I am writing this on my birthday, but I hope to give you some gifts here. For many of you, this will be the last week you can pull off a trade before the deadline. Hopefully some of these targets will help.
Sonny Gray: Yankees
I profiled Sonny Gray back in May, still like him today, and think there is still a buying opportunity here. Many people will think of the park changed from Oakland to Yankee Stadium and worry that his value is going to tank. I don’t believe that this is going to be the case.
He continues to be a ground ball wizard as in previous analysis, and his K rate is the best it’s been since 2013. The Yanks will also presumably give him more run support and have a nasty bullpen to help protect leads after he leaves the game. Lastly, Fangraphs rates Oakland as having the worst defense in the league this year. Two errors against Cleveland notwithstanding, the Yanks defense is pretty solid all around, and this should also help the sinkerballer.
I would target Sonny Gray as a #3 in roto, but as a high-end #2 or maybe even a low-end ace in points leagues. Here are some trades I’ve seen offered that I would sign off on.
- Alex Cobb for Sonny Gray
- Jose Berrios for Sonny Gray in a points league
- Marcus Stroman for Sonny Gray
The last two are much closer, but hopefully give an indication of how much faith I have in Gray moving forward.
Shane Greene: Tigers
Greene is not a potential top-5 closer or anything, but I do think he’s going to be pretty good. The Tigers also have enough pieces left that they should win some games, and in turn give Green some save chances. Of the recent evolution of waiver closers (about 10 teams changed closers in the past 2-3 weeks), I think Green is third best. He only trails Rosenthal and maybe Brad Hand for me. He already has 3 saves and should be pretty good moving forward.
He has seen a velocity spike moving into the bullpen as well, averaging 96.1 MPH out of the pen, which is obviously no joke. He pairs that with a slider that is also a plus pitch, and a curve that’s just okay. This stuff has allowed him to have a 25.6 K% and he is inducing grounders at close to a 50% rate as well. This is all great news, except he does have a control problem. The 13% walk rate is annoying, but his career number is 4-5 points lower. I tend to think he’ll figure that out.
I would add Greene if you are for some reason in a league where he isn’t already owned (34.4% on ESPN). I would also take him back in any trade at the value of a top 20 closer. Again, I would take him over any of the newly anointed closers except Rosenthal and maybe Hand – I view him and Hand on about the same level. I would much rather have him than Dyson, Doolittle, Claudio, or Vizcaino.
Yu Darvish: Dodgers
Okay, I know. Everyone knows Yu is good. I think he’s better than people give him credit for, though. In fantasy circles, I’ve generally felt a slight sense of disappointment towards Darvish. I think that is unfair, and also think that this leap to L.A. is going to be really good for him.
There’s not too much analysis needed here. His ERA is a bit higher than it has been in years past, but basically everything looks the same to me. He has a 12.1% swinging strike percentage, which makes me think the slight dip in overall strikeout percentage is just due to variance. It’s not like a 26.8% K rate is anything to scoff at for a starter to begin with, but it’s a little low by his elite strikeout standards. The swing and miss rate is also backed by nasty stuff. He is averaging 94.7 MPH on his fastball, which is right in line with last year and a few ticks better than before he had his Tommy John surgery.
Again, there’s no surprise here that Yu Darvish is good. I just think some people are annoyed at the high 3s ERA and that his K rate has dipped a little. Even if he had diminished, which I don’t think he has, moving to the “Senior Circuit” is only going to help him. He will also be playing for an amazing team that is arguably the best in baseball. The high-octane offense and best closer in baseball will be big improvements for him.
If I did in-season SP ranks, Darvish would be my #3 currently. With Kershaw on the shelf, I would value him more highly than any SP apart from Sale and Scherzer (assuming Scherzer makes next start today), I probably wouldn’t trade him straight for deGrom, Paxton, or Bumgarner either as that’s basically a wash, but probably would for any other elite SP though.
I haven’t seen any big trades for Darvish in any of my leagues, but I will assume if he were traded you would need to pay up – which I would.
Kyle Barraclough: Marlins
Jeurys Familia: Mets
Not going to go to deep here as I’m going to be late for my own party (beer is getting warm). I just think these two guys are worth stashing. They both have elite closer stuff, and you could end up with a top-end closer for your stretch run at the price of a waiver claim.
Aaron Judge: Yankees
This isn’t me trying to come back around and stick to my guns on my biggest missed call of the year. I honestly thought Judge was going to be a very bad major league player after his terrible cup of coffee last year. I don’t think that anymore. He’s been an MVP candidate and a joy to watch as a Yankee fan.
