Batter’s Box: Brandon’s Nimm-ownership

Scott Chu takes a look at the most interesting hitting performances from yesterday, including a young Met, several catchers, and the 0-for-0 line everyone will be talking about today.

Brandon Nimmo (OF, New York Mets), who went 5-5 with 3 runs, a triple, 2 doubles, and 3 RBI, is having one heck of a season. Among the 61 outfielders who qualify for the batting title, he’s 7th in OBP (.387), 9th in SLG (.503), and 5th in wOBA (.383) while also chipping in 8 steals. What’s even more impressive is that no one really saw this coming. He was the 181st outfielder off the board in NFBC drafts with an ADP of 463 behind studs like Seth Smith, Billy Burns, and Austin Slater. Much of that ADP suppression came from Nimmo’s lack of any plus tools — per FanGraphs, his best tool was his speed with a 55 grade, with his hit and power tools coming in at 50 or lower. He also never had more than 11 home runs or 14 steals in any season in the minors. While some of the underlying metrics suggest that this is partially luck, the fact of the matter is that he’s hitting the ball extremely well and way over any expectations of even the most bullish Nimmo backers. He’s only owned in 30% of ESPN leagues and 34% of Yahoo leagues right now, despite being a top 40 OF in standard formats (and even better in OBP thanks to his high walk rate). At this point in the fantasy season, we care less about “the process” of holding the best talent and ignoring the inexplicable hot-streaks — your fantasy season is at stake, so if you’re chasing the last playoff spot, a bye week, or just want to boost your spot in the standings, feel free to be aggressive with a player like Nimmo. He might not be a top 40 outfielder by talent, and may not be in anyone’s top 40 outfielders in 2019, but he’s top 40 right now. He should be owned in 12 team formats — particularly those that start 4 or more OF — and is even more valuable in daily formats who can take advantage of his fantastic 148 wRC+ against righties this season (he’s been “merely” average against lefties, though).

Salvador Perez (C, Kansas City Royals) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. While he’s been unlucky in the batting average department (largely due to his .245 BABIP), he’s still contributed where it counts — these two dingers brought him to 21 and the 3 ribbies made it 59 on the year. He may just set a new career high in both categories (he hit 27 home runs with 80 RBI in 2016). He’s never been an OBP asset due to his career 3.5% walk rate, but as long as he contributes in power and counting stats, he’ll continue to be a very solid catcher for fantasy. He’ll approach 30 bombs by season’s end,

Evan Gattis (C/DH,Houston Astros) – 3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. Enjoy the last year of catcher-eligibility, and by extension, potential fantasy relevance for everyone’s favorite bare-handed batter. He’s playing on a 1 year deal for the Astros, and I would be surprised if they picked him up next year with all of the young players in their system who are ready to contribute in the big leagues.

Wilson Ramos (C, Philadelphia Phillies) – 3-4, 3 R, 3B, 2 2B, 3 RBI. Welcome to the Phillies, Mr. Ramos! In his first game back from the DL and his debut with his new club, he made the best first impression possible. He’s one of the few catchers who can provide positive value in fantasy, so it’s good to see him back and presumably in decent shape after a month-long absence. Ramos is owned in most leagues, but this is probably a good time to remind the handful of Jorge Alfaro owners to drop him.

Tyler White (1B, Houston Astros) – 2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. This is one of the young bats that will likely push the previously-mentioned Gattis out of Houston. White has picked up ample playing time of late and is doing well with it, knocking 4 home runs in his last 6 starts. There are a lot of mouths to feed in Houston, and many of them only really fit in the same few spots (1B or DH), so it’s hard to see consistent playing time for the rest of the season, but for those in daily leagues who can bench him when he’s riding the pine, he’s an intriguing play for power and RBI for those in dire need.

Anthony Rizzo (1B, Chicago Cubs) – 2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, 2 SB. He’s a stud, and he’s going to keep giving us the same incredibly production. Ignore the noise of early season slumps. He’s Mr. Consistency and you should love him for it. The 2 steals are a nice touch, though.

