Acquire Yankees’ Sonny Gray, Cut Angels’ Kole Calhoun
Who's Hot and Who's Not, and How You Should React in Fantasy Baseball
This looks like it’s going to be another season in which we will have records set as far as strikeouts are concerned. The game has changed over the past 5-10 years. So many relievers come in throwing in the high 90s that players/teams don’t seem to believe they can sustain a rally, so everyone is swinging for the fences (launch angle). What does this mean for Fantasy owners? The numbers that we thought would win the K and HR categories may have been understated. I like to do a five-year average to figure how many approximate numbers I will need to win a certain category. Well, with the changes in philosophy, those numbers are now skewered. Just something to keep in mind as we roll along this season.
- A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks: Yeah, I know, Pollock was a Top 50 player at draft time, so it does sound a little unfair to put him on this list, but really, who saw an MVP type season coming from him? Pollock already has 11 HRs and 31 RBIs. His career high in both categories is 20 and 76 which he set in 2015. If he keeps this pace up, he’ll surpass those totals by the All-Star break. Pollock also has eight SBs and although he is unlikely to set a career high in thefts (39 in 2015), 20-plus bags should be coming his way.
- Javier Baez, Chicago Cubs: Baez may finally be realizing his potential. Much was expected of Baez when he was first called up in 2014, but bouncing around the infield without a true position may have stunted his growth a bit. This season he is the starting 2B for Chicago and he’s putting up big power numbers. Baez hit 23 bombs last season but is well on is way to delivering over 30 this year. Baez still doesn’t walk much, but unless you’re playing in an OBP league, that shouldn’t stop you from playing him every day.
- Sonny Gray, New York Yankees: Whether it’s mental or not doesn’t matter, Gray looks like the SP the Yankees thought they were getting from Oakland, especially when Austin Romine is behind the plate. It isn’t a shock to anyone that Gary Sanchez is not a great defensive catcher. He has plenty of issues, especially when it comes to, you know, catching the ball, and blocking pitches in the dirt. Perhaps this is in Gray’s head. There is a stark difference in Gray’s numbers with Romine behind the plate. Manager Aaron Boone has stated that he would prefer not to have a personal catcher for Gray, but he may not have a choice now, as Gray looks to have gotten untracked with Romine catching him. If you can still acquire Gray on the cheap, you should do so.
- Cesar Hernandez, Philadelphia Phillies: Remember when Scott Kingery started off the season hot and so many were wondering if Hernandez would be traded by the deadline in order to secure a position for Kingery? Yeah, that seems unlikely to happen now. Kingery is in a prolonged slump, P. Crawford is on the DL (wasn’t hitting anyway), and Maikel Franco isn’t exactly lighting up opposing pitching either. Hernandez may be the one player outside of Rhys Hoskins that Philadelphia can’t afford to lose.
- Walker Buehler, Los Angeles Dodgers: With Buehler it all came down to if he would get a chance to be a full-time member of the starting rotation. Well, after throwing six innings of no-hit ball versus the Padres on Friday, the Dodgers announced that he will stick in the rotation. This should’ve been an easy decision with Los Angeles struggling mightily. They have to start their best players right now and Buehler is one of their Top 5 SPs. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that his three starts this season have come against what might be the three worst offenses in MLB in Miami, San Francisco, and San Diego.
- Willson Contreras, Chicago Cubs: What has happened to Contreras? Coming into the season Fantasy owners expected him to be no worse than the third overall catcher behind Gary Sanchez and Buster Posey. That’s not happening right now as Contreras had a single HR, eight RBIs, and a .230 average as of Wednesday. So much more was expected from him. Just another reason why I hate drafting catchers early. But you will just have to ride it out here, because you cannot get much for Contreras in a trade, and there is nothing better available if you have him.
- Kole Calhoun, Los Angeles Angels: If you thought Calhoun cratered last season when he batted .244 with 19 HRs, think again. Coming into Wednesday he was batting .165 with only one HR, 10 RBIs, and two SBs. It seems the Angels are also getting tired of waiting for him to hit as he was on the bench for a fourth straight game Wednesday. You certainly can’t start him right now and may be better off sending him to the waiver wire if you need the roster spot.
- Michael Conforto, New York Mets: Conforto is yet another OF that you can’t start right now. He’s not hitting for power or average. He came into the season rehabbing from shoulder surgery and although he looked good late in spring training and early this season, he has cratered over his last 14 games (.158 AVG) and the numbers are even worse over his last seven games (.111 AVG). I’d like to be patient with Conforto, but he has to hit the Fantasy pine until he can put together a couple of good games in a row.
- David Price, Boston Red Sox: Price was forced to miss his start Wednesday due to experiencing numbness in his hand. This is the second time this season that this malady has occurred and apparently it is due to carpal tunnel syndrome. While the ailment is considered to be minor, he will have to prove it to me before I insert him back into my lineup. After a hot start to the season, Price has been shelled in four of his last five starts. Maybe that’s due to the injury, maybe not. I don’t need to risk my ratios though, to find out.
- Jeff Samardzija, San Francisco Giants: Samardzija had seasons here and there where he teases you with his arm, but overall, that’s all it is, a tease. This season doesn’t look any different. He has a bloated ERA and WHIP (6.62 and 1.81) and while those numbers should come down, where exactly is the upside here? You have to be able to do better on your WW even if you’re just churning the bottom of your pitching staff weekly.
As always feel free to follow me on Twitter and ask any questions you like, @georgekurtz.
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