It’s week 11 or potentially week 12, depending on how your league plays. I thought this might be a good time to take stock of all the advice that I’ve given you so far this year. Figured it made sense to take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly. It’s a chance to see what I seem to have gotten right, what I’ve missed on, and even reassess things that I may have gotten right due to luck (cough, Reynaldo Lopez).
It’s also not meant to be a victory lap although I am fortunate to say that we’ve gotten quite a few more right than wrong so far this year. I’m also going to exclude many of the more recent recommendations as it’s probably too soon to judge those. We’ll start with my misses to this point.
Wrong so far
Miguel Cabrera – He’s done for the year. We lost this one.
Rhys Hoskins – He’s been pretty disappointing so far. Fouling a ball off of his face hasn’t helped either. He’s striking out a bit (26.8%) more but he’s also still walking plenty (15.4%). His homers to fly ball rate is down so he’s been a bit unlucky there. I think there’s a chance Hoskins isn’t the budding superstar I thought a few months ago but I would still buy. I think he’ll get hot before the year is over. His approach and track record in the minors make me buy that.
Luis Castillo – Results haven’t been there but I’m still buying. The stuff is still great and swinging strike ability still tells me that he’s been unlucky. There’s a chance he’s even been dropped in some leagues. Standing by this one and still recommend buying low.
Ryan Zimmerman – Injury derailed him but I think I’m off this one. I’d pick him up off waivers in a very deep league but the Nats lineup is suddenly very crowded and I’m not even sure he’s better than Matt Adams anymore.
Jon Lester – He’s been pretty good for the most part and has been especially good since I recommended selling him. I’d still sell him. The peripherals still say that he’s heading for a fall. That said, I think the fall might not be quite as steep as initially thought. I believe I underestimated how much Lester’s ace mentality could get him through. That said, the strand rate, SIERA, etc. all tell me I am willing to sell Lester for a top 20 value. I think he’s more likely a top 40ish guy and back in May, I wasn’t even sure he was that.
Gerrit Cole – This is easily the worst advice I’ve given this year. Cole is legit. I still think he might fall off a little, but he’s been a top 3-4 pitcher so even if he falls back to a top 10 type- I was very wrong here. I didn’t realize just how smart or potentially gifted with voodoo the Astros seem to be. JV, Cole, and even Charlie bleeping Morton are studs on this team. I apologize if you dealt him and didn’t sell high enough.
David Price – Said to sell here and thought I was going to be right when he stumbled for a bit. Price seems to be back to throwing gas and has had several good starts in a row. The injury risk is still scary, but he’s been top 30ish in most formats so feel like I got this one wrong.
Cole Hamels – He started throwing a slider. It seemed ridiculous to me that an old savvy vet like him could just whip up a new pitch to help fight his decline. So far, not so bad. The K rate is okay (23.2%) and it’s supported by an 11.8% swinging strike rate. Hamels has been completely serviceable. The walk rate is up but he didn’t cost much. I would most likely hold at this point unless you can get top 35 SP return or better for him.
So Far So Good
James Paxton – He’s a top 5-7 pitcher when he’s healthy. There’s nothing left to doubt. The slow start and bad spring gave us a buying opportunity and hopefully some of you were able to take advantage. If you could promise me 180+ innings from “Big Maple,” there’s only a handful of guys I prefer to him.
Matt Carpenter – I started to think I might have gotten this one wrong. The K rate was up a bit and he averaged under a point per game in the two weeks following writing about him. Hopefully you were more patient than I was in some of my more shallow leagues. He’s been sizzling hot for an extended period and has triple eligibility. It took awhile, but we got this one right. I would still recommend buying or picking him up in especially shallow leagues as the season long numbers still look pretty bad. He hits the ball really hard. He should be fine.
Nelson Cruz – This one was from a recent edition, but I think it’s worth mentioning. He’s back. Nothing to see here. Nelson Cruz is still really good. If he goes into another funk then I would pounce immediately. He’s tied for 5th in average exit velocity (94.1 MPH). One of the guys in front of him is Miggy who won’t qualify for much longer.
Matt Olson – Same thing here. The dude can rake. After a very slow start, he came around and has completely knocked the cover off the ball for about a month now. He’s not as good as he was in a small sample of 2017, but we knew that. Olson is also tied with Cruz on the exit velocity average leaderboard.
Teoscar Hernandez – This dude Ks a bit more than we’d like, but he seems to be for real. He’s a bit streaky but his hard hit rate is very good and he’s 4th in the Stacast’s “barrels per plate appearance” stat. He’s prone to streaks due to the K rate so would target him if he slows down again. Might not cost much even before he goes into his next slump.
Carlos Santana – Nothing to see here. Same old Carlos. Batting average risk but OBP boon. Will be a very productive player by year’s end and is already performing well at a position that has disappointed overall.
Andrew McCutchen – I didn’t really want to draft him in the preseason but he kept falling down draft boards. He hit the ball pretty hard but wasn’t getting much in the way of results in April and May. Cutch is having an awesome June so far. That was the month he blew up last year as well. In June he’s batting .328 with 5 bombs and good counting stats. He’s not the MVP anymore but he should be a top 25ish outfielder.
