Welcome to another edition of M-SABR’s fantasy baseball analysis! In this week’s article, we will discuss a couple of relievers that will be in line for some save opportunities in the near future, the struggles of one of the best players in baseball, and two veterans from the Toronto Blue Jays that can help your squad in deeper leagues.
Max’s Players to Pick Up/Trade Targets
A.J. Minter, RP, Atlanta Braves and/or Dan Winkler, RP, Atlanta Braves
I’m suggesting both of these guys in a package deal because they will likely see an equal number of save opportunities in the foreseeable future. Regular Braves closer, Arodys Vizcaino, was placed on the disabled list on Sunday with shoulder soreness and manager Brian Snitker announced that both Minter and Winkler would get save chances. Winkler had a save opportunity handed to him on Friday but struggled mightily, so Minter got the chance on Sunday and locked it down.
Even if the guy you pick up does not end up getting the save on a particular day, he will still likely help in a big way in your ratios (if you’re in a categories league) or will still get you positive points (in a points league) so there really is no downside to adding either of these relievers. If they start performing poorly or Vizcaino returns sooner than expected, they are both safe cuts in shallower leagues.
Tom Murphy, C, Colorado Rockies
Tom Murphy was once a blue-chip prospect but has only just, at the age of 27, exceeded the 130-AB threshold to graduate from rookie/prospect status. Murphy is breaking out, though, triple-slashing .344/.364/.469 entering Sunday through a small sample. Yes, there are not a lot of at-bats to back this profile, but the pedigree is there and the results are starting to come, so adding Murphy if you’re in need of a catcher is not the worst idea.
Plus, you know, Coors Field.
Kyle Tucker, OF, Houston Astros
Kyle Tucker is not in the major leagues. Kyle Tucker does not have a spot waiting for him in the major leagues. But Kyle Tucker is very good at baseball. So much so that he might force Astros GM Jeff Luhnow’s hand and get called up despite the fact that there is not currently space for him in the minors.
After being drafted in the first round (pick five) in 2015, Tucker has triple-slashed .281/.349/.468 with 47 HR and 84 SB in just under 1600 ABs as a professional (not including Arizona Fall League play).
This season, Tucker has been downright phenomenal, triple-slashing .314/.382/.509 with 10 HR and 13 SB. There is some swing-and-miss to Tucker’s game, he has 63 strikeouts in 69 games this year, but that is partly due to the fact that the outfielder is still just 21 years old and has not had a ton of time to refine his eye.
Tucker already has one of the best bats in the minors, so if he improves his plate discipline he has a good shot to become one of the premier hitters in all of baseball. He just has to get the call first. That’s where Jeff Luhnow comes in again. The Astros GM indicated this weekend that it seems likely Tucker gets the call at some point this year, and that point should be sooner rather than later. Tucker can help the Astros win down the stretch and has nothing left to prove at Triple-A, so there’s no point in leaving him there. Snag Tucker before he gets called up (and before your league mates do) and enjoy what he gives you this season, which may very well include a championship.
Sahil’s Struggling Stars
Bryce Harper, OF, Washington Nationals
Since being drafted by the Nationals with the 1st overall pick in the 2010 draft, Bryce Harper has been one of the most popular and impressive baseball players on the planet. He became the youngest player in MLB history to make the All-Star Game as a 19-year-old in 2012, and later won the Rookie of the Year. He unanimously won the National League’s Most Valuable Player Award in 2015, and he has been an integral piece for a Washington Nationals team that has not had a losing season since his debut.
You’re probably thinking how a player with this resumé qualifies as a struggling star? Yet, after batting .319/.413/.595 with a 156 WRC+ in 2017, his numbers have plummeted to a .212/.353/.465 batting line and a 115 WRC+ in 2018. Considering many fantasy owners drafted Bryce Harper thinking that he would put up numbers similar to his 2015 season and be one of the cornerstones of their team, it would be really easy to worry that they made a terrible decision on draft day. However, despite the obvious decline in numbers, Harper’s peripherals suggest that he is putting together a season very similar to 2015.
