Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: June 18
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
The past two weeks editions of this article have mainly focused on deeper players who were fringe ownable, but this week we will return to more of the normal style, with a mix of players ranging from 100-percent owned to possible free agents. That also means the return of the possible trade options portion at the end of each guys break down, which can be used to help you get an idea of how to value them when trying to sell. A player’s value never stops changing, and for a few of these guys their values have changed mightily recently. Let’s dive in!
Joey Lucchesi , SP SD – Luchessi shutout the potent Brewers offense for seven innings last night in a win and that was just a continuation of him pitching well lately. Over his last seven starts, he has pitched to the tune of a 2.70 ERA and opposing batters are hitting just .162 against him during that stretch. There are a lot of things to like in his profile too, especially when you compare this season to his rookie year last season. He has lowered his line drive rate against from 22.8-percent to a 14.9-perent mark this season, upped his ground ball rate from 44.7-percent to 50.2-percent, and lowered his hard contact rate against from 40.6-percent to 33.0-percent. All of which are strong marks. In fact, the 14.9-percent line drive rate is the best in all of baseball (among qualified pitchers), while the ground ball rate is in the top-20 and the hard contact rate is in the top-10. Not too shabby. It also doesn’t hurt that the Padres are a much improved team and he already has six wins, compared to the eight he got last season across 26 starts. Possible trade options: David Peralta or José Quintana.
Jorge Soler , DH KC – Soler is having a great season and I feel like either no one is noticing or no one is caring. He smacked another home run last night and he now has 19 dingers and 51 RBI for the year. Sure, the .245 batting average he has isn’t the best, but he’s on pace for over 40 home runs and 100 RBI and that has plenty of value to any fantasy team. Everyone has long thought that Soler had the power to turn into a slugger, but injuries have consistently derailed him year in and year out. However, this year he is healthy and he is showing just what he is capable of. He has a strong 42.5-percent hard contact rate and his 15.1-percent soft contact rate is the best mark of his career. His 90.6 mph exit velocity is his highest mark since 2015 and his 14.0 launch angle is up 3.1 degrees from last season. He’s hitting cleanup in the Royals lineup and with guys like Merrifield, Mondesi, and Gordon in front of him, he should continue to have plenty of RBI totals this season. Possible trade options: Michael Conforto or Masahiro Tanaka .
Ian Desmond , OF COL – Desmond has struggled for the majority of the year and less than two weeks ago he was hitting .234 with six home runs and 22 RBI through 55 games (stats as of June 5). However, since then, he is on a 10-game hitting streak and he is hitting .459 (17-37) with three home runs and 15 RBI, bringing his season totals up to a respectable .274 with nine home runs and 37 RBI. He actually has very good looking underlying numbers as well; his 41.4-percent hard contact rate is the best of his career, as is his 13.8-percent soft contact rate and his 23.8-percent line drive rate. His 91.9 mph exit velocity is in the top-10 percent of the league. His 31.1-percent fly ball rate is not great, but it is nearly 10-percent higher than the 21.5-percent mark that he posted last season. Let’s not forget that he plays half his games in Coors and while that may put an asterisk on the stats he posts in real life (not literally of course), there is no asterisk for Coors games stats in the fantasy game. He should provide solid pop and RBI totals for the remainder of the season. Possible trade options: Justin Turner or German Márquez.
Derek Dietrich , 2B CIN – Dietrich sent a shockwave through the fantasy baseball world when he slugged three home runs in a game on May 28; however, since then he’s been dreadful at the dish, hitting .167 (7-42) with ZERO home runs and TWO RBI over his last 13 games. The cold spell has seen his average for the season drop from .262 to his current .231 mark. There are also a lot of unsightly numbers in his batted profile. His 25-percent soft contact rate would be the worst in all of baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify and his 14.3-percent line drive rate would be the fifth worst. If his recent struggles at the plate aren’t enough of a cause for concern, the impending return of Scooter Gennett certainly is. Gennett is beginning a rehab assignment tonight and he will be the everyday second baseman when he returns, which likely pushes Dietrich into a utility/bench role going forward. His run as a fantasy asset is coming to an end.
Patrick Corbin , SP WAS – Corbin has been torn apart in his last three starts, going 0-3 with an 11.37 ERA and 2.29 WHIP. During that stretch, opposing hitters have hit .379 against him with a .638 SLG (yikes). To make matters worse, the three teams he faced are all near the bottom of runs scored this year (Reds – 25th, Padres – 20th, and White Sox – 22nd). The rough patch has his ERA for the season up to 4.11, a far cry from the 3.15 mark he posted last season with the Dbacks. Cause for concern? Not entirely. When Comparing this season to last season (his career year), the underlying numbers are actually better in a lot of areas; his line drive rate against is nearly seven-percent lower, he has lowered his hard contact rate against by five-percent, and his fastball velocity is actually up 0.5 mph. His biggest issue is that he is giving up fly balls 10-percent more often and that has resulted in giving up 12 home runs already, only three less than he gave up all of last season despite currently having 114.2 less innings pitched. While he may not produce the strong numbers that he did last year, he is still a very good pitcher and this rough patch has created a buy-low window. Possible trade options: Tim Anderson or Jack Flaherty .
Gio Urshela , 3B NYY – Urshela has gone cold at the plate, hitting .205 (9-44) with two home runs across 13 games in June. It couldn’t have come at a worse time either, with the Yankees trading for Encarnacion and the impending returns of Judge and Stanton. With those three joining the lineup, Urshela is going to be relegated to a bench role with LeMahieu taking over full time duties at 3B. An unfortunate turn of events for Urshela (and his fantasy owners) as he was having a career year to this point with five home runs, 31 RBI, and a .306 average. His breakout campaign has looked for real too, with a 26.9-percent line drive rate, 46.2-percent hard contact rate, and 8.3-percent soft contact rate (would be the best mark in all of baseball if he had enough plate appearances to qualify). Less playing time equates to less fantasy production and fantasy players who own Urshela need to accept that it’s time to move on.
Stocks to watch
Carlos Martínez , RP STL – Martinez notched a six-out save in his most recent appearance out of the Cardinals bullpen and he needs to be on everyone’s fantasy radar. It was his second save in the month of June and he has a 3.09 ERA through his first 11.2 innings pitched this season. Jordan Hicks is still the Cardinals closer, but it’s worth noting that he was available to pitch on Sunday and the Cardinals still elected to leave Martinez in for the ninth and the save. Martinez is a really good pitcher and has been for a long time, we all know that, but a pitcher’s role on a team has a big factor on his fantasy value and it appears that Martinez is moving into a more prominent one. He should provide solid ratios and if he’s providing a handful of saves than he is worth a spot on your roster. He is still only 26-percent owned on Yahoo, so he can probably be had for free still.
Marcus Stroman , SP TOR – Stroman has pitched very well this year, but his low strikeout totals (7.0 K/9) and low win totals (4-8 record) keep him from being that great of a fantasy option, despite his strong 3.18 ERA. He lands in the stock to watch section because there is a very strong chance that he gets traded at or before the trade deadline and that will raise his fantasy value immediately. It is also good that his batted ball against profile will play no matter where he lands. A move to the Yankees would have fantasy owners worried with the small park design, but they shouldn’t be, as his 57.5-percent ground ball rate should help him conquer any field. That ground ball rate is the second best in baseball (among qualified pitchers). He has also done a great job of inducing soft contact against with a 21.7-percent mark (sixth best in baseball). A trade to a contender would help him pick up more wins and make him a fantasy asset rather than just another guy on your roster.