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Will Fantasy Baseball Big Names Turn it Around?

Will Fantasy Baseball Big Names Turn it Around?
Chris Mitchell May 31, 2018 8:52PM EDT

NoteWorthy Top-Tier Trends

Carlos Carrasco, SP Cleveland Indians … and …
2018 Season Stats:
72.1 Innings Pitched – 71 Ks – 3.98 ERA – 1.11 WHIP
30-Day Snapshot:
34.1 Innings Pitched – 39 Ks – 4.98 ERA – 1.28 WHIP

Chris Archer, SP Tampa Bay Rays
2018 Season Stats:
71.1 IP – 70 Ks – 4.29 ERA – 1.30 WHIP
30-Day Snapshot:
38.2 IP – 34 Ks – 2.33 ERA – 1.06 WHIP

I drafted offense, offense and more offense before drawing the line at Chris Archer and Carlos Carrasco as my first starting pitchers selected. They were where my tier ended. I felt like they provided the kind of top-tier strikeouts and above average ratios that made them a much better value than slightly better elite pitchers at better draft-day costs. I am not willing to admit that strategy was wrong yet, but these two specifically haven’t been as good as I projected them to be.

These two appear to be going in opposite directions at the moment. Carrasco’s season WHIP suggests that he has pitched better than his ERA shows, while it suggests he has been pitching worse recently. Archer is the opposite. His season-long ERA and WHIP are well below career norms, while he has pitched much better recently. Both have good strikeout totals and K/9 ratios, but neither have been as good as they can be, and that is the most disappointing trend so far.

Ratios can fluctuate over relatively small sample sizes, but dominance should always be dominant, and these two haven’t pitched to their traditional levels in strikeouts. There isn’t a strong trend that warrants buying or selling at this point, but the lack of their typically dominant strikeout totals suggests that 2018 may be a down year for these two low-end aces. Next year they should be draft-day values.

Lance McCullers, SP Houston Astros
2018 Season Stats:
63.1 IP – 68 Ks – 3.98 ERA – 1.18 WHIP
30-Day Snapshot:
29.1 IP – 24 Ks – 4.30 ERA – 1.16 WHIP

McCullers WHIP suggests that he has been somewhat unlucky, both recently and for the year. His K/9 is in line with career norms, and while his ERA and K/9 has been slightly worse recently, it’s too small to suggest it’s a trend. I avoid owning shares in McCullers because of his track record of injuries, but the numbers suggest that he is in line for better days ahead. My one concern, and it is a minor one right now, is that his 30-day Snapshot could be a sign that he is pitching at less than 100 percent, and the data is an early indicator. I had the same sense with Noah Syndergaard a few weeks ago under similar circumstances. McCullers is a slight, cautious buy-low right now.

Joey Votto, 1B Cincinnati Reds
30-Day Snapshot:
Two Home Runs – Zero Stolen Bases – 10 RBI – 17 Runs Scored – .320 Batting Average

Batting average is not an easy thing to find in today’s game and at the very least, Joey Votto is providing that. However, two home runs in a month and six for the season has to be one of the more disappointing Top 25 selections of 2018’s draft. The combination of a limited return in trade and his top-tier contributions in batting average have me recommending you hold on to Votto rather than sell low. However, if you feel the need to improve your team by selling, he is a sunk cost at this point and owners are justified in exploring it. Owners that don’t have shares in Votto, I would be asking how cheap his price tag is. The batting average is definitely going to be there, and there is upside to be found in future home runs. I am buying if other owners are selling.

NoteWorthy

Aaron Sanchez, SP Toronto Blue Jays
2018 Season Stats:
34 walks – 42 Ks – 50 Hits allowed – 55.3 Innings Pitched – 4.07 ERA – 1.52 WHIP

When Sanchez was drafted, he had an above average arm, a knockout curveball and command issues. Throughout his development, the Blue Jays organization tried a variety of mechanical tweaks to improve his command. Now, the “stuff” doesn’t resemble the pitcher they drafted, the arsenal plays below average and he still can’t throw strikes.

I don’t see Sanchez as anything but a below average Fantasy pitcher at this point and less going forward. If he isn’t going to strike out batters and he can’t stop walking them, where is the likelihood he can provide viable ratios? I can handle poor command when it’s coupled with nasty stuff and impact strikeouts, like Alex Reyes and James Paxton, but soft peripherals and bad command? #Faghettaboutit.

Lucas Giolito, SP Chicago White Sox
Season Stats:
47 Hits Allowed – 37 BBs – 27 Ks

Speculation about his struggles as a top prospect were focused on poor spin rate. When a pitcher walks more batters than they strike out, a poor spin rate becomes the issue they look back on with yearning and a wish that was their problem now. I was not as willing as some to give up on him after the Washington Nationals did and I liked Giolito as a late round draft pick, but the issues are looking immense right now.

