I must say, I’m feeling pretty good about beating the drum for Castellanos after the game he’s having tonight (which will be yesterday when this posts). But I’ve struck out on other guys… Matt Joyce, while certainly better than his April self, isn’t the 2016-level beast I hoped for. But hey, now it’s trading time, and with players moving all around, there’s plenty of new value to be found. Let’s check out some smart adds and drops from around the league. Well this one is mostly AL-centric, but next week will do a deeper dive on NL guys.
Todd Frazier (3B, Chicago White Sox) – As I am finishing writing this, I am hearing news of this White Sox-Yankees trade (I’m still listing him as White Sox since it isn’t official yet), and from a fantasy perspective, Frazier’s the only currently active MLB player to benefit from this deal. He’s moving from one hitter’s park to another, but Frazier will likely just benefit from the change in scenery, as well as the greatly enhanced run production in the Yankees lineup. Despite his prolonged recent slump, it has come with solid plate discipline, and xStats believes he deserves better than his current .207/.328/.760 line, with an xTriple-Slash of .253/.367/.888. It may be a feeding frenzy for Frazier now that he’s in Pinstripes, but if he’s still around, he’s well worth the gamble. Much like the TV show of the same name, he’s underrated, but also in a great lineup, even if he’s not followed in the lineup by The Simpsons.
Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, Chicago White Sox) – Frazier may be the ACTIVE MLB player benefitting from this deal, but it’s widely expected that soon Moncada will get the benefit of a call-up to the show. What we know is that Moncada has sky-high upside, but also that he still has kinks to work out. He’s hit .285 with 12 HR and 17 SB in 357 Triple-A PA, but that comes with a disappointing .167 ISO and concerning 28.6% K rate. The good news is that this K rate is actually an improvement from his Double-A mark last year (30.9%) while maintaining a high walk rate. He may struggle as he did in his first cup of coffee, but he’s worth adding to a bench in 12-teamers. As a 3B, he’s probably not 10-team viable, but I would not be surprised to see him get 2b eligibility which would make him worth a bench add there too. You just never know with high upside prospects, but you’re better off trying in case he becomes a fantasy Monstrada.
Michael Brantley (OF, Cleveland Indians) – Droughts are common in the summer, but nothing like Brantley’s home run drought. He hasn’t hit a longball since April, but he’s still showing his health in other ways, with 2 stolen bases over the past week and 4 doubles and a triple over the past 3 weeks. While his 3.5% Barrel/BBE is no bueno, xStats does believe he’s deserving of slightly better power numbers, with an xSLG of .445, a better than his current .426 mark, and still better than than purported power hitters such as Mark Trumbo (.422). Even if he hits few homers the rest of the way, he’s likely to continue to hit .300 with tons of runs produced and stolen bases, making him a must-own in all 12-team formats but also usable in 10-team.
Shin-Soo Choo (OF, Texas Rangers) – Shin-Soo been cold as ice, but I’m willing to sacrifice for his slug%. Despite his plummeting numbers that’s likely making Choo get cut in shallower mixed formats, his xStats believes he should be doing much better. An unlike guys like Miguel Cabrera, nobody is expecting him to be any better than this, making for a buying opportunity. But his expected Triple slash expects him to hit for both better average, walks and power with an x .281/.388/,870, Those are elite numbers, especially in OBP leagues. Of course there’s the risk that his recent slump is injury-related, as his injury history is almost as rich as Lowrie’s, but if that were the case one would expect the xStats to tank with the surface numbers. He should still be owned in 12-team mixed and worth a flier in 10-team OBP.
Jose Reyes (SS/3B, New York Mets) – If you’re not happy with what you’re getting at SS, you deserve a Reyes. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, Reyes is looking fantasy relevant again. Over the past 3 weeks, he’s been hitting .400 with 1 SB, 2 walks and just 3 Strikeouts in 50 AB. You may not have noticed it, because on the season his batting average is .226, thanks to an abysmal start to the year. While he still has below-average Hard Contact at 25.9%, but with an extreme flyball rate of 43.8%, he can still approach 15-18 homers, and 15-20 SB. It’s strange that despite his excellent hot streak, he’s only stolen 1 base in only 2 stolen base attempts. He should be owned in 15-teamers, and worth consideration in 12-teamers in which Ks are a category. At just 14.7% ESPN ownership, you should say yes way, Jose.
Evan Gattis (C, Houston Astros) – If you want both power and average at catcher, this player should be Gattisfactory. Gattis is one of those guys who may be both overrated and underrated, depending on your league. After all, he’s essentially a part time player now, and only played one game so his current ownership rate of 64.7% seems to make no sense, even with his catcher eligibility. Then again, with the way he’s improved his game, it’s not hard to get giddy with his potential production at such a dumpster fire of a position. He’s still sporting strong hard contact at 33% combined with a power-friendly flyball rate of 43.2%. But what really has me intrigued is his massive drop in K rate to just 14.1%, which is supported by a career-best 89.7% Z-Contact% and 9.8% Swstr%. It’s too bad he’s poor defensively because catcher’s the easiest avenue for full playing time, but I’m still In-A-Gattis-Da-Vida.
