Fantasy Baseball MLB

RISERS AND FALLERS

Scorecrow Staff | June 28, 2019

It is almost the half-way point through the 2019 MLB Season. Many household names remain at the top of the statistical leaderboards, while others have poked their heads up and surprised the baseball community. If it is a well known stud or a no name bud, you still have no idea how they are going to perform in the second half. Regardless, the Scorecrow MLB Baseball staff got together to give you our risers and fallers for the second half. If you have any questions or would like us to write about someone, please hit us up, as always, on Twitter:

RISERS: 

Todd Frazier, 3B NYM

Bruce Cagle Jr | @BruceCagleJr2 

Most of you will remember the power/speed threat that was Todd Frazier and many may dismiss him since he is not that young and not a Top 5 player of the month, but I think you may be losing out on some super cheap stats.

Frazier missed some time at the beginning of the year with an oblique injury and wasn’t performing very well at all when he came back. During his first month back from April 22nd through May 22nd, Todd Frazier would have tied in rank with JaCoby Jones at 159th overall with a 62 wRC+. During that span, Frazier put up an abysmal triple slash .211/.253/.352 with some plate discipline metrics that made you shudder: 33% strikeout rate and a 4% walk rate. Let’s note a couple of interesting positive underlying numbers: during that span, he only had a 6.5% soft contact and he was also pulling the ball at an incredible 60% clip.

Now, this is where it gets fun. Since that initial month of him being back, his wRC+ is 154. That’s right 154, that would rank 25th sandwiched right in between Tommy Pham (155) and All-Star, MVP candidate Cody Bellinger (154). Take a quick glance at three of the four last weeks and you’ll find Frazier is in the top 25 of wRC+. If you have paid any attention to Frazier over the last few years you would have noticed that his strikeout rate never went above 25% and his walks actually even went into double digits the last two seasons peaking at an impressive 14.4%. So there shouldn’t be a surprise that the prior month’s demonstrative plate discipline would even out. Did you think he would end up being one of 13 players that had a positive walk to strikeout ratio? Once again settling in front of Bellinger at 1.06, Fraizer ranks 10th. With that impressive improvement, we immediately witness wonders within his triple slash. Frazier joined the rare .300/.400/.500 club, admittedly it is easier to do within a month time frame, it’s still sexy at .300/.412/.527.

The big question is going to be, do we think he can keep the gains? I’m leaning with most of them. The only one I’m not buying fully is the batting average right now. I don’t think he will continue to hit at a .300 clip as he never has been able to hit above .275 before in his career. Let’s not forget he was a powerhouse for a nice four-year stretch where he mashed to the tune of 131 total home runs. He has bopped 18 in 115 games back in ‘18 and during this year he has already hit nine in a little over 200 plate appearances. I hate doing the simple extrapolating but if you did he would have a little under 30 bombs over a full 600 PA season for him. I noted a little earlier his prowess to pull the ball 60% in the first month back and it didn’t fall too far back during this last month. Coming in sixth overall among qualified hitters with 55.3%, I think this is where he is generating his power and powering his near career-high 120 wRC+ in 2019. With the potentially juiced balls, he could continue to hit for power especially as the weather heats up across America, I would be plenty happy with .240 and another 10-12 bombs.

Please see the leaders in pull percentage

Bryan Reynolds, OF PIT

Matt Bishop | @Bishphat

If you don’t know who Bryan Reynolds is or you are vaguely familiar with the name, you should really take a look for yourself. Since his callup on 04/20, he has been a huge find for both the Pirates and fantasy owners, slashing .354/.413/.552 (.965 OPS) with 6 HR 33 R 28 RBI and an incredible .406 wOBA and 154 wRC+. His slashline, along with wOBA and wRC+ numbers firmly put him in the Top 10 in baseball, while his counting stats are leave much to be desired. But when you dive into a recent sample size, it’s hard not to get excited:

SINCE MAY 15 (37 G, 150 PA):

.391/.455/.617 (1.072 OPS) with 5 HR 29 R 23 RBI

.448 wOBA 182 wRC+ 1.8 WAR .464 BABIP

But like anything in life, what are stats without context:

And while his BABIP is violently high and due for regression, his 48.6% hard contact rate ranks 21st in the majors in this span. His Statcast page is also bleeding red and he is in the Top 3% of the league in expected batting average (.312) and Top 4% of the league in wOBA (.413).

