I don’t want to spoil an upcoming Going Deep we’ve got in the works, but it’s amazing how much bad press Wil Myers (OF, San Diego Padres), who went 2-4 with a home run and a double yesterday, got for his rough 2019.
The former highly-regarded prospect has two season fantastic fantasy seasons to his name (2016-17) and has always shown impressive power and speed while maintaining a useful OBP due to his patience at the plate; however, after a single year where he didn’t quite reach expectations, it seems like fantasy managers entirely soured on the 29-year-old, who hits near the middle of an impressive Padres core.
Perhaps part of the problem is our own willