The All-Star Break is upon us! This means you now have the opportunity to catch your collective breath and take it easy for a few days whilst enjoying things like the Home Run Derby and the Futures Game. Stop worrying about the standings in your fantasy league. Who cares if you have been decimated by injuries to the point of tears as you find yourself stuck starting Chi Chi Gonzalez on a homestand in Colorado. Just allow yourself some time to kick back and relax.
This is something you could do… Or, you could actually use these few days during the All-Star Break to your advantage and try and make your team better. You could take a hard look at your competition and where you lack in the standings and create a plan to actually make up ground or fill a hole on your squad. Trust me, I am all for relaxing, but the ASB creates a unique opportunity for you to make the types of moves that could end up winning you your league. I like to look for the guys with warts who can help you rather in some categories on a bargain rather than the big name guys who will cost a fortune.
Now that my PSA is out of the way, let’s look at this week’s batch of players on The Performance Report.
What’s that? You need speed desperately but it is a hot commodity in your league? Every stolen base counts right now and you might especially be finding yourself in a pickle if you were hoping to have that category supported by someone like Adelberto Mondesi or Byron Buxton. That means you might need to be a little less choosy and go after a guy who can get you the speed you need even if that means there are deficiencies elsewhere in his game. If only we knew of a guy like that…
Raimel Tapia has entered the chat
In spring training, most of the attention in Colorado (particularly at the draft table) was being showered on Garrett Hampson and even Sam Hilliard for a time. Tapia would get some love, but I feel like he was widely regarded as no better than a 4th OF and as such was not worthy of your time. Since June 8th, Tapia has hit lead-off in every game he has started with the exception of four of them. It would appear as if he has cemented himself into the starting lineup, at least for the remainder of this year.
As far as his performance goes, on the season Tapia is batting .287/.337/.393 with five HR and 13 SB. In the last 30 days of play he has eight SB with an 8.1% walk rate while also only striking out 15.3% of the time. The bad news is Tapia has almost zero power and is hitting balls into the ground at an alarming rate. To this point he has hit a ground ball a whopping 66.7% of the time, which makes sense when you see that his overall launch angle is -3. Yes, you read that right… his launch angle is below zero degrees.
What does this mean? Well, if you need stolen bases I would aggressively pursue Tapia. He is consistently getting on base and could net you another 10-15 SB before the year is done. As contradictory as it might sound, if I don’t need the speed and I own him in a dynasty format, I am shopping him for sure. The 4th OF comps he has gotten really seem to bear out in his batted ball profile and I wonder how much playing time he will get when there is better competition in that OF. It is possible he could net a decent return in dynasty especially to a speed deprived owner.
Verdict: BUY – if speed is a need SELL – if owned in dynasty
What a difference a change of scenery can make! Willy Adames was traded from the Ray to the Brewers on May 19th and it’s been a tale of two seasons for him. With the Rays in 41 games he slashed .197/.254/.371 and was batting primarily at the bottom of the lineup. Due to their depth at the position and his poor play, the Rays dealt the struggling Adames away and he was an after thought for most fantasy owners.
He has looked like an entirely rejuvenated players with the Brewers and has made anyone sick to their stomach who may have dropped him. Since May 22nd, Adames has a triple-slash of .297/.380/.552 with nine HR and two SB. This could just be a hot streak, but the best indicator of a turnaround is how improved his plate discipline has been. From his time in Tampa Bay to Milwaukee, he has dropped his strikeout rate from 35.9% to 24.6%, while also elevating his walk rate from 7% to 11.8%. The best part of all of this is that his solid performance has seen him moved to the top third of the order consistently the last two weeks.
The Adames owner in your league might have a hard time moving on from him if he has held him this long, so he could be a tough buy. Will Adames maintain this pace? Probably not, but it also looks like the Brewers may have finally found a long-term fixture for the revolving door they’ve had at SS. I’m inquiring on Adames, but probably not going to pay market price. If you were able to pick him or somehow acquire him at his low earlier this year, then a big congratulations to you. That’s how you buy low!
Verdict: HOLD – probably too pricey to buy but at least inquire
I feel like a broken record saying this, but you need to go out and secure innings even if you feel like your rotation is solid. Now is the perfect time to do just that. Of course, you could go after some of the bigger names, but there is a cost associated with that. There could even be an underperformer or two who is worth a look (Frankie Montas anyone?). For me, so long as my ratios are looking solid, I am going to try and get a guy who won’t cost me much to just bolster the back end of my rotation like Merrill Kelly.
Kelly is going to cause some hesitation for some because he simply doesn’t have the strikeout numbers that get you excited. This year he is averaging 7.81 K/9, but what’s so interesting is that that number is weighed down by two starts against Colorado for a total of 11.1 innings and just two strikeouts. I don’t know if he just really struggles punching their guys out, or if they have his number, but if we exclude those games then Kelly is sitting at closer to 8.5 K/9. That might not sound like a big deal, but for a guy who could give you another 80 innings the rest of the way, that is huge!
Again, this is not the guy to go get if you are in a really bad spot with your pitching. I really would look to add him though anywhere I might have roster flexibility or a question mark towards the end of my pitching depth. He is currently slated to face off against the Dodgers Sunday right before the ASB. Last time he faced them he went seven innings while striking out twelve in a really nice performance. It’s hard to imagine him doing that again, especially against the Dodgers. That means he might be priced even more so to buy after Sunday’s game, although, if he has a great game it could always hurt your case.
Verdict: BUY – wait until after he faces the Dodgers
Photo by Mick Haupt/Unsplash | Feature Image by Justin Redler (@reldernitsuj on Twitter)