In an effort to recap players with fantasy interest on each team, along with an eye on their future, Fantasy Alarm will cover each division in the Wraparound with fantasy tidbits on players from each team along with some to track as sleepers as 2020 preparation begins. Starting with this column on the National League West.
Arizona stayed in the playoff race for much longer than many anticipated. They made some savvy deals at the deadline trading Zack Greinke for prospects, and picking up Zac Gallen from the Marlins to fill-in the spot in the rotation. Questions linger if the team will deal Robbie Ray this offseason and how many innings can Luke Weaver and Taijuan Walker log, but it could be fun to figure out. There’s many moving pieces here but some with very intriguing fantasy futures in 2020.
Zac Gallen - One of two National League starters to yield three runs or fewer in each of his first 15 starts (Steve Rogers, 1973). Racked up 53 strikeouts in 43.2 innings since joining Arizona from August seventh until the end of his season. He owns one of the best changeups in baseball and will look to build on his breakout rookie season. If he continues to depress home runs with a burgeoning arsenal, Gallen will make for a popular target in drafts.
Archie Bradley - Led the majors with 18 saves from July 30th to the end of the season. Bradley converted his last 14 save chances and finished the year on an 8.2 inning scoreless streak. From July fifth on, Bradley held right-handed hitters to a .188 batting average against with 21 strikeouts.
Eduardo Escobar - Finished the year as the first switch hitter with 100 or more RBI in the National League since Chase Headley in 2012. Escobar’s also one of four switch hitters with 30 or more home runs, more than 20 doubles and 10 triples in a season. However, Escobar’s splits need to be noted. In the first half, he slashed .296/.353/.543 with 20 doubles and 18 home runs in 388 plate appearances. After the All-Star break, he hit .236/.280/.472 with nine doubles and 17 home runs in 311 plate appearances.
Wilmer Flores - A constant fantasy tease, Flores finished the year strong, hitting a robust .388/.429/.673 with seven doubles, seven home runs, 22 RBI, and scored 15 runs his last 105 plate appearances spanning 29 games. Key numbers in this stretch, Flores recorded a .286 isolated power, .455 weighted on-base average and 20.6 home run per fly ball percentage with a ridiculous 29.5 line drive rate.
Carson Kelly - His 18 home runs tied a team record for catchers in a season for Arizona. From May fourth, among all catchers with at least 200 plate appearances, Kelly ranked first in on-base plus slugging percentage (.887), second in on-base percentage (.373) and slugging (.514). Fun note, 37 of his 77 hits went for extra bases (19 doubles, 18 home runs).
Tim Locastro - Do you feel the need, the need for speed? If so, look no further for a late round flier in stolen bases than Tim Locastro . He’s been successful in all 22 of his stolen base attempts in the majors, reached base safely in 39 of 43 starts last year and led the majors being hit by 18 pitches. Locastro became the first player hit this many times in fewer than 200 plate appearances in any season.
Ketel Marte - Blossomed in 2019. Marte ranked first in the National League in multi-hit games (59), fourth in total bases (337), fourth in three-hit games (17), fourth in on-base plus slugging percentage (.981), fourth in slugging (.592) and sixth in on-base percentage (.389). Set career highs in hits (187), doubles (36), home runs (32), RBI (92) and runs (97). Had his season cut short to injury but slashed .380/.445/.655 his last 75 games with 15 home runs and 45 RBI. Will be eligible at outfield (96 games), second base (83 games) and at shortstop in Yahoo leagues (11 games).
Targeting Rockies hitters usually proves rewarding, but the starting pitching and relievers tanked this season. Not sure if the team will invest in a rebuild or try to retool in order to compete. There seems to be no direction with ownership and how it invests money, so your guess will be as good as anyone’s. At least there’s Nolan Arenado , right? Oh, and Trevor Story too.
Nolan Arenado - His ranks in the National League: third in hits (185), third in total bases (343), tied for fourth in RBI (118), fifth in batting average (.315), fifth in slugging percentage (.583), tied for fifth in home runs (41) and fifth in on-base plus slugging percentage (.962). Arenado’s the second player in team history with three 40-plus home run seasons. Also the first player since 2010 with at least 40 home runs with less than 100 strikeouts.
Charlie Blackmon - Ranked first in the National League and second in the majors with a .385 average with runners in scoring position. His 112 runs ranked fifth in the National League, Blackmon ranked sixth in average (.314), seventh in slugging (.576) and tied for third in extra-base hits (81). But, where did his stolen bases go? Blackmon only stole two bases in seven attempts in 2019 which seems like a steep decline.
