May is looking like an interesting month. The Seattle Mariners and the Boston Red Sox continue their opposite-side-of-a-coin dance, with Boston finally reaching .500 as the Mariners wave to them on their way down. The Minnesota Twins have the best record in baseball. We are weeks away from the MLB draft, Vladito is finally up in Toronto (though not hitting), and Shohei Ohtani is back in the Angels lineup as well. Also, we had our first No-Hitter courtesy of Mike Fiers:
As these storylines and others continue, be sure to keep up with who you need to add, cut, hold, and deal. The newest edition of the stock watch should help you there, so read on for a few highlighted performances you need to know about. As always, if you have a player you would like profiled or have a question about, feel free to post in the comment section or reach out to me on Twitter @hedenson18 with that or any other questions.
- Mitch Garver
Let me start by affirming what should be obvious to the fantasy community as a whole: Catcher is literally the worst. That said, Mitch Garver has been lethal in limited play this season. Garver is batting .354/.408/.738 with seven home runs…in only 71 plate appearances. Almost half of those appearances have come over the past two weeks, a period that saw him slash a respectable .286/.375/.500 with two slams, including this one that came after he was hit in the neck with a piece of broken bat:
His BABIP is sky-high (.390) and will taper off despite strong levels of contact (45.8% Hard Hit%). He did manage a .330 mark overall last season, however, albeit with a much stronger LD% (22.5% LD% in 2018, 16.7% LD% in 2019). Statcast has him at a .234 XBA/.321 XWOBA/.443 XSLG line based on his quality of contact and shows strong improvements in his Barrel% (+4.8%) and Average Exit Velocity (+2 MPH).
Garver has already equaled his power total from 2018 and should continue to add some value there despite a lowered Launch Angle (8.7% in 2019). Playing time is the biggest issue for him as he shares playing time with Jason Castro and the soon-to-be-returning Willians Astudillo. Still, given the barren, godforsaken steppe that is fantasy catcher production, Garver is an interesting option for now (39% owned Yahoo, 22.7% ESPN).
- Brian Goodwin
Many owners pegged Goodwin as a breakout candidate after his solid 2017 performance in DC (.251/.313/.498 with 13 HR and six SB), but 2018 was a complete bust for Goodwin. He managed a tepid .239/.318/.390 line between the Nationals and Kansas City, notching six home runs and swiping four bases. The Royals waived him at the end of March and he was rescued by an Angel, specifically a group of them that live in Los Angeles (really Anaheim).
California must be a lot nicer than DC or Kansas City, because Goodwin has been very productive since moving there, batting .308/.387/.500 with four home runs and a steal. He is walking at a good rate (10.8%), limiting his strikeouts (24.2%), and hitting a lot of line drives (30.3% in 2019). That increase has come with a 7.6% decrease in ground balls and, generally, more success:
His average exit velocity is down a good bit compared to last year (-2.8% MPH) but his numbers based on quality of contact check out at a respectable level (.261 XBA/.341 XWOBA/.437 XSLG). Goodwin is not going to single-handedly win you a title but he is very available (15% owned Yahoo, 13.6% ESPN) and does offer the potential for an interesting blend of power and speed moving forward.
- Brandon Woodruff
Go get Brandon Woodruff if you can. In his last three starts Woodruff has struck out 22 batters in 16 IP, allowing only three earned runs and walking the same number of batters. He ranks in the top 20 among MLB starters in K% (29.7%) and is baffling batters at the plate (11.7% SwStr%). In addition to that glamorous strikeout rate, his control has continued to improve, (-1.4% BB%) and he is getting ahead of hitters earlier (+3% F-Strike%).
His overall numbers are weighted down by an inflated 4.25 ERA (2.87 FIP, 3.32 xFIP, 3.39 SIERA) and an absurd .385 BABIP that is not going to continue. If Woodruff can continue to miss bats to the extent he is while limiting his walks, look out. He has not gone deep into games too much this season (two starts of 6IP or more), but he only has one outing with fewer than 5 innings. The only other concern for Woodruff is his workload (113.2 IP in 2018) and how much the Brewers will let him exceed that mark this season.
- Ronny Rodriguez
It’s only 14 games, but Ronny Rodriguez has waylaid opposing pitchers since arriving in Detroit, smacking three home runs and slashing .340/.379/.717. He has absolutely crushed the ball so far (47.6% Hard Hit%), displaying some of the power he showed in his extended minor league run. Rodriguez posted double digit home runs in two of the last three seasons at AAA and notched a total of 14 between AAA and MLB last season.
He has also flashed the ability to steal bases at the minor league level (four seasons with 10+ steals), though his efficiency was spotty last season (10/18 in AAA last season, 12/20 AAA and MLB). Yahoo has him eligible at every infield spot except for catcher, making him an interesting fantasy bench piece given his versatility.
Despite his success so far, the sample is too small to generate any real conclusions about how he will perform moving ahead. He struggled in his 62 game showcase last season (.220/.256/.335) and has alarming plate discipline issues that will likely impact his ability to make consistent contact as the season continues (18.1% SwStr%, 47.5% O-Swing%, 53.6% O-Contact%). He is just interesting enough to track, however.
- Rougned Odor
Looks like the fight has gone out of Odor. I came into the season optimistic about his chances to provide underrated power and speed at the keystone but no longer believe that will happen. His strikeout rate has ballooned to 35.8% for the season (39.6% K% last two weeks) and is a big part of why he is currently batting .141/.223/.271 on the season. His expected production is not optimistic either: .181 XBA/.250 XWOBA/.295 XSLG. All of those marks rank among the worst in the league (his XSLG ‘wins’ as it is only in the bottom 7% of the league) and he has barreled only two balls on the season.
Fastballs are killing him. Opposing pitchers have thrown heat at Odor 60% of the time this season, limiting him to a .173 BA/.245 WOBA/.327 SLG (.198 XBA/.259 XWOBA/.333 XSLG) line against that pitch. Per Statcast, his line against breaking pitches is an unbelievable .000 BA/.107 WOBA/.000 SLG (118 pitches). Catchers have gunned him down in three of his five stolen base attempts and his .129 ISO is the lowest mark he has ever posted at the big league level. All in all, not a lot of value going on here. The 30/15 production Odor flashed in 2015/2016 is looking more like his high point and even his 2018 production seems well out of reach.
- Corey Seager
Seager has not looked good since returning from Tommy John surgery. He is batting an anemic .235/.329/.356 with only two home runs, his last slam coming on April 12th against the Milwaukee Brewers. His Hard Hit% (-8.1%), Average Exit Velocity (-2.1 MPH), and Barrel% (-3.4%) are all well off of his 2016 metrics, playing a big role in his disappointing expected stat line (.218 XBA/.297 XWOBA/.354 XSLG).
He traded some of his ground balls (-6.8%) for fly balls (+11.3%), losing a bit on his LD% (-3.6%) in that deal as well. Seager is coming off of a major surgery and may just need more time to get back to the player he was in 2016/2017. I would not recommend selling him, but rather keeping him on the bench until he shows more life at the plate. There is no doubt that, when healthy, he is a key piece to any fantasy lineup, though he is not showing that potential right now.