Fantasy Stock Watch – Week 2

Another week in the books, another stock report to help you keep up with current player trends and performances. While it can be easy to overreact to some of the stats you see early on in the season, remember that it is still very early to make complete judgements on player performances through the first few games.

And as always, if you have any players you are wondering about or whom you might like to see written up in a future edition of the stock report, please feel free to post that information in the comment section. Alternatively, you can also reach out to me @hedenson18 on Twitter with questions as well.

Dansby Swanson

Swanson really took a step back in 2017 after posting some promising numbers the year before. He regressed in almost every area, and was even sent down to the minors for part of the season as they tried to get him back on track. His final numbers weren’t pretty: .232/.312/.324 with only 6 HR and 3 SB. He did show some improvement in August, getting back on track enough to post a .309/.422/.426 slash line for the month, but ended the year on a whimper in Sept/Oct.

Dansby is slashing .366/.381/.585 on the young season, and has been especially hot lately, posting a .421/.450/.789 line over the past 7 days. He is supporting that robust batting average on a pretty high BABIP of .438, so while that will obviously go down a bit, he does have enough speed to maintain a higher than average BABIP for the rest of the season.

His LD% is up so far (28.1% in 2018, 23.2% in 2017), which is a good sign, and he is hitting more fly balls as well (34.4% rate in 2018, 29.4% in 2017). Swanson is probably never going to be a world-beater in fantasy, but he should be able to provide you with close to double-digit power and speed numbers while maintaining a solid BA at SS. As long as you have proper expectations set for him, he shouldn’t disappoint. Ride out this streak while you can, and if you can get someone to overpay for him based on this renaissance, do it.

Patrick Corbin

Corbin has been lights out so far in 2018, building off of a solid 2017 season that saw him mostly return to form after missing all of the 2014 and part of the 2015 season due to Tommy John surgery. His K’s are up in a big way, with 40.9% of batters going down on strikes against Corbin so far in 2018. His SwStr% is also up as well, (4th in MLB at 17.9%), an improvement over the 11% mark he showed in 2017.

His control has been improving the past two seasons as he has gotten further removed from surgery, (9.4% BB% in 2016, 7.4% BB% in 2017), and this trend has continued so far on the short season, with Corbin currently posting a 5.6% BB% on the year. Pitchers who limit walks and strike out a ton of batters are fantasy gold, and Corbin is keeping elite company in the first two weeks:

Gerrit Cole 43.10% 5.90% 0.71 0.64 1.43 1.62 1.47
Patrick Corbin 40.90% 5.60% 0.93 2.45 1.91 1.11 1.37
Shohei Ohtani 40.00% 4.40% 0.46 2.08 1.69 1.79 1.54
Max Scherzer 35.50% 4.00% 0.8 0.9 1.4 2.53 1.96
Chris Sale 34.90% 4.60% 1 1.06 1.59 2.16 2.04

The big question, of course, is whether or not he can keep up elite level production for the rest of the season. While he is probably not going to keep striking out batters at his current rate, and will see some regression there, his advanced metrics currently think he has been even better than his numbers show (2.45 ERA, 1.91 FIP, 1.11 xFIP). Before his injury, Corbin posted BB%’s (5.5% 2013, 6.3% 2014) around what he is posting now, so I do not think his improved control is an aberration.

His two best rated weapons this season have been his Sinker Curve (2.74 SI/C) and his Slider (4.01 SL/C). So while these metrics aren’t the most predictive of future production, (especially in such a small sample size), they do show that both pitches have been above average weapons for Corbin in 2018. If he can keep batters guessing on these options and maintain his current outside of the zone chase rates, (36.7% 2018, 31.8% 2017), he has a good chance of continuing his stellar production for the rest of the season.

Joey Lucchesi

So far, so good in Lucchesi’s first run through the big leagues. In his 3 starts of 2018 he has posted a glittering 1.72 ERA in 15IP, striking out 16 batters in that time while generating a 13.3% SwStr%. Advanced pitching metrics think he is currently overachieving, (2.55 FIP, xFIP 3.09), but not to an extreme level.