Jesus Aguilar, 1B Milwaukee Brewers
30-Day Snapshot:
92 At-bats – Eight HRs – 22 RBI – 18 Runs Scored – .272 BA

Aguilar is on an unconventional run of NoteWorthy success. He has done the majority of his season’s damage in the last two weeks and oddly enough, as a right-handed hitter, against right-handed pitching. He has nine home runs on the season, seven of them against right-handed pitchers. Eric Thames is also a first baseman, is also much better against right-handed pitching and is due back in 2-3 weeks from a thumb-injury. Owners should ride Aguilar while it lasts, but don’t invest with hopes of him being viable for the remainder of the season because regular at-bats are unlikely.

Daniel Mengden, SP Oakland Athletics
30-Day Snapshot:
33.2 IP – 19 Ks – 1.07 ERA – .68 WHIP
68% Owned in Yahoo! Leagues

It’s difficult to tout a pitcher with 19 strikeouts in 33.2 innings pitched, but if the ratios are that good, you have to start them while it lasts. Mengden is pitching well enough to be more than a streaming option until he slumps or when the matchups go against him. Sit him against the beasts and start him against the rest. Whatever you do, own him. A 68 percent ownership is an overlook by owners. That’s why I write him up here, he is very much NoteWorthy.

Scooter Gennett, 2B Cincinnati Reds
30-Day Snapshot:
10 HRs – 38 RBI – 28 Runs Scored – .343 BA

Over the last three weeks, Gennett is tied for the league lead in home runs and runs scored while ranking first in RBIs over the last three weeks. I entered draft season selling on Gennett, but he is repeating his 2017 breakout campaign when he hit 27 home runs and batted .295.

It’s still one breakout season and 55 games of another, but at this point owners have to give Gennett the benefit of the doubt. That means for owners looking to upgrade second base with power or batting average, Gennett is a reliable trade target.

Rookie Lookie

Austin Meadows, OF Pittsburgh Pirates

2018 Minor League Stats:
32 Games Played – One HR – Eight SB – .294 BA
2018 MLB Season Stats:
12 Games Played – Four HRs – Three SB – .419 BA

Meadows was touted as a top prospect for years in spite of his inability to follow through on the hype. It’s an extremely small major league sample size, and he wasn’t exactly tearing it up at the minor league level, but for now, he is shining bright.

He has a career .292 batting average, but he has never hit more than 12 home runs in a season and he did that only once. He can steal the occasional base, but he doesn’t profile to be an impact player at that category either. I like Dustin Fowler of the Oakland Athletics because he does a little of everything well and at his best, that’s what Austin Meadows has a chance to be. The fact that he makes consistent contact and has above average overall tools provides Meadows with a nice floor, but like Fowler, there isn’t an overly high ceiling either.

In yearly leagues, he is worth monitoring without demanding a claim, while in Dynasty formats owners should be selling high if there is an appetite for him by another owner. If you can convince an owner who was once one of those Meadows believers, maybe they will exchange something of value now.

Franmil Reyes, OF San Diego Padres
2018 Minor League Stats:
36 Games played – 14 HRs – 38 RBI – .346 BA – .442 OBP
2018 MLB Stats:
13 Games played – Four HRs – Six RBI – .200 BA – .256 OBP

The strikeouts are high and the batting average can be a problem, but Reyes’ power has consistently developed in a way that suggests it’s for real. The question is how high his ceiling can go in regards to his power. A bad batting average and no stolen bases means it’s home run or bust. He has the raw power to be a 35 home run masher, and it looks like he is rounding into being that kind of player.

In yearly leagues, Reyes is a monitor rather than a claim. He has prodigious power at his best, but contact is an issue and the Padres lineup is an extremely crowded place to find at-bats. In Dynasty leagues, owners shouldn’t overpay if his recent snapshot of performance generates that kind of demand, but if he is reasonably priced, trust what you’re currently seeing. The power is real and he still has more to come. He profiles like a Khris Davis type of player.

J.D. Davis, 1B Houston Astros
2018 Minor League Stats:
33 Games played – Four HRs – 36 RBI – .415 BA
2018 MLB Stats:
13 Games played – One HR – Four RBI – .229 BA

Davis has a career minor league batting average of .291, which is good. But he has done it as one of the older players at every level he played and that’s not so good. As a 25-year-old prospect, he shows the maturity that you expect, which diminishes how impressive his performance might be and so far, it hasn’t been overly impressive anyway.

As a first baseman, he has a high bar to clear to be worth a roster spot, and I don’t see him clearing it. Owners can expect a platoon if the Astros roster stays as currently constituted, but as we extend deeper into the season I expect a trade to upgrade the position to prepare for the playoffs. However you slice it, regardless of the format or league, I am not endorsing Davis going forward. He has the overall profile to be viable, but he needs to be in line for at-bats with an organization that will provide him full time, uncontested opportunities and Houston isn’t that place for the foreseeable future. I endorse Matt Chapman of the Oakland A’s because he is a plus defensive third baseman, while Davis looks to be more like a pedestrian first baseman. I can see a Mitch Moreland type of career if he receives enough opportunities to reach that.

Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Alex Gallardo

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