Buy, Hold, Add. Do whatever you can to get this guy on your team and ride the hot streak.

Nomar Mazara, OF TEX

Frank Ammirante | @FAmmiranteTFJ 

Nomar Mazara is a young player with emerging power. He hit exactly 20 HRs in each of his first three MLB seasons with only modest gains in ISO and SLG%, but this year he is really starting to show signs of improvement. Mazara has hit the ball harder, as his Barrel% has increased from 8.5% to 11.8%. His SLG% has improved from .436 to .474 – even better, his xSLG is .510, which indicates that his power results have not yet matched his actual performance. Mazara has particularly turned it on lately.

Since June 8th:

.321 AVG/.357 OBP/.623 SLG

11 R, 4 HR, 13 RBI, 1 SB

Despite this being his 4th season, Mazara is still only 24 years old. Listed at 6’4, 215 lbs., Mazara has the look of a slugger. He bats cleanup in a strong lineup and hitter’s park, so the best results are yet to come. I think that he will eclipse the 30 HR this season. Mazara is on the rise!

Dylan Bundy, SP BAL

Michael Simione | @SPStreamer 

I touched on Dylan Bundy in a previous article, but I will reiterate a little here as well. Bundy looks to be on the verge of a breakout. He started the year off with a bad 6.67 ERA in the month of March and April, but in May he posted a 2.64 ERA. What has changed is his pitch selection. He started to really showcase his slider and it has really been working. If you take out the bad first month of the year, Bundy has an above average K-BB% of 16.3, a FIP of 4.58, and an ERA of 4.02. This is all resulting from a bloated 5.68 ERA in June, in which he allowed 9 Earned Runs in his last 2 games. But before his last two starts, Bundy just rattled off an 8 game streak of 3 ER or less. If Bundy can continue this, he could start to rise in the rankings.

Max Kepler, OF MIN

Kody Clawson | @kodyclawson 

Max Kepler has taken quite the extreme approach to hitting this season. Owning the highest percentage of at bats with only one pitch, he also has the highest pull percentage as well as one of the highest fly ball percentage numbers in the league. This aggressive, pull-happy approach has led to a spike in power numbers that, combined with his patience outside of single pitch at-bats, has produced massive numbers for the lead off hitter of the best offense in the league. While I doubt he can sustain this level of production, I see him remaining a top-25 outfielder and top-60 hitter for the rest of the season, a fine return for a player that had a 216.7 ADP in NFBC drafts this year.

Jacoby Jones, OF DET

Marcos Mendoza | @MendozaM_12 

 Jones is someone fantasy owners should start looking into buying his stock. Since May 1st Jones is slashing .289/.352/.535 .887 OPS .245 ISO .386 wOBA 8 HRs with 45.5 Med Hit% and 43.6 Hard Hit%. For the season his statcast numbers are very intriguing. He has seen 876 pitches, has 140 batted balls and 15 barrels which is only two less barrels in 2018. Jones has an average Exit Velo of 91.8 MPH, and a 48.9 Hard Hit%. The 27 yr old OFer is quickly developing his bat and may be hidden on inept Detroit Tigers squad

FALLERS

Michael Chavis, 1B/2B/3B BOS

Bruce Cagle Jr | @BruceCagleJr2 

Sticking with the infield, I’m going to go from an aging vet to a young hyped free-swinging prospect in Micheal Chavis. I know he has shown so much promise in his short major league career and I’m not here to smash the guy, I’m just exploring an extremely concerning trend.

This starts when I take a look at the weekly wRC+ leaders and when he first got called up he tore the cover off the ball. He launched his way up waiver bids and depleted FAAB budget with an enormous 199 wRC+ his first week up. Erupting with three homers he landed 15th overall that week. Eagerly we waited for his second week in The Show and we weren’t disappointed. Chavis took advantage of all seven games and came in seventh on the week with another three smoldering shots. This is where it started to get shaky. 

