This is the comments thread for our inaugural Home Run Box Pool for the 2019 MLB season.
Trash talk in the comments (be civil), thanks for playing and good luck!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In part one of my draft recap article, I described my 12-team 5×5 fantasy baseball league and gave some insight into my picks drafting 7th overall. I drafted Matt Scherzer, Joey Votto and Josh Donaldson with my first three picks and formed a solid Opening Day roster for the season ahead.
For part two, I thought it would be interesting to get perspective on how the draft went by other owners in the league. The group we have are all huge baseball fans and come from a variety of areas around the U.S., including Gilbert, Arizona; West Palm Beach, Florida; Kansas City, Missouri; Des Moines, Iowa; Denver, Colorado and Underwood, Iowa. We are fairly scattered, so thank goodness for the benefits of technology impacting fantasy sports!
Each owner gave me their best and worst picks of the draft. Some gave commentary – mostly to talk about the “best” picks as opposed to the “worst” – or I included my own thoughts supporting their choices.
Best Khris Davis in the 11th round. Davis has huge upside with his power but a big knock against him is strikeouts. A sub-.250 average for four straight seasons, Davis is very good one or two category player (home runs and RBI), but a big negative for batting average and little to no help on the basepaths. Even with his K’s though, Davis mocked in the Top 60 so it’s possible he provides good value in the 11th round.
Worst Rafael Devers in the 9th round. Devers doesn’t seem to be thought of too highly of by the pundits so taking him in the 9th round is early. Perhaps Adrian Beltre in at least the 12th round or later would be a better use of draft capital.
Best Greg Bird in the 14th round. One fantasy “expert” boldly predicted Bird could hit more home runs than Giancarlo Stanton. If Stanton stays healthy, I don’t see it, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Bird leaves the yard 35 times this year. Unfortunately, Bird is now on the 10-day DL and is expected to miss 6-8 weeks. If the ankle was 100% at draft time, then it would look like a steal in the 14th.
Worst Jake Lamb in the 12th round. I thought I needed a 3rd baseman and had Kyle Seager available but he went earlier in the round resulting in a snap-decision to take Lamb. Although he had 30 bombs last year, that is sure to drop with the humidor install at Chase Field plus he is brutal against lefties.
Best “I didn’t have one… Don’t like my team I drafted at all… Worst in three years.” Looking at my fellow owner’s team, he might be on to something. There isn’t a whole lot of value or star power outside of the first three rounds.
Worst Ken Giles in the 5th round. “Take your pick from many… probably Ken Giles.” I agree with him. The last time we saw Ken Giles, it was October and he was still tracking the GPS on all the baseballs that the Dodgers and Yankees were hitting all over the field. He did have a good regular season but unfortunately, we tend to remember the last thing a player is known for, which for Giles was the playoffs.
Best Xander Bogaerts in the 6th round. In the 5th round, this owner actually changed his mind and took Aroldis Chapman but then was able to still get Bogaerts in the 6th. Chapman was a better choice in the 5th no doubt but getting a solid shortstop in the 6th round in Bogaerts was a good value pick.
Worst Javy Baez in the 9th round. I think he’ll have a solid year. However, this team already had a second baseman in Rougned Odor and SS in Bogaerts. Having to put a 75/25/75/15 guy at a utlity infield spot doesn’t excite me, especially without a solid option at third base. It will also be interesting to see where Baez fits in offensively with Ian Happ pushing for time in centerfield and second base.
Best Josh Reddick in the 15th round. Yahoo listed him as the number 109 player overall. I don’t see it but if he was going on potential based on offensive protection and where he is playing 81 of his home games, he could be a steal in the 15th.
Worst Wilson Ramos in the 14th round. “I needed a catcher,” was the response on why this owner didn’t like this pick. It’s hard to argue against that sentiment until you see that outside of Gary Sanchez and to some extent Buster Posey, the catching position isn’t very strong to begin with.
