Fantasy Stock Watch – Week 8

The stock report is back and ready to keep you updated on the performances, both good and bad, that you need to be aware of as the fantasy season progresses. As always, if you have a player you would like profiled or have a question about, feel free to post in the comment section or reach out to me on Twitter @hedenson18 with that or any other questions. To the report!

Stock Up

Victor Martinez

Martinez has hit well lately, slashing .316/.350/.526 with a slam over the past week. While his overall numbers (.234/.302/.366) haven’t looked too promising in 2018, a deeper look under the hood makes me think he could be someone who provides sneaky value as the season progresses based on the quality of his contact.

While it hasn’t led to much success so far, Martinez has been hitting the ball very hard in 2018 (43.8% Hard%). Using Statcast we can see that his xBA currently sits at .289 and his xSLG (Expected Slugging Percentage) at .498, both higher than his current production levels and perhaps a sign of stronger production in the future. Also, his less than stellar numbers this season have been generated on a paltry .238 BABIP, which seems a bit unlucky for a hitter like Martinez based on past performance.

Obviously, Martinez is 39 and will not return to the type of hitter he was in his prime, but for someone only owned in 16% of leagues on Fantrax he could provide decent value moving forward.

Brandon Crawford

It has been a great week to be Brandon Crawford. The Giant SS has scorched opposing pitchers to a .489/.520/.756 line over the past two weeks and hasn’t slowed down recently, posting a .450/.476/.800 line with 2 HR in the past week alone. His Batted Ball profile over this stretch shows a man fixated on keeping the ball off the ground (7.1% GB%), preferring to keep his contact limited to line drives (42.9% LD%) and fly balls (50% FB%).

This electric stretch has been supported by an otherworldly .545 BABIP, so while the ride has been fun lately, Crawford will be coming back to more human levels soon. Despite the fact that he won’t keep up his Ted Williams impression for the rest of the season, Crawford does have some interesting markers that may keep him relevant in fantasy this season, especially in regards to his Batted Ball Profile and overall quality of contact thus far in 2018.

Crawford has slashed his GB% by 8% this season, shifting most of that difference over to his LD%, which currently sits at a healthy 28%. He has mashed the ball as well, posting a 39.4% Hard% in 2018. This improvement in his quality of contact can be seen in his Statcast data as their metrics (.297xBA, .346wOBA, .462xSLG) are very similar to his current slash line (.309/.343/.473), reinforcing the thought that his performance shouldn’t be much of a surprise despite a fairly high, .377 BABIP on the season so far.

Nate Jones

Jones has the auspicious distinction of being the first closer to make the pages of this report thanks to his 3 saves in 7 days and 0.00 ERA during that time. His stock is also up as it seems he has managed to become the main source of saves (at least for the moment) for the White Sox and manager Rick Renteria.

Jones has some of the tools you usually want in a closer, chief among them being high strikeout levels. His K/9 sits at 10.42 on the season (12.27 K/9 over the past 7 days) and he has managed to generate high level SwStr marks as well (14.8% SwStr% in 2018).

His high K levels do also come with elevated walk rates, though not too far out of the norm for the always volatile closer position. Here is how Jones stacks up to other closers with similar K/9 and BB/9 rates:

Name K/9 BB/9 SV WHIP ERA FIP xFIP SIERA
Raisel Iglesias 11.22 3.32 8 0.92 2.08 3.67 3.28 2.82
Shane Greene 10.55 3.38 10 1.36 4.22 4.47 3.78 3.27
Nate Jones 10.42 3.79 4 1.26 3.32 3.74 3.99 3.43
Wade Davis 10.18 3.98 17 1.03 2.66 3.46 3.69 3.39
Felipe Vazquez 10.13 3.38 9 1.29 3.86 1.99 3.37 3.37

As you can see he aligns pretty well with many of these players, but the main difference for him sits with his current ownership rates in fantasy. Jones is currently owned in 43% of all Fantrax leagues, while all the rest of these firemen have ownership levels in the 90’s except for Shane Greene (82%). While there is a bit more risk with Jones than some of these other closers, he has the potential to provide cheap saves moving forward without hurting you in other categories.