Let’s take a look at his strikeout percentage during his first two weeks. Week one, he was at a solid 24%. Now in this day of baseball, we can get away with around 25% strikeout rate if the batter can provide sufficient power or speed. 25 plate appearances and three homers will work just fine with 24% K rate. Week two, however, Chavis’ increases his strikeout percent up to 28.1%. Yet again we will accept it because it came with another three home runs and 16 total run+rbi. This is where the slide starts.

Since those initial two scorching weeks, Chavis has possessed a strikeout rate over 30% four out of five weeks. Not only has he failed to crack the top 25 hitters based off of wRC+ in a week since then, but he has also only cracked the top 125 ONCE. This got me to dive into his statcast data a little more. I notice his expected batting average is dreadful, sitting at .226 which is almost 40 full points lower than his season average of .260. Now just think what happens when his silly high .366 BABIP comes down to earth, that .226 will become true. Since he hit so many home runs one would tend to think he hits the ball rather hard as well, unfortunately, that isn’t the case Sitting at 36.6% Hard Hit he isn’t even in the 50th percentile. Mix that in with the drop in power, 10 home runs in first 137 at-bats vs two home runs in the last 94 at-bats and the fact he could end up strictly a platoon player (.179/.232/.411 vs LHP) I’m officially worried.  

 

This is a Tweet I put out there to simply show the scary trend I noticed with Chavis. I love the power upside, the lineup he is in but the trends are just a little too scary for me right now. I’d be looking to move on.

Nicholas Castellanos, OF DET

Frank Ammirante | @FAmmiranteTFJ 

Nicholas Castellanos is struggling this season, with only 7 HRs in 70 games. Castellanos has never been a great power hitter (his career-high is 26 HR), but in today’s climate of power, 20-25 HR is not going to cut it if you don’t steal many bases (career-high of 4 SB). Castellanos is also not hitting the ball as hard as usual, as his Barrel% has declined from 11.2% to 8.3%. His SLG% is only .452, with a .461 xSLG, so it’s not like he’s really getting unlucky on batted balls. Simply put, this is a player who desperately needs a change in scenery to ignite his production. The rebuilding Tigers have the worst lineup in baseball, with Castellanos as the only feared hitter on the team. While there is definitely a possibility of a trade to a contending team, we can’t bank on this because Detroit might prefer to keep a hitter like Castellanos. Fantasy owners should look elsewhere for production in the outfield. Castellanos is falling!

Jose Ramirez, 3B CLE

Kody Clawson | @kodyclawson

Oh, how the mighty have fallen. Jose Ramirez was ranked as highly as number three overall for some coming into this season, and with good reason. The average-power-speed combo seemed too good to pass up, as his elite contact abilities combined with emerging power seemed to make him a force to he reckoned with. Now with a .204 batting average and just four home runs, owners are left wondering what went wrong. His contact skills, though in slight decline, are still there, and his fly ball rate, pull rate, and hard hit rate all seem to indicate the power is coming. It seems like just a matter of time before his funk is over and he becomes the Jose Ramirez we all know and love, though maybe just not at the super-elite level we had him at before.

Julio Teheran, SP ATL

Michael Simione | @SPStreamer 

 Julio Teheran has started his season off hot as he boasts and 3.94 ERA with an 7.98 K/9. That is pretty much where the positives end. His FIP of 4.54, xFIP of 5.21, and SIERA of 5.21 all show big time regression coming. He even has a wOBA of .309 and an xwOBA of .327 which shows even more regression. He doesn’t create a lot of swings and misses as he has an average O-Swing% and SwStr%. While he does have two decent pitches, I think Teheran will surely fall from grace

Nick Pivetta, SP PHI

Matt Bishop | @Bishphat

Highly coveted coming into draft season this year, Nick Pivetta was America’s Sweetheart and a Wide Awake Sleeper on everyone’s watch list. But things got bad real quick:

FIRST 4 STARTS:

After being demoted to the minors to work on this control, there was a glimmer of hope, throwing 15 innings of 1 Earned Run Ball with 15 Strikeouts. But the guiding light was 0 walks in those 2 starts. But in his last 3 starts, he has reverted to old ways:

LAST 3 STARTS:

 

He is actually worse in his last 3 starts then he was before being demoted. It’s hard to imagine a pitcher with these numbers figuring it out at the major league level, so Pivetta is a pass for me. I think you can cut him in just about every format. 

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