September Fantasy Baseball and Dynasty League Outlooks for Struggling Stars
September Fantasy Baseball and Dynasty Tips on Frustrating Big-Name PlayersAll of Major League Baseball’s various trade deadlines have now passed and most Fantasy ones have as well. That means the only way to improve your team’s chances for a championship is through the waiver wire or better starting lineup decisions. Sometimes an owner has to sit a name that is considered a “must-start” or find it inside themselves to start a name that doesn’t instill ferocious conviction.It is extremely difficult to start a player you don’t feel confident in. “Justifying” a bad decision is easier than making a good one, regardless of whether it’s supported by strong evidence. If an owner feels good about their choice then win or lose, they won’t feel bad when it turns out wrong. This is not how decisions should be made, but that’s the reality.Last week it was pitching starts and sits, this week it’s offense with an update to last week’s projections. Let’s get after the championship and go win that $$$.Pitching UpdateNoah Syndergaard, SP New York MetsOpponent: Philadelphia Phillies on Sept. 8Syndergaard hasn’t been dreadful or even bad, but he hasn’t been a “must-start” since his return from a finger issue. Teams have five hits or more in six straight starts against him. He has averaged an acceptable, but hardly jaw-dropping strikeout per inning and he hasn’t had a double-digit strikeout game since mid-April.The Phillies aren’t a bad matchup for Thor and the game is at home rather than the homer-dome bandbox in Philly. The Phillies rank 23rd on the season, 24th in August in team OPS and they rank third-worst in strikeouts and 19th in runs scored against right-handed pitching. If you’re an owner with a lot of double-starts or a deep rotation then you should feel justified in sitting Syndergaard. If it’s a close call, the matchup and his “acceptable” recent performances are starter worthy as well. Thor is pitching like “just another guy” and should be treated that way week to week rather than his reputation as a stud strikeout machine suggests.Crunch-Time DisappointmentsOwners draft their stud bats to win now and experts tell owners to never bench them, but never is a four-letter word in my opinion. As I have mentioned for two straight weeks, sometimes “must-start” pitchers MUST SIT and that goes for certain “must-start” bats as well. I am more reluctant to bench a big bat, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t exceptions.Nolan Arenado has three home runs in his last 94 at-bats and only one in his last 45, while batting .222 in that span and he has six upcoming road games against the Giants in San Francisco and the Dodgers in Los Angeles. Bryce Harper has zero home runs and has hit .214 in his last 42 at-bats, while Freddie Freeman has hit only two home runs in his last 113 at-bats. Freeman is batting .204 without only one home run in his last 49 at-bats as well. I wouldn’t sit Arenado or Harper because of their 3B/outfield eligibility, but owners that have a legitimate alternative to start at first base or as their utility player, may want to sit Freeman.Here are a few big-name offensive start/sit options whose struggles have put owners in a tough spot.Charlie Blackmon, OF Colorado RockiesBlackmon has one home run and three stolen bases in his last 46 at-bats and two home runs and a .235 batting average in his last 102, but what pushes him over my edge from Sit to Starthe has six home games at Coors field and that changes my evaluation from a SIT to a less than enthusiastic START. That slight difference, home vs. away, is the difference between starting and sitting a big, but disappointing name like Blackmon. One of the reasons why playing six on the road versus six at home in Coors Field is a deciding factor for me is that sitting Blackmon is a tough call. He hasn’t played miserably, he just hasn’t played especially well and certainly not up to expectations. Another reason is that he faces three tough left-handed pitchers in Bumgarner, Kershaw and Wood, but he hits for a higher batting average against left-handed pitching and while his production stats are lower, he has had 126 fewer at bats against left-handers than right-handers. He has 199 at bats versus left-handed pitching and 325 against right-handed pitching. He has more home runs (16 vs. seven), has a slightly higher OBP (.349 vs. .340) and a higher OPS (.847 vs. .777) against right-handed pitching, but he has a higher batting average (.286 vs. 274) against left-handed pitching. He has had almost ⅓ more at-bats, right vs. left. Add ⅓ more home runs against left-handed pitching to the seven he has now and the numbers get closer and so does the OPS. Then add his .914 OPS at Coors Field as opposed to his .743 OPS on the road and the difference in his left/right splits don’t compare to the home/road ones. And, lets face it. Six games at Coors Field, regardless of who the opposing pitchers are, in a must-win series, is too tempting to pass up unless recent performance has been despicable and Blackmon’s has not been that poor.Blackmon has been disappointing by minimal standards and very disappointing compared to what owners paid to draft him in March and that’s why he is even being discussed in this weeks column. If he struggles this week, at Coors Field, then owners have to seriously consider him a “must-sit” next week. For now, home cooking treats him well and he gets a START. We’ll see what he does with it.Carlos Correa, SS Houston AstrosCorrea has one home run with a .169 batting average in his last 71 at-bats. Over the last two weeks he ranks as the 59th middle infielder in Yahoo! Leagues. I have no qualms about benching Correa in must-win games. I have been benching him for weeks already. SIT.I have been a contrarian when it comes Correa since his rookie breakout campaign and I am glad I was. 2018 has been a true bust for the big middle infielder. The power hasn’t been elite and the stolen bases look to be