Hold or Fold: Versus Edition

“Wait, wait a minute take a step back
you gotta think twice before you react
so stay, stay a little while
Because a promise not kept is the road to exile” ~ Shinedown “Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay-Boom-Lay-Boom)”

It’s mid-May. If a player ain’t living up to their draft promise by this point, it’s time to exile them. You’ve waited more than a minute, you’ve probably thought about it a hundred times, and you’ve let them stick around this long – wait no more.

Hopefully, you know the drill here. Hold ‘Em means keep them, but it also means target them in trades or on the wire. Fold ‘Em . . . is pretty self-explanatory.

Production, in and of itself, is not always the target of Hold/Fold. Obviously, production is the end game of all fantasy sports. However, more than production, playing time matters. I snuck a win in a fairly deep 20 team league this past week despite awful collective production. My team hit .205 with a .637 OPS and a 5.69 ERA. My opponent hit .240 with a .832 OPS and a 1.12 ERA.  However, I won runs, home runs, rbi, steals, pitching k’s, saves, and holds simply by sheer volume. My team had 224 at-bats to his 150, and 62 innings to his 40. If you don’t have star power, you might be surprised how often you can simply bludgeon your way to the top just by grabbing as many innings and at-bats as you can.

Hold ‘Em vs Fold ‘Em

Kole Calhoun vs Andrew McCutchen

There’s no denying that Andrew McCutchen has had a better career than Kole Calhoun. But why does that matter here and now, in 2019? McCutchen, while a stellar human being, is no longer an MVP candidate, no longer runs that often, and has been generally average so far in 2019. He has 5 home runs and 1 steal and is owned in 82% of Yahoo leagues. He was projected to be a top 100-ish talent. So far he’s barely top 300. Considering there are 750-ish players on active rosters at any given time, that’s pretty average.

Kole Calhoun, on the other hand, is doing the exact same thing as McCutchen, except better. He is hitting .232 to McCutchen’s .238, but Calhoun has paired that with 9 home runs and 2 steals. Even better, there’s no Nick Williams or Roman Quinn or Dylan Cozens lurking for the Angels. Calhoun is their right-fielder. Projected to be a thoroughly average asset, Calhoun has instead been the 120th best talent so far.

History and name value matter in trades and in drafting. They shouldn’t matter in season. If I were making a trade for the rest of this season, I’d turn McCutchen into Calhoun 100 out of 100 times.

    • Hold Calhoun. Fold McCutchen.

Travis Shaw vs Mac Williamson

This isn’t a versus I ever thought I’d consider. I thought Shaw was a top 10 infielder given his power. Instead, everyone has power – except Shaw. He is somehow still owned in 50% of leagues, despite his 4 HR 8 RBI tally for the season. Pair that with a .167 batting average and a Brewers team with designs on a pennant, and you have a brewing disaster for fantasy owners.

Williamson is exactly the opposite. It’s possible, perhaps even likely that Shaw outproduces Williamson this season. Shaw has a strong track record of production. Williamson has none. Williamson isn’t a kid anymore either. What Williamson does have going for him is that the Giants are going nowhere fast, so they’ve decided to give him an everyday job and see what he can do with it. Like I said earlier – volume. Quantity over quality. Williamson doesn’t have to be great. He doesn’t even have to be good. But he’s going to be gaining at-bats and given enough of them – any hitter will rack up some runs and RBIs at the very least.

    • Williamson, in line for playing time, is a Hold.
    • Shaw, in line for less playing time (and deservedly so), is a Fold.

Rick Porcello vs Everyone

I hate to be the one to tell you this, but if you are among the people still rostering Rick Porcello, you aren’t paying attention. I get that he won a Cy Young award. But that was then. This is now. Now he has an ERA over 5.00, a WHIP of 1.5, and is somehow still owned in 68% of leagues. There is no particular hold here. Just a fold. Lots of pitchers (Aaron Sanchez, Wade Miley, Lucas Giolito, Anthony DeSclafani, etc) are owned in far fewer leagues and are definitively outproducing Porcello.

    • Fold the man already.


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Written by 

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.