Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: June 4
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
This week’s edition will have a bit of a different twist to it, focusing strictly on players that are likely free agents in your league or on the fringe of being so. You won’t find any of these players in the top-100 of any fantasy baseball rankings, at least not at this time. With that being said, there will be no possible trade targets attached this week, seeing as none of these players would carry much trade value in redraft leagues.
Zach Plesac, SP CLE – Plesac didn’t have a whole lot of hype around his call up on May 28, and most 12th round picks don’t, but he was pitching really well in the minors and it has carried right over into the bigs in his first two starts. In nine starts split between AA and AAA, Plesac pitched to a 1.41 ERA and had 56 strikeouts across 57.1 innings pitched with a very impressive 0.79 WHIP. Through his first two starts with the Indians he has a 1.46 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and nine strikeouts across 12.1 innings pitched. Two starts is a small sample and his .219 BABIP and 93.0-percent LOB rate both point to regression coming, but there are also a lot of positives. For starters, his walk rate between all three levels this year is incredibly low with only nine total walks across 69.2 innings pitched; that type of walk rate would be top-five in baseball if sustained. Another positive is the 27.3-percent soft contact rate he has produced through two starts, which would be the best in baseball. Obviously it’s a small sample, but even if that number drops down to about 20-percent, he would still be near the top of the league in that department. He also gets the benefit of pitching in the AL Central, which only features one offense in the top-20 of runs scored (Minnesota). He is worth an add in fantasy.
Niko Goodrum 1B, 2B, SS, OF DET – Goodrum was a late round flier pick in fantasy drafts this season after posting 16 home runs and 12 steals across 444 at bats last season as a rookie. However, a cold start to the year has seen him be dropped in most formats, despite his multi-position eligibility. That being said, Goodrum is heating up and is worth a look in fantasy once again. Over his last 13 games he is hitting .310 (18-58) with three home runs and a stolen base. His underlying numbers look solid too, and show a player that should be performing better than he currently is. Comparing last year to this year, his strikeout percentage is down two-percent, his walk percentage is up 2.5-percent, his hard contact is up four-percent, his line drive rate is up six-percent, his exit velocity is up 1.5 mph, and his ground ball rate is down nine-percent. His .256 xBA shows that he has been pretty unlucky with his current .234 average. He hits at the top of the Tigers lineup and even as “poorly” as he has been at the plate this year, he is still on pace for 20 home runs, double-digit steals, and 100 runs scored this season. He should steal more than he does too, with a sprint speed in the 93rd percentile.
Chance Sisco , C BAL – Sisco has been recalled from AAA today and is worth a pickup in fantasy. The catching position is always a thorn in fantasy owner’s sides, and if you don’t own Contreras, Grandal, Sanchez, or Realmuto, you probably haven’t been all that pleased with your catchers this year. Sisco is a former second round draft pick who was ranked as a top-100 prospect prior to both 2017 and 2018. He was playing very well at AAA this year too, hitting .289 with 10 home runs and 37 RBI across 44 games. His home park is also beneficial, as Camden Yards ranks fifth in runs factor and second in home run factor this season. He probably won’t start against lefties, but should be in the lineup plenty. He could potentially flop, there is always that chance with young players, but there’s no real harm in taking a shot on him.
Brendan Rodgers SS, 2B COL – Rodgers was a part of the FAABageddon that took place a few weeks back when a bunch of top prospects were called up, but the winners of Rodgers are probably regretting blowing all that FAAB on him. It’s not that Rodgers has played poorly – he has a .268 batting average and seven RBI across 44 at bats – it’s that Rodgers doesn’t even play. He has been on the bench in four of the past nine games and it’s starting to look like a demotion back to AAA could be coming soon. Teams do not keep young prospects up at the big league level if they are not getting consistent playing time. Rodgers hasn’t done himself any favors either though, while he hasn’t been terrible, he also hasn’t been all that great. He is striking out nearly 30-percent of the time and is hitting for soft contact at a high rate of 25-percent. Ground balls and infield fly balls have accounted for nearly 70-percent of his contact, but he still somehow has a .393 BABIP, meaning he is actually playing far better than he should be. Outside of 15-team leagues, Rodgers can be dropped at this point.
Ronny Rodríguez , SS DET – Rodriguez had a great run, from his season debut on April 14 through May 14 (21 games), he hit .312 with six home runs, 17 RBI, eight doubles, 13 runs scored, and stole two bases. Everyone ran to their waiver wire to pick him up, most likely some time near the end of that stretch. That move likely didn’t work out too well. Since May 14 (16 games), Rodriguez is hitting an unsightly .078 (4-51) with zero home runs, two RBI, four runs scored, zero steals, and has struck out 27 times while walking ZERO! To top it all off, he hasn’t even started the last three games. A smart move by the Tigers, considering he is 0-24 with 15 strikeouts in his last nine games. It probably goes without saying, Rodriguez should not be owned in any format at this point.
Chris Bassitt , SP OAK – Regression has hit Bassitt and it has hit hard. Over his last three starts he has given up 11 earned runs across 14.2 innings pitched while only striking out 10. His ERA has jumped from 1.93 to 3.42 in that span and he is starting to look pretty droppable in 10-team formats. His 4.32 SIERA, 4.46 xFIP, and 4.64 FIP all point to further regression coming and with his strikeout rate dropping there aren’t a lot of things to be excited about. He had a high LOB-percent and a low BABIP, so it was really only a matter of time, both of which are still higher and lower than they will end up. His next start will be a tough one to get back on track with too, as he faces Texas in Arlington. The Rangers are currently third in the MLB in runs scored, but he will have the benefit of not having to face Gallo. The luck has worn off and fantasy owners need to accept that Bassitt is not the pitcher that produced strong numbers in his first five starts this year.
Stocks to watch
Delino DeShields , OF TEX – DeShields was recalled by the Rangers as the corresponding move to Gallo landing on the IL. He is worth a look in deeper leagues for owners who need stolen bases. Consider this; despite hitting .182 this year across 88 at bats, he has still managed to steal eight bases. Prior to his call up he was hitting .274 in his last 13 games at AAA, which should help if have a little more confidence at the plate in the short-term. He should draw the majority of the starts in center field while Gallo is out, at least that’s what his manager is saying: “I know Danny has been playing really well, but if I was guessing, I would guess that Delino would get most of the reps in center. I want to see what Delino’s got. He has done everything we have asked of him. We want to see where he is at and see what his swing looks like.” He doesn’t offer much fantasy upside outside of stolen bases, but as we all know, stolen bases are the hardest thing to find in today’s home run-or-bust baseball.
Trevor Richards , SP MIA – Richards has been on fire lately, giving up just two total earned runs over his last three starts (17.2 innings pitched) to lower his ERA from 4.44 to his current 3.53 mark. During that span he has given up only 11 hits while striking out 19. So why isn’t a stock riser? Well, consider the fact that those three starts came against the Tigers, Giants, and Padres, all of which rank in the bottom 10 of runs scored this year, making it hard to get overly excited about the success. We also have to consider the fact that his underlying numbers are looking pretty rough. He is only inducing soft contact at a 12.6-percent rate, while giving up hard contact at a 40.7-percent rate. His 4.69 FIP, 5.13 xFIP, and 4.83 SIERA all point to regression as well. His next start against Atlanta should give us a better indication of which direction Richards is trending. One thing is for sure though, his changeup is a thing of beauty and amongst the best in baseball:
Trevor Richards, Absurd 84mph Changeup. ???? pic.twitter.com/IGAkvZg40Z— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 3, 2019