Picking up the Broken Pieces

Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening – whichever is applicable to you. Having been married to my wife for over a decade, I have become accustomed to the emotional peaks and valleys life presents a person. My wife is a redhead, and I can assure you that she embodies every stereotype associated with a redheaded temper. Her resolve is definitive, and she will stomp, scream, and swear until you understand it. I have been both the subject matter and support staff of the majority of these blowups the last decade plus. Regardless of which role I’m playing, my job is to be understanding of her situation and attempt to improve it moving forward. My personality is tailored to this role, and is a big reason we mesh so well.

My wife isn’t the only passenger on the roller coaster of emotions. The Corleone’s had Sonny, the Smurfs had Grumpy, and your fantasy league is filled with hothead owners whose threshold for tolerance is set on Low. The Waiver Wire/Free Agent pool is a Pay Lake, supplied and stocked by short-fused individuals who may occasionally overlook long-term potential. They are so focused on the bottom line statistics (AVG, HR. Runs, RBI, etc.) they fail to recognize the underlying numbers that may show growth potential (K%, BB%, BABIP, etc.).

With this hot-button ownership in mind, I took the liberty of forecasting what your Waiver Wire may look like in the very near future. I focused on players in the 50-70 % (Based on Yahoo!) ownership levels who have struggled of late. Of these players, I focused in on those whose underlying numbers suggest better things are right around the corner.



San Francisco Giants LogoMatt Duffy – 61% ownership

Duffy has struggled all season, posting a .237 AVG with 2 home runs, 11 RBIs and 20 runs scored. Aside from his five stolen bases as a third baseman, Duffy has provided nothing to the legions of investors who thought they were getting a sneaky Top-10 guy for third base. The all-around production most thought they would be getting just hasn’t been there. Over the last 14 days he’s posted a .152 AVG with 4 runs and 2 steals. While the results have been poor, there are many signs to suggest 2016 will not be a lost season.

His BB% has increased (4.9% to 7.1%), and his K% has decreased (15.7% to 12%). Overall his plate discipline has improved; he’s swinging less (45.9% to 43.8%) and making more Contact (83.5% to 86.8%). If a negative can be found it would be in his Batted Ball profile: the Soft Contact has increased (14.8% to 18.9%) and his Hard Contact has decreased (28.5% to 25.7%). While this can be problematic for some hitters, I feel the impact is diminished when it comes to players with such a high GB/FB ratio.  By season’s end I see Duffy’s .260 BABIP being closer to his .320 career mark. With that will come an increase in batting average and the end result will be the .275 hitter with double-digit home run and stolen base totals batting in the middle of what should be a better than league-average lineup.

Cincinnati Reds LogoBilly Hamilton – 56% ownership

While Hamilton’s ownership continues to fall, his overall level of play hasn’t been terrible. If you would have guaranteed prospective owners that Hamilton would be hitting .241 in late May,  my guess is his draft stock would have been higher. Most worried Hamilton would be a real danger to even hit .200. The problem with Hamilton has been his lack of steals. While his eight are tied for 6th, they come with an OBP of .281. To put it in perspective, in his first 36 games last season he had 17 stolen bases with a .261 OBP. Over the last 14 days Hamilton has hit .323, but his stolen base total was just one.

With the empty production all around, owners are looking at Hamilton’s lack of steals and are in full panic mode. Hamilton’s Plate Discipline is around career norms; the big gain is in Batted Ball profile as Hamilton has finally embraced hitting the ball on the ground. His 2.41 GB/FB rate is nearly double his career mark of 1.21. So while his BABIP of .291 is a near match to his career .290, there is reason to suggest an improvement could be made in this area. With a success rate of 80% and improved OBP, I’m inclined to believe Hamilton’s lack of stolen bases have been a matter of situation rather than change of skill. Moving forward I see Hamilton as the SB source draft day owners expected with perhaps a higher AVG to pair with it.

Houston Astros LogoColby Rasmus – 53% ownership

Over the first month of the season Rasmus found himself as one of the most added players in fantasy. At 29 years old it looked as though all that prospect potential was finally coming through.  May hasn’t been as kind to Rasmus. His average for the month is .211; his OPS a lowly .562. Naturally owners have reacted to May accordingly and Rasmus can either be found on your wire or is in final roster decisions with every F/A add.  Despite the recent struggles I’m still a believer Rasmus can be a fantasy asset in 2016.

Both his soft contact (13.1% to 16.6%) and hard contact (37.4 to 35.5%) are improvements over his career norm. He’s swinging at fewer pitches (43.6% to 46.6%) than in the past, and his SwStr% of 12.9 is an improvement over his last two seasons in Houston.  Given the hit profile it’s reasonable to expect the current BABIP of .273 should return closer to his career mark of .297. That alone could get his current .238 batting average into the .250 range. Much like Duffy, it’s also reasonable to suggest the supporting cast around him should improve. Should that be the case, you’re looking at a middle of the order hitter with the supporting numbers to go with a 20 plus HR profile that is already present.



New York Mets LogoDavid Wright – 51% ownership

It has been a miserable return for Mr. Met this season. A .223 average with 4 home runs, 9 RBIs, 15 runs scored and 3 stolen bases is where his stat line now stands after a recent 14 day stretch with a .125 average and one RBI.  Most underlying skills suggest better days are ahead.

His 17.1% BB rate is a career high. His 37.5 % Swing rate is well below his career mark of 44.1%. The underlying skill sets aren’t without flaws.  His K% of 33.8 is 15% higher than his career rate and 13.1% higher than last season. His contact rate of 66.4% is 14.5 % below his career mark and 13.5% below his mark from last season. If these were simply a track record of a declining skill set the K and contact issues would be jump ship type problems. In general a one year rise/fall to this magnitude always suggests injury or a lengthy absence to me.

That description would fit Wright as he played in only 38 games last season. For me it’s completely reasonable to suggest the K and Contact concerns will at the least greatly improve closer to his career marks over time. Despite the contact concerns he has still managed to make really solid contact. His soft hit rate of 8.5 is the 2nd lowest in baseball; his hard hit rate of 46.5 is good for second best. Sure, the small sample size has a lot to do with that, but if even the smallest gains can be found once the contact rates stabilize, it should still be deemed a positive skills growth. Wright will not be a six game per week player which hurts his value in shallow leagues, but in daily formats and leagues beyond 10 Teams, you could do worse at your CI or UTIL option.

* * * * *

My wife’s passion for life breeds her explosive reactions when things don’t go as expected. Fantasy owners are no different. Aside from a solid April from Colby Rasmus, this group has provided ownership with plenty of empty nights. It’s simply a matter of time before these players’ owners reach their boiling point. All the while the underlying skills suggest it’s only a matter of time before the draft day value begins to surface. I embrace being the calming force in my marriage. I listen, look at what needs to change and how to change it, evaluate where it went wrong, and how to improve things moving forward. You can be well served taking this same approach when dealing with your fantasy roster. More often than not patience will be rewarded, better it to be yours than the opposition.

 

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Josh Coleman
Father of four SP1 children. Replacement level husband to a top tier wife. I love my family, value my friendships, and spend as much time as possible (too much according to the aforementioned Mrs. Coleman) dedicated to the pursuit, of another Fantasy Championship. I'm the oddball at the bar who prefers Fantasy Baseball to Fantasy Football.
Josh Coleman

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