Trevor Story - Set career highs in runs (111), batting average (.294) and on-base percentage (.363). First shortstop in history with at least 20 home runs in each of his first four seasons. Also the first player for Colorado with multiple 30-plus home runs and 20 or more stolen bases seasons.
Scott Oberg - Among all National League relievers, Oberg ranked third in ERA (2.25), tied for seventh in wins (6) and 14th in opponents batting average (.196). Went a remarkable 5-0 with four saves and a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings at Coors Field. Since 2017, owns a 3.23 ERA in 173 innings, lowest on the Rockies among all relievers.
German Márquez - Went 12-5 with a 4.76 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. However, his last seven starts yielded a 3.68 ERA winning all four decisions with a 47:7 K:BB over 44 innings.
David Dahl - Set a career high with 100 games, let this soak in. Hit .319 versus southpaws and .319 with runners in scoring position. Slashed .302/.353/.524 with 15 home runs and 61 RBI in another season cut short by injury.
Garrett Hampson - More late round speed, Hampson swiped nine bases in September with a .318 average in 88 at-bats scoring 16 runs and hit five home runs. Many were burned by him in 2019 making him an intriguing late round grab for average and steals with a depressed price.
Ryan McMahon - His 24 home runs and 83 RBI represent the most by a primary second baseman in team history. In the second half, only Arenado on the Rockies hit more than McMahon’s 17 home runs and finished with more than his 47 RBI. Not too shabby.
Los Angeles Dodgers
It was another National League West title met with postseason disappointment. With a rotation in flux but pieces in place to step in, will Los Angeles add to its bullpen and rotation in the off-season? Health and roster construction could determine the Dodgers ceiling for 2020 with a limited window as the Padres farm system develops. Stay tuned.
Walker Buehler - Went 14-4 with a 3.26 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 182.1 innings. His 215 strikeouts versus 37 walks jumps off the page. Buehler posted the top two strikeout totals in the National League with 16 versus Colorado on June 21st and 15 on August third against the Padres. He did not issue a walk in either outing, joining Pedro Martinez and Dwight Gooden accomplishing the feat in one year. Buehler also recorded five games with double digit strikeouts without a walk allowed, only Justin Verlander (6) and Gerrit Cole (7) had more in 2019.
Clayton Kershaw - Tied for third in the National League with 16 wins, finished seventh in WHIP (1.04) and eighth in opponents batting average against (.222). Kershaw worked at least six innings in 26 of his 28 starts with 22 of them being quality outings.
Hyun-Jin Ryu - Led the majors with a 2.32 ERA, finished third in WHIP (1.01) and in on-base percentage allowed (.263). Recorded a 32 inning scoreless streak during the season and made 29 starts. Not sure he can repeat this in 2020, so his price due to this breakout may make him a fade in the year ahead.
Kenley Jansen - It’s better to get out before the full decline hits in fantasy. Keep this in mind for Jansen who believes he’s still an elite closer but personally not sold. Yes, Jansen’s notched at least 30 saves in each of his last six seasons but heed the warning signs. His 3.71 ERA comes with a 3.77 xFIP and more bumpy days lie ahead.
Joe Kelly - Not sure he can ascend to closer with Jansen on the roster, but from May eighth to the end of the year, Kelly surged to a 4-2 record with a save, a 2.61 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 38 innings.
Cody Bellinger - Set career bests in runs (121), hits (170), doubles (34), home runs (47), RBI (115), walks (95), stolen bases (15) and in all of his slash lines (.305/.406/.629). His 47 home runs ranked fourth in the majors and third in team history. Also became the 38th player with at least 30 home runs in the first half. His expected numbers, a .323 expected average, .638 expected slugging and .429 expected on-base average do not imply regression. But can Bellinger carry over the reduced strikeout rates with a higher walk percentage?
Gavin Lux - It feels like he could fly below the radar but ended the season with a hit in 10 of his last 17 games hitting two home runs and stealing two bases. Lux hit a combined .347 in 113 games between Double-A and Triple-A with 26 home runs. Late round thunder could be mined with Lux.
Max Muncy - Followed up his 2018 breakout with career highs in games (141), runs (101), hits (122), doubles (22), RBI (98) and walks (98). Slammed 35 home runs and remains a bargain due to his role.
Will Smith - Smith reached base in 30 of 45 contests from July 27th to the end of the season. He also hit 12 home runs with 36 RBI in this stretch. Not sure if he can bring this to a full season in the majors, but hit 15 home runs of his 43 hits (35 percent) in 2019.
San Diego Padres
Made a splash signing Manny Macahdo, own the most decorated farm system, and will enter the free agent market looking to sign a front line starting pitcher. Could Stephen Strasburg cash in his World Series title and head home to San Diego? Plus, will the team trade Kirby Yates selling high on his breakout? Last, do not sleep on the Chris Paddack breakout, he’s definitely relentless.