A look at Harper’s contact percentages reveals that they are virtually identical to his 2015 season. His soft contact numbers are slightly down from his MVP season (11.9% in 2015 and 11.4% in 2018), and his hard contact numbers are identical (40.9% in both seasons). His contact percentages in 2018 are actually significantly better than his fantastic 2017 season when he posted a 34.3% hard contact rate and a 13.3% soft contact rate. Furthermore, a look at Harper’s BABIP suggests that he has been a huge victim of bad luck. After posting BABIP’s of .369 and .356 in his 2015 MVP season and All-Star 2017 season, respectively, that number has dropped to .207 in 2018. Even in Harper’s “down” 2016 season, he still posted a BABIP of .264. This suggests that there is some serious correction still to come to his low batting average, which in turn should help increase his counting statistics.
In conclusion, Bryce Harper is making just as hard contact as he was in his 2015 MVP season but has suffered from quite a bit of bad luck. While it is frustrating to see his numbers looking this poor as the season approaches July, I would definitely be holding onto Bryce Harper if I was a fantasy owner. In any seasonal or dynasty league where an owner is looking to sell him, I would buy in a heartbeat if I can get him at a slightly discounted price. Verdict: Hold
Erik and Alex’s Deep-League Adds
Freddy Peralta, SP, Milwaukee Brewers
Owned: 22% ESPN, 29% Yahoo!
For those in need of a two-start pitcher for this week, look no further than Peralta. He has been a dominant strikeout pitcher in his minor league career (169 in 120 innings in 2017) and has continued that as he has started to face major league hitters. Through 3 starts in the majors, he has compiled an ERA of 2.30 (2.27 FIP) and has struck out 25 batters in 15.2 innings. He will be a great two-start pitcher option for this week, especially since his first start will be at home against the Royals, and if he continues to prove to the Brewers front office that they need to keep him up in the majors, this will turn out to be an excellent pick-up.
Marco Estrada, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Owned: 16% ESPN, 20% Yahoo!
After a rocky start to the season, Estrada has been on fire recently. In his last 4 starts, he has stuck out 26 batters in 25.2 innings while only walking five. Six of his last nine starts have been quality starts, including those last four starts, and it has not been a case of merely taking advantage of weak offenses. Some offenses in which he complied quality starts against recently include the Yankees, Nationals, Angels, and Athletics. If you’re in need of starting pitching help, particularly in a quality starts league, pick him up with the hope that he can keep up this recent success.
Kendrys Morales, DH/1B, Toronto Blue Jays
Ownership: 6% ESPN, 14% Yahoo!
An esteemed veteran who started out his career with the Angels and was also a member of the 2015 Royals World Series team, Morales has now found a new home in Toronto. Morales had a sluggish start to the season, but things seem to be turning around for him. In his past ten games, Morales is sporting a .407 average and has cranked three home runs to go with six runs. He isn’t getting many RBIs this year, but this could be due to the fact that Curtis Granderson and Teoscar Hernandez, who have both typically been batting in front of him in the lineup, have averages lower than .265. Morales is hitting clean up consistently though, so the RBIs should come eventually and even with the Blue Jays not having a great offense, passing on a hot-hitting clean-up hitter is hard to do. Morales is a good pickup that will help out with average.
Niko Goodrum, 1B/2B/3B/OF (Yahoo!), 1B/2B/OF (ESPN), Detroit Tigers
Ownership: 4% ESPN, 6% Yahoo!
Talk about a utility player, Niko Goodrum is eligible just about everywhere across the diamond except catcher and shortstop. Goodrum has been a bright spot for the Tigers this year in his first full year at the major league level. He is currently having a respectable season with a .241 average, .326 OBP, and 7 home runs and 6 stolen bases. Goodrum does strike a lot (27.4 K%), but he is still getting on base, which shouldn’t be an issue for him going forward. He is a great addition to any team because of his ability to contribute to multiple categories. I also will say that he is especially a great player to add to play second base in deeper OBP leagues.
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