If anyone has player requests this year, leave a comment. I’ll write them up for the next week or respond below.
Kole Calhoun – His blah April was followed by an awful May. Now he’s on the rise again. I’ll admit, in a league where roster space was short, I dumped him a few weeks ago. But I was able to pick him back up last week because no one else wanted him after May’s average under the Mendoza line. How does he look for the rest of the year?
The results are mostly positive. Prior to 2016, he’d put up a HR/FB well above average. Then in 2016 it dropped to league average, in the 9-10% range. To start this year, it was 7% in April and 11% in May. So far in June he’s at 50%, and we know that won’t keep up. For the yearly total, his HR/FB is at 15%, which is a good sign that he’s finding his power stroke again, especially with his second best FB% of his career.
His hard hit rate compared to the league average has risen every month, so hopefully that horrific BABIP from May was all bad luck. His plate approach and contact haven’t changed, which is a good sign, and he hits quite a few line drives. The only caveat is that he’ll likely never hit for much average. If he can get back over 20 home run per season with decent run production, we can overlook at .250 average.
Matt Holliday – It seems playing in the American League is agreeing with Holliday at this point in his career. After numerous injury-shortened seasons, the DH time is letting him focus on his bat, and he’s paid off for those who gambled in the preseason. Will the fountain of youth hold up?
The power’s mostly legit, but the average isn’t. His HR/FB is a career high, and it’s come down in June. However, he’s lofting the ball more than his career average, and his hard hit rate is at least league average. Given his low LD%, the hard hits are mostly in the form of fly balls, indicating he’s punishing mistakes by putting balls over the fence. He may slow a little, but he still has a shot at 30 home runs if his health holds up.
The average is another thing. He has his best BABIP in nine years. His swinging strike rate is up, his second highest. And his contact rate has fallen as he swings for the fences and pulls the ball more. For the rest of the year, it’s more likely he bats under .265. But if you’re a gambler, and his health holds up, this is still a veteran asset that can help you win in 2017.
Chase Anderson – The Brewers have found a way to be relevant in 2017, and what’s more, they finally have starting pitchers who are worth rostering on fantasy teams. Anderson’s been stellar in ERA and WHIP so far. He was lights-out in April, had a rocky May, and is back to stellar in June. Is he safe to bet on at this point?
There’s good and bad, but overall I’m optimistic for 2017. In his two good months, his BABIP and strand rate have been pretty lucky. In May his BABIP was over .360. He had a HR/FB above average in May, but it’s been nearly nonexistent in April and June. Some of these things are going to normalize after a whole season, but if he can stay away from gopheritis, he’ll keep an ERA under 3.50 and a WHIP under 1.20 by season’s end.
He’s getting more hitters to swing and miss, as well as chase out of the zone. His fastball finally has a positive PITCHf/x value, and his changeup is improved from last year. He’s therefore posting his best K/9 of his career, and he’s improved his walk rate from 2016. A BB/9 hiccup in May is sandwiched between two good rates. If that loss of control was just a blip, he’ll exceed rest-of-season projections. He’s an interesting target who may not cost a ton if his owners don’t believe in him.
Edinson Volquez – You can count on one hand the number of fair to good seasons Volquez is had. However, in the last three seasons, he’s had an ERA under 3.60 twice, and this year he’s on pace to do it again. Does craftiness get him through 2017 with a positive value, or will he slip back to his usual self?
Sell now. Don’t even finish reading this. If you can move him for anything — even half a packet of Big League Chew — do it immediately. His BABIP and strand rate are a little on the lucky side for him. His K/9 is up, but his supporting metrics (SwStr%, F-Strike%) don’t support the increase from 2016. What’s more, his walk rate has ballooned, and that’s never tolerable. He won’t keep an ERA under 4.00 this year.
Jose Abreu – He was an immediate success when he entered the bigs, but since then he’s been on a decline. This May was elite performance, but he’s gone ice-cold in June. Will he rekindle any of his production moving forward?
The bad news is that his 2014-15 peak is over. His hard hit rate and HR/FB aren’t climbing back to that level as he’s about to enter his thirties. Currently his 2017 hard hit is improved, particularly in June, but with so many grounders, it’s resulting in outs and a lower BABIP. The good news is that his new floor and ceiling is still valuable, but it’s not near the elite production we want. He did have two hot months in 2016, like this year’s May, but it’s not sustainable for him. If you set your expectations at .285, 25 HR, you’ll be happy. But the days of .300, 30 HR won’t return.
Wil Myers – I just traded for Myers to bolster my win-now approach, but he’s been in a slump for two weeks. In fact, his batting average was bad in May too, after his hot start in April. Some are beginning to lose faith, but there’s hope for decent production in the second half.
A high LD% and HR/FB boosted his average and BABIP in April. In May there was some bad luck there, as well as Myers cooling off. In June, he’s not hitting any line drives, and his hard hit rate is down again. But he does keep hitting fly balls, and given his body of work, I’m confident his low June HR/FB will rebound. What does hurt my fantasy roster is the complete lack of running. Granted that he’s not getting on a ton in June, but he hasn’t even attempted to run. His speed is still there, so when he gets out of his slump, he should produce across the board again. There’s a little risk here, but overall I expect a rebound.
John Lackey – Lackey’s far from the only slumping Cub, but older veterans send up more of a red flag when they struggle. He’s had shiny stats for the last two years — a little too shiny. Last year’s BABIP was unsustainably low, and now that it’s normalized, the WHIP has jumped. His batted ball profile is in line with his recent years, as is his good K/9. So what’s the problem?
Home runs. He’s making too many mistakes, and hitters are calling him on it. His fastball velocity has dropped, so if he’s not being crafty, he’s taken to task. Another smaller issue is his walk rate, which has officially been rising for four years. It’s still under 3.0 BB/9, so it’s not bad, but these chinks in his armor aren’t easily corrected. The end is nigh, even if he gets the ERA under 4.50. I’d sell someone on his good K/9 and take whatever you can get for him.
Josh Tomlin – He never had a profile I loved, but some of the fantasy pundits have touted him due to his elite control. Based solely on certain metrics, he seems to project to an upside that could make a profit. Sadly, it’ll never develop. Think of a player like Ricky Nolasco, whose indicators always pointed to a potential breakout at some point, if only all things went his way.
Tomlin has an insanely low walk rate of 0.5 BB/9, but that’s all he has going for him. His K/9 has dropped since 2014, and he’s sitting at just a 6.0 mark right now, with no hope of improving given his SwStr% and drop in velocity. Not every pitcher on your roster has to be a fireballer, but his HR/FB is above the average. His one season with an ERA under 4.00 was due to a unrepeatble BABIP and strand rate. If players are making a lot of contact because you can’t fool them, and you can’t throw it by them, they’re going to keep putting the ball in play. The fact that his LD% is also on the rise means there’s no end in sight to his “unlucky” BABIP this season. Ignore the elite control and leave him in the FA pool.
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