Monday, August 27, 2018

August Fantasy Tips: Stretch Run Stars

Ok, fantasy baseballers, the Phils have fallen into what may be a season ending slump - literally.  Post-season feels more and more a like another Odubel Herrera at bat, an excruciatingly cruel joke, but you, you fantasy baseball god are at the top of your division, heck, League!

Time to bring home the bacon baby.  The Phorum offers you 3 solid options to plug up those pesky lineup holes you may have heading down the stretch.

Billy McKinney (OF) Toronto Blue Jays - 2.2% ESPN Leagues

Last 7/Ave: 25/4.2
Last 7 AllPlayers Rank: 15th
Last 7/OF Rank: 8th

McKinney might be the player with the most upside on this list.  A first round pick (24th overall) the scouts lauded as the best high school bat in the draft, and a kid with plus baseball instincts and then a long time "big-time" prospect, McKinney is still not a sure thing.  He had an up and down minor league career and was prone to streaks.  Still, a guy who Aaron Boone said puts great at bats together one after the other one, has at times flashed an intriguing combination of power, speed and plate discipline.  Playing time may be an issue in an already crowded Jays outfield, but if McKinney keeps hitting the way he is (.333 with 4 dongs in his first 11), it's the Toronto Blue Jays, they're roster building for like 2022.  Perform and playing time shouldn't be a problem. 

Check this out, McKinney is 23 years old and has been traded 3 times.  We think he plays like a guy who has something to prove and then proves it. In your face naysayers and people who say stuff that's dumb about baseball players even though they have no idea what they're talking about cause they're stupid. Ha-ha! In yo face, bee-yotch! Yeah.  This guy plays like that. 

Ji-Man Choi (1B, DH) Tampa Bay Rays - 0.3%

Last 7/Ave: 20/3.3
Last 7 AllPlayers Rank: 36th
Last 7 1B Rank: 7th

Choi is a bit like last month's Astudio pick - probably not going to put up the numbers we think he should (because of playing time issues not AWESOMENESS issues), but we love him and keep rooting for him because he's a bit of an outlier.  Namely, his strikeout and walk rates as he made his way through the minors are indicative of an elite bat to ball skill-set. 

That the power has never really materialized for a guy his size - 6'1 235, and that this 'prospect' is 27 do not, to us, indicate the usual negative prognostications about Choi maybe doing something else with his life, but rather these things to us, just mean this dude is due.  The 15 homers over an 88 game stretch in 2017 with the Yankees Triple A team.  Overdue. 

Not to mention, this could also be another guy who might play with an edge.  Been traded four times.  27 years old and all that noise, and now, finally, baseball justice.  Right, because, c'mon, Tampa Bay is a Weird smallmarket Baseball bizzaro world.  Some people think the "Shift" started there, I mean, its a place where catchers pitch and closers start games.  This year the team is managed by a guy named Cash.  Weird baseball ironies, right?  Maybe not so weird after all, and maybe Choi finds some playing time, then, presto, told-ya-it-was-gonna-happen here-o, finds that power stroke too. 

Phillp Ervin (OF) Cincinnati Reds - 4.6% ESPN Leagues

Last 7/Ave: 22/3.1
Last 7 AllPlayers Rank: 24th
Last 7 OF Rank: 14th

Ervin isn't quite as interesting as either Choi or McKinney, but he may be the one who is ultimately the most productive.  A 26 year old semi-fringey prospect fighting for a roster spot on a really bad obviously rebuilding Reds team, you may be asking.  Whoopdeefriggindoo! you might be whispering under your breath.  Or saying out loud. 

Well, heck, yeah, we say.  And also, quit mumbling, we say, you look like a troll.  We say, Ervin has the look of a guy in the middle of a career/break-out season.  Prior to being called up he'd hit 4 home-runs in his last 10 games and was pushing an OPS north of .950. Plus there's like literally no one left to play outfield for the Reds other than Billy Hamilton and while Hamilton is really really fast, he probably can't actually cover the entire outfield, so here we have Phillip Ervin. 