Caesar Hernandez – Been on this guy for a long time. Long underrated because the Phils were bad and he’s finally getting his due. Hope you were able to jump on the bandwagon in time. Not sure you’ll be able to buy low again at this point.
Starling Marte – A short DL stint is all that kept this from being a big win. The DL stint also gave you another buying opportunity. He’s a top 15ish outfielder on the ESPN player rater even with the time off. His depressed value do to the suspension last year made him a nice target in drafts. He also upped his walk rate a few points. He’s a bit dinged up still, but I would definitely buy. Average and steals are too hard to find and additional walks can lead to even more swipes.
Ohtani – Obviously got this one right with the recurring blisters and now the likely season ending injury. That was a big part of the risk that we talked about. It’s really sad as it was an awesome story and so much fun to watch. Still, I hope you sold high while the going was good.
Clayton Kershaw – Another injury, but he also doesn’t seem to be the same guy. I reserve the right to change my mind if he comes back looking like his old self. You’ll also recall that he wasn’t my #1 SP coming into the season. Now he’s not even in my top 10.
Didi Gregorius – It had to end sooner or later. He’s been in a pronounced funk. Yankee fans love him and haven’t started to boo yet, which is good. Still, Didi is solid. Better than I thought coming into last year, but he’s not a top 5 or probably even a top 7 shortstop.
Johnny Cueto – Another injury victory, but I’ll take it! Especially since that column was published a matter of days before he went down. Cueto is supposed to come back soon. If he comes back and has a few solid starts, I would still deal him. I’d do it at 70 cents on the dollar as well.
Sean Manaea – This was another sweet one where you had a chance to sell very, very high. I was able to get close to ace return in multiple leagues following his no-no and follow-up against the Red Sox. He’s been very bad and borderline cuttable since then. If he gets cut, I would pick him up off waivers. I don’t think he’s this bad but he definitely wasn’t THAT good.
Jake Arrieta – You can’t pitch to the kind of contact that Arrieta does without it eventually catching up with you. The NL East can cover for a lot, but not that much. A 16% K rate still means sell to me. Get what you can.
Bryce Harper – Sure this is a stretch, but I qualified it well enough that I don’t care- I’m taking credit. Harper was generally a top 4-5 pick. He’s still had runs where he was the best player in the league when he’s been especially right, but as of right now, I would take 6-7 other hitters before him. I would rather have Betts, Arenado, Blackmon, Jose Ramirez, J.D. Martinez, and Manny Machado. You likely could have sold him for one of those guys plus something extra back in April. You can still likely get more back than even Harper is worth given his name value. If I could trade Harper for any of those guys listed above, or potentially them plus something else- I would.
Dallas Keuchel – He’s been pretty bad. He’s likely the fifth best team on his own staff. The K rate is still below average (18.2% ) and his ground ball rate is less elite than it had been in the past. 55% would be good for most pitchers but it’s 11 points from what he managed last year. He’s pitching up in the zone more often and giving up more bombs. I would still try to sell Keuchel on name value.
A.J. Pollock – Hurt as always. Some of the changes were legit and he’s a great real world player. Can’t trust him to stay on the field though. Might be worth trying to buy now at this point with a low ball offer.
Ronald Acuna – Took some heat for this one as he’s pegged as the next Mike Trout. People were getting offered Anthony Rizzo, Jason DeGrom, and other studs for this young buck. Should have taken it. He’s been on the DL but he was slumping before that. I think he’ll be good, but you have to trade unprovens for top 20 type talents when you get the chance. It will blow up in your face on occasion, but you will win those trades a large majority of the time. I would still sell him for a top 25 player if there are any deals like that on the tabl.
Reynaldo Lopez – Lopez has been pretty darn good based on results. His stuff is pretty nasty when you watch him as well. The peripherals don’t really support his success to this point. He has a 16.3% K rate and a 5.16 SIERA. I don’t think he’s as good as he’s been or as bad as his peripherals say. He’s also young and might figure it out. If you have him then you probably have to hold. I would trade him if you can get top 40ish SP return for him. I would also buy him as an SP 6 or pick him up off waivers. He’s been good but it’s not clear how lucky he’s been so would call this as “not sure” for now.
Mike Minor – He’s still valuable in points as an SP with RP eligibility. Apart from that, you don’t need to own him in anything but deep leagues. I got excited about the velocity gains but I don’t think there’s anything to see here.
Danny Duffy – Duffy’s velocity has been up and he’s thrown his change more. He’s had some awesome starts but also a couple of duds. I’m still buying here but it’s been too uneven to claim as a win. I’m still buying or picking up off waivers.
In summary, we’ve done a pretty good job so far. Sticking to my guns on guys like Lester and Castillo and apologize for the Cole advice. Hopefully, you have gotten more good than bad out of this column so far. Plenty more to come as the season progresses!