Fantasy Stock Watch: Kepler, Pence, Schoop, Bundy

I’ve gotta say, it’s sad to see Prince Fielder’s career come to end. The days of big power are over, and though there will always be a handful of guys who hit 30 home runs, Fielder’s peak was fun to watch — and it was more fun to have him on your roster. The same goes for A-Rod, and though his HOF legacy is tainted with steroids, his best years were still amazing, even when compared to the depth of elite hitters during the 2000s.

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Max Kepler A three-homer game will lead to adds in fantasy leagues. He’s been touted for a bit, and his power and speed warrant attention in fantasy formats. There’s not much to complain about in his metrics and skills. His HR/FB% may fall a little over a full season, but it’ll still be well above average. He makes at least decent contact and takes walks, and has the ability to reach 10+ stolen bases in a year. If you were lucky enough to grab him from the FA pool, hold onto him, especially in keeper formats.

Brad Miller He struggled to be consistent and lost playing time in Seattle. After going to Tampa this offseason, he’s reached the 20 HR plateau most of us were expecting in 2015. After a homer barrage in July, he’s hitting over .300 in August, continuing his hot streak. It’s a little hard to expect his new home run rate to keep up beyond this year, as he went from three years of a 10% HR/FB ratio to 20% in 2016. That said, he’s only 26 and is still developing, and a new team and staff may have helped him figure things out. Only five of his homers are considered Just Enough by ESPN’s Home Run Tracker. The power is legit. Now all fantasy managers have to hope for is that he can avoid a strict platoon, and given that he’s been better against lefties this season, there’s strong hope for the future. He adds a little speed, so in 2017 I wouldn’t be surprised if he went 25/15. He’s worth investing in.

Dylan Bundy Remember the days when he was a top-5 prospect and was going to take the major league by storm? Well, injuries derailed that plan, but he’s getting back to relevance. After being effective in the bullpen, the Orioles put him in the rotation, and he’s been at least solid in four out of five starts. His K/9 has ratcheted up every month, and his swinging strike rate supports it. A solid BB/9 means he’ll keep helping in the ERA and WHIP department, even if his strand rate comes down a little. I’ll happily use him in redrafts for the end of 2016, and if you can still get him for keeper leagues, make your move right now. We may finally be seeing the ace that he was meant to be.

Tom Koehler – Thirteen strikeout in as many innings sure warrants notice. However, everyone knows the cautionary tale of the small sample size, and his season numbers aren’t anything special. In fact he’s been remarkably unremarkable for his entire major league career; perhaps useable when you’re suffering from numerous injuries, but never someone worth holding onto for the entire season. He’s managed to improve his walk rate in the second half of 2016, but that’s not the only reason his BABIP is shiny — there’s also BABIP luck helping him out. The Marlins may use him for their playoff push, but you should steer clear and sell high if there’s still time. Otherwise, keep a short hook on him and look for better options as soon as he struggles.

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Jonathan SchoopHe was a nice middle or late round pickup in the drafts this year, and he’s lived up to expectations. However, his August struggles may make some managers wary. The power outage is a bit annoying, but overall his game is still pretty solid. In fact, his LD% and hard hit rate for the month are some of his best this year. The hit balls simply aren’t falling, and due to more liners, his chances for home runs has gone down. The one red flag is that his infield fly ball rate has skyrocketed, but I’m willing to give him a mulligan. Look for 25+ home runs on the year, as well as his decent average. The Orioles should continue to score runs, so his R and RBI numbers will get going again. Don’t sell low here.

Hunter Pence He’s been hurt for a long time, and then he fouls a ball off his face. Oh, yeah, and he’s been pretty bad for the last two weeks, hitting under the Mendoza line with just one run batted in. It’s looking like a bit of a lost season for Pence (his second consecutive), and though the Giants are in the playoff mix, I wonder whether his playing time may get cut a little — either to give him time to recover and improve, or because they’ve done pretty well without him and want to spread around the at bats. His overall skills and approach haven’t changed, so he may get back on track in August and September, and I wouldn’t sell for cents on the dollar in keeper formats. Just keep a backup OF on your bench, like you’ve had to do all season due to his injury.

Archie Bradley – I’ll admit to using Bradley due to his high strikeouts with the hope that he’d take the next step. He did do pretty well in June and July. However, his August is ugly so far, and I don’t know how much of a leash he’ll get moving forward. As it stands, he almost never gives you more than 6 innings anyway, and despite a K/9 approaching 9.0, his walk rate prevents him from being truly helpful. A higher HR/FB ratop in 2016 doesn’t help his cause, either. That said, he’s made improvements from 2015, so deep keeper leagues may want to consider buying low with the reminder that he was once highly touted, and he does have a decent strikeout ability.

Tyler DuffeyThe good news is that he managed two wins over the last 14 days, as well as 14 K over 13.1 innings. The bad news is that his ERA and WHIP are horrendous during that stretch. As for the season, the good news is that he improved his K/BB% and lowered his FB%. However, his LD% is up, and he has some gopheritis (19% HR/FB). As such, he’s deserving of his bad ERA and WHIP, and the seemingly high BABIP and low strand rate are not just luck by the result of his approach. The 2015 numbers were attractive and led to speculation, and he has some future potential, but he’s not worth using in redraft, and for keeper leagues I’d only bother if it was AL-only or very deep.


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Kevin Jebens

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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.