He's batting out of the 2-hole.  Go Reds!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

July Fantasy Tips: The Three Available Bats Most likely to go Muncy

In what has been the one of the weirdest seasons I've ever seen, we're sticking to our roster design guns, namely, seeking value in the margins.  Guys who don't strikeout a lot and/or guys with an almost 1:1 SO/BB ratio.

While most of the rookies who have impact bats are already established and rostered, there are a few youngsters just starting to click  and mid-level guys with retooled swings out there floating the waiver wire.

Jesse Winker (OF) Reds - 10% ESPN Leagues

Last 30/Average: 83/3.3
Last 30 AllPlayers Rank: 24th
Last 30 PositonOF Rank: 8th

Winker had a solid debut in 2017, starting hot, then cooling off and then picking it up again the final few weeks of the season.  A 15:24 Walk/Strikeout Ratio plus 7 home-runs in 124 Plate Appearances put Winker on our fantasy radar for 2018.  However, an absolutely horrendous start and spotty playing time seem to have diminished Winker's 2018 shine in considerably, probably the reason why so many leagues still have this guy available.  In the past six weeks, however, the left-handed outfielder has found both a full time role and his power stroke, peaking with 53 points in the past 15 games.

We think this most recent power outburst is the real thing, and an outstanding 43:40 Walk to Strikeout Ratio for the season points to a solid 10-12 points-a-week floor, the recent burst evidence of 35+ point potential.

Willians Astudillo (C) Twins - 1.6% ESPN Leagues

A horribly gone wrong season for the poor ol' Twinkies has opened up playing time for a guy with one of the most interesting skill-sets in recent memory.  Simply, Astudillo (who played in the Phillies minor league system by the by) almost never strikes out.  Over 8 minor league season, Astudio has a 3.2% Strikeout Rate.  The knock on Astudillo has been that he doesn't hit for power (or walk).

Well, in a year of obvious evolution, something seems to have clicked , and while it may be unreasonable to expect the walks to come for a guy with elite contact skills, a .517 slugging mark over the past two seasons in Triple A may be evidence of a swing plane break-through and makes sense in the year of Max Muncy and Nick Markakis.

So, player doesn't strikeout - check - player who hits for power - check.  You can see the 10-12 point a week baseline.  There's potential for maybe a 25 point ceiling.  The real value here is that not only does Astudillo play catcher (which is really, really valuable), but he plays all over the diamond with the exception of maybe shortstop.  Why is this important, you ask, well, in a league where teams increasing  lean on a catching battery of two, Astudillo with his positional flexibility (as the writing of this article, Astudillo had played all three outfield spots, as well as 2B and 3B) looks to get five to six starts a week.

Yohan Carmago (SS, 3B) Braves - 11.2% ESPN Leagues

Last 30/Ave: 67/2.8
Last 30 AllPlayers Rank: 60th
Last 30 SSPlayers Rank: 12th
Last 30 3BPlayers Rank: 16th

Carmago had that baller spring, if you remember, and was being spoken of in the same hushed breath as uber-prospects Ozzie Albies, and Ronald Acuna.  Baseball is a fickle mistress however, and while Carmago started the season on the DL, Ryan Freakin' Flaherty came out of nowhere and hit like .600 for the first month while Carmago came back and scuffled (through May 31st, Carmago was only hitting .221 with 4 home-runs).  The buzz on Carmago died down and Ryan Flaherty came back to earth and the Braves tried out an over the hill Jose Bautista, which failed pretty miserably and then, Carmago started hitting again.  (.294 with another 4 home-runs since June 1st).

While Carmago strikes out a little more than we prefer, he did run a .374 On Base those first few rough months, and has continued to walk at a solid .350+ rate.  Playing alongside the re-invented re-invigorated Nick Markakis, the ever stalwart Freddie Freeman as well as Acuna and Albies, Carmago is in a pretty sweet spot and looks poised to continue his breakout season.

I don't see Carmago with as high a ceiling as Winker, but 30+ points is reasonable, and we've already witnessed the 10-12 point floor (April-May).