Batter’s Box: Rougie Nights

I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Rougned Odor (2B, Texas Rangers) is doing fine. He really wasn’t even that good last night, going 0-3 with a run, a walk and a steal (and it certainly wasn’t as cool as his steal of home on Sunday). He’s striking out at an alarming 31.7% rate, his average is well below the Mendoza line and he’s done really nothing that suggests he should be anywhere near your roster in all but the deepest of formats. All of that said, I’m going to talk about him anyway.

First, I suppose it’s worth mentioning that there have been a few not-dismal moments in his season. He has seven home runs and six steals on the season, putting him on a pace that should beat last year’s 18 home runs and 12 steals. He’s also kept the surprising gains in his walk rate from last season. Through his first four seasons he never maintained a walk rate above five percent, but now he’s up over eight percent (8.2% now, 8.0% in 2018). That’s all well and good, but it doesn’t necessarily lead to fantasy value.

You see, I’m not talking about Odor to justify his performance so far. I’m talking about him to discuss one of the most under-used tools in fantasy baseball—the watch list. Most (if not all) of the major sites have a watch list that you can use to compile a list of players you want to keep your eye on. It’s an extremely valuable asset, as most waiver wires and free agent pools will only allow you to sort by recent performance or by their own site’s projections going forward. While both have value, the amount of players available in most leagues is too vast to properly analyze. That’s where the watch list comes in. I always have at least 2-3 hitters per position on my watch list, and use the standard sorting on the waiver wire to find guys to add to my watch list. I use the watch list to track guys who either have been hot but that I don’t trust (Tommy La Stella started there), guys that I like but that aren’t performing (like Rougie), or guys that I expect to get a call-up to the majors soon (like the guys highlighted by our own Brennan Gorman in The Stash). I would encourage you to give it a try if you don’t already use the watch list. It’s a great way to stay on top of the guys you want to add.

Danny Santana (2B/OF, Texas Rangers)—4-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI. Yes, he’s slashing .306/.342/.500 with four home runs and seven stolen bases. No, I’m not terribly interested in him as anything but a fill-in outfielder (who I’d likely cut quickly). He completely lacks discipline, plays in a very crowded outfield, and is prone to hot-and-cold streaks that I don’t want to deal with in 10- and 12-teamers.

Eduardo Escobar (SS/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks)—4-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 2B, 5 RBI. He’s on pace for a 30 home run, 100 RBI season, though the .233 expected batting average and .425 expected slugging are similar to what he’s done the last couple of seasons. I really wish I could say I expect him to keep up this performance, but I truly don’t. I don’t think he’ll be worthless by any means, though.

Ozzie Albies (2B, Atlanta Braves)—2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI. He’s hitting .300/.421/.600 so far in June with six walks and just one strikeout. These two home runs were also his first since May 4th. This is exactly the kind of thing he needs to get out of the bottom of the order and recover some of his fantasy potential.

Ildemaro Vargas (2B/3B, Arizona Diamondbacks)—2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI. As far as I can tell, he’s a low-strikeout, low-walk slap-hitter. He might be worth a look in VERY deep points leagues, but without much power or speed he’s hard to recommend anywhere else.

Scott Kingery (SS/3B/OF, Philadelphia Phillies)—3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 3B, 2 RBI. It’s hard to expect any young player to maintain a strong batting average with a 14.2% swinging strike rate, and the 3.6% walk rate isn’t promising either. That said, he’s found solid playing time in Philadelphia and will hopefully get the chance to improve. If you’re comfortable with low ratios going forward, there should be double-digit pop and steals in his remaining games.

Starling Marte (OF, Pittsburgh Pirates)—3-5, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI. He’s a top-25 player who should again approach 20 home runs and 30 steals with a .280 batting average. He doesn’t walk much (and is walking even less this season), but his speed and bat skills help him overcome that issue.

Kevin Kiermaier (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)—2-4, R, HR, 2 RBI. His unbelievable defensive skills keep him in the line up when he’s healthy . . . but are also the most common cause of injury for him. He can hit 15 home runs and steal 20 to 25 bases in a full season, but you should be prepared for an IL stint at any time.

