Going Deep: Fantasy Impact of Deadline Deals
“Are you not entertained?! Is this not why you are here?!”
With plenty of moves involving more than just the usual suspects, this year’s deadline frenzy generated plenty of excitement. With the dust now settled and players donning their new uniforms, we can take a look at the fantasy stock of those who were the most potentially impacted by a change of scenery. This article will focus on the most relevant players moved from July 28 to the deadline.
Winner: Tommy Pham (OF, Tampa Bay Rays)
Usually, when a hitter moves to a tougher park in a lesser lineup we would say he’s lost value. Pham is a unique case, though, due to his degenerative eye condition. The condition makes him very sensitive to light and requires constant adjustments and tweaks to his contact lenses to manage. The batter’s eye in St. Louis did him no favors either due to the way the light comes into the stadium during night names, and he’s admitted that he has trouble seeing the strike zone at times. The impact his old home park had on him is fairly apparent in the numbers — he had a .736 OPS in St. Louis and a .902 OPS everywhere else. His batted ball metrics also suggest a new home park could help — his hard contact rate was just 36.0% at home but 44.2% on the road. Tropicana Park, one of the few remaining domes in baseball, is a much better venue for Pham’s eyes. While it’s a small sample (82 PA), Pham’s OPS in domed stadiums is .922.
Loser: Brian Dozier (2B, Los Angeles Dodgers)
The very first report I read about the trade wasn’t actually the trade itself — it was manager Dave Roberts informing us that Dozier shouldn’t be expected to play every day. This was possibly the worst landing spot for Dozier, as he joins a very crowded infield on a team that can afford to platoon him against righties when necessary and that likes to give everyone playing time. Owners who have suffered through the terrible batting average (.224) and low RBI totals (which only started rebounding in July) had likely been banking on a second-half surge after seeing him 20+ home runs after the break in each of the last two seasons that carried many fantasy teams to their playoffs. That type of performance seems much less likely now with the new playing time concerns which will only worsen once Justin Turner gets back from the DL later this week.
First, we’re all winners because we now can finally stop talking about when/if he’ll be traded. The main reason Archer lands as a winner is due to the issues he’s been having with his fastball this season (-4.9 pVAL) and the mysterious fastball-fixing magic that the Pirates are best known for. It was good to see Archer moved to a weaker division (any division that doesn’t include the Yankees and Red Sox is an upgrade by default) and that he remained in a pitcher-friendly ballpark. It isn’t all sunshine and smiles, though — the Pirates are not a good defensive team at all (-49 defensive runs saved this season), especially when compared to the above-average Rays (+9 defensive runs saved). Hopefully, Archer won’t have to worry about that poor defense too much, though, thanks to the improved strikeout environment he will have in PNC. PNC had the 3rd best strikeout factor for pitchers from 2013-2017, while the Trop was 5th worst.
Weird Fact: Archer has struggled with the Orioles. In 113.2 career IP against the O’s, he has a 5.00 FIP while allowing the O’s to hit .276/.335/.483. To make matters worse, he had a 6.59 ERA in Camden Yard. Luckily, he won’t be back there anytime soon. Credit to commenter Stevie Stats for additional information.
Losers: Brewers Infielders
Let’s get one thing straight — Travis Shaw, Jonathan Schoop, and Mike Moustakas are all still valuable hitters in all formats. While we should expect each to lose a little bit of playing time, it shouldn’t be enough to make these guys droppable in your league (probably 1-2 games a week, if that). The real impact comes from the guys who found fantasy relevance thanks to open spots that have now been filled, such as utilityman Hernan Perez and the once-hot-but-now-cold Jesus Aguilar. It’s hard to say exactly how playing time will shake out in the long run, and speculation by analysts is all over the map. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Shaw moved to 1B, Schoop at 2B, and Moose at 3B while leaving slick-fielding Orlando Arcia at SS, but until we have some sense of certainty, it will be hard to get a read on rest-of-season value for any of these players.
Losers: Adam Duvall and Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves) – This looks like a platoon going forward, severely limiting the value of both players. I’m not sure either is roster-worthy in 12-team mixed leagues if it’s a pure platoon.
Winner: Kevin Gausman (SP, Atlanta Braves) – Another player who seemed like he could use a change of scenery, there’s at least some hope that Atlanta’s staff can unlock the potential we’ve all drooled over for years. If nothing else, starting for the Braves should put Gausman in line for more wins. It’s also worth noting that the O’s are dead last in defensive runs saved (-79) while Atlanta ranks 4th (+42). That’s a 121 run swing.
Losers: Relievers who were traded – Not a single traded reliever (other than Ken Giles) clearly improved their fantasy stock by joining a new team, and most actually lost significant value. Brad Hand, Joakim Soria, Keone Kela, Zach Britton, Jeurys Familia, and Roberto Osuna all went from clear closing roles to either set-up roles or committees. Ken Giles didn’t even improve all that much, as he’d still need to win the role — there’s just a better chance that he can get back to The Show soon in Toronto.
Winner: Ian Kinsler (2B, Los Angeles Angels) – After being dropped from the leadoff spot in late June, Kinsler found himself hitting at the very dismal back-end of the Angels lineup and dropped in many fantasy leagues. He hit 6th in his debut for the BoSox, which provides more chances for runs and RBI due to the depth of their roster. His hard contact rate is down this year, but even if it doesn’t rebound, the 6th hitter for this Boston team is a valuable fantasy asset.
Losers: Jonathan Loaisiga and Domingo Germán (SP, New York Yankees) – With J.A. Happ and Lance Lynn joining the Yankees rotation, these two popular streamers can no longer be rostered in even the deepest of fantasy leagues now that the open spaces have been filled by two (boring) veterans.
Losers: AL-Only Owners – Ouch. In the course of about a week, AL-Only rosters lost Manny Machado, Chris Archer, Eduardo Escobar, Keone Kela, Brian Dozier, Mike Moustakas, Wilson Ramos, Cole Hamels, Zach Britton, Joakim Soria, and Lance Lynn. While some of those names may not have sounded exciting to you mixed-leaguers out there, each and every one of those guys is difficult — if not impossible — to replace in AL-Only formats. Of the players who jumped over from the NL, only Tommy Pham jumps out as particularly valuable. Most of the saved FAAB money will likely be spent on the relievers who will presumably take over some of the open closer roles — though in the leagues I’m in, most are already secured on rosters.