Yasiel Puig is expected to come off the disabled list this week. If you own him this year that sounds more like a threat than a reprieve. He is hitting just .193 with zero home runs so far. He has been more hurt than help to the Los Angeles Dodgers and, more importantly, your fantasy baseball team.
Puig has been a slow starter in the past. Last year he hit .229 in April and May. From June onward he hit .281 and was more valuable than Cody Bellinger. Puig has shown the ability to turn things around, but there is more risk with Puig than other players. His soft contact rate is up from last year’s 18.3 percent to 27.1 percent in 2018. This accounts for his career low BABIP of .243 much more than simply bad luck.
Fantasy Advice – Buy
Fortunately for Puig, the Dodgers have nowhere to turn right now meaning he will get some opportunities to bat high in the lineup, especially against right handed pitchers. Puig’s potential makes him a very cheap buy low candidate, just know you may have to be patient for him to show what he is capable of.
Khris Davis is one of the most consistent and exciting players in baseball. He had a slugging percentage above .500 and hit exactly .247 each of the past three years. He hit an extra inning walk off home run Saturday night and is again on pace to hit 40 home runs.
Khris Davis wins it for the A’s! pic.twitter.com/vIcWrXVrF5
— Sports Daily (@SportsDGI) May 6, 2018
Unfortunately he is batting a mere .215.
I am fascinated with players like Davis. When a player’s average drops the first place to look is his hard hit rate and K-rate. Davis’ K-rate is high at 27.6 percent, but that is actually two percent lower than it was last year. And he is making hard contact 45.7 percent of the time, also an improvement over 2017. So, you would think Davis’ average would improve. Instead it is at a career low .210 and I don’t believe it will improve to anything more than .235.
The reason Davis is hitting for such a low average is his fly ball rate is way up. That is hard to believe because Davis hit fly balls 42.3 percent of the time last year. In 2018 has that up to 47.9 percent. The thing they don’t tell you about the fly ball revolution is that fly balls produce home runs and outs – unfortunately not in equal measure.
Many of Davis’ stats are mirror images from last year. His biggest change is his launch angle. Comparing his launch angle chart from 2017 and 2018 shows you how his profile has changed. He is hitting a lot more balls beyond the 40 degree mark. That gives major league outfielders all the time in the world to make the catch.
Fantasy Advice – Sell
I don’t know if Davis sees this as a problem or not, but I do. Khris Davis is a sell while some other owner still believes there is time for a turnaround.
Gerrit Cole is sixth on ESPN’s player rater. He finished 135th last year. So it makes sense to want to sell high while you can. I would hold off on trading Cole. He has made some big adjustments in his approach this year and I believe he will pay dividends all season assuming he stays healthy.
Cole’s worst pitch has always been his sinker. Last year in Pittsburgh he used it 18 percent of the time. Houston’s renowned analytics department must have shown Cole how unreliable this pitch is for him because he is throwing it only 4.9 percent of the time this year. Instead, Cole is relying more heavily on his four seam fastball, slider and curve ball.
This change has kept batters more off balance and cut down most importantly on home runs. Cole dropped his HR/9 from 1.37 in 2017 to .53 in 2018. This seems impossible considering Cole moved from the home run aloof PNC Park to Houston’s home run giving Minute Maid Park.
Fantasy Advice – Buy
Cole’s change in pitch selection has likely made him a legit ace. I don’t know if there are many players worth getting in a trade for Cole. Short of getting a player similar to Mookie Betts or Max Scherzer I would hold tight. If you can buy him for anything less do it now.
Jose Quintana entered the season with so much promise, but I was a huge skeptic. I owned him in a lot of leagues last year and watched as he struggled through start after start. He did finish strong with a 2.51 ERA in September, but that was after posting a 5.73 ERA in August. So I stayed away from Quintana in this years draft.
So far I look vindicated.
Quintana’s season has been very up and down. In two of his six starts he looked like the player the Cubs traded for. In the other four he has looked terrible. The biggest difference between these games is his walk rate. He has walked four batters three times this season, leading to a career high 4.70 BB/9 and 1.53 WHIP.
I don’t know if Quintana can improve his command enough to become the consistent pitcher you need him to be. I don’t think he is this bad, but I don’t know if he is radically better.
Fantasy Advice – Sell
I am sure you can find another owner who thinks they are getting a steal by trading for Quintana. If I were you I would try to ship him off, getting a player similar to Sean Manaea or Eugenio Suarez in return.
Odubel Herrera is off to a fast start, hitting .333 with 16 Runs and 15 RBI. His streak of 35 straight games reaching base, stretching back to last season, is getting him some notice. More exciting, he is owned in less than 80 percent of CBS and ESPN leagues. The question is can he keep this up?
I think Herrera profiles a lot like Christian Yelich with a lower ceiling. Both rely on a high BABIP made possible by their speed. Yelich makes more hard contact, but both hit a lot of ground balls. I don’t see this as a negative.
As more and more players seek fly balls, players like Herrera become more valuable. Fly balls create home runs and outs. But a quick player can do a lot of damage by hitting line drives and ground balls while minimizing strike outs.
Herrera is striking out just 15.8 percent of the time. He is also hitting for enough power to bat third in a respectable Phillies offense. Herrera is on pace for 80 plus RBI and Runs and I think he can finish the year near 20 home runs with a handful of stolen bases.
Fantasy Advice – Buy
There is a lot to like about Herrera. He isn’t the sexiest player out there, but filling out your team with players like Herrera who don’t hurt you in any category is how you win championships. I would add him in all leagues he is available and trade for him if the offer is right.