Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: All-Star Edition
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
Seeing as we are in the midst of the All-Star Break and the All-Star Game is in fact tonight, it seemed only fitting to write up a special edition piece this week for the Stock Watch. We are going to take a look strictly at players who were selected as All-Stars. That being said, obviously all of these guys’ overall stock is on the rise, but that doesn’t mean their current stock isn’t changing for better or worse. I decided to take a look at some of the more hidden assets who were selected instead of going with the big name guys that you are already fully aware about. So, without further ado, let’s dive in!
Matt Chapman , 3B OAK – Chapman is a good player and one that gets a lot less credit/attention than he deserves in fantasy. He locked in an All-Star spot with his strong first half in which he has hit 21 home runs and drove in 52 runs while hitting .265. He set career highs in home runs and RBI last season with 24 and 68, but he should half no problem shattering those marks this year. Some guys use a strong start to the year and then coast into a selection, but Chapman isn’t one of them, he hit .307 with five home runs and 16 RBI in his past 20 games. His 93.0 mph exit velocity ranks in the top three-percent of the entire league and his 45.7-percent hard contact rate is very strong. He has cut down on his strikeouts for a second straight year and is walking at a career high rate of 11.1-percent. He is a legit star in the making for Oakland.
Brandon Woodruff , SP MIL – Woodruff got off to a rough start this year in which he had a 5.81 ERA through five starts, but then he really turned it on and his strong run resulted in an All-Star spot. Over his last 13 starts, he has produced a 2.98 ERA while going 8-2 and striking out 94 across 81.2 innings, giving him a 10-3 record and 3.67 ERA at the break. That 3.67 ERA, while solid, is actually worse than it should be based on his 2.91 FIP, 3.32 xFIP, and 3.52 SIERA. That FIP is actually the fifth best mark in all of baseball. His 28.8-percent strikeout rate is very strong and his 86.2 exit velocity against is well above league average (87th percentile). Woodruff has great stuff and everything in his profile points to the guy that we have seen over his last 13 starts being what we should see going forward. He is a strong fantasy asset.
Sandy Alcantara , SP MIA – Alcantara made it into the All-Star game as the Marlins representative, but he is no fantasy ace with a 3.82 ERA and 6.22 K/9. That being said, he has been more fantasy relevant than what was expected and his stock is on the rise. Deep leaguers and NL-only leagues can get some value out of what he has produced, but there may be some big regression coming. As mentioned, the strikeout rate is very poor, his 4.17 BB/9 rate is awful, and his 1.40 WHIP is dreadful. Those numbers have led to a 5.57 SIERA, 5.32 xFIP, and 4.61 FIP, all of which are well above where his current ERA is at. What is really helping him is his 9.7-percent HR/FB rate, which is one of the best marks in the league. This is someone I would look to sell high on for whatever you can get for him, because a poor second half seems likely.
Jorge Polanco , SS MIN – Polanco had a great first half in which he hit .312 with 13 home runs. He secured a spot as the AL starter at shortstop and his stock is way up, but should fantasy owners be worried about him in the second half? Since the start of June, a span of 32 games, he is hitting .274 with four home runs. His BABIP during that stretch was a normal mark of .295 and points to what he should actually be doing. In his first 53 games, in which he was hitting .338, his BABIP was a very high .371. His 87.3 mph exit velocity is below league average and only ranks in the 26th percentile. This isn’t to say Polanco will not continue to be a strong fantasy asset, but more so to say he may not be at the level that we have seen in the first half. His profile shows a player on the rise (as he has improved in just about everything when comparing to last year), but it’s not the profile of an elite fantasy asset. A batting average in the .280’s with single-digit home runs is about what I would expect for his second half. Sell high.
Paul DeJong , SS STL – DeJong got off to a fantastic start this season in which he was hitting .336 with seven home runs, 14 doubles, and 17 RBI through 35 games. That strong start catapulted him into early All-Star talks and it carried him into a spot in the game, but he has been dreadful ever since. In his next 52 games after that start he has produced a lousy .202 batting average, six home runs, six doubles, and 19 RBI. Not quite what you would call All-Star production. There are also some things in his profile that are not great signs for a possible turnaround. His 86.8 mph exit velocity is in the 17th percentile (Yikes) and is down nearly three mph from where it was last season. He has not improved his soft contact rate at all this year, his line drive rate is down nearly four percent, and his ground ball rate is up five percent. I wouldn’t expect a big second half from him and quite honestly he had no business making the All-Star game.
Jake Odorizzi , SP MIN – Odorizzi cracked the All-Star roster with a strong first half in which he went 10-4 with a 3.15 ERA, however, there are a lot of things that are a cause for concern with him from a fantasy standpoint. He is 29-years old and over the last two seasons he pitched to a 4.33 ERA across 307.2 innings of work. Over his last four starts before the break this year, he pitched to a 7.85 ERA, giving up 16 earned runs across 18.1 innings. His 3.59 FIP, 4.59 xFIP, and 4.24 SIERA are all well above his ERA and nothing in his profile actually points to him being a better pitcher than the one that we have seen the last two years. He is giving up hard contact at a 43.9-percent clip, which is the highest rate of his career and inducing soft contact (17.0-percent) less often than last season. He is giving up fly balls at a career high rate too at 50.9-percent, but giving up home runs at his lowest rate since 2015. That simply doesn’t add up and you can expect that rate to rise in the second half. The best time to sell-high on Odorizzi was a month ago; the next best time is now.
Stocks to watch
Will Smith , RP SF – Smith had a lights-out first half for the Giants in which he racked up 23 saves and a 1.98 ERA across 36.1 innings pitched. His stock is way up, but he lands here because there is a chance that he gets traded at the deadline. A trade to a contender would more than likely bump him out of a closing role, which would really put a big blow in his fantasy value. That being said, it is worth noting that everything in his profile looks strong and he should find success wherever he pitches. His 39.8-percent strikeout rate is elite (99th percentile), as is his .231 xwOBA (also 99th percentile). His FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are all below 2.20 and his 0.80 WHIP is ridiculously good. Fantasy owners should hope that no team comes at the Giants with a strong enough offer to land him.
James McCann , C CWS – McCann had a fantastic first half in which he has hit .316 with nine home runs and 30 RBI. He has been a great fantasy asset at a position filled with lackluster production. Of course his stock is up from where it was at the start of the year, but some of his underlying numbers are quite alarming and it may be time to sell high before he comes crashing back down to earth. First and foremost, it is important to keep in mind that he hit .220 with eight home runs and 39 RBI across 457 plate appearances last year. He is 29-years old and that would be a late age to breakout, but it is something we have seen before; however, it’s more on the rare side. He has a .408 BABIP which is extreme for any player but even more extreme for someone with below average sprint speed like McCann. He is hitting fly balls about 10-percent less often that he did last year, but already has more home runs and that is in large part due to his 18.4-percent HR/FB rate which is well above his career average. While the regression bug hasn’t hit him quite yet, hence why he’s here and not in the stock down section, there is a very strong chance that he doesn’t produce anywhere near this level in the second half of the season.