Mallex Smith (OF,Tampa Bay Rays) – 3-5, 2 R, HR, 2B, 2 RBI. He may not have stolen any bases, but with the prominent struggles of rabbits like Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton, it’s nice to see a pure speed guy doing well. He offers a much better AVG and OBP than either of those names and should get close to 35 steals when all is said and done. While that’s not as categorically dominant as Gordon or Hamilton’s upside, it comes with fewer risks — particularly in OBP formats where both of those guys are dead weight in the category.

Todd Frazier (3B, New York Mets) – 3-6, 2 R, HR, 2B, 4 RBI, SB. The old guy can still run (sort of)! He’s battled injury and being a Met all season, but if things break right he might end up as a 20 home run and 10 steal guy, which certainly has its value in deeper leagues. It’s a pleasant surprise to see the stolen base totals rebound after swiping just 4 bags in 2017, though the 30 bomb power is likely gone for good. Keep an eye on him in NL-only or 15+ team leagues next season for a little bit of power and speed that will probably be available very late.

Ronald Acuna (OF, Atlanta Braves) – 0-0. He was famously plunked on the elbow by Jose Urena with a 97.5 mph heater (which is as hard as he can possibly throw) on the first pitch of his at-bat — right when we were all watching to see if he’d set a new record for consecutive lead-off dingers. Everyone is/was/will be talking about it. It felt weird not to at least mention it here. At this time, there doesn’t appear to be any significant fantasy impact (Acuna appears to be OK and while Urena might be suspended . . . or tarred and feathered by the media . . . he wasn’t relevant in most formats).

Scott Chu

Scott Chu has written about fantasy baseball since 2013. In addition to being a writer and content manager at Pitcher List, he creates content with Friends with Fantasy Benefits. If you want to chat about baseball, fantasy curling (featured in WSJ), sports in general, deaf culture, being a twin, or the oddities of having Irish and Korean ancestry, Chu's your guy.

  • Avatar larry says:

    Need to drop a hitter for a pitcher-which is the drop Eaton, Belt or Trumbo?

    Thanks

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      That’s going to really depend on your needs and formats, but in a vacuum, Trumbo is a very replaceable hitter.

      • Avatar Scott Chu says:

        I just noticed also that Adam Eaton isn’t playing super well lately, either. If you are comfortable with your BA/OBP and need the dingers more than the runs and SB Eaton can provide, I’m not entirely opposed to cutting him. At this point in the season, it’s all based on need. It’s not like you can trade.

  • Avatar theKraken says:

    Lots of people were all-in on Nimmo including Fangraphs and some authors here. Every time Nimmo does something positive the articles flow like water as evidence. I don’t think I will ever understand the school of analysis where people hype a guy up, then call mediocre production exceeding expectations. Who knows… maybe he will have a huge month and the stats will all look pretty, but as of now I am not impressed especially after understanding that a 5/5 game has a way of tinting the stats. There is no way you can say that he has exceeded expectations of bullish backers. Outside of an early season power binge he looks a lot like 2017. On a different note, I am not sure NFBC is a good way to really measure public perception. I would bet that most people in that format use a lot of software to draft and the same players are going to be over and under drafted accordingly as they are all probably leaning heavily on the same methodology.

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      I’m not sure I agree that he was heavily hyped in the preseason. FantasyPros shows that the expert consensus preseason rankings had Nimmo at 431st on average and no one ranked him inside the top 200 overall. The Fangraphs blurb on his profile specifically stated: “Nimmo should probably go undrafted in most redraft leagues, but there’s just enough going on here to make him an intriguing early-season pickup.” He certainly wasn’t as hyped as Bradley Zimmer, Marcel Ozuna, or Delino DeShields (all of whom he has outperformed on ESPN’s player rater for standard leagues because those 3 have been not very good).

