Fantasy Baseball Category Impact: Hitting
Each week, Colby Conway provides in-depth analysis on specific category contributors who may be lingering on your waiver wire.
After last week, it was only right to provide a breakdown on not just one offensive category, but ALL of them! After we fixed our fantasy rotations last week, it was time to shake up the lineup and inject some life into our fantasy offense! You cannot win without scoring runs in reality and you cannot win without accruing stats in fantasy baseball! You get the point.
Without further ado…
Jarrod Dyson , OF ARI – It was a down 2018 for Dyson, as he hit just .189, but before some of the sharper individuals take notice of what he’s doing this season, scoop him up if he’s available. He’s up to five stolen bases on the year, two in the past week, and he’s even sporting a solid on-base clip (.400). As a career .253 hitter and .323 on-base guy, he’s due for some regression and slumps, especially considering he ranks in the bottom 10th percentile in terms of average exit velocity and hard hit percentage. While his sprint speed is decreasing as he gets at an advanced age, his 28.2 ft/sec sprint speed is well above league average and he’s only been caught once this season. The speedy veteran should continue to see ample time in the Arizona outfield, and even if he doesn’t start a ball game, he can come in off the bench and make a difference.
Charlie Tilson , OF CWS – Tilson is another speedy Chicago outfielder that has appeared in these articles. In terms of speed, Adam Engel always finds a way in here, but now that he’s healthy Tilson is the guy that makes a rare showing. The 26-year-old outfielder only has four stolen bases at the big league level, and two of them have come this season. Prior to the 2019 campaign, he was a lackluster 2-for-5 on attempts, but he’s a crisp 2-for-2 this year. His sprint speed, per Baseball Savant, is slightly above average, and while he has stolen plenty of bases in the minors, efficiency has always been lacking. In 2015 at the Double-A level, his 46 stolen bases were excellent, but those 19 caught stealing attempts are truly an eyesore. His .625 BABIP is inflating that batting average and on-base percentage through his first few appearances, but steals are steals, and speed is surely at a premium. In deeper formats and AL-only setups, Tilson makes a lot of sense.
Mac Williamson , OF SFG – If you listened to this week’s edition of the Fantasy Alarm Fantasy Baseball Podcast, you would have heard my trepidation on adding Williamson. The power numbers decreased as he ascended the minor league ranks, while the strikeouts went up, and recent appearances in the big leagues weren’t favorable to the young outfielder. Prior to this season, Williamson sported a .226 batting average, 27.6 percent strikeout rate and just 13 home runs in 339 professional at-bats. Now, right before being called up this season, Williamson had a three-homer game, and promptly hit one for San Fran upon his call up.
GioUrshela, 3B NYY – Despite battling a knee contusion, Urshela is worthy of an addition in most formats, especially those where he has multi-positional eligibility. The super utility man for the Bronx Bombers should continue to see time, at least in the short-term, and his .346/.409/.526 slash line is nothing to shake a stick at! Sure, he’s not an overwhelming talent, but these role players riding hot streaks are key to inflating your batting average at the end of the scoring week. I’ll be the first to admit that he may not stick on your roster for long, but he’s one of the hotter hitters available in the majority of fantasy formats, and he’s a must-add for those playing in AL-only or deeper mixed formats.
Eric Sogard , 2B TOR – Forget about Vladimir Guerrero Jr. ! The real show up north is with the 32-year-old second baseman Eric Sogard ! Thanks to a .333 BABIP, Sogard is hitting .333 with a .432 OBP here in 2019. A 14.5 percent walk rate would be the second-highest mark of his career in extended time, and will certainly keep his on-base percentage a bit higher than normal when the regression monster hits. From the graph below, it’s encouraging that his hard hit rate is higher, on average, than recent seasons, but is regression closer than expected? Unfortunately, the answer might be perhaps.
While he may be cooling off a bit, he has hit safely in three of his last five games, and recorded a walk in five of his last six contests. There are some long-term playing time concerns with young talent in the minor league ranks, but Toronto hasn’t shown inclination to promote young talent with great haste.
David Fletcher , 3B LAA – Fletcher is an intriguing fantasy asset. He’s been producing for the Angels and has found a nice little home at the top of the Los Angeles lineup. As the team’s leadoff hitter, he’s hitting .333 with two home runs and six runs scored and three RBI in 12 games. Sure, the majority of his production has come at the bottom of the lineup, but for Fletcher to take the next step in fantasy formats, he needs to be at the top of the lineup, which the Angels seem committed to for the time being. Hitting in front of Mike Trout and now Shohei Ohtani boosts his run potential moving forward, and Fletcher isn’t too far off from the league lead in runs scored. So long as he continues to get on base, despite not walking much, he has a great chance to be a valuable contributor in this category moving forward.
The pros: He ranks well above-average in terms of xwOBA (78th percentile) and elite in terms of xBA (97th percentile). His 1.5 percent SwStr% and 95.7% contact rate is exceptional.