Still, there’s some early second half returns that are a little bit troubling. It’s not completely unreasonable to think that Judge is going to be a real world and fantasy asset, but that we may have seen one of the best stretches he’ll ever have in 2017. Here is what he has done in the second half.
|PA||AVG||K%||BB%||FB%||Hard Hit %|
There’s a lot of troubling information here. The biggest red flag is the K rate jumping up to the 2016 level of 35.2% His hard hit rate has also fallen quite a bit as it was over 50% several times this season. The good news is that he is still walking a lot, which shows a good approach. And he’s still hitting balls in the air at a very high rate which is good for potential power numbers.
Basically, I think Judge has been a little lucky in 2017 overall, but he has also made improvements signaling he is going to be a really good player going forward. The high K rates are always going to lead to a wide range of outcomes (see Chris Davis and Trevor Story). Expect more of a .250-.260 average as opposed to the .300 range he has been hovering around all year. The power is very real, and the improvement in walks is great as well. He is also young and the league will likely adjust to him. How he reacts to this will be the final test. The growth Judge has shown in 2017 makes me confident he will not have a problem.
So why is he a sell then? Because I think the hype has surpassed his actual value. He is a likable guy who is a freak of nature at 6’7″ – 280 lbs. You also have to factor in the Yankee homerism factor. The Yanks are starting to get good again so get ready to load the bandwagon. When the Yankees or Red Sox are good, you generally have to pay a tax to own those players. This is already starting to come true for Judge.
Trades I’ve seen for Judge this year are:
- Judge for Bryce Harper – Straight up.
- Judge for Khris Davis and James Paxton
- Judge and Jake Arrieta for Mike Trout and Zack Godley
Travis Shaw: Brewers
Shaw has been a revelation for fantasy in 2017. He had a run for a few months with the Sox in 2016 before flaming out and becoming irrelevant. This year he came to stay. He’s in the discussion for fantasy MVP given the fact it took a late round flier or more likely just a waiver claim to get him. Still, he’s been a bit over his head. Let’s take a look at why.
Shaw sports a nice 37.5% hard hit rate as well as a solid 20% line drive rate. He is putting an awful lot of balls on the ground for a slugger, though, hitting 44.8% of his balls in play into the dirt. Playing at Miller Park, we would like to see more balls in the air. I think that Shaw would’ve improved on last year even if he performed to his peripherals, but I think it’s fair to say there are some luck factors that have helped spawn his full on breakout.
His BABIP is 33 points higher than last year and about 20 better than his career average. His HR/FB% is also a bit out of whack at 24.7%. That is about 2.5 times last year and almost 10 points better than his career. Miller Park might account for some of that improvement. Still, the fact that he’s hit more long balls than ever despite hitting 10% less fly balls seems lucky.
I still think Shaw is a solid fantasy asset, but maybe someone in your league buys the full-fledged breakout. I’m not quite there and think you should try to take advantage of that. Below are some trades I’ve seen with Shaw:
- Shaw and Zack Greinke for Carlos Santana and Corey Kluber – points league
- Shaw and Zack Greinke for Manny Machado
Matt Belisle: Marlins
Taylor Rogers: Twins
Just like with Familia and Barraclough, I’m not going to go deep here. Take a look at their season number and their underlying stats. There’s nothing that says closer about either of these. After all, you can’t be anything special if you allow a guy like Kintzler to be the unquestioned guy ahead of you. It’s doubtful you’ll get anything for either so set up some alternatives on your waiver watch list.
Gio Gonzalez: Nationals
Gio has put together a top-10 season after being close to fantasy irrelevant last year. Everything has come together for a guy who consistently underperformed his peripherals. Many of us were waiting for a season like this 3-4 years ago and it never came. Let’s take a look at all the underlying numbers and see why I think we should try to sell Gio.
We’ll start out with the lazy analysis. His BABIP is outrageously low this year, standing at .241, which is 52 points off of his career average. His LOB % or strand rate is similarly ludicrous at 85.1%. His 4.05 FIP and 4.03 xFIP suggest that his 2.66 ERA has been awfully lucky. His walk rate, k rate, and batted ball profile are all almost identical to his career numbers. His velocity is actually down a couple of ticks, and he hasn’t added any new pitches or vastly improved those offerings.
All signs here point to Gio having a career (lucky) year. This is likely to come crashing down sometime soon. I would see if anyone in your league is buying his 2017.
I’ve been lucky enough to own Gio several places because I chased wins and thought he got a bit unlucky in 2016. The Nats are awesome, and a lot of their NL east counterparts are pretty bad. This does give Gio a nice floor, that of a top 40-50 SP, not the ace he has been masquerading as. I would try to upgrade that way.
Some trades I’ve seen that I approve of are:
- Gonzalez for Robbie Ray and Shane Greene
- Gonzalez and Alex Colome for Yu Darvish
- Gonzalez for Michael Conforto
That’s it for this week. If you have a buy/sell that hasn’t been mentioned over the past month, feel free to inquire in the comment section below.
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