would keep Adams; the guy can hit.
Ryon Healy, 1B/3B Seattle Mariners
Five HRs – 11 RBI – 10 Runs Scored – 10 Ks – One BB – .349 BA
I have always been a Matt Chapman guy, so when Oakland traded Ryon Healy for a relative bargain I was a little surprised, but agreed with it. Healy has always hit for power, which makes him intriguing to prospect followers and rookie-obsessed Fantasy owners. But he has never walked enough to be a true slugger and his defense is too poor to enhance the likelihood of full time at-bats.
He has mashed over the last two weeks and he is making enough contact to assuage owners who might be concerned about his batting average. Healy, at his best, is Mark Trumbo. If you love yourself some of that then keep him. If Trumbo isn’t your cup of tea, search for a buyer and sell while you can.
Alex Bregman, 3B/SS Houston Astros
Two HRs – One SB – .250 BA – Nine BBs – Seven Ks
Bregman’s perplexing season has me throwing up my hands and saying “I give up.” He was overvalued during draft season and has struggled to produce. He has the tools to be the kind of power/speed contributor that I target and yet, he isn’t supplying either. However, he has walked more than he has struck out (23 to 20) and while the home runs aren’t there (three), he does have 11 doubles in 139 at-bats. There is evidence of a breakout waiting to happen, but it’s been 37 games. At some point you have to be willing to consider your draft day investment as a sunk cost and discount your demands in trade.
I am going to be “squishy-naughty” here and provide cover on both sides of the Bregman fence. If your current situation allows you to wait-and-see on Bregman then target him as a buy low. If you can’t wait any longer then discount the trade cost and find a safe, reliable producer to improve your place in the standings before it’s too late. To both the buyers and the sellers, you’re welcome. Blame me and credit me, depending on which world you end up living in on this one.
Corey Dickerson, OF Pittsburgh Pirates
Four HRs – 14 RBI – 10 Runs Scored – 10 BB – Six Ks – .377 BA
Five HRs – 11 Doubles – Three SBs – .333 BA
Dickerson is hitting well enough to justify ownership and should be a cheap trade target if he isn’t on your waiver wire. He has the same number of home runs and more extra-base hits than fellow teammate Starling Marte and while he isn’t the speed asset that Marte is, he is on pace to contribute 10-15 stolen bases this season.
Owners can expect 25 home runs and a .275-.290 batting average from a player owned in only 79% of leagues. The current trend is not a fluke; Dickerson can be expected to continue his current performance.
Eduardo Escobar,2B/3B/SS Minnesota Twins
Five HRs – 11 RBI – 15 Runs Scored – .333 BA
2017 Season Stats:
21 HRs – Five SBs – .254 BA
Escobar goes almost entirely ignored even though he ranked ninth among shortstops in home runs in 2017 (one fewer than Corey Seager) and is on pace for more in 2018. I wrote an article during draft season recommending owners to avoid paying the high prices for top shortstops and target lesser ones. Escobar doesn’t steal enough bases to fit perfectly into the arguments I made in that posting, but he hits for enough power and has such a low profile that he is an easy buy-low opportunity. He runs enough to notice him, and batting average could be a concern, but the lack of sizzle for a 25-home run middle infielder makes him a bargain trade target. The current Trends are sustainable with the exception of his batting average, which is certain to regress.
Jorge Soler, OF Kansas City Royals
Four HRs – One SB – 13 RBI – 10 Runs Scored – .377 BA
Five HRs – 32 SO – 21 BB – .324 BA
Soler is an extremely gifted athlete who has struggled to make enough contact to maximize his above-average tools. It’s why he was available for trade from the Chicago Cubs and why he hasn’t been able to establish himself in Kansas City.
His current K/BB ratio is in line with his minor league numbers while being significantly better than what he has been able to sustain in his Major League opportunities. The 2018 power is sustainable while the batting average and the K/BB ratio are not. Soler’s physical gifts make him an intriguing player, but a drop in his contact rate and his approach suggest regression is on its way without stolen bases to minimize the damage. It’s likely that he won’t be a starter in most leagues once this Trend slows, but the talent is intriguing and warrants monitoring.
Wilmer Difo, 2B/3B/SS Washington Nationals
2018 Season Stats:
34 Games Played – 94 At-Bats – Two HRs – Two SBs – 12 RBI – 16 Runs Scored – .277 BA
I like the tools and hate the way the Nationals have blocked his path to opportunities. In three straight seasons he has appeared in fewer than 31 games in two of them and 124 games in 2017 because of injuries.
I think the Nationals hate Difo. They signed Howie Kendrick and Daniel Murphy and traded for Adam Eaton and Matt Adams, all with Difo in the vicinity of Major League at-bats at the time of the decisions. Somehow, the Nationals have managed to be injured enough to provide Difo at-bats, but that “luck” has to end. Own him in deeper leagues while the at-bats are there, but as the Nationals get healthy we are likely to see a drop-off in opportunities. If you own Difo start lobbying D.C. Free Wilmer!! Free Wilmer!!! Free Wilmer!!!! His tools have value in Dynasty formats.