In his 33 minor league starts Lucchesi generated strong strikeout rates while posting solid control numbers at most levels. He pitches in a great park, and even managed to turn in his best performance of the short season (6IP 0ER 8K) on Tuesday in the most unforgiving stadium in baseball: Coors Field.

Obviously his lack of a track record at the MLB level will be something to watch, but given the fact that he misses bats, limits walks and pitches in one of the better stadiums for MLB hurlers in Petco Park, Lucchesi has the chance to keep the magic going further into the season.

Ian Happ

A fantasy darling last year, Ian Happ came into 2018 as a player to own due to his power potential (24 HR in 413 PA) and multi-positional eligibility (2B/OF) in many leagues. The 2018 version of Happ has not delivered at all on that promise, and many owners are starting to worry about him moving forward despite the small sample size.

Some of the biggest red flags for Happ currently are his astronomically high 51.4% K% and the fact that he is struggling to hit the ball with any authority when he does make contact (42.9% Soft%, 2nd worst in MLB). Even more troubling is the fact that he is performing at this level (.156/.229/.250 with 1 HR) while maintaining a BABIP of .308, which is very much in line with previous production levels (.316 BABIP 2017).

On the slightly positive side, his LD% is up (21.4%) from last season, and while his BB% has dropped slightly from 2017, it is still very close to what he posted last year. His large FB% increase (50% in 2018, 39.7% in 2017) will be interesting to monitor moving forward, but in the end his performance will hinge on his ability to make harder contact and strikeout less.

Kevin Kiermaier

Not much fun is being had in the Florida baseball scene, as both Sunshine State teams currently sit in dead last for their respective divisions. Kiermaier has been especially bad starting the season, seeing decreases in his Hard% (22.2% from 31.8% in 2017) and in his LD%, which is a comical 5.6% currently.

While he has been walking at a higher rate (8.6%) than last year, his K% currently sits at 40%, and his swinging strike percentage has gone up over 4% through the first 8 games. He has not attempted any steals, and also has not left the yard yet in 2018.

When healthy, Kiermaier is a great source of power and speed, and an undervalued player to have on your fantasy roster, comparing favorably to another power/speed OF who typically goes about 70 picks higher in drafts:

Kevin Kiermaier 15 56 39 16 7.40% 23.50%
A.J. Pollock 14 73 49 20 7.50% 15.20%

Unfortunately, he has missed over 50 games each of the past two seasons due to injury, and had a scare a couple of days ago with what turned out to be a bone bruise.

His injury issues worry me more than his slow start, so be patient with him and his performance should return to the usual levels if he remains healthy.

Lucas Giolito

After headlining Top 10 prospect lists for multiple years, fantasy owners were salivating at the thought of Giolito in their fantasy rotations for many years to come. After a cup of coffee with the Nationals in 2016, Giolito tossed 45.1 IP for the Chicago White Sox in 2017, posting a 3-3 record with a 2.38 ERA and 0.949 WHIP. While his strikeout numbers (6.8 K/9) weren’t stellar, on the surface it looked like he was on the way to fulfilling the high expectations the fantasy community had placed on him in the minors.

2018 has been ugly so far for Giolito. In his two starts he holds a 6.17 ERA (4.97 FIP, 7.17 xFIP) and has only struck out 9.4% of batters faced. He has been walking batters at an elevated rate (13.2%), and is struggling to get batters to chase his offerings (19.4% O-Swing% 2018 compared to 32.6% 0-Swing 2017) or swing and miss at the pitches he throws (8.2% SwStr% in 2018, 10.1% SwStr% in 2017).

Two starts is too little to completely write off anyone, but Giolito bears watching as 2018 continues. In the minors he routinely limited walks and struck out batters at a slightly above average rate, so he does have a track record of performance there. One other factor that may be affecting him is his age. Though he had his first MLB action at age 21, he is still just under the average age for AA players (23.8 Years Old), and may just be experiencing growing pains as he learns how to pitch at the MLB level.


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Hunter Denson

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Fantasy baseball enthusiast, Boston Red Sox fan and general lover of baseball living in the Pacific Northwest. More likely to remember Mel Ott's career HR number than my pin number. Married to an amazing woman who supports and encourages my baseball mania.