2018 Fantasy Baseball: Jorge Soler Shining Bright, Twins Get No Respect
It's that time of the 2018 Fantasy Baseball season to start examining what's real and what's just a mirage. Which hot starts will continue and which struggling players will turn things around soon? It's time for the Full House of 2018 Fantasy Baseball Week 6.
Matt Adams Owns May
Adams is destroying the ball and already has seven home runs this month… I'm writing this on May 9… Uh, yea. Adams has a .393 average with 11 Runs and 14 RBI of top of that, so not surprisingly, owners are tripping over each other in a rush to grab Adams. If you missed out, don't panic, and if you did nab Adams, sell high.
This isn't Adams' first hot streak. In fact, last year wasn't that great of a season outside of June… and it wasn't even the entire month. Adams hit 10 home runs from June 3-22 with a .342 AVG, 19 Runs and 25 RBI. Prior to that, he hit just .258 with three homers in 42 games and then just .251 with seven homers in the final 69 games. Adams has plenty of power, and you can see, can get as hot as the best of them. However, he still struggles against lefties too much to be a true everyday player, and he will cool off eventually. Ride the coaster for now, but you may want to get off soon, as that big drop could be around the next bend.
Jorge Soler is Shining Bright
Everything is finally clicking for Soler. After being a much-hyped prospect for the Cubs and floundering with the team for two years, the Cubs sent Soler to the Royals. The change benefited Soler, as he brought the excitement back with a .267 average and 24/49/59 in 74 games. Unfortunately, Soler burned out in the majors again with a .144 average and two homers in 35 games.
This season, Soler started quiet again, which had owners dropping him or some leagues leaving him on waivers. Through April 12, he was batting just .207 with one double, one run and one RBI. *Barf emoji* Then everything clicked. Soler went on a seven-game hit streak, chipped in another nine-game streak from April 26-May 4 and has a .367 average with 5/14/14 since April 13.
The BABIP is certainly lucky at .444 during that span, but Soler has been making great contact, hitting it hard and sending plenty of his fly balls out of the park. As a bonus, pitchers are starting to respect Soler's dangerous bat and his reduced SwStr%, as less pitches are hitting the zone, but when they do, he has a career high 54.2 Z-Contact%. Soler has improved his plate discipline and embraced his power (and potential). The breakout is finally here.
Eduardo Escobar and Eddie Rosario Get No Respect
On May 9, these two Twins are near the top of their respective positions, yet you would never know from the lack of attention or appreciation.
What more do they need to do? Play in New York or Boston? Hit twice as many home runs? Rank 14th and sixth for hitters at the position? Well, they're doing that last thing. Escobar has picked up his hitting with an improved Hard%, ISO and SLG%, but it's not uncommon for players develop power late (29 years old). Meanwhile, Rosario is right in line with last year's numbers in AVG and BABIP, but he's added a bit more pop and the more-productive Twins lineup has him on pace for 90-plus Runs and RBI. Of the two, Rosario is less of a concern to slide back, as his metrics are at the norm. Before you panic too much about Escobar though, he's part of the focus in baseball to drive the ball more and get improved lift. Fortunately, he isn't striking out more and has actually increased his walk rate. Believe in both! And for once, let's give these Twins some respect.
Blue Jays Need a Closer
Roberto Osuna is out as the Blue Jays closer during his investigation and likely longer if he's guilty, as assumed. That leaves a void in the ninth inning, and it's tough to predict which option is the best to grab… but I'll try.
Tyler Clippard – Has the best numbers with a 1.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and 22 Ks in 19.1 IP. On the downside, he's struggled in the closer role previously with 46 blown saves in his seven full seasons since 2010. On the positive, he got the first save opportunity post-Osuna and nailed it. Looks like it’s Clippard to start.
John Axford – Second best numbers (1.47 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 16 Ks in 18.1 IP) and has closing experience, but he hasn't been a team's go-to closer since 2015, when he had a 4.20 ERA for the Rockies.
Ryan Tepera – Decent, not great numbers with nice strikeout ability. Tepera has a 3.06 ERA, 1.19 WHIP and 19 Ks in 17.2 IP, but he's never been a closer and the WHIP is a bit concerning. He did come in for the eighth, which would suggest he’s the next man up should Clippard falter.
Seung-Hwan Oh – Before Wednesday, he was the assumed favorite for the job, as Oh has a 1.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 16 Ks in 16.1 IP and was dominant in the closer role for the Cardinals in 2016. Oh did struggle last year – that's even putting it lightly – with a 4.10 ERA and 1.40 WHIP, but you can see the quality numbers are back, and that experience will carry weight.
You have to go after Clippard, but I wouldn't go crazy in my FAAB spending unless I was desperate for saves. The job could still get split between the four, even with Clippard getting first crack at it. If you have the room and need saves, stash Tepera and then even Oh... but again, only on the cheap.
Michael Conforto Forgot He's Good
Conforto is hitting just .191 with a weak .303 SLG% as of May 9. That excitement we all had that Conforto was starting the season instead of waiting until May to return from surgery is gone. If you're panicking, stop. If his owner is, pounce. Conforto is much better than this. Don't forget that we were having a Conforto versus Aaron Judge debate before the All-Star Break last year.
As with Judge, Conforto cooled off a bit too before his injury, but he did finish with .279/27/72/68/2 in 109 games. I don't like to project out an incomplete season too often, as it can be a dangerous practice, but for argument's sake, Conforto was on pace for a 38/102/97 season over 155 games. As with some of the pitchers returning from injury at the start of the season, some players need Spring Training more than others do. Again as with those pitchers, players returning from injury definitely need time to get into the swing of things (no pun intended). Conforto made an earlier than expected return – by a decent amount – and spent little time jumping back into the mix.
If you look at Conforto's metrics, most of his marks are in line with last year (SwStr%, K%, BB%). The problems lie in the Hard% (down 41.6 to 28.1), GB% (up), IFFB% (up) and HR/FB% (way down). Conforto is simply off right now, but as long as he doesn't press or isn't hiding the fact that he's not 100 percent, he'll get on track. Buy low where you can afford to be patient and do it quickly. If Conforto heats up, it's going to be impossible to grab him after the fact.
Main Image Credit: AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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