Yonder Alonso (1B, Oakland Athletics) – But soft, what slump through Yonder’s power breaks? After an ownership surge in May, his ownership started to steadily decline as he started to get outgunned by other flyball revolutionaries, and his power well seemed dried up. But his power stroke is finally clicking again, and he has 4 homers over the past two weeks to show for it. Granted, over the past 3 weeks his batting average has been under the Mendoza Line at .173, but this shouldn’t be surprising based on how extreme his FB rate has been, though I’d expect some positive regression. But the real reason I’m intrigued is the chance that he gets traded to a contender, where his numbers can surge leaving a hitter’s hell and being supported by a stacked lineup. In all 12-team mixed, it’s still worth the gamble that a trade in Yonderway.
Jed Lowrie (2b, Oakland Athletics) – While we’re on the topic of players in line for a potential value boost from a trade. I’d bet on Jed. While it feels like he’s been around forever, he’s still just 32, and I wouldn’t assume he’d fall apart in the second half as he has been wont to do in the past, now that he’s overcome former sleep difficulties (something I know firsthand can affect performance and health). But with Pinder showing promise and Barreto waiting in the wings, it makes too much sense for the A’s to sell him to a contender. He just popped his 10th homer, and xStats backs his performance as entirely legit thus far. But as someone with good but not monumental power, he could really get a boost from moving to a more hitter-friendly ballpark. You just have to hope that he earns everyday reps in his new digs and isn’t used merely as a utility bat. Still, even without a trade, he’s highly underrated as a run producer, and should be owned in all 15-teamers and a solid flier for 12-teamers.
Chad Pinder (SS, Oakland Athletics) – Talking about the Lowrie trade, it’s of course logical to talk about who would take over for Lowire, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Pinder is the guy. He says his hamstring feels “100%” and is looking to return soon, and while he was slumping before the injury, I think it’s mistaken to assume he was a complete flash in the pan. In fact, xStats says he had some bad luck and deserved a xTriple Slash of.252 AVG/.307/.814, even better than his passable .232/.289/.490 mark.
Adam Lind (1B, Washington Nationals) – He gets tossed around in the lineup a lot, but his bat is hot as the inside of a dryer, and he shouldn’t be left in the Lind screen. He’s cut his K rate to a nifty 15% this year, and unlike the last time he did that in 2014, he’s managed to retain his power as well. While it’s only 147 PA, his .331 comes with 8 HR for a .246 ISO, the best mark since his massive 35-HR campaign in 2009. While he’s had some BABIP help and the numbers are inflated, xStats generally believes in his value, with a .305 with a .532 xSLG% which is definitely helpful. Due to the lack of playing time, he’s hard to start In roto leagues where you can’t set daily lineups, in which case he’s more of a NL-only and 18-team guy, but in leagues where you can and have deep benches, he’s an asset in 15-team and even 12-team formats.
Mark Trumbo (OF, Baltimore Orioles) – He may have played great last year, but it may be time to trash the rusty Trumbo. Yes, it’s nice to look at that 2016 season and the purported swing changes he made, but players often regress from these habits, and it looks like he’s the empty 20-25 HR version of himself, which isn’t very valuable in this fantasy environment. He has somewhat below-average Barrel/BBE%, and his xStats suggests that his production thus far is exactly what he deserves, and if anything slightly lucky. If you hold him in 10-team and even shallow 12-teamers hoping for magic, you might end up looking like a Mark Dumbo.
Jorge Bonifacio (OF, Kansas City Royals) – It looks like his power has up and gone-ifacio. His ownership rates surged after a power streak in June, but even though he still has a solid Barrel/BBE% of 8.8%, he just doesn’t do enough in other categories to make him a shallower mixed-league asset. It all looked better when he was hitting in the .270s, but his average was propped up by a high BABIP from an unsustainably high line drive rate which has regressed. If .245 with a 20 HR pace is good for your team, go nuts, but I’d only consider that in 18-team and deep 15-teamer and cut in shallower leagues. Otherwise you’re taking on a Bonilossio.
Garrett Cooper (1B, New York Yankees) – It’s easy to get excited about a first baseman hitting in Yankee Stadium after having a great year in the minors. After all, .366 with 17 HR in Triple-A as a 26-year old sounds amazing! But there’s one little catch… It’s the PCL, and he played half his games in Colorado Springs, a park that makes Coors Field seem like a neutral park. It’s so extreme, after this year the team is getting switched to rookie ball, making it feel like adult little league. In his major league time, he’s striking out a third of the time and has yet to draw a walk, and if Choi doesn’t eat up his at-bats, the Frazier acquisition will. So outside of the deepest AL-only, grin and don’t bear it with Garrett.