Pitchers Who Are Noteworthy
Jon Gray, SP Colorado Rockies
20 Innings Pitched – One Earned Run – 25 Ks
Gray allowed 18 earned runs in 17.2 innings pitched over three starts in mid-April against the Nationals,Cubs and Padres. In his three most recent starts against those same Cubs and Padres as well as the Los Angeles Angels, he has been significantly better. As a Coors pitcher it’s reasonable to assume that home and road splits were a factor. They weren’t. When he stunk two were at home and one on the road, and when he was golden good, two were at home and one was on the road. As I pointed out, two of the three opponents were the same in both three game stretches.
I have always liked and been frustrated by Gray’s lack of performance and consistency. He has ace stuff at a “Coors Field” discount and has been better at home than on the road in his career. The Trend has been good. Ride it while you can, but monitor him because he has a history of inconsistency. When he is going bad it can be very, very bad. I suggest owners target him in trade. The price is always right and the upside is too intriguing to ignore.
Caleb Smith, SP Miami Marlins
2018 Season Stats:
34.1 IP – 48 SOs – 17 BBs – 3.67 ERA – 1.17 WHIP
38% Ownership in Yahoo! Leagues
Smith’s four-seamer has been significantly better in both Batting Average Against (.235 in 2018 vs. .355 in 2017) and strikeouts while his overall BB/9 (4.46 in 2018 vs. 4.82 in 2017) has remained more or less the same. When a pitcher is more dominant with less of a sample size at the Major League level than he was in the minors I become skeptical and that’s the case with Smith.
His pitch percentages are similar while his changeup and slider have been relatively as effective in 2018 as they were in 2017, so the only statistically Noteworthy change is the four-seam fastball and it’s effect on his strikeout rate. The data suggests that his approach hasn’t changed while his secondary pitches haven’t become more effective and he hasn’t developed a new pitch. His four-seamer has been better in a small sample. Ride the wave while the Trend is in your favor, but “Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled.” Regression is likely coming to Miami Beach and Mr. Smith.
Kyle Gibson, SP Minnesota Twins
2018 Season Stats:
38.2 IP – 44 SO – 18 BB – 3.49 ERA – 1.22 WHIP
24% Ownership in Yahoo! Leagues
Kyle Gibson’s slider has been filthy in 2018 and the improved strikeouts and lower ERA is a direct result. He is on pace to allow the fewest hits with the highest strikeouts of his career and it is all about the slider. The K% on Gibson’s slider has been between 30-40% for his career. In 2018, the K% was 68.4% compared to 39.3% in his best season, and a career average of 35.3%. Batters are hitting .056 against his slider in 2018 while they have averaged .212 over his career. His Batting Average on Balls In Play (BABIP) against the slider is significantly better (.200 vs a career average of .300) but that doesn’t explain the K%.
He is owned in only 24% of leagues even though he is on pace for more than 160 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.75. He needs to be owned in more leagues while the strikeouts are popping and the Twins are surging.
Walker Buehler, SP Los Angeles Dodgers
2017 Minors: 88.2 IP – 125 SO – 31 BB – 3.35 ERA
2017 Majors: 9.1 IP – 12 SO – Eight BB
2018 Majors: 16 IP – 19 SO – Seven BB
Buehler has the 95-plus velocity and swing-and-miss breaking balls necessary to be an impact Fantasy pitcher. His 2017 minor league strikeout rate suggests that his arsenal will play at the Major League level.
A binge of current injuries to the Dodgers rotation will provide full-time starts and justifies owning this top prospect. There is a chance the Dodgers transition him to the bullpen as his innings pitched increase, when the pitching staff gets healthy or if the team falls out of the playoff race. He had Tommy John Surgery after being drafted and hasn’t thrown more than 90 innings in a season as a professional. This doesn’t impact his value as a starter in Dynasty leagues or for the foreseeable future, but it is something to consider as the season goes along. He has the best stuff of any 2018 prospect who has been promoted as well as a clear path to opportunities.
Domingo German, SP New York Yankees
Career Minor League Stats:
452.2 IP – 443 SO – 134 BB – 2.54 ERA – 1.14 WHIP
Major League Stats:
34.2 IP – 45 SO – 18 BB
German has shown impressive strikeout ability as a Major Leaguer while his minor league numbers and prospect profile make me less bullish about his potential to be an impact Fantasy contributor.
German’s fastball doesn’t have elite velocity for a right-hander, while his breaking pitches aren’t overly impressive. At the Major League level the strikeouts have been better while the walk rate has been worse than his career norms.
The fact that the Yankees are going to win a lot of games and German has a chance to be a part of that every fifth day makes him worth owning, but his overall profile doesn’t justify releasing a productive pitcher to do it. “Don’t Be Fantasy Fooled.”
Dustin Fowler, OF Oakland Athletics
Career Minor League Stats:
1,820 ABs – 42 HR – 82 SBs – 34 Caught Stealings – .284 BA
Fowler has a higher floor than most multi-tool talents because of his ability to hit for average while his ceiling is lower because he isn’t the elite athlete that many five-tool players are. He will hit for power and steal meaningful bases, but he doesn’t have the explosive physical gifts to be a MVP calibre player.
He should be a .280, 15 home run, 15 stolen base Fantasy player with a potential slash line of .295/20 HR/20 SB in his peak years. He profiles as a solid, reliable Dynasty league contributor with a chance to start in deeper leagues in 2018. He won’t sway any one category in a heavy way but he will contribute value in all of them.
Matt Adams Featured Image: (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)