Hold’em/Fold’em: Week 2

“You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, Know when to fold ’em, Know when to walk away, And know when to run” ~ Kenny Rogers “The Gambler”

Normally, I have some sort of long, rambling introduction telling you in 300 words why I’m giving advice, or explaining why the advice I’m giving you isn’t actually as bad as it looks. I’m going to try and give that a miss this time. The concept is simple. Sample sizes are still small, but trends are already starting to emerge. There are already players you can begin to make calls on. Guys to hold onto or go after, and guys to fold or use as trade fodder. This is not for generally undrafted players like Michael Reed or Ryan Cordell, or guys with a recent history of underperforming like Chris Davis. If you need advice on what to do with those players I really, really can’t help you.

Hold ’em

Jesus Aguilar

The early returns concern you. I get it. Aguilar is a big, strong man, so you expect power. Instead, a week and a half into the season he’s hitting .148 with nothing but singles.

Don’t be fooled. He’s still big. He’s still strong. If he stays healthy, the power will come. What’s really encouraging is that after posting a 10% walk rate against a 25% strikeout rate last year, he’s at 6 walks to 5 strikeouts so far. Many a hitter loses power when chasing patience. But as patience becomes more natural, the approach will relax a bit and the power will come.  And if both stick, look out. There’s a name for guys who have 30 home run power and draw a lot of walks. Those guys are called superstars.

Josh Donaldson

The early numbers have not been good. There’s no way to sugar coat it. But there are a lot of reasons to think a sleeping giant is about to wake up.

After missing so much time with a calf injury, the Braves brought Donaldson along very slowly this spring. He only saw 27 plate appearances in Spring Training. Ergo, over the last few days Donaldson has passed the 50 plate appearance mark most agree is ideal for a hitter to get comfortable.

In the meantime, his hands have looked incredibly quick at third base. He’s running well. He seems genuinely healthy. He’s still taking his walks. And yesterday, he scorched a double. It’s coming. Don’t give up now, and get him if someone else is dumping him.

Ronald Acuna

Seriously? It’s a week and a half. He’s still awesome.

Corbin Burnes

The runs have come in buckets. But the strikeouts have too. Through 2 starts, Burnes is averaging 16.2 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9. The trouble is that he has giving up over 5 home runs every 9 innings and that 75% of his flyballs have gone for home runs. That is unsustainably bad luck.

If you need a reason to hold or go after Burnes, how about this. His current ERA is 9.90. His current xFIP is 1.99. There will be better days ahead.

Fold ’em

Reynaldo Lopez

I refused to include Lopez in my starting pitcher rankings based on his pedestrian strikeout numbers and spotty (at best) control. He’s now two starts into the season and has pitched 9 innings with 8 walks and 7 strikeouts. Unlike Corbin Burnes, xFIP is not his friend. His ERA is 10.00, and his xFIP . . . well, it’s still an unsightly 8.13.

If you can get something for him, do so. If you can’t, you can still probably find better on the wire.

Jake Arrieta

He has a nice, shiny 2.77 ERA. He has a nice, ugly 6.37 xFIP.

Arrieta has more walks than strikeouts, which is bad. He has more walks than strikeouts, which is doubly bad because he’s already pitched 13 innings. He has more walks than strikeouts, with is triply bad, because he only has 7 strikeouts which means it’s not stuff-based wildness. He’s also leaving stranding 92% of his baserunners so far, which is even more unsustainable than plastic.

Get out while you can.

Jason Heyward

Talk about different starts to the season. Heyward has a 2 home run game already, home runs in back to back games and 2 steals. He also has as many walks as strikeouts.

It absolutely kills me to say this, because Heyward was my favorite player in the game when he was with the Braves. I always root for him to succeed. But there are a lot of red flags in his start. Heyward has played for 3 teams in his career. None of those teams have been the Brewers. Yet he has 11 of his 126 career home runs at Miller Park, his third most of any stadium. He sees the ball better at Miller Park than he does anywhere else. He’s also grounded into 5 double plays already. His line drive rate is a mere 3.7%.

I hope I’m wrong, but don’t buy in on Heyward.

Ian Desmond and Brandon Nimmo

Conversely, like Ian Desmond and Brandon Nimmo are off to brutal starts. I think most fantasy owners still have more trust in them than they do in Heyward. I think that’s wrong too.

Nimmo is still walking, but he’s also striking out 47% of the time. Desmond isn’t walking and is striking out 40% of the time. You can’t play that many empty at-bats. You can’t. Jurickson Profar has been lousy so far, but his strikeout rate is still manageable.

Contact matters. Even in a 3 true outcomes game, you can’t hit for power if you can’t hit at all. Strikeout rates that high? Fold ’em.


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Seth Bias

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I'm Seth. I love baseball, especially the Braves, and rock n' roll on vinyl. Books, sandals and tacos too, though I find most of my money for those things going to vinyl these days. Once turned Prince Fielder into Justin Verlander and Paul Goldschmidt in a dynasty league. Also ashamed to say I once cut Jose Ramirez. I don't hate your favorite team unless your favorite team is the Nationals or Phillies. May or may not have cried when David Justice hit that home run in game 6 of the 95 World Series - though if you actually ask me, I'll claim I did not.

2 thoughts on “Hold’em/Fold’em: Week 2”

  1. FYI-Fantasy Rundown looks to be dead.It was up for a few days at the beginning of the season but not anymore.

    1. Not sure what you’re looking at, but the site updates links daily – I’m seeing several dozen baseball, a half dozen football, and the Master DFS links all for 4/10.

      He has been experiencing some technical difficulties lately, though, and if he can’t iron out the problems he did tweet today the site could get tossed, so it could be dead soon. But until that day comes it’s a great source for article links.

      P.S. He posted his tweet after you posted your comment. If his site goes dark now I’m blaming you 🙂

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