Fantasy Stock Watch – Week 4

Another week in the books. Just like any other week…except this week includes the long-awaited MLB debut of Vladito! Rejoicing can be heard from anywhere within a 300 mile radius of Toronto. It will be very interesting to see how he does with his first taste of big league pitching, especially given the uproar surrounding the Jays decision to keep him in the minors last year. #teamcontrol
As you eagerly await his first at bat, read on for other players worth watching in between innings watching Vlad Guerrero’s kid make good. 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

Stock Up

  • Eddie Rosario
A lot has been made of Christian Yelich’s performance this season, and deservedly so. But if I asked you who was currently tied with him for most home runs over the last 14 days, would your mind jump to Eddie Rosario? Eddie has matched Yelich’s stat line over the past couple of weeks, posting duplicate HR/R/RBI numbers (8/12/16) and actually producing a better slash line (.327/.353/.878).
Those power numbers are helped by Rosario putting the ball in the air way more (48.8% FB%), pulling to the extreme (58.5% Pull%), and generating strong contact (46.3% Hard %). Overall he’s barreling 15.7% of the b-ball’s he’s seen this season and is sporting some strong expected statistics (.254xBA/.371xWOBA/.587xSLG). That extreme fly ball and pull approach may result in the death of his batting average down the line (.316 BABIP, 11.4% LD%), but few are hotter at the plate right now.
  • Sonny Gray
Who knew that all Sonny Gray needed was a move to the MidWest? Cincinnati’s offseason gamble on Gray is paying off nicely, seeing him post a 3.65 ERA (2.98 SIERA) while striking out 31.3% of batters faced. He’s been particularly lethal over his last two starts, sitting down 41.4% of batters faced while walking only 3.5%.
When Gray was in Oakland, he was a strong fantasy option. The move to New York did not work out unfortunately, but Gray looks like he’s reclaimed his confidence in the Buckeye State. His K’s will likely come down (25.7% K% in 2013 is his high), but the elite control he offers will keep him as an upper tier option the rest of the way.
  • Renato Nunez
Nunez has come alive over the past two weeks, notching five home runs to accompany an excellent .333/.377/.649 line. He’s been able to generate strong contact (45.7% Hard Hit%) so far thanks to a 12.7% Barrel% and strong average exit velocity (92.4 MPH). Keeping the ball off of the ground (-8% GB% in 2019) has helped as well, an improvement that could yield a lot of value if Nunez can maintain the other improvements we have seen to the rest of his batted ball profile so far (+5.8% LD%, +2.3% FB%).
I expect his batting average to dip closer to his XBA (.274) given his elevated BABIP (.344) and high-pull approach (51.4%), though it may not dip enough to truly matter. Nunez is one of the few bright spots so far in Camden Yards and a player to keep your eye on as the year progresses.
  • Jose Quintana
A lot of people were excited about Jose Quintana’s fantasy potential upon his cross-town trade to the Cubs, but his first full season with the team left most underwhelmed. He was not awful, merely middle of the road (174.1 IP, 4.03 ERA, 8% SwSTR%). Given he cost the Cubs Eloy Jimenez, however, many were expecting him to take the next step to fantasy ace.
Maybe he just needed time to acclimate. After a rough start to the season Quintana has turned it on lately, posting a sparkling 0.86 ERA (2.77 SIERA) and similar 0.81 WHIP to go along with a 31.3% K%. Quintana has generated an 11.5% SwStr% in this period, a slight decrease on the 11.9% mark he has for the season as a whole.
His overall numbers check out (3.21 ERA, 3.27 SIERA) and he has done a better job of limiting the long ball over his five outings (0.96 HR/9 in 2019, 1.29 HR/9 in 2018). His strikeouts and improved command will be key as to whether or not he can continue this type of production long-term for his owners.

Stock Down

  • Joey Votto
It may be time for this Mountie to ride off into the sunset. If the 2018 version of Joey Votto scared you, 2019’s iteration looks even worse thus far. Votto is just not generating the kind of contact he needs to in order to make last years decreased production an aberration instead of the new norm. He’s hitting way more fly balls (+17.9% FB%) at the expense of his LD% (-15.1% in 2019) and holds a 35.7% Hard Hit%.
Statcast paints a pessimistic picture (.189xBA/.303xWOBA/.353xSLG) and rates Votto among the worst in MLB in xBA. The strong walk rate? Still there (14.5% BB%, -2.8% in 2019). Low K%? Not at the moment (25.3% K%, +9.1% in 2019). The selective Votto has even seen his SwStr% (+3.6% in 2019) reach its highest point since 2010.
It is still early and Votto could turn it around. But enough signs exist for me to doubt that occurs. Lacking the punch he showed in his career is one thing, but if Votto cannot even be counted on as a strong batting average and OBP asset then his value is minimal at best.
  • Zack Godley

Godley’s generosity towards hitters has continued in 2019, seeing him issue free passes 11.2% of the time in 2019 (+1% in 2019). While that is a problem that needs to be rectified, a more concerning issue is Godley’s depressed strikeout production so far. Godley is whiffing only 17.6% of batters faced in 2019, well down from the 23.4% rate he posted last season. He has not pitched very well in the early going (6.67 ERA, 5.35 SIERA, 1.59 WHIP) and has already allowed four home runs in starts (16 allowed all of last season).

A Godley who strikes out batters at a similar rate to what we have seen over the past two seasons is one you want to own. A Godley who does not…not really. March/April has historically been one of his worst periods when you dive into his splits (5.07 ERA, 1.49 WIHP  in 60.1 IP), so this may just be more of the same as he gets ready for his usually strong May (3.55 ERA, 1.35 WHIP in 66 IP). Bears watching though.


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Hunter Denson

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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.