There has been a change in this analyst’s core beliefs of valuing players. I officially value Statcast stats more than any of the other statistics you can look at for fantasy hitters. I still look at the whole picture and have an extreme fondness for hitters with a great plate approach. That said, Statcast told us Aaron Judge was a superstar when I worried about his extreme K rate. It also told us to hang onto Matt Carpenter and Nelson Cruz when we were worried father time might have finally come for them. Statcast showed us the legitimacy of Jose Ramirez, Alex Bregman, and even Max Muncy way before most fantasy analysts bought in. With that in mind, below are some Statcast darlings that I would be targeting as buys as we prepare for the stretch run.
I’ve written a lot about Rendon since joining the Assembly. He continues to be undervalued in my mind, and my newfound appreciation for Statcast only reinforces this thought.
Rendon is the 8th highest rated player in the league when it comes it xwOBA, which is my favorite of the xStats provided by Statcast. The only names ahead of him are Mookie Betts, J.D. Martinez, Max Muncy, Matt Carpenter, Joey Votto, Mike Trout, and Alex Bregman. In all of baseball, that’s it. He is also hitting 24% line drives, which is the best he’s done since his first taste of the bigs back in 2013. Rendon walked as much as he struck out last year, which made him a stud in points, and he’s not too far off this year. His walk rate is just shy of 10% while he is striking out at a very reasonable 16.3%.
We all know I love a great plate approach, and Rendon is up there with anyone in the league in that capacity. There’s also a decent chance that his lineup mates also wake up. Bryce Harper, Trea Turner, and Daniel Murphy have all been varying degrees of disappointing to this point. If they come alive along with young Juan Soto, this lineup can be as vaunted as any in the league. That will lead to elite counting stats for Rendon along with everything else he can give you.
I’m not sure why Rendon is continually underrated. I guess he still has some stink on him from that one disappointing year back in 2015. He also starts a bit slow at times, but he’s generally been a star when healthy. Given how well Statcast and xStats in particularly have treated me this year, I am buying even more. The fact that he’s 8th in xwOBA and 11th in “barrel” rate, I am all in on Rendon. I traded Anthony Rizzo straight for him just a week back – that’s a trade I would have advised against a few months back given how dependable Rizzo has always been, but I am putting my money where my mouth is.
This guy is available on some waiver wires and you need to make sure that he isn’t in yours. Winker is an instant add for me in any league where he’s available. I would be targeting him in leagues where he is owned, and he likely won’t cost much and there’s a ton to like.
Winker is Cincinnati’s latest hitting win. They have had a tendency to create good hitters out of nowhere in the last couple of years, Scooter Gennett and Eugenio Suarez just to name a couple. Not sure if it’s the coaching staff or just being so close to Joey Votto that helps transform these guys. Winker is hitting 24.7% line drives and hitting the ball hard 44.6% of the time according to Fangraphs. He is also tie with Michael Brantley for 26th in xwOBA according to Statcast and just one spot behind Xander Bogaerts. On top of the batted ball profile, Winker also has an elite plate approach, walking more than he strikes out. His walk rate is a robust 14.8% while his K rate is a miniscule 13.8%. An injury to Scott Schebler ensures Winker playing time and the lineup is much improved overall so there’s a chance for decent counting stats. Cincinnati is also a notoriously hitter friendly park
Grab Winker anywhere you can. He is a potential difference maker and the profile looks extremely legit. He also presents the opportunity for a big potential win via trade. I wouldn’t be shocked if you can get him for someone like Brett Gardner. I would especially target him in dynasty leagues as his 25th birthday is coming up and he could be a potential 4 category contributor for years to come.
Pham was a savior to many teams last year. He was great in all formats and it led to him being drafted very highly coming into this season. He has largely been a disappointment, though he has shown some life as of late. I would be looking to buy on Pham anyplace I could.
Pham is tied for 50th in xwOBA with Kyle Schwarber and Mike Moustakas. The mark of .372 xwOBA is 40 points better than his actual wOBA, which suggests he’s been pretty unlucky to this point. Pham has the 11th highest average exit velocity, and Fangraphs tells us he’s hitting the ball hard 48% of the time. His walk rate is great at 11%, and while his K rate could be better it is a manageable 24.5%. The K rate and how often he puts the ball on the ground (52.3%) are the only reasons I have for pause. It got me to thinking that Pham is basically Christian Yelich, who ironically is one spot ahead of him in average exit velocity. Pham is plenty quick and can also add some steals for you, plus the Cards lineup has been excellent as of late which can definitely help him pile up counting stats. The recent management change might help as well given that Pham and Matheny were reported to not get along.
I feel pretty good about Pham moving forward. He might not be quite the difference maker folks hoped when they drafted him in the 2nd or early 3rd round, but he should be really good. Again, Christian Yelich is a really accurate comp. Has some pop and some speed but puts the ball on the ground a bit too frequently to be a true fantasy star. He could be a bonafide producer in basically all formats moving forward.
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