Fantasy Stock Watch: Week 13

Anyone else getting awful trade offers lately? Everyone has a different approach to starting negotiations. Some guys just throw out lowball offers and hope one sticks. Others will keep working up the ladder, until it approaches fair. Still others want to chat for hours via e-mail about how to construct a deal. Regardless of your tactic, do your league mates a favor and start at a halfway reasonable level. More than two awful offers is going to make me quickly cross you off my list of future trade candidates, and I’ll stop looking or responding to you. You’d have to end up overpaying to get back in my good graces.

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Melvin Upton – The Upton formerly known as BJ has been pulling his usual hot and cold routine, with two great weeks in a row after two awful weeks before that. As it turns out, not much in his metrics is different from 2015, except his HR/FB ratio, which is tied for the second best of his career. His free-swinging ways creates a fickle stat line, but if he’s managed to get back to being above average in power, then the odds are good he could end up with his third season of 20/30. Given how cheap he’s likely to be, and how long he’s been awful, he may still be in your FA pool. Grab him now, or trade for him if you’re sitting on an excess somewhere.

Justin TurnerTurner’s been underwhelming this season, until a sudden barrage of homers in June. His two-week rating is high, but it’s really due to one single week, where he hit 4 HR and batted .423. That said, I’ve been a Turner fan for a while, so I’m hoping this means he has figured things out. For the month of June, his average is actually lower than it could be, because his BABIP is near .250 despite a 27% line drive rate and a crazy-high hard hit rate. If anything, it implies a bit of bad luck recently. Now, his power is going to fall back to earth (22% HR/FB% in June), but bear in mind he’s capable of staying above the league average (14% in 2015), so he should have no problem breaking 20 home runs and setting a career high. The only thing that ever really holds him back is health, but if he can stay on the field, he’ll end up bringing a profit by season’s end.

Daniel MengdenInjuries have opened up an opportunity for Mengden in the rotation, and he hasn’t disappointed so far. Despite a 1-3 record in four starts, he’s posted 3 quality starts, and his K/9 has been solid. His 3.2 BB/9 isn’t great in today’s era, but even five years ago it would’ve been considered safe. His BABIP is near normal, but his strand rate is a bit lucky, especially given his slightly high HR/FB ratio. However, his results aren’t pure luck, give his 1.19 ERA in the minors this year. Mengden should be able to stay under a 3.50 ERA and 1.25 WHIP for the season, unless hitters really figure him out or he gets on the wrong side of Lady Luck.

Tanner Roark Before this season started, if you’d told me Roark would have 16 starts by the end of June, I would have called you crazy. Now he’s sporting an ERA under 3.00 and an okay WHIP. What’s the deal? An increased ground ball tilt has helped him reduce the home runs, getting his HR/FB% to league average. It has also likely helped his strand rate, which is a bit high right now. However, his walk rate has gone up from 2.1 BB/9 in 2015 to 2.9 in 2016. Somehow he’s also managed to finally get his K/9 to a respectable level (8.0). That said, it’s not likely to last, with a 59% first pitch strike rate and just a league average swinging strike rate. There’s a small chance he keeps it up all year and comes close to replicating his successful 2014 campaign (albeit with a worse WHIP), but nothing in his metrics suggests to me he’s doing something different or special here. I’d rather trade him now than risk regression.





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Robbie GrossmanHe’s been getting plenty of playing time on the horrible Twins. His average for the season isn’t bad, and he’s sporting 5 home runs, but the last few weeks have been particularly brutal. So what do you do moving forward? First, know that his average is being propped up by a small AB sample in May, where he had a very lucky BABIP. He may have been getting challenged, because his contact rate was high for him, as was his HR/FB ratio, and he had a hard hit rate above the league average. But that’s changed in June. The average is going to stay low with a normalized BABIP, his contact rate dropped back down to his (bad) career level, and his HR/FB% has dropped some. That said, he’ll still provide above-average power, but that’s all you can safely bank on. It’s best to keep avoiding him unless you’re desperate or in an AL-only league.

Alexei RamirezRemember when he was a top-5 fantasy shortstop? It’s been a while, but not too long. Yet this year he’s often found in the FA pool. Owners haven’t trusted his lack of consistency, and he went from a homer-friendly park to a cavernous one. The good news is that his batted ball profile and contact rate haven’t changed from last year. The bad news is that it wasn’t effective in 2015, and it’s not working in 2016. His HR/FB% is down for a third year, which is expected given his age and Petco Park. His speed scores are getting worse too, so even 15+ steals is in doubt. Ramirez is an emergency stopgap if your SS and MI go down, but even then I’d rather gamble on young options with upside.

Tim LincecumA nice first start for the Angels has been followed by two ugly starts. Perhaps he’s bound to be a little rusty, and at least he managed 7 strikeouts in his last start. However, you have to know that it’s a longshot he returns even average fantasy value. He’s old enough to start to worry about his effectiveness, even without the injury issues in 2015. His metrics have been trending in the wrong direction for a few seasons. He’s far removed from his elite seasons. And it’s a tiny sample size for 2016, but his LD%, BB/9, and HR/FB% are up. He’s not going to pull a Bartolo and be the waiver wire pickup of the season. Leave him in the FA pool where he belongs.

Aaron NolaThe Phillies have struggled, and it’s often hard for their starting pitchers to have a great ERA due to their homer-friendly park. Nola’s surface stats aren’t amazing, and he’s been horrible his last four times out, not making it to 4 IP any of those times. He was very good in May, so this sudden collapse is worrisome. His BB/9 skyrocketed, and his BABIP is amazingly high. He has a high HR/FB ratio the last two months, and though it didn’t burn him in May, it’s hurting him in June (57% strand rate). It seems batters are teeing off on him, probably because he’s struggling with his control and having to lay in some easy strikes. If it was just the BABIP and strand rate, I’d say it was a month of extreme bad luck. But I do slightly worry there could be a minor injury affecting his ability to throw strikes and fool hitters. His K/9 is still amazing, so I’m willing to give him a mulligan, but I’d sit him for at least a week to see if he can figure things out — or if there’s official news of an injury.

 

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Kevin Jebens
Fantasy baseball player since 2000; winning leagues ranging from 12-team H2H to 18-team experts 5x5. Has written for various baseball blogs, including the 2013 Bleed Cubbie Blue Annual.
Kevin Jebens

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