This summer, FantasyAces.com is turning up the heat with its $250,000 World Baseball Championship. 20 qualifiers will enjoy a 3-night oceanfront vacation in Southern California for the live final at Angel Stadium. So, enter the next FAWBC qualifier and take a swing at this once-in-a-lifetime DFS experience and the $100,000 grand prize!
Fantasy owners are quick to forget Manny Machado made his debut with the Orioles in 2012 as a 19-year old. With 1,585 career plate appearances already under his belt, he has proven a knack for being able to hit for average. His .283 career mark is impressive, but when you take into consideration that only 53 players are posting a season average above that mark, you see skill.
Machado played in just 82 games last year because of a bum knee. Had he been healthy and played a full season, his numbers would have extrapolated out to roughly a .278-75-23-62-4 line. Those are some pretty sweet numbers for a guy who spent most of last season as a 21-year old. Through just 74 games this year he is posting a .306-49-15-41-11 line.
There are plenty of signs that he is taking a step forward as well. His walk rate is up to 8.5 percent, which is 3.1 percent higher than his career total and has improved over his last two seasons. He is averaging a career best 3.81 pitches per plate appearance as well, so this show of plate discipline isn’t a farce. His swinging strike percentage is at a career low 6.8 percent, a total that easily puts him among the Top 50 in the league.
When you have a player like Machado that does most of his growing up in the Big Leagues while putting up the numbers he already has posted, any sustained improvement should be viewed as his raising the bar. If you own him expect the good times to continue. If you are in a dynasty league there is a very short list of players that deserve to rank above him at this point.
Heading into his start on Sunday Trevor Bauer made six starts on the road. In those starts he posted a 4-1 record with a 1.10 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 10.32 K/9 and an opponent’s batting average of .157. He gave up a total of three earned runs in those starts, all of which were quality. Baltimore ended the streak at six though, touching him up for four earned runs on five hits and a walk. He did manage five strikeouts though. Bauer has obviously been a bit of a roller coaster this year for his yearly league owners, but savvy daily owners who picked up on his away splits likely rode him to some pretty nice payouts. One game isn’t enough to shy away, but with a pitcher like Bauer who typically over-thinks things it is enough from avoiding him for his next away start to see if he gets back on track. If he does, roll him back out there in daily games with confidence.
The Astros recalled Jon Singleton from Triple-A on Friday night and started him once during their weekend series with the Yankees. He saw 19 pitches, swung and missed five and ended up striking out in three of his four plate appearances. A solid showing down in Fresno earned him the call; he hit .280 with 17 homers in 66 RBIs. The problem is he hasn’t been able to translate that success to the majors. He should compete with Chris Carter for playing time. The problem for Singleton is outside of bringing a left-handed bat to the table, he actually posted inferior numbers to Carter in the minors. Carter brings more power and actually offered a better average. Singleton strikes out a bit less. With the Astros right in the thick of the AL West race they aren’t going to give Singleton a long leash. With Evan Gattis manning the DH slot when the club is at full health, it’s hard to envision the club keeping Singleton up unless they plan on playing him regularly and he provides results. If he is available on your waiver wire I would suggest passing on him unless you are an owner of Carter.
The Rangers rushed Rougned Odor to the majors last year due to injury, and he performed surprisingly well hitting .259 with nine homers and 48 RBIs over 386 at-bats. Doing this as a 20-year-old had Fantasy owners salivating at the chance at drafting him his year, and he face-planted to start the season posting a .144 average with a homer and nine RBIs in 90 at-bats before being demoted. Instead of sulking like a lot of young players would, he went down and ironed things out by hitting .352 with five homers and 19 RBIs in 108 at-bats prior to getting recalled. Since his recall on June 15 he has hit .395 with two homers, five RBIs and four stolen bases over 38 at-bats. He is being forced to learn to play baseball in the majors so there will be ups-and-downs. To give you some perspective after his demotion to Triple-A he was 5.9 years younger than the average age for that league. In Odor you have a guy with the potential to hit in the .260 range that has the ability to hit for double-digit power and post double-digit steals. Right now, he is available in over 80-percent of leagues on ESPN. With how bad the middle infield has been this year that number needs to rise dramatically.
The Yankees Nathan Eovaldi has to be one of the most enigmatic pitchers out there. He leads the league in average fastball velocity at 96.0 MPH. With that heat, one would expect some serious strikeout numbers, but he has only managed a K/9 of 6.56 this year which is actually slightly better than his 6.32 career mark. The velocity hasn’t resulted in swinging strikes, as he has only generated misses on 4.8 percent of the 715 fastballs he has thrown this year. For those of you out there that don’t get to see him on the mound all that much it’s pretty easy to see why. His fastball is about as straight as they come. If he isn’t locating it well, things go south in a hurry. When his fastball is his “best pitch” and his slider, curveball and changeup are all average at best, opposing batters can just dial in on the heat and make him pay when they see one in the zone. Right now, I just don’t see him developing into a quality starting pitcher with the arsenal he currently brings.
The Mets have a wealth of young pitching. They went to the cupboard again on Sunday and took out Steven Matz. For those of you that don’t follow the minor leagues, Matz is a 24-year old Tommy John survivor that was drafted in 2009 but didn’t pitch in a game for the Mets until 2012. Since that point he has been fantastic, posting a cumulative 24-20 record with a 2.29 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 9.34 K/9 over 366 minor league innings. He posted a quality start in his first appearance, giving up two earned runs on five hits and three walks over 7.2 innings while striking out six. In terms of stuff, the lefty primarily works with a mid-90’s fastball, a pretty nasty curveball and a changeup. He looked the part from what I saw, but my only complaint would be he tended to leave a few too many fastballs up in the zone. He got away with it against the Reds, but if that trend continues he will have up-and-down starts. If available, he needs to be picked up. The Mets will likely ride him until they fall out of playoff contention and then shut him down. Expect an impact similar to what we have seen from Boston’s Eduardo Rodriguez. Matz has a slightly better outlook though because of his home park and the fact that he pitches in the NL.
Every season a couple of players emerge to become Fantasy monsters, in a good way that is. Nolan Arenado fits the mold. After hitting another two homers last night his season total now stands at 24. This now puts him on pace to hit 52 on the season, a staggering total when you consider he has never hit more than 26 in a season as a professional. There were two gripes with him heading into this season; his ability to stay healthy and that 16 of his 18 homers last year came at home. This year, he has played in 73 of the Rockies first 75 games and 15 of his 24 homers have come on the road. While I don’t think 50-plus homers are on the menu for him this season, he will hit 40. That will make him the first third baseman to hit 40-plus homers in a season since Adrian Beltre hit 48 back in 2004. At just 24 years of age, he looks primed to post 6-to-8 seasons of elite numbers and will probably find himself atop many sets of third base rankings heading into next season.