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).

Monday, June 4, 2018

June Fantasy Tips: Bullpen Helper - Three Guns to Holster

If you don't have your full complement of seven closers, fear not, dearest and most resilient Fantasy Baseball Genius.  Here are three arms most likely to be available (and dominant) in your league.

You are welcome, my friend.

Kyle Barraclough (RHP) Marlins - 10.5% ESPN Leagues

Armed a big fastball he can run up to 98, and two plus off-speed offerings, King B looks like he's finally putting it all together for a wretched Marlins team this year.  1.48 ERA with a 0.95 WHIP regardless of the standings looks like dominance.  Odds are this guy is closing if not within the next few weeks then by the trading deadline at the latest.  A strong 25.3% Strikeout Rate means points regardless.

Worth rostering if you are running a closer short.  Worth keeping an eye on should he win the closer's role in Miami, regardless. Potential to a post top 5 closer points.

Seranthony Dominguez (RHP) Phillies - 7.8% ESPN Leagues

Philles manager Gabe Kaplar made a trip to Double A to see this guy and for good reason.  The 98, 99 mph fastball and a 92 mph frisbee slider thingie are un-hittable.  Factor in the obvious; Hector Neris has been god-awful for almost two full seasons now, and despite Kap's new agey-ness in regards to the bullpen, it's almost always smartest to save your best arm for the last three or four outs.  Dominguez will get his shot, and has the potential be a top 10 closer for a contenting team. Worth rostering right now.

A.J. Minter (LHP) Braves - 8.3% ESPN Leagues

A left-hander who touches 102, and throws a plus, plus slider-cutter at 92, it's not surprising that  Minter has drawn comparisons to Billy Wagner.  The comparisons aren't completely off base as Minter's two-pitch mix was dominant in the minors and has him posting a healthy 21.4% Strikeout Rate in the Show.  There's a few flies in the ointment however, which make Minter worth watching but not necessarily rostering.

Number One, the most obvious is that Minter is pitching for a playoff team and they already have a really really good closer.  Number Two, Minter's stats aren't completely overwhelming.  The strikeout rate is decent, but not great, especially considering a 5.2 BB/9, a 3.57 ERA and 1.68 WHIP.  Without the saves, Minter could very well play as a liability.

That said, Minter has the stuff to not only close, but dominate, is second in line and Arodys Vizcaino does have a history of getting hurt, so keep on eye on this guy.