gone. Unfortunately for Dynasty league owners, you can’t sell low after a year this bad. Hold on tight and hope he recoups some value by this time next year. In yearly leagues. Maybe he drops in drafts and becomes a potential upside value at a more reasonable ADP.Joey Votto, 1B Cincinnati RedsHe was an early-season bust that all the experts, including me for awhile, put a “Don’t Panic” label on. Well, except for a short stint, he has been a full season bust. He has nine home runs, one stolen base and a .283 batting average. If he did that in his last 100 at-bats I would still recommend benching him for the must-win series’ ahead. As a first baseman or UT player he needs to be MUCH better than that to be a starter in the most crucial games of the year. He is an easy Sit. The fact that he is 1-9 since his return to the Reds lineup is just the sour cherry on a bust of a season.In yearly leagues he will be a popular player in “undervalued ADP” articles next spring. It’s a tough call. He was great from 2015-2017, so the case can be made that 2018 was an off year cluttered by injuries and that argument has merit. In Dynasty leagues, owners need to stand pat. You can’t sell low after such a bad year.Here are some names that are available as free agents on the waiver wire. They have earned starting Reps for Fantasy teams based on both 14-day and 30-day sample sizes. Affordable Alternatives - 14-Day Sample Size ConsiderationsKendrys Morales, 1B/DH Toronto Blue JaysFor Fantasy owners that have been living in a Turkish prison, under a rock or were stuck on Mars with Matt Damon, Morales has been kind of good lately. Eight Home Runs, 13 RBI, 10 Runs Scored and a .366 batting average in his last 41 at-bats made him one of the best players in baseball over that span.What’s NoteWorthy about him is that he is only owned in 57% of Yahoo! Leagues. If your league is that vacant, get those fingers on the claim button and win your league already.Jonathan Villar, 2B/OF Baltimore OriolesHe hasn’t been as good as Morales, but he has two home runs and seven stolen bases in the last two weeks, which puts him on the ‘viable map.” The fact that he qualifies at second base and outfield and is owned in only 52% of leagues in September makes the case stronger for a Start and certainly as a must-own.Ramon Laureano, OF Oakland A’sEverything in Oakland is turning out golden and Laureano is riding the bandwagon to Fantasy owner’s benefit. Three home runs, three stolen bases and a .359 batting average over the last 14 Days makes him a viable weekly league Start.If you can pitch Oakland is desperate for you to raise your hand. If you can hit, well, that’s a more crowded scenario. For now, Laureano is a no-namer with a 13% ownership percentage in Yahoo! Leagues and he provides legitimate starter worthy production.Alex Gordon, OF Kansas City RoyalsThree home runs and five stolen bases in his last 44 at-bats while owned in only 2% of Yahoo! Leagues? He isn’t crushing it like Kendrys Morales in Toronto, but the Fantasy world doesn’t even realize he still exists after an atrocious start to his 2018 season.There has to be at least five owners in every league that have a bench spot filled by someone performing worse than Gordon right now. Don’t bench Bryce Harper or Nolan Arenado for Alex Gordon, but claim him and see if he warrants a start in September. Now isn’t the time to be proud, it’s the time to be prudent and own Gordon.Affordable Alternatives - 30-Day Sample Size ConsiderationsFourteen-day sample sizes are a snapshot that justifiably deserve skepticism. Catching lightning in a bottle can win leagues, making them NoteWorthy and possibly justify acting on, but they are dicey too. They can be deceptive and disingenuous. 30-Day sample sizes are more telling, deserve more serious consideration and aren’t as vulnerable to being brushed off as a flash in the pan.Here are a few 30-Day contributors worth a thought or two in must-win sprints to Fantasy championships.Hunter Renfroe, OF San Diego Padres30-Day Stats:106 At-bats, Nine HRs - 27 RBI - 13 Runs Scored - .302 Batting AverageRenfroe has a twinkle or two of speed, but what he does well is make a fair amount of contact to go along with 30-35 home run pop. His high strikeout rate has hurt his yearly and Dynasty league outlooks, but when he is right he deserves a start in both San Diego and on Fantasy teams.What he’s doing isn’t a fluke and it should result in full-time at-bats in September while the Padres try to figure out their future. The fact that he is owned in only 22% of Yahoo! Leagues makes him an easy claim.Tyler White, 1B Houston Astros30-Day Stats:83 At-Bats, Eight HRs - 23 RBI - 14 Runs Scored - .325 BAWhite’s been deserving of a starting spot in Fantasy lineups for more than a month and owners are starting to notice. He is owned in 40% of Yahoo! Leagues and plays on a strong offensive unit in Houston. I can’t give him a ringing endorsement in Dynasty leagues, but for now he needs to be owned and started.Amed Rosario, SS New York Mets30-Day Stats:109 At-Bats, Three HRs - Seven SBs - 21 Runs Scored - 16 RBI - .284 BARosario does a little bit of everything and he does it in the middle of the diamond. If you own Carlos Correa, Dee Gordon or Robinson Cano then you need to be benching them for Rosario. He will be a hot breakout candidate in 2019, but he can help you salvage 2018 first. He is owned in only 30% of Yahoo! leagues.Adalberto Mondesi, 2BSS Kansas City Royals30-Day Stats:69 ABs - Three HRs - 10 SBs - Nine RBI - Nine Runs Scored - .275 BAHe is another middle infielder doing a little bit of it all with an ownership percentage of only 14% in Yahoo! Leagues. He has been better than Francisco Lindor and Trea Turner for the last month with significantly fewer at-bats. I wouldn’t bench those studs in order to start Mondesi, but his ownership percentage needs to be higher than the teens and he needs to be considered as a MI or UT starter for his dual-threat contributions and skill set.
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