      Also, NFBC’s ADP may not be a perfect example of the public’s opinion, but the depth of the player pool does allow us to get useful ADP information for guys like Nimmo, who largely went undrafted in CBS, ESPN, and Yahoo (there is no ADP information for him on any of those 3 sites, as he fell outside the top 260).

      The final line will probably look something like 80 R, 20 HR, 50 RBI, 10 SB along with a triple slash of .260/.380/.500. That’s not a top 100 overall player, but it IS very useful for a guy you paid nothing to acquire.
      Our own Kyle Bishop put him in the top 150 hitters and I’m inclined to agree.

  • Avatar BigTuna says:

    12 tm H2h pts. Mallex Smith or Conforto ROS?

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      The answer is almost always Conforto. This is closer than I thought it would be now that Mallex has moved into the lead-off role. If there’s no penalty for strikeouts, it’s Conforto by a pretty safe margin. Conforto has a much better lineup position (3/4 on most nights) for Points, as he has more opportunities to drive in runs and therefore his hits will be worth more than Smith’s, who will have to generate his points almost entirely on his own.

      If there is a penalty for strikeouts OR if steals get more points than usual, Smith becomes more attractive (though it would have to be a BIG penalty for Ks or bonus for SB to make me choose Mallex). Watch out though, Mallex is not the most efficient base stealer so penalties for CS make him no longer viable in points.

      Generally, “rabbits” like Mallex are difficult to roster in points leagues because they simply don’t produce enough counting stats to rack up points at the same rate as prototypical sluggers. He’s much more valuable in Roto and H2H Category formats.

      • Avatar Marty says:

        Mallex gave me more points than anyone else in my outfield, this week and also had a good week, before that. So, I disagree that he’s not viable in points leagues. Conforto is way too streaky. When he’s hot, he’s the clear choice, but he’s been mostly cold.

        • Avatar Scott Chu says:

          It’s not that Mallex can’t provide in short bursts, it’s more about his upside over any particular period. Conforto has certainly been streaky, but he has the bat I prefer in Points for a ceiling.

  • Avatar Jack says:

    When Lourdes Gurriel gets healthy and/or September callups happen — I have both Eloy Jimenez and Vlad Jr. waiting in the wings — I’ll be looking at the tough decision of dropping 1 and maybe even 2 of the following guys:

    Andrus
    Dickerson
    (never thought I’d say this) McCutchen

    I could drop one of the stashed AAA guys too, of course, but I’m not going to do that.

    Thoughts?

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      Wow, Jack, that’s a tough call. It’d help to know some of the league format (how many owners, etc.). If it’s Roto/H2H Categories, I’m probably deciding between Dickerson and Cutch. If it’s an AVG league, I’d consider dropping Cutch, and if it’s OBP I would consider dropping Dickerson. If it’s a points league, Andrus might be the one to cut (as most points formats don’t reward stolen bases enough for them to matter) based on your scoring and settings.

  • Avatar sk says:

    Want to pick up Ramos and can drop Schwarber, Adam Jones, or cargo. Thoughts? Thanks much

    • Avatar Scott Chu says:

      Ramos is probably not better than any of those guys out of the UTIL slot due to playing time (he’ll miss 1-2 games per week). I generally don’t roster more than the exact number of catchers I need for a full line up. If I HAD to choose one to let go, I guess it’s Adam Jones — especially in OBP formats. That said, I bet all 3 of those OF match or exceed Ramo’s R, HR, and RBI while posting better or similar OBP.

      If this is a batting average league, you might be tempted to cut Schwarber, but his counting stats will be high enough to overcome the 30-40 points of BA he loses to Ramos. If the ONLY thing you need is BA, AND it’s a redraft, then I MIGHT understand Ramos over Schwarber, but it would take a pretty extreme set of circumstances to consider it.

    • Avatar Jack says:

      it’s H2H, with AVG/OPS/HR/R/RBI/SB as the counting stats. So…Cutch and Dickerson, then?

  • Avatar Ryan PeCore says:

    Nimmo as my UTIL in our Roto. ayyyyyoooo

    Run-n-Gun

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