The latest Fantasy Baseball observations and recommendations
How much would you trade away to get Ronald Acuna Jr.? No, really. It’s a fair question. When every “next big thing” comes up to the big leagues, it’s a question that has to be asked. And with Acuna, who is the most hyped prospect since Kris Bryant, he’s a player that everyone wants a piece of. We’ll talk only redraft here, because in dynasty and keeper leagues, there are so many circumstances that make it impossible to gauge what is fair value.
For those in redraft leagues looking to acquire Acuna, this is probably the worst possible start that he could have. His value was sky high the day he came up, but he’s performed like a stud in his opening weekend, making it even higher.
If you want to get Acuna, you have to offer a sexy piece to acquire him. Guys like Lorenzo Cain, Wil Myers and Khris Davis are all fair in value, but will that make the Acuna owner hit accept? I don’t think so. It’s going to take a player like Ozzie Albies, Christian Yelich, Alex Bregman, Andrew Benintendi or Shohei Ohtani to get the deal done. And honestly, as great as Acuna is going to be, in a redraft league, I’ll take all of the above-mentioned guys over him.
But on the flipside, if you have Acuna, you should be offering for one of the guys above and see if you can even milk an extra small piece out of an owner. Everyone loves the shiny new toy. Everyone wants to have him on their Fantasy team. It’s not just for the production, but you want to take advantage of the people in your league who have a serious case of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out).
He’s going to be one of the best players in baseball, but in 2018, if you can get a Top 50 player for him, you need to do it ASAP.
Here’s what else that has caught my eye from around the league.
What a debut for Nick Kingham. He carried a perfect game into the seventh inning and retired the first 20 batters on Sunday, while striking out eight and generating 14 swinging strikes. It’s probably going to be the best game of his career, but it’s enough to earn him another turn in the Pirates rotation, as he’ll get the ball Friday against the Brewers, forcing Steven Brault to the bullpen. Kingham deserves to get picked up or at least added to your watch list in shallower leagues, but keep in mind that Joe Musgrove should be back soon, and Tyler Glasnow could emerge out of the bullpen to join the rotation.
There’s no way around it – J.P. Crawford been terrible this year. Even his biggest calling card – his eye at the plate – hasn’t shown itself this year as he has a 5.6 BB% and a 26.8 K% to go along with a putrid .188 batting average. He was placed on the disabled list over the weekend with a flexor strain, which frees up everyday at-bats for Scott Kingery. But is Crawford a lost cause?
He’s been a highly-touted top prospect for years, but the numbers have never really reflected it outside of the final two months at Triple-A in 2017. He’s been a glove-first shortstop with a good eye at the plate, but didn’t have the skill set to be a consistent Fantasy contributor. Do you know who else didn’t in his 23-year-old season? Didi Gregorius. I saw the comparison on Twitter, and I really wish I could find it to link in here, but its basic point is don’t write Crawford off too soon. He’ll be a better real-life player than Fantasy player, but he could still develop into a useful middle infielder.
A Phillies player who has actually been really, really good is Cesar Hernandez. This isn’t anything new, either, as Hernandez has been criminally underrated in Fantasy circles for the past couple of seasons.
He’s hit .294 the past two seasons, and he’s on pace to do it again with his .284 average a month into the season. What’s more, his five steals have him on a 30-steal pace early on. He’s only 67 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues, which is far too low. As the leadoff man for the Phillies, with 22 walks and 28 strikeouts, he needs to be closer to 80-85 percent owned.
Is Luis Castillo still a buy-low option? Eno Sarris wrote a fantastic piece at The Athletic spotlighting Castillo and his early-season struggles. Sarris believed that Castillo was a good buy-low candidate, but that was prior to his latest start, when he gave up five earned runs in just one inning of work.
What we do know is Castillo’s fastball velocity is down, his spin rate has decreased and, as Sarris points out, his release point is off. While there are some positives to point out, such as his increased O-Swing% and SwStr%, there are more troubling factors, such as his increased BB%, decreased K% and increased hard-hit rate.
Based on talent alone, Castillo is worth buying … if you can. Owners seem unfazed for now and not willing to part with them due to the investment they made during draft season. It doesn’t, however, look like Castillo will live up to the 2017 Luis Severino comparisons … at least for this year.
Don’t look now, but A.J. Pollock has totally undergone a makeover at the plate. Last year, he had an average launch angle of 8.3, but so far this year, Pollock has a 15.6 average degree launch angle.
Here’s his launch angle chart from 2018, as created on baseballsavant.mlb.com:
And here it is from 2017:
As you can see, the increased launch angle has a serious impact for Pollock thus far.
Pollock is on a 54-home pace after his three-homer game Monday night, with an absurd .379 ISO (Giancarlo Stanton led baseball with a .350 ISO last year) and he’s hitting the ball a lot harder and hitting more flyballs. What’s encouraging is that Pollock hasn’t sacrificed average for power so far, as he’s sporting a .291 batting average and has even stolen six bases.
Could he be a 30-30 threat this year? We know the skills are there, and the adjusted launch angle has certainly helped him thus far, but it’s always been an issue of health for Pollock. So far, he’s returning quite the investment on his NFBC ADP as the 68th player off the board. I’m buying high if I can.