I turn 32 this week. I’ve been playing fantasy baseball on and off for two decades, but only become serious about winning in the last 4-5 years. Sabermetrics, Fangraphs, Statcast, Brooks Baseball, several podcasts, and Fantasy Assembly have helped me evolve into a perennial winner. As I reflect on this past year, I hope that you’ve been able to get a leg up on your league mates by using some combination of resources that includes us here at the Assembly.
Many of your trade deadlines have already come and gone – Yahoo public leagues have until this Sunday (12th). I only have two leagues left where it has not, and they’re both dynasty leagues. With that in mind, I wanted to give you a few people to target in keeper/dynasty formats for those playing for the future.
I was never in love with Taillon as a prospect. Then he came up to the bigs and was reasonably effective from just about the very start. Unfortunately he had to take a short break due to cancer, but he was able to come back from that in record time. I’ve come around since his prospect days and see Taillion as someone who is generally underrated in fantasy and is someone maybe worthy of an investment.
Taillon isn’t a strikeout master like many of the young guns that we frequently talk about in fantasy. That said, he has had a 22% clip so far this year, which has translated into an 8.35 K/9. You can definitely live with that, especially when you combine that with a solid walk rate of just 6.5%. Taillon also does a good job in eliciting ground balls as he is currently getting 49.2% grounders. Statcast also likes him a good bit as far as the quality of contact. His xwOBA is a mere .292, which ranks him 11th best in all of the MLB. While quality of contact isn’t something we completely understand yet as far as how linear the correlation is to great SPs, it’s certainly not a bad thing. He also plays in one of the best pitcher’s parks and the team around him is developing faster than many thought.
I am definitely looking to buy long-term here. Taillon was the 2nd overall pick back in 2010 and has performed quite well at the major league level. He is a very solid SP 3 with plenty of upside given that he’s still only 26. I don’t think most people view him as a top 30ish SP so there should be some built-in discount here. He’s still pretty young and feels really safe to me. He’s often viewed as being less sexy than guys like Flaherty, Berrios, or even Corbin given the K differences. I view Taillon behind these guys currently, but not by as much as many other analysts and fantasy players.
Ozuna had his career year in 2017, and his performance last year propelled him into the top-40 coming into this year. It’s safe to say that he has been a big disappointment to this point, although we have seen flashes at times to suggest he might be coming out of it. Chances are that 2017 will be the best year of his career, but he still has the ability to be a very useful fantasy asset and I am still in on Ozuna long-term.
His walk rate is down to 6%, which isn’t great, but his K rate also lowered to a career low 17.9%. He also hits a few more ground balls than I’d care for given his profile as a potential slugger. The 48.4% ground ball rate is definitely unsightly, but it’s only a point or so higher than last year when he was a borderline superstar. Ozuna is also hitting the ball harder more often than last year. His hard hit rate is 44.6% according to Fangraphs. You would think with a hard hit rate like that his LD% would at least be higher, but that has regressed. His HR/FB rate has also cratered since last year. It cut nearly in half and is down to 11.4% this year. While last year was definitely on the lucky side, Ozuna has been similarly unlucky this year.
While I was definitely skeptical of Ozuna going in the first 3-4 rounds this year, I still think he’s a solid player and is also younger than you think at 27 years old. I think Ozuna is pretty safe to be a top 25-30ish outfielder going forward and we saw that upside last year. And even though he needed homer to fly ball luck to get last year’s results, he could also make a change. If Ozuna started hitting more fly balls, then I would feel really good about his upside. Guys like Daniel Murphy, Justin Turner, and Ozuna’s teammate Matt Carpenter have remade themselves by hitting more fly balls. Who’s to say that Ozuna couldn’t make a similar change, especially with the aforementioned Carpenter on his team.
I’ve seen Ozuna dropped in shallow redraft leagues, which makes me think his value is also pretty low in keeper and dynasty leagues. Should be a really nice buying opportunity here.
This is one for the deeper dynasty leaguers out there. Some of you likely remember him from a fast start back in 2016 before fading into obscurity. I would be looking to add him off of waivers in deep leagues where he’s available and I would be open to trading for him in AL only and other very deep formats.
White blew up in the first month of the 2016 season before MLB pitchers figured him out and sent him packing back to the minors. White is back in the bigs and playing first base for the juggernaut Astros team. He had a monster season this year at AAA, batting .333 with 14 bombs in just 70 games. More impressively, he cut his strikeout rate down to 12.5% while walking at a robust 14.7%. This is the sign of a hitter with a great approach. This year’s sample at the major league level is just 20 games so it’s a bit early to start parsing that data. The plate approach is sticking for the most part and he is hitting a few too many ground balls, but again it’s just 20 games.
I love patient hitters. It’s one of the reasons why Votto has been on of my favorite players for years. Tyler White is only relevant in the deepest of leagues, but he has the potential to stick at fist base for the Astros for a very long time if he can replicate his AAA success at the major league level. In that lineup, White could definitely do some damage.
If you’re not visiting Fantasy Rundown for all your fantasy baseball needs – you’re doing it wrong.