Hold or Fold: The Set And Forget Superstar Edition

“If I close my eyes forever, will it all remain unchanged?
If I close my eyes forever, will it all remain the same?” ~ Lita Ford and Ozzy Osbourne “Close My Eyes Forever”

The answer to Lita’s question is simple: no. Nevertheless, fantasy owners try it all the time. It’s called “set and forget”. Before the season, everyone knew that Jose Ramirez was a set and forget stud. That didn’t really work out. Even the best fall apart sometimes. So let’s do a superstar edition of Hold or Fold.

Obviously, everyone in this edition is amazingly talented. No one here should be cut under any circumstances. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t move on from them in trades.  Sometimes you need to move a stud to secure your future, or to upgrade a specific position, or just to reshuffle the deck a bit. So Fold this week simply means that these guys might not burn you if you trade them.

Hold ‘Em

Alex Bregman

You’re not crazy. You’re not actually thinking of getting rid of Alex Bregman. But sometimes those ohh so tempting offers come along. No offer, no matter how tempting, is worth Bregman right now.

The numbers are solid (.269/.401/.538 with 19 HR). However, he’s doing that while walking substantially more than he strikes out, and with an impossibly low .245 BABIP. It is entirely possible that Bregman is putting together a potentially MVP caliber season while getting unlucky. Now imagine what might happen if his luck was neutral, or if he started barrelling the ball better (though with 80 balls hit 95 mph or better, his struggles there are a bit exaggerated).

Freddie Freeman

I knocked Freeman this preseason because his power slumped so badly after the All-Star break last year. All he is doing now is hitting over .300 with 19 home runs while striking out less than 17% of the time and generating a perfectly reasonable .327 BABIP. He’s basically luck-neutral, and therefore just really, really freaking good.

Gerrit Cole

Cole has been amazing, and the numbers say he should have been better. He might have a 3.67 ERA, but he has the lowest xFIP of all qualified starters in baseball. Also, he’s striking out guys like he’s Josh Hader or peak Craig Kimbrel. Hold, buy, get . . . you want him.

Fold ‘Em

Matt Chapman

Matt Chapman is in a dead slump – he has been for quite a while. After an excellent March and April, where he seemingly validated his sleeper MVP hype, Chapman’s bat has crashed back to earth. He hit .257 with 7 home runs in May, but his plate discipline cratered. After a 16:16 walk to strikeout ratio at the end of April, Chapman has gone 17:43 since. His power and average have fallen further in June, to a .211 average with a mere 1 home run.

Statcast says he has hit 103 balls with an average exit velocity of 95 mph or better. That’s seventh best in all of baseball. Normally that would point to immense bounceback potential. That said, Chapman’s BABIP has gone up every month, while his batting average has gone down. He is crushing the ball at home with a .315 average, 12 home runs and 19 walks to 20 strikeouts. On the road, he’s awful. .209 with 4 home runs and 14 walks to 39 strikeouts. He’s still really talented. Don’t cut him. But if you need to win right now, you could let someone else wait while he figures it out.

Blake Treinen

I’m not bashing the A’s here, I promise. Both Treinan and Chapman are real stars. However, Treinen is also walking roughly 5 batters per 9 innings and has an xFIP of 4.69.

There was never a chance that Treinen could repeat his 2018 season. It was a magical season for the ages. Regression is a monster, and it eventually lays claim to everyone. It’s just happening to Treinen now. With relief pitching in flux all over baseball, someone may yet pay you for a name like Treinan. If they offer something worth having, take it.


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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.