Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: September 10
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
We are nearing the end of the MLB fantasy season and at this point, there probably aren’t a ton of moves to be made, but it’s still important to keep up with what players are doing. Keeping up with this info can be important when you head into next season and what it means towards where players will potentially be drafted. Without further ado, let’s dive in!
Kyle Tucker , OF HOU – Tucker isn’t playing every day, so he probably isn’t worth using in shallow leagues, but he has looked good when he has played. He is 5-15 with a home run, two doubles, three runs scored, a stolen base, and five RBI in his three starts. He currently has a 40.0-percent hard contact rate, 46.7-percent fly ball rate, and a fantastic 6.7-percent soft contact rate. He also currently has a 93.4 mph average exit velocity (elite) and a strong 16.3 degree launch angle. He only has 22 at-bats thus far, so don’t overreact to those current numbers, but they are a nice sign of good things to continue for him. This kid can play; I think that’s clear to everyone at this point (except the Astros). Whenever he becomes a full-time player he will be a very solid fantasy asset. His ROS value isn’t the best (just because he is a part time player), but he is going to be someone that is a great pick late in drafts next season.
Sonny Gray , SP CIN – Gray was someone I recommended in one of the very first stock watch pieces and his stock just keeps soaring. I currently have him third in my NL Cy Young watch (behind deGrom and Mad Max) and he should be a top-100 pick in fantasy drafts next season. He is currently 10-6 with a 2.75 ERA, a 1.10 WHIP, a 10.4 K/9, and the best H/9 in the NL at 6.5. That K/9 is easily the best rate of his career and it’s his first time averaging over a strikeout per inning since his rookie year (2013). He has the best line drive rate against in the entire MLB at 17.2-percent and an elite ground ball rate of 51.4-percent (eighth best in baseball). All of this while pitching half his games in one of the biggest hitting ballparks in the league. Over his last 12 starts he has a 1.44 ERA and 90 strikeouts across 75.0 innings pitched. In that span he has given up more than two runs just one time and has given up zero runs five times. Getting out of New York has done him wonders.
Matt Olson , 1B OAK – Olson is hitting .322 with seven home runs and 26 RBI over his last 30 games. The recent hot streak brings his totals for the year up to a .272 batting average, 29 home runs, and 73 RBI. The batting average would be a new career high if he can sustain it (previous high is .259), the home runs already match his previous high (he has done so in 52 less games), and he needs 12 RBI to set a new career high in that as well. I think it’s safe to say that it has been a breakout campaign for Olson, despite missing time with injury. He is in the 99th percentile of hard contact rate (51.9-percent), 96th percentile of expected slugging percentage (.564), and 93rd percentile of exit velocity (91.8 mph). Simply put, he hits the ball hard very often. He is going to be an interesting slugger in next year’s draft and could end up being a solid value if he goes in the range that I am thinking he will (somewhere around 80-100).
Andrew Benintendi , OF BOS – I think it’s pretty safe to call Benintendi a huge fantasy bust this year at this point. He was drafted at about 30 overall in drafts this year and has only produced a .274 batting average, 13 home runs, nine steals, 66 RBI, and 65 runs scored to this point. Despite currently having 500 at-bats, he isn’t even cracking the top-100 of ranks right now. He isn’t showing any signs of life lately either, hitting just .135 with one home run and zero steals over his last 15 games and he is 2-for-23 in the month of September. What makes it even worse is that his .346 BABIP is actually a very good number, which is why his xBA is much lower than his actual batting average as it comes in at .253. He is striking out at a career high rate of 23.4-percent, which is over SEVEN percent higher than last year. That’s a huge jump in the wrong direction. His hard contact rate and average exit velocity are both below league average. I assume people will hope for a bounce back next season and select him around pick 75, even though he probably should get picked around 100.
Raimel Tapia , OF COL – Tapia was playing every day and swinging a hot bat prior to landing on IL back on August 23, but since making his return he is 0-11 and is not playing every day. Many were hopeful that Tapia could be a nice blend of power/speed and be solid fantasy asset with every day playing time, but that hasn’t really been the case. Despite nearly 400 at-bats this season, Tapia has only hit eight home runs and stolen five bags. He simply doesn’t hit the ball hard, ranking in the 19th percentile of hard contact rate and in the 24th percentile of exit velocity. He has an ugly ground ball rate of 52.2-percent and strikes out (21.3-percent) far too often for the type of player he is. He is OKAY in deeper leagues, but there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of upside with him at this point.
Edwin Díaz , RP NYM – Man, what happened to this guy? Diaz was easily the best closer in baseball last year, pitching to a 1.96 ERA, racking up 57 saves, striking out 124, and producing a 0.79 WHIP. He gave up just five home runs across 73.1 innings. This season he has a 5.77 ERA, 25 saves, 91 strikeouts, and a 1.42 WHIP! He has given up 14 home runs in 53.0 innings. He already has more walks, more hits against, and nearly triple the home runs against, despite over 20 less innings. Yikes. Last season he had a HR/FB rate of 10.6-percent and it has jumped to 27.5-percent this season, that’s a huge increase, and shows he’s been a bit unlucky (though he has also pitched terrible too). He is in the 98th percentile of strikeout percentage, but in the 3rd percentile of hard contact rate. That’s pretty tough to do. Opposing batters are struggling to make contact against him, but when they do, its hit hard. This season should completely destroy his fantasy stock going into next season, which will make him a very interesting pick next year with hopes of a bounce back.
Stocks to watch
Eloy Jiménez , OF CWS – For a guy that was one of the games top prospects, Jimenez has had the quietest 24 home run rookie campaign of all time I think. There have been so many rookies with huge years – Alonso, Soroka, Tatis, Alvarez just to name a few – that Jimenez’s season almost seems terrible, but it isn’t. He’s hitting .249 with 24 dingers and 58 RBI across 402 at-bats. Had he not spent time on IL he would have probably logged about 32-35 home runs this year. He is hitting .296 with four home runs over his past 20 games. His hard contact percentage ranks in the 88th percentile and his average exit velocity (3.2 mph above league average) ranks in the 80th percentile. That’s pretty darn good for a rookie that everyone seems to be writing off. I wanted to go ahead and put him in everyone’s head, because I think he is someone that will crush his ADP next year (as I assume people are going to let him slide in drafts).
Hunter Harvey , RP BAL – Harvey was a first round pick and a top-100 prospect pre-2015 as a starting pitcher, but between injuries and struggles, he is now pitching out of the Orioles bullpen. Through his 5.1 innings with Baltimore (six games) he has given up just one run while striking out 10. That’s a 16.9 K/9, obviously it’s a small sample, but impressive nonetheless. He has induced ground balls at a good rate thus far, which is a good sign, and he has done a good job of limiting hard contact. Again, this is all on a very small sample, but all good signs. The Orioles do not have a real closer and Harvey could be that guy in 2020 if they leave him in the bullpen. While they are likely to be a terrible team once again in 2020, he could still hold fantasy value if he is in that role.