Fantasy Stock Watch: Nunez, Gregorius, Ozuna, Moore

Stanton’s home run derby feat was impressive. Man, imagine if he could do that in the regular season! That’s what everyone points to: his ridiculous power stroke! Yet in a year where he has a career low contact rate and a career high K%, you’re not going to see the 50 HR season people keep hoping for. The fact that he’s doing even worse when people are on base (38% strikeout rate, .207 BA) means he still won’t rack up the runs and RBIs, either. It’s another reminder that media hype like the derby champ or the All-Star MVP can inflate a player’s value in the short-term.

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Eduardo Nunez He’s gone from a backup role to a full-time load in 2016, and he’s beaten expectations all season. The speed was a given, and his higher batting average makes sense given he hits the ball on the ground and motors his way to first. However, the power output is a surprise. He’s hitting the ball in the air more often in 2016, which is giving him a chance for more homers. his HR/FB% is a bit above league average, but it’s not amazing, so don’t expect him to continue this pace and reach 20 home runs. Also, his average isn’t quite this good — he has had help in the BABIP department. Given his age, I’d be more likely to sell high than to actively target him in a trade.

Didi GregoriusAnother shortstop that we’d thought may be more productive in speed than power, yet Didi’s has a career high 11 homers this season. After a slow April, his overall game is back to his career norms except for power, where he has more than doubled his previous best HR/FB%. He’s a bit more pull-happy at home, where he can take advantage of the short porch, and his HR/FB ratio is above league average only at home, not away.

With that said, his overall game hasn’t changed that much in terms of plate discipline and batted ball profile. I wouldn’t credit the home run spike to simple growth (skill or muscle), and the metrics aren’t giving strong support for it to continue. It’s more likely he’s had a hot two months rather than developed a new approach and power stroke. He’s still useful while he plays full-time, but if a fantasy manager gives you the chance to sell high, then do so.

Hector SantiagoOne step forward in 2015, two steps back in 2016. I had hopes he could be reliable as a #4 or #5 SP, but two very ugly months this year have killed that chance. His value over the last two weeks is good because he didn’t give up any earned runs. In fact out of his last five starts, four have seen 1 earned run or fewer. That said, don’t fall for it and pick him up from the FA pool. His walk rate has risen every month this season, his swinging strike rate is down from the earlier months, and he currently has a career-high HR/FB% as a fly ball pitcher. He can maintain a low BABIP due to the fly balls, but he can’t keep the ball in the park, so there’s little hope for a major turnaround and an ERA under 4.00 moving forward – unless he gets extremely lucky.

Matt MooreAfter some lost seasons, he is staying healthy, and his two-week value is high. His season stats aren’t very appealing, but it was due to one bad month in May, where a few things went wrong (bad BABIP luck, loss of control, gopheritis). In fact, there’s reason for optimism moving forward. He has finally got his BB/9 under 3.0, and he has mostly kept his early career K/9 in place. His velocity and swinging strike rate are both a bit above last year, and though he may always battle a higher HR/FB ratio, he has the potential to be a nice value in the second half, especially if your league has oblivious owners who only look at YTD stats.





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Marcell OzunaAfter 2014, we hoped for more in 2015 but were a bit disappointed. Turns out he just needed another season to figure things out. His recent weeks have been more rocky, but there’s no real cause for concern. First, despite a poor batting average in July, he’s hitting a lot of line drives and is making hard contact. It’s more bad luck than it is a collapse after a hot first half. He found his 2014 HR/FB% and has also added more fly balls to his batted ball profile, which is why he’ll easily set a career best in home runs. The average may come back down to under .300, but he’s hitting the ball hard, and the increased home runs will keep the batting average respectable, so it seems the days of .260-.270 are behind him. Strongly invest in Ozuna moving forward, especially in keeper leagues.

Ben RevereThe speed entices us, but he can’t stay on the field, and he also hasn’t been performing well this season. Stolen bases are scarcer now than they used to be, but is he worth the headaches? Many owners are getting to the point where they’re ready to bail on Revere. Let them do so, and take advantage. He had a hamstring injury last season and was injured at the start of 2016. The oblique injury could certainly affect his swing, so at least there’ s an explanation behind the poor stats. His metrics and approach are still very much in line with his previous seasons, and he’s suffering from a very low BABIP this year. There’s a good chance he can repeat or better his June numbers (.274, 8 SB) in August and September to have a strong finish. Don’t abandon ship just yet.

A.J. Griffin He missed two seasons, and he has a fly ball tilt in a hitter-friendly home park, plus he wasn’t very good in his two July starts. But what about moving forward? Well, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. His K/9 is up from his breakout 2013, but so is his BB/9, and his velocity is down a full mile per hour from that season. He is managing a league average HR/FB% and strand rate, but again, given his home park it’s hard to expect continued success. He’s really not better than what he’s shown, so if you don’t expect any improvement you should be okay. He can be useful, but I wouldn’t activate him unless he has a two-start week (with at least one of them on the road).

Jeff LockeSomehow, he keeps getting shots at a full-time rotation gig. It’s more a testament to the Bucs lacking SP depth than Locke earning his place. For years, his walk and strikeout rates don’t hurt or help you (though K/9 is pretty bad in 2016). He has a ground ball tilt, but he also has a higher than average HR/FB%. His pitches don’t fool hitters, and he doesn’t have high velocity. His strand rate is inexplicably low given his decent walk rate and average BABIP; it doesn’t seem like the HR/FB% should account for all of it, unless he’s just really bad under pressure. You can’t expect anything better than his 2015’s ERA (4.49), and at this rate I wouldn’t be surprised if he takes another big step backward.

 

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Kevin Jebens
Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.
Kevin Jebens

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