Stock Down

Cody Bellinger

After a stellar freshman effort in 2017, Bellinger has experienced some growing pains so far in 2018. His overall line of .244/.307/.444 with 7 HR isn’t the worst performance by any means, but owners who spent an early pick on CB expected more from the young Dodger and definitely hope his production jumps back to higher levels as the season progresses.

Bellinger has been sliding hard over the past 14 days, and though he has managed to leave the yard 3 times in that time, he has struggled to a .151/.224/.396 line overall (.107/.194/.286 in the past 7 days). He has been hitting a lot of balls on the ground lately (39.4% of the time) and overall in 2018 has seen his GB% jump almost 6%. Both his LD% and FB% are down on the season, and he has seen his Hard% dip from 43% in 2017 to 37% in 2018.

These changes in his batted ball profiles are worrisome, especially when considering his xBA (Expected Batting Average) through Statcast. Bellinger currently has a .217 xBA based on the quality of his contact this season, which is a good bit lower than the .244 BA he is currently posting. One bright spot in his approach the season is that he has managed to drop his K% to 23.6% (26.6% in 2017), but even that positive change has come with a pretty large increase in SwStr% (14.9% in 2018, 13.2% in 2017) and pretty large drop off in his BB% (7.9% in 2018, 11.7% in 2017).

I am not too confident that Bellinger will come anywhere close to justifying his draft position this season unless he can change his approach a good bit. He still has time obviously, but he has me worried for the rest of 2018.

Brian Dozier

Dozier has been one of the better sources of power and speed at the cornerstone over the past few seasons, coming into 2018 with 76 HR and 34 SB’s over the two previous campaigns. While he is still providing some value in those areas in 2018 (7 HR and 2 SB), his overall production has taken a hit, especially lately. Over the past 7 days Dozier hasn’t driven in a run, staggering to a .095/.240/.143 line while striking out 32% of the time.

His overall line for the year is .230/.299/.399, which is pretty close to his monthly career splits for April/May at this point of the season. Dozier has actually cut his K% so far in 2018 (18.8% in 2018, 20% in 2017) and has also seen his SwStr% drop 1.5% as well. While he has seen a 3% decrease in his Hard% so far, the only major concerning aspect of his batted ball profile for me is his minuscule 14.1% LD%, but even that is countered a bit by a slight jump in his FB% overall (45.1% in 2018, 42.6% in 2017).

While Dozier may not approach the same levels we have seen the past two seasons, he has historically heated up in June and should provide better production for owners who have been patient through this slow start.

Masahiro Tanaka

Tanaka’s strong second half in 2017 (3.77 ERA, 10.7 K/9) had many owners expecting big things for this season, but so far 2018 has been pretty disappointing for this Yankee. His last two weeks have been pretty rough, seeing him post a bloated 6.46 ERA in his 3 starts (15.3 IP). During this stretch he has struck out only 12.3% of batters and has struggled to keep batters off the bases as well, walking 9.3% of batters faced.

His advanced metrics over this period mostly support his poor performance (7.69 FIP, 4.83 xFIP, 5.09 SIERA) and his LOB% is right under the league average (73.3%), so he’s not experiencing too much bad luck on that end. He has posted an absurdly high HR/FB during this period (38.5% compared to 20% for the season), so while much of his bad performance seems earned, his recent increased struggles with the long ball shouldn’t continue at the current rate.

The future outlook for Tanaka is mixed. While his ERA (4.95 ERA) seems likely to drop when you consider certain metrics (4.84 FIP, 3.89 xFIP, 3.86 SIERA), his lowered K% (21.7% in 2018, 25.8% in 2017) is troubling and will lower his value if it continues. He should see better luck stranding runners moving forward (65.2% rate currently) and while his SwStr% is down compared to last season (13.8% in 2018, 15.1% in 2017) it still sits at a solid rate.

Hunter Denson

Written by 

Fantasy baseball enthusiast, Boston Red Sox fan and general lover of baseball living in the Pacific Northwest. More likely to remember Mel Ott's career HR number than my pin number. Married to an amazing woman who supports and encourages my baseball mania.