Nick Markakis (OF, Atlanta Braves)—4-5, R, HR, 4 RBI. He’s old but he just keeps on doing fantasy-relevant things. He won’t excite you, but he’ll produce, particularly in points leagues.

Trea Turner (SS, Washington Nationals)—3-6, 2 R, HR, 3B, 2B, 2 RBI. I’m mentioning him because this was an incredible performance. He’ll continue to be worth a first round pick for years to come.

Ketel Marte (SS/2B/OF, Arizona Diamondbacks)—3-5, 2 R, HR, RBI. So far, I’ve been wrong about him being the same guy he was last season. He could very well hit 25 home runs this season with a .270 batting average. I still think all of this will slow down due to his fairly extensive major league track record, but he should be well worth a spot in your starting line up all season.

(Photo by Andrew Dieb/Icon Sportswire).

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.

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Comments


Ryan

Curious why you think Ketel will regress. His peripherals are all up from career averages including hard hit rate, flyball rate, and he’s pulling the ball a little more. Soft contact is also down. Thanks!

Scott Chu

Great question, Ryan. First, I don’t think he’ll be “bad”, I just don’t think he’s a 30 home run guy who can hit .280. He’s gone on some incredible hot streaks, but I don’t think hell continue to have those all season. He has never profiled as a power bat, and while he has some solid bat control, he’s not elite in this category.

The other point I’d make is that peripherals can’t tell us whether production will continue going forward – it can only confirm the legitimacy of past production. Peripherals can’t really distinguish between a hot streak and a change in skill set. Ketel hasn’t been doing this with just luck, but I am still skeptical that hell have this kind of production for the full season or for next season. He may well prove me wrong, but I will always be very cautious when a hitter with a track record as long and as average as Ketel’s suddenly appears to be a whole new person.

In other words – I believe he will slow down because of the extensive history of not being nearly this good.

Ryan

Thanks for the detailed response. I hear ya, I may be biased since I targeted him everywhere this year but I totally understand being hesitant to buy in on a player with a track record like his. At the beginning of the season I never expected 30/.280 but that would be pretty dang sweet. So for my sake I hope you’re wrong haha 🙂

WheelhouseWreck

The big picture shows he’s been fairly consistent all season imo. What about the age factor in a breakout. He’s still a bit green. He’s hitting it in the air and making hard contact much more than last year. I think he’s a stud especially considering the position flexibility

Scott Chu

I’m not sure how much more I can add to this, besides the fact that we have 1,500+ PA with only 22 HR from 2015 through 2018 and somehow he’s hit 16 home runs in 289 PA in 2019. His launch angle is up, but it’s not ideal. His exit velocity is up, but it’s more good than great. When you say he’s a stud, where do you rank him overall? I’ve got him as the #10 2B-eligible player and just outside of my top 100 overall. That’s really good, but is that a stud?

He’s a surprisingly streaky player as well. In 2018, he had three months where he slugged under .330 and three months where he slugged .487 or better. Even this season has been oddly streaky. His OBP for April was under .300 and his current June OBP is also under .300. Notably, he’s also quite a bit better against lefties than he is right-handers (he’s merely been average against them this season, which matches what he’s done throughout his career). The positional flexibility is nice, but in 10- and 12-teamers, the 2B eligibility is the primary one you want (as SS and OF are very deep in those formats).

I’m simply asking folks to remain on alert. This is an immediate and alarming change in his power, and while it’s not luck, that doesn’t necessarily mean he will continue to perform at or near this level. Players get hot for extended periods of time, and the peripherals support the results. They also fall off, and the peripherals support that too.

Chelsa Bailey

Hi Scott! Good article. I was going to contest your remarks from earlier in the season on Ketel Marte. That he’s not rosterable or that he’s just a 10 – 15 homer guy with some speed….but you beat me to it!!! Thank you for retracting that with maturity and class. You are a titan among men!!

Scott Chu

Thanks Chelsa! When you’re wrong as often as me, you get plenty of practice learning to admit it.

I did look smart for like 3 weeks when he slumped, but he’s back to making me look dumb.

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