Kirby Yates - Led the majors in saves (41) while recording career bests in ERA (1.19), strikeouts (101), WHIP (0.89) and FIP (1.26). Finished with a robust 36.2 strikeouts minus walks percentage and converted 26 straight saves between March to June 18th. Owned a 0.59 ERA in 44 games with a save opportunity and in two separate occasions saved games in three consecutive contests.
Chris Paddack - Despite being a rookie, finished second on the team in wins (9) and strikeouts (153), third in starts (26) and in innings (149.2). Posted the lowest WHIP (0.98) in team history and one of six starters with a sub-1.00 WHIP with a minimum of 25 starts last season. Recorded a 71.4 first pitch strike percentage leading the majors among pitchers with at least 140 innings and also was one of six pitchers in 2019 with multiple starts of one or fewer hits in seven innings or more.
Joey Lucchesi - Led San Diego in starts (30), wins (10) and strikeouts (158). At home, led all qualified starters in the majors with a .183 batting average against.
Dinelson Lamet - Notched at least five strikeouts in 13 of his 14 starts including a career high 14 in Milwaukee on September 18th needing only six innings to do so. Yielded three earned runs or less in 11 of his 14 starts last year. If he can improve against left-handed hitters, look out. Definite strikeout upside if he can stay healthy, with potential for more.
Andres Muñoz - Why would the Padres trade Yates? Well, Munoz for starters. Made 12 of his 22 appearances in the eighth inning or later after his promotion. His four-seam fastball averaged 99.9 MPH, second highest last year according to Statcast. He is a fantasy stud in the making in high leverage situations.
Fernando Tatis Jr. - His 22 home runs represent the most by a shortstop in history before turning 21 years old. Joined Nomar Garciaparra as the only rookie shortstop to record at least 20 home runs and 15 stolen bases in a season. Following his last game played on August 13th, Tatis led major league rookies in on-base plus slugging percentage (.969), slugging (.590) and ranked second in on-base percentage (.379), average (.317) and in stolen bases (16).
Manny Machado - One of three players to hit 30 or more home runs in each of the last five seasons (Nelson Cruz , Nolan Arenado ). Hit .315 with a .686 slugging versus left-handed pitching but only .239 with a .400 slugging versus right-handed pitchers. Also hit a paltry .219 at Petco Park but .289 on the road. Things have to get better, right?
Francisco Mejía - His last 40 games yielded a .328/.371/.534 slash with seven doubles, five home runs and 14 RBI. Within this sample, Mejia recorded a 48.8 fly ball rate with a .207 isolated power. It’s time to see what he can do as the primary catcher.
San Francisco Giants
With the roster under construction, the Giants face tough decisions on whether to try and resign fan favorite Madison Bumgarner . Will Smith also enters free agency with many teams desperate for a reliable closing option. Targeting San Francisco hitters can be tough in fantasy. Case in point, last year, the Giants averaged 5.02 runs on the road versus 3.35 runs in home games. This 1.67 run difference represents the fifth largest by any team since 1920 (Stats LLC.).
Madison Bumgarner - One of nine pitchers to log at least 200 innings in 2019. Went 6-2 at home with a 2.93 ERA in 19 starts while going 3-2 with a 5.29 ERA in 15 road contests. Enters free agency with the lowest ground ball percentage (36 percent) of his career and questions about how he will pitch outside of Oracle Park.
Jeff Samardzija - Secured the lowest ERA drop from 2018 to 2019 (2.73 runs) to a very respectable 3.52 last year. His four-seam fastball allowed a 1.76 batting average against, the third lowest in the majors. Samardzija’s cutter also yielded a .200 average against, also third lowest. He went 8-4 in road starts and from June first on went 7-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 63 road innings.
Will Smith - Has converted 48 of 55 save chances since June 29th of 2018. Giants were 53-8 in games Smith appeared in. Last year, Smith won all six of his decisions with 34 saves in 63 outings. Note his first half ERA (1.98 in 36.1 innings) versus a 3.72 ERA in the second half over 29 innings.
Mike Yastrzemski - Only the fifth player in the live ball era to make his major league debut in May or later and lead his team in home runs (21). Drove in 55 runs after May 30th, tied for fifth among all rookies.
This concludes the Wraparound series but only sets the barometer for off-season coverage. Free agency will be covered in detail along with the Winter Meetings. Player profiles will start soon with an eye on 2020. Be sure to stay with Fantasy Alarm in order to remain ahead of the competition across all fantasy formats.
MLB.com - Game Notes