Hold or Fold: Week 11

“What’s it gonna take to break this circle
I’ve gotta know am I coming or going with you
And when ya hurt me do ya really mean to
Ya say ya don’t I wish I could believe you” ~ Michael Bolton “Hot Love”

The fantasy carousel of slumps and hot streaks, 10 strikeout masterpieces and 3 inning duds, and occasionally really bad advice from writers (Dansby is determined to haunt me). No one wants to play poorly. We know this. We know they don’t mean to hurt us, but can we really believe it? When is a slump just a slump? When is a hot streak more than a hot streak?

Look, unless you’re talking about Mike Trout, you can probably find statistics to make you doubt anyone. Stats are not absolute truths. They may be enormous flashing neon signs on the side of the fantasy road, but they are not always correct. That said, enormous flashing neon signs generally mean something.

Hold ‘Em

Nelson Cruz

He’s barrelled 20 balls out of 99. He may have spent some time on the Injured List, but I don’t care. I think Nelson Cruz dips his bats in the fountain of youth, and Statcast data agrees with me.

Cruz might be 38, but that barrel rate is top 10 in all of baseball. It’s even more significant because Cruz is pairing those barrels with a 52% hard-hit rate and an average exit velocity of 94.8 mph. Whatever kind of league you are playing, if you can get his bat, you should.

Austin Riley

He’s been in a mini-slump lately, so maybe you’re getting panicky that the magic is over. I wouldn’t worry. No one stays supernova hot forever.

That said, he has 9 barrels already. He’s barrelling the ball nearly 10% of the time. His average exit velocity remains nearly 92 mph. There’s a lot of swing and miss in his game, but he was learning to temper that in AAA, and he should make a similar adjustment here as he learns the pitchers.

If you need further encouragement, he hit an opposite field home run as a right-handed batter in Pittsburgh. As that is just shy of impossible, don’t let the slump get you down. The bat is real.

Lou Trivino

The ERA is deceiving. Batters are mustering a paltry 83 mph average exit velocity against him, and he’s given up only 2 barrels all year. He’s also allowing hard contact less than 27% of the time.

As a breakout holds guy last year at 26, he was a popular holds guy or handicap for Treinen in deep drafts this year. Treinen is still the closer and has the more impressive ERA, but Trivino is still someone you want to get in long-term leagues.

If you want it in one sentence, Trivino’s ERA is 5.01 but his xWOBA is .255 (top 7% in all of baseball). He should buy a lottery ticket because his luck can’t do anything but improve.

Fold ‘Em

Jesse Winker

He has more home runs than barrels and an average exit velocity below 90 mph. I’m not telling you that Winker isn’t good. I’m telling you that his 2 home runs in May are more statistically probable going forward than his 8 in April.

Winker’s minor-league profile suggests that he is more of a high-contact, high-OBP, moderate power bat than a slugger. Think Andrew Benintendi without the speed. He’s a good player. Just don’t expect his April power display to return.

Madison Bumgarner

He’s giving up hard contact over 43% of the time, easily the worst rate of his career. His xWOBA is worse than his actual wOBA, and . . . umm . . . his expected wOBA on contact is (gulp) .416.

His strikeouts are good, in fact, better than they have been since 2016. His walks are good. But hitters are making a lot of hard-contact and the underlying numbers say he’s been really lucky to get decent results so far.


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Seth Bias

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I'm Seth. I love baseball, especially the Braves, and rock n' roll on vinyl. Books, sandals and tacos too, though I find most of my money for those things going to vinyl these days. Once turned Prince Fielder into Justin Verlander and Paul Goldschmidt in a dynasty league. Also ashamed to say I once cut Jose Ramirez. I don't hate your favorite team unless your favorite team is the Nationals or Phillies. May or may not have cried when David Justice hit that home run in game 6 of the 95 World Series - though if you actually ask me, I'll claim I did not.