If anyone has player requests this year, leave a comment. I’ll write them up for the next week or respond below.
Ryon Healy – Last year it was hard to believe the hype given some of Healy’s underlying metrics. This year the average is down, but he has already matched his home run output from last year, and in fewer at bats. Has he put to rest all doubts about his breakout from last year?
The skeptics are going to have to eat some humble pie, it seems. There are some nitpicks here: his batting average still seems a little unlucky given his BABIP and LD%, so maybe he’ll lose a few more points from his average. He doesn’t walk, so that can hurt his value in OBP leagues. However, he has upped his HR/FB and even his FB%, so it seems the power is more legit than we thought after last year. His hard hit rate is also up, so he’s making solid contact. Add in the fact that he can qualify at third base for most leagues, and this is a good profile to invest in.
Just bear in mind that his cool April (.245 BA, 10% HR/FB) means he’s not a sure thing. The risk averse may want to sell, but I’m pretty comfortable riding him for the rest of 2017 in redraft leagues.
Lucas Duda – Is he finally healthy enough to play? Back issues last year lingered into 2017, and he had elbow problems as well. However, his rankings in the last two weeks have him near the top of batters. What does the rest of the season have in store?
You can always count on power from Duda when he’s healthy. That strong HR/FB and FB% will keep the homers coming, even in Citi-Field. However, his recent boost in batting average isn’t sustainable. His BABIP has jumped in June, so when it returns to earth, he’ll go back to hitting under .260. The good news is that his hard hit rate is above average, and he’s hitting more line drives each month this year.
I like his power bat when healthy, but that’s the problem — he can’t stay on the field. He’s high risk, high reward for those who needs HR and RBI.
Ariel Miranda – A nice second half in 2016 had some hoping for more in 2017. So far his ratios look about the same, with a few more strikeouts. How sustainable is his approach and his good results?
There’s cause for optimism, but I’m hedging my bets and staying away. In April, his K/9 and BB/9 showed improvement from last year, but he gave those gains back in May. What most worries me is his fly ball tendencies. Safeco is a nice home park for a starter with a fly ball rate near 50%, but even a league average HR/FB is going to be worse for his end results due to that higher fly ball rate. A high FB% also helps keep his BABIP below the league average, which is a plus.
However, with his recent BB/9 spike, I worry he’ll start offering up more pitches in the zone to hitters, and I just don’t trust him to keep up an ERA under 4.00 and a WHIP under 1.20. His K/9 increase will hide some warts, but it’s best to sell high on him if you can find a trade partnet.
Tanner Roark – The control artist with a ground ball tilt looked great last year and had fantasy managers once again ranking him too high on their preseason charts. Two of his last three starts have been good, which has him ranked near the top in recent standings. Given how he has bounced up and down in ERA (and a bit less so in WHIP), it’s hard to know what to expect for next month, let alone the rest of the season.
Although he has two full seasons with stellar ratios, it’s best to stay away. I like ground ball guys, and his HR/FB is league average, so that’s not a major problem. His K/9 has even been better lately, with a slightly rising swinging strike rate. But in the last two seasons, his walk rate has gone from great to pedestrian, and even with a ground ball tilt, his BABIP doesn’t stay much below average.
Personally, I project him more like his 2015/17 self than his better-looking 2014/16 results. Even if you think he can split the difference, it’s not elite results. Sell if at all possible.
Chris Owings – He has looked like an all-star from April through May. However, in June he’s hit a rough patch, hitting under .200 with no real production. Is this just a bump in the road on the way to a great season, or does it indicate that his early results are a mirage?
There’s no denying his recent slump is at least partly due to bad luck, with a zero BABIP in June. However, the cautionary tale is in his early hot streak. His average was BABIP fueled and is unsustainable. His hard hit rate has been dropping since the start of the season. Despite his speed, he’s been running less often as the season progresses. As for the power output, his HR/FB has been dropping every month as well.
He still has some potential and value, but do not be one of those managers who holds on to him forever. If other owners aren’t turned off by his week-long slump, sell for what you need to compete this year.
Dansby Swanson – As much as we want hot prospects to succeed, we have to remember that most of them are going to struggle early on. That’s the case for Swanson, who’s hitting under the Mendoza line for the year. He was projected to be a good source of speed, but so far nothing is coming together. Sadly, if he stays in the bigs all year, you can’t expect a huge improvement.
Where to start? His hard hit rate is down from last year and is below league average. He’s hitting more grounders, and despite his speed, he’s not reaching base enough to offset it. The BABIP last year was unsustainable, and though it’s extra low now, his profile doesn’t indicate a high-BA guy right now. His HR/FB is league average, but he’s not hitting a ton of fly balls, so the home runs aren’t forthcoming.
Maybe he could get lucky with a 15/10 season, but he’d have a horrible average. And frankly, I’d be surprised if he stays in the majors all year. There’s no value here except in keeper leagues, and even then, it had better be a deep keepers or NL-only.
Rick Porcello – Porcello has dealt with large swings in his ERA and WHIP over the last few years. We know that they don’t tell the whole story, but such extremes warrant some analysis. He currently looks like the poor 2015 version, but can we hope that he can get back to 2016 form?
He makes for a good buy-low target. His walk rate is still elite, and he’s upped his K/9 and swinging strike rate while attacking the zone with a high first pitch strike percentage. His BABIP is extremely unlucky and should come back down, which will help his WHIP. He had some gopheritis in April but corrected it in May. A large improvement is more likely than a complete collapse.
That said, there are two metrics to keep an eye on. First, he is giving up a lot of hard hits, far more than his recent years. Part of that has been in the form of home runs. Also, his FB% has been on the rise for many years, so whereas he used to have a ground ball tilt, he’s now leaning a bit too much toward fly balls for my taste. There’s moderate risk here, but I’ll take my chances if I can buy low.
Tyler Glasnow – Like Swanson, Glasnow was a touted prospect whose major league career hasn’t been very shiny yet. What sort of hope do we have for the future, both in 2017 and beyond?
Frankly, I’m passing hard on Glasnow in any format right now. He has a decent enough strikeout rate, but that’s all he has going his way. His K/9 isn’t even elite, and his SwStr% has dropped from last year, so no further growth is likely right now. He can’t keep the ball in the yard, with major gopheritis and the loss of his decent ground ball tilt in 2016. But the nail in the coffin for me is his walk rate. Even ten years ago, a BB/9 over 4.0 was nearly unrosterable.
In today’s game, anything over 3.2 is tough to stomach. Glasnow is sitting at 5.2 BB/9. He’s throwing out of the zone more than the average pitcher, but hitters aren’t chasing at all. They’re also making contact against him above the league average. Glasnow’s game isn’t ready yet, and I don’t see a quick turnaround in the near future. Sell to a Pirates fan or just drop him outright, except in the deepest of NL-only leagues.
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