As we close out the first week (7 days) of the season, it’s time to start tracking how players are doing so far in 2018. Throughout the season I will be focusing on players stock values, highlighting both the good and the bad so that you can make decisions on potential waiver-wire adds and trade opportunities in your quest for a title.
While I will try to focus on players that may still be available in your leagues, I will also include reports on players that are obviously owned along the way as well. For this first stock report of the 2018 season, I have selected 3 players whose stock is up and 3 whose stock is currently taking a tumble in the early goings of the season.
Remember that it is pretty early to start making roster decisions based on player performance, so take these reports with a grain of salt until we get a few more games under the belt. Lastly, if you have any players you would like to see highlighted or reviewed, feel free to post them in the comments.
DeJong is doing his best to silence anyone who thought his breakout 2017 season was a fluke. So far he has smashed 3 home runs on the short season, and is batting .444 through the first five games. That 30% strikeout rate is pretty high, but he managed to survive a 28% strikeout rate in 2017, so if he can get closer to that level or below his chances are better.
One interesting change so far is that DeJong has been chasing fewer pitches outside of the zone (25% O-Swing% 2018; 33.6% O-Swing% 2017). These samples are way too small to say if these changes will hold, but it will be interesting to watch moving forward.
I have to admit that DeJong scares me as an owner due to his strikeout heavy approach. The main player that comes to mind when I think of DeJong’s profile is another power heavy SS, Trevor Story. Both players strike out at rates much higher than the league average. Striking out a lot is not necessarily a death sentence, especially these days in baseball. But doing so will have a big hit on your batting average unless you post a very high BABIP, and when you pair that with a lower than average walk rate, your margin for error is much slimmer than for other players. Here is a chart for you to consider:
While I am not saying that Paul DeJong will follow the same trajectory as Story, their profiles are eerily similar. DeJong may continue to mash this season, and may not be affected by his approach in 2018. But he is also a player I would not mind selling high on if given the opportunity.
Haniger is off to a blistering start to 2018, batting a robust .462 with 2 home runs already on the short season. He is walking a good bit in these first few games (12.5% BB%), so hopefully this is a sign of him being more patient this season. Haniger is not a stranger to hot starts, having burst on the scene last year with a .342/.447/.608 slash line in April. He quickly fell off that pace and missed a good portion of the season after that due to injuries, though he finished 2017 with a fury, slashing .353/.374/.613 in Sept/Oct.
While he obviously is not going to keep up his current production for the rest of the season, I think Haniger has a good chance to really help your squad this year. In the minors he always walked at an above average rate and limited strikeouts, and if he can stay healthy I think he is a solid player to invest in for 2018 who has the chance to beat projections.
There is not much to be excited about in Miami, at least where baseball is concerned. After yet another tear down by ownership, Marlins fans are left to sit through another rebuild with the hope that brighter days are ahead for the beleaguered franchise. One player who has the chance to shine for Miami this season is third baseman, Brian Anderson. Anderson has been with the Marlins since he was drafted in 2014, and finally got a cup of coffee with the big league club in 2017.
While his debut was nothing special, Anderson has been hitting well so far in 2018. His current slash line sits at .320/.469/.480, and he already has 1 HR on the season after hitting 0 in 25 games last year at the big league level. While Anderson does not have much of a big league track record, his minor league stats can give us a bit of a view into his potential profile in the future.
Anderson routinely had above average BB%’s in the minors, and was adept at limiting his strikeouts as well. His 2017 stats at two levels were very solid, giving him a .275/.361/.492 slash line with 22 HR and 81 RBI’s. While you obviously cannot take someone’s minor league numbers and expect them to perform at the same level in the majors, Anderson’s profile paints a picture of a safe and interesting hitter who could provide underrated production at the hot corner.
A trendy pick to break out in 2018, Margot has fallen flat on his face to start the season, putting up an abysmal .100/.217/.100 line with no HR or steals in 20 AB. While his current production is clearly awful, Margot is not going to post a .125 BABIP or perform at this level for the rest of the season.
Last season Margot hit 13 HR and stole 17 bases in 125 games for the Friars in his first full season with the club. Owners who drafted Margot this season did so because of the power/speed profile he brings to the table, so let’s dive in to see how likely it is that he repeats that in 2018.
I pulled the data for players with similar production to Margot to see how he stacks up:
Margot posted a .146 ISO in 2017, which is just barely above league average (Fun meaningless fact: Margot 2017 ISO: .146; Posey 2017 ISO: .142). All of these players posted similar power numbers to Margot, so it appears that his 13 HR are in line with similar ISO production for other players and should continue provided he stays at this level. His 2018 FB% (37.5%) is right in line with his 2017 number (36.3%), so barring any huge shift in approach, I see the odds of him meeting or slightly exceeding his power production as solid.
Speed is harder to predict, but Margot did pull in an above average 6.1 Spd score (Measures speed and overall base running ability) for 2017. The one area I would love to see him improve is his BB%, as getting on base more should equal more steals. Either way, Margot seems like a good bet to meet or exceed this past season’s performance in 2018. Overlook this slow start, and if you find an over anxious owner willing to move on from him, take advantage if the price is right.
It seems like a lifetime ago that Velasquez tempted us with his potential as a high level fantasy arm. In 2016, Velasquez posted a 10.44 K/9 alongside a 3.09 BB/9. Advanced metrics liked his performance better than the end result (4.12 ERA, 3.96 FIP, 3.67 xFIP) and he entered 2017 as a potential breakout candidate. Unfortunately, the wheels fell off in 2017, and Velasquez limped to an injury marred 5.13 ERA in only 72 IP.
His walks went up (4.25 BB/9), strikeouts went down (8.50 K/9) and his SwStr% took a tumble as well, dropping to 9.1% from 11.2% in 2016. Vince entered 2018 hoping to regain his previous form, but definitely did not reach the mark in his first outing, lasting only 2.2 IP and giving up 4 ER. He also managed to give up 9 hits in that short effort, and topped it off with 3 walks, one being intentional. The only positive in that start was that he did strike out 4 batters, which was nice to see since that matched his entire strikeout total in spring training.
Velasquez is only 26, so he still has the potential to right the ship in 2018. His next couple starts will tell us a lot about his stock moving forward, and I will be watching him to see if he can get back to his previous level as 2018 progresses.
Newcomb is one of those arms everyone dreams on. We see the lack of control, but overlook it to gaze lovingly at those robust strikeout rates as we imagine said arm leading the league in K’s. But then reality hits pretty hard when we also realize that, while those K’s can be a boon in any fantasy league, it usually does not matter if they are accompanied by a prevalence for issuing free passes to most batters that darken the box.
Newcomb has always struggled with control, routinely posting sub-par, Mariana Trench level BB%’s in his professional career. His first start of 2018 was no different, and saw him walk 4 batters along the way to a final line of 4.1IP, 5ER and 6 K for the day.
The above chart shows all of the pitchers in 2017 who posted K% rates at or above Newcomb’s level while also posting a BB% above 10%. As you can see, it’s a pretty mixed bag, and all of those starters have better K%’s than Newcomb to make up for their inability to throw strikes.
Unless Newcomb can improve his control, he will be a lock for low IP outings, a high WHIP and a bunch of strikeouts. He may mix in the occasional brilliant start or season, but may not be worth the volatility.
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