Best Ryan McMahon in the 21st round. It’s tough to gauge what impact a rookie will have on his Major League team, but the Rockies are in win-now mode so they must have thought very highly of McMahon to keep him on the Opening Day roster. A colleague of mine actually boldy predicts him to win the NL Rookie of the Year this year. If Ronald Acuna is moved up and is as good as advertised the award could be over by May. If he isn’t promoted or isn’t able to live up to the astronomical expectations, then McMahon could be a sleeper pick in the light air of Colorado.
Worst Danny Salazar in the 13th round. Salazar is such a tough pitcher to figure out. When he’s on, he’s lights out and has top of the rotation stuff. When he’s not on, he’s a good AAA pitcher. The problem with drafting him is what are you going to get? The 13th round was probably a little high for Salazar and he easily could have been picked in the later rounds or on the waiver wire.
Yours truly, I discussed my picks in part one.
Best Travis Shaw in the 12th round. A 30 HR, 100 RBI, 10 SB guy for a team that will score a ton of runs and really utilize Miller Park’s hitter’s dimensions. Good value for a third baseman in the 12th.
Worst Justin Upton in the 4th round. Characterized as, “the type of pick I told myself I wouldn’t take, and hated it as soon as his name rolled off my tongue”. He’s basically underachieved his entire career except in a walk year. Now he’s got his big deal and legitimate questions exist about his motivation.
Best Ian Kinsler in the 17th round. Kinsler has always put up solid numbers and that shouldn’t change with his move west. With Mike Trout, Justin Upton and Kole Calhoun, adding Kinsler to that offense should help escalate his run totals. He also should be able to run the bases with some ease as pitchers are not going to want to throw fastballs to those 2, 3 and 4 hitters in that lineup.
Worst Fernando Rodney in the 11th round. See Danny Salazar, above. The problem with Rodney is you don’t know if he’s going to be April 2017 Rodney or the Rodney the Diamondbacks had at the end of last year. Taking Rodney in the 11th round was a stretch regardless.
Best Daniel Murphy in the 13th round. Murphy underwent knee surgery last off season and is just now getting into game shape. When healthy, he’s one of the best hitters in the game and the lineup will provide plenty of opportunities for strong RBI and runs. He was listed as the 5th best second baseman and a Top 50 overall player when he is on the field. Patience will pay off with this draft pick.
Worst Jonathan Villar in the 16th round. Taking Villar probably wasn’t a horrible pick in the 16th round but with Milwaukee’s depth, Villar may not see a lot of at-bats. Granted, he has middle infield eligibility but Orlando Arcia and Eric Sogard seem to have the middle locked up.
Best Ian Happ in the 14th round. This was a player that I really wanted and couldn’t pull the trigger on earlier. Happ is penciled in as the starting center fielder for a Chicago Cubs team that has World Series aspirations. I think Happ is going to have a huge year.
Worst Billy Hamilton in the 7th round. Hamilton is your one-trick pony. When he gets on, he’s almost guaranteed to get you a stolen base. The problem is him getting on base. Taking him in the 7th round was a stretch for a one category player.
Best Jonathan Schoop in the 5th round. I think Schoop is an under the radar player who doesn’t get a lot of attention because of teammate Manny Machado and the fact he’s a second baseman. I have him as a Top 3 position player and with him being projected anywhere from 30-31 home runs and 91-99 RBI (Steamer, Zeile and ZiPS), that is a solid 5th round middle infield pick.
Worst Gerrit Cole in the 7th round. This was this team’s first starting pitcher. He took Kenley Jansen in the 4th round. I think Cole will have a good year as a number three or four for Houston but having him as your number one fantasy starting pitcher probably isn’t a good sign for your starting pitcher depth.
So there you have it. The best and worst picks of the draft as selected by my league mates. As always, a fantasy baseball draft is a great time to get together with friends, catch up on life events and, most importantly, ridicule each and every pick. With that said, let’s play ball and see how right or wrong we are with these picks 162 games from now.