Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: August 13
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
Welcome back everyone! This week we have a few obvious names mixed in and for the first time all year we are going to take a look at three relievers (one in each category). In fact, this week’s edition only includes outfielders and pitchers. We are getting down to crunch time for fantasy baseball and every decision gets more and more important. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Aristides Aquino , OF CIN – This was the easiest inclusion to the stock watch piece that I have had this entire season. Through 11 games this year he has eight home runs, a .429 batting average, and 16 RBI. He just set a new MLB record by having eight home runs in his first 12 career games (had one at-bat last season). He was showing nice power at AAA before his call up too, bashing out 28 home runs with a .299 batting average across 78 games. He has a very funky batting stance, but it doesn’t seem to be holding him back. Obviously, he will not stay this good, but is there reason to believe that he could be a fantasy asset down the stretch? Yes. While a .467 BABIP and 80.0-percent HR/FB rate are both astronomical, he does have a 34.8-percent line-drive rate, 60.9-percent hard contact rate, and 91.2 mph exit velocity thus far in his small sample. So, he is hitting the ball hard and often. For now, in fantasy, you just ride the wave and see what happens.
Nicholas Castellanos , OF CHC – Castellanos has been a beast since being traded to the Cubbies. In 11 games since joining Chicago, Castellanos is hitting .370 with four home runs, 11 runs scored, and six RBI. He has at least one hit in 10 games and five multi-hit games. He has been hitting second in their lineup and it’s a great spot for him to score a lot of runs. None of this production should be all that surprising to anyone though, because Castellanos was always a good player, he was just stuck in an awful situation. The Tigers rank dead last in runs scored this season, so it’s not like there ample opportunities for RBI and runs with them and he had zero protection in the lineup. The Cubs are currently 12th in runs scored and you can’t really pitch around Castellanos when you have Bryant, Rizzo, and Baez to follow. He is a strong fantasy asset going forward.
Seth Lugo , RP NYM – Lugo’s stock has been rising for weeks now as he has been lights-out for an extended period of time. If you missed Greg Jewett’s piece on him, Behind the Breakout: Seth Lugo , you should give it a look. While his stock has been rising slowly for a long period of time, his stock takes a big jump this week as he is now the Mets unofficial closer. He picked up his first save a little over two weeks ago and then picked up another save last week. He was then used in a tie game for the final two innings on August 10th and the Mets could have gone to Diaz after taking a lead in the eighth inning, but chose to stick with Lugo. An easy decision with Diaz’s struggles this season and Lugo giving up just four hits and one run over his last 17.2 innings pitched. I expect Lugo will get more save chances than Diaz for the remainder of the season.
Alex Gordon , OF KC – Gordon got off to a hot start this season in which he was hitting .285 with 10 home runs and 39 RBI through 60 games played. However, he is hitting just .243 with two home runs and 24 RBI across 53 games since then. It gets even worse when we just take a look at his last 12 games in which he is hitting .085 (4-for-47) with one home run and three RBI. He hits a ton of ground balls (45.7-percent GB rate) and doesn’t hit for a lot of hard contact (39.4-percent). The fact that he is still owned in 49-percent of Yahoo leagues tells me that people are simply not paying attention, because this is not a guy that you want to own in almost any league.
Shane Greene , RP ATL – Atlanta thought they were getting a steady closer when they acquired Greene, but that move has backfired hard, as Greene has been an absolute disaster since joining the Braves. He has made five appearances, spanning four innings, giving up 11 hits and five runs across just 4.0 innings pitched. He also has two blown saves and a loss in that span. In fact, he has been so bad that he has already lost his job as the closer in less than 10 days since being acquired by Atlanta. Regression was bound to happen for Greene, who still has a .240 BABIP against, despite a .643 BABIP against since joining the Braves. He also has a 4.22 FIP, which is nearly double his 2.14 ERA. Greene has no value in fantasy if he isn’t getting saves, so he can be dropped in shallow leagues.
Aaron Judge . OF NYY – Judge hasn’t been terrible this year, hitting .268 with 12 home runs and 30 RBI through 64 games, but he’s far from the player that we have seen over the past few years. His .365 BABIP is above his career average and he ranks in the 100th percentile of both exit velocity (96.7 mph) and hard contact rate (57.0-percent), so what is the problem? Why have his at-bats per home run dropped for a second consecutive year (19.3 at-bats per home run this year, 15.3 last year, and 10.4 per in 2017)? Well, he is hitting fewer fly balls than ever at a very low rate of 29.5-percent and his launch angle of 10.4 degrees is the lowest of his career and actually below league average. A guy that is as big as a Judge and hits the ball as hard as he does should be at the top of the launch angle leader board, not below league average. It also doesn’t help that he is hitting the ball to centerfield far more than he ever has at a 36.2-percent clip. Centerfield is the deepest part of the ballpark and will lead to fewer home runs. A slight change in approach could immediately get Judge going, so fantasy owners don’t need to be overly worried.
Stocks to watch
Aaron Civale, SP CLE – Civale has pitched very well in his first three starts, making him someone we need to pay attention to. Through 18 innings pitched, he has given up just nine hits and two runs while striking out 18. He has gone exactly six innings in each outing, which is perfect for leagues that use QS as a statistic. He has thrown between 87-and-95 pitches, which is lower than we would like to see, but the 95 was in his last start, so that’s a positive sign. It’s also worth noting that he pitched very well across five Double-A starts (2.67 ERA across 30.1 innings) and across eight Triple-A starts (2.13 ERA across 42.1 innings) this season. Pitching for the Indians will help him pick up wins and pitching in the weakest division in baseball should help him limit the damage. He is worth adding in deeper leagues, while shallow leagues need to be paying close attention (if not already just adding him).
Nick Anderson , RP TB – Anderson hasn’t seen any save chances since moving over to the Rays at the trade deadline, but he’s pitched outstanding with just one hit against, zero runs, and 11 strikeouts across five innings. In fact, he hasn’t been scored upon in his last 10 appearances (10.1 innings) and he has struck out 21 over that span. That strong stretch brings his season line to a 3.51 ERA with 80 strikeouts across 48.2 innings pitched. That ERA, while good, is far worse than it could be, based on his 2.31 FIP, 2.69 xFIP, and 2.50 SIERA. He has a great strikeout rate, obviously, and his strikeout percentage ranks in the 99th percentile. His ratios are helpful in deeper leagues and with the Rays not having a firm closer it’s possible that he could see some save chances down the stretch. He is worth rostering in most formats.