Fantasy Stock Watch: Tomas, Molina, Miranda

Stock Up logoAndrelton Simmons An awful first half turned off most owners, but he’s been at least fair every month in the second half, and September is his best month in terms of power and speed. Let’s face it: he’s never going to put up impressive numbers in any one category. But his defense will keep him in the lineup, and he’s capable of producing with an average that won’t hurt you. Playing for the Angels should get him a fair number of runs and RBIs. If his second half stats don’t fade much from a slightly high BABIP (and I’m betting they won’t), then he could flirt with a .290, 10 HR, 10 SB season. That has value in leagues with an MI slot. Maybe he’s not keeper worthy, but I’d happily gamble on him in next years draft.

Yasmany Tomas You can’t call his season a disappointment when he’s sitting at 29 home runs at the time of this writing. After a power surge in August (10 HR), he’s only hit two homers this month, but his average is .338, and his hard hit rate is still well above average. The hard hits plus a 31% line drive rate are supporting his inflated BABIP, and though it’s not sustainable, he’s established himself as a reliable .270 hitter for a full season. He doesn’t walk much, but the power is legit, and if he ever manages to convert a few more grounders into fly balls, you’re looking at a potential 40 HR season. Redraft leagues should keep him high on their OF rankings for 2017, and I like him a lot as a keeper in any format.

Ariel Miranda August and September is the time of year for players you’ve never heard of, and that’s especially true for young starters getting their cups of coffee. Miranda’s made eight starts so far, and his September numbers are very solid (2.16 ERA, 0.88 WHIP). However, there’s cause for concern if you’re looking for long-term value. First, he’s extremely lucky in BABIP and strand rate for September, so this level of production isn’t sustainable. He has improved his BB/9 from August to September, but it’s only 2.9, which is fine but not great. He’s not a strikeout guy, even though his K/9 rose from last month as well. And his HR/FB ratio is above average, which when combined with his 50% fly ball rate means he’s going to suffer a lot of growing pains. There’s no format where you should bank on him in any capacity beyond an injury replacement guy.

Daniel Mengden There’s clear strikeout potential in Mengden’s game, but his ERA and WHIP haven’t been pretty in 12 starts. His HR/FB ratio is near league average, and he’s not an extreme fly ball guy, but he is giving up a lot of line drives, potentially indicating he’s not fooling hitters and they’re squaring up on his pitches. A higher LD% also partly explains his higher BABIP and therefore his lower strand rate. That said, he does manage to miss bats a little above the league average, and his first pitch strike rate is solid, so I’m hopeful he can mature and learn to get hitters to chase more pitches out of the zone, where he’s currently below average. None of his pitch values are positive according to FanGraphs, but with a little seasoning, he could be an endgame target for 2017 redrafts.




Stock Down LogoYadier Molina When looking at his last 14 days, his average isn’t bad, but he simply isn’t producing runs or homers. The average is helpful, but most owners are looking for power as well from their #1 catcher. Molina hasn’t shown double-digit home run power for three straight seasons, and there’s no reason to expect it to come back as he enters his mid-30s. He’s capable of 50 runs and 50 RBIs, but given the Cardinals’ struggles this season, I’m not sure I’d rely on him to give top-10 catcher production in 2017. He’s not worth keeping either, unless you’re in a dynasty format.

David FreeseLike Molina, Freese sports a decent average in the last two weeks, but there’s no production in the counting stats. His average peaked very early in the season and has been going downhill since. His okay power was pretty steady until September, when he’s failed to hit a homer. He may be worth an extention to the Pirates, but fantasy owners need to pass on him now. A career low contact rate, a career high GB%, and his worst hard hit rate in six seasons means he’s done. His highest ceiling is what he’s done this year, and given his age and an uncertainty in playing time moving forward, I wouldn’t use him unless I’m desperate for an injury replacement guy.

Drew SmylyIt’s been a mixed bag all season for Smyly, even if you look at half-season results. A career high fly ball rate means even his average HR/FB ratio is going to hurt him, and the low strand rate supports that result. For the season his walk rate is in line with his previous years, but it’s up a bit in the second half, and his K/9 has dropped as well. There’s still good potential in his game, and he could turn it around to get near 2014 pretty quickly, but the risk for 2017 is more of what he’s done this year. Perhaps we’ll chalk some of it up to his first full season after missing most of 2015, but there are safer options now that starting pitching is pretty deep.

CC SabathiaYou can’t argue that he hasn’t been better than recent memory. Aside from a rising walk rate, he has managed to do everything else pretty well, including getting his HR/FB rate under control. Ground balls and a decent strikeout rate may keep him relevant despite his age. The second half has been much worse for him, though, thanks to the return of gopheritis, so the risk entering 2017 is too high for my taste. Maybe as a pick in the last round, he could have value, but anything higher is going to exceed my projections for him.

 

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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.