The Blue Jays are Loaded With Power Hitters
When the Yankees traded for Giancarlo Stanton, they added 52 home runs to their league-leading 241 team home runs in 2017. Hell, between Stanton, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, that’s 144 home runs combined from last year. That’s more than the Giants as a team had all last year.
What the Yankees also have now are the two leaders in total Barrels from last year, as Judge (87) and Stanton (76) were well out in front of the rest of the league. Those numbers translate over well to exit velocity, too, as Judge (94.9), Stanton (91.9) and Sanchez (90.7) were first, sixth and 19th in baseball, respectively.
I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, right? The Yankees are going to mash the ball (they’ll also strike out a ton). But what I noticed when looked at Baseball Savant is that they might not be the only team in the division to crush the ball. If you change the minimum batted ball events to 50 instead of 100, the Toronto Blue Jays have four of the Top 17 power hitters in Barrels per Plate Appearance (Brls/PA). Randal Grichuk (10), Teoscar Hernandez (9.5), Justin Smoak (9.3) and Josh Donaldson (8.7) were sixth, eighth, 10th and 17th based on the metric from last year, respectively.
But the question is: what will the Jays do with their outfield? Right now, they have Kevin Pillar, Steve Pearce, Curtis Granderson, Grichuk and Hernandez, which means Hernandez likely starts the year in Triple-A, as he’s blocked by worthless veterans (few things get me more fired up).
From a baseball perspective, some projections have the Yankees and Red Sox winning 91 games apiece, so the Blue Jays will need the swing-for-the-fences mentality they’ll get by playing their young, high-upside power hitters. Who gives them that? Hernandez does for sure, and Grichuk is good for 25-30 home runs and could be a post-hype breakout candidate. Who doesn’t give them that upside? Pearce and Granderson.
From a Fantasy perspective, I’m in on Grichuk in five-outfielder leagues as my OF4/5 with upside. I would feel the same about Hernandez, too, but it seems like the Jays feel differently.
Speaking of Barrels, last year, I wrote that we should expect Khris Davis and Kendrys Morales as players to keep up their level of play based on their total Barrels and Barrels per batted ball (Brls/BBE). Davis finished third in the league in home runs, and Morales’ homers and ISO dipped slightly from 2016, but the change wasn’t drastic. The Barrels sustained themselves, too, as Davis went from 18.2 Brls/BBE in 2016 to 17.7 in 2017. Morales, who had 46 Barrels in 2016, had 43 last year, which was 25th in the league. There’s a reason I was the highest on Davis in the industry as my 42nd overall player compared to his overall ADP of 89 per FantasyPros. I expect him to be closer to the 42nd player taken this year than the 89th.
Aside from Grichuk, who has near-elite Barrel numbers, a couple of other names that caught my eye when going through the numbers were Matt Davidson (39 Barrels, 15.4 Brls/BBE) and Nicholas Castellanos (51 Barrels, 10.7 Brls/BBE). Davidson is Chris Davis-lite, as he has big power potential, but also had a 37.2 percent strikeout rate last year – second only to Keon Broxton for players with at least 400 plate appearances. When he makes contact, though, the ball goes a long way.
Castellanos is the more interesting option for Fantasy. With Jeimer Candelario getting the everyday reps at third base, Castellanos will be moving to the outfield. Only eight players had a higher difference between their Expected Weighted on Base Average (xwOBA) and wOBA, per Baseball Savant, than Castellanos. Steamer expects a season similar to last year for Castellanos with fewer RBIs given the lineup he’s in. I expect another season of growth and for Castellanos to climb in ADP as drafts approach. He’s my 18th third baseman right now, but I could see myself moving him up to 14.
- Over the last three seasons, only five pitchers have a higher K% than Chris Archer. He’s criminally underrated every year as a source of strikeouts.
- Also looking at the last three years of data, Aaron Nola’s 52 SIERA is 13th in baseball during that time.
- Lance Lynn threw his fastball 81.1 percent of the time – by far the most in the majors. Clayton Richard (68.7 percent) was second.
- The SwStr% leaders from last year are as you’d expect … until you get to No. 14, where Dan Straily resides with a 12.2 percent rate.
- I love Robbie Ray as much as the next Fantasy owner. Strikeouts are the most valuable category for pitchers. But we might be overrating him a bit and anointing him an ace too soon. He had the sixth-highest different between his ERA and FIP (-.83) behind the likes of Gio Gonzalez, Ervin Santana, Andrew Cashner, Jose Urena and the aforementioned Lynn. All were pitchers that Fantasy analysts told you to sell on last year. He also had the highest walk rate among qualified starting pitchers last year (10.7 percent). One year after allowing the highest BABIP against for starting pitchers (.352), he had the 10th-lowest at .267. Is Ray a great No. 2 pitcher? Yes, absolutely. Do I expect him to replicate or improve on his 2017 numbers? No, I don’t. I need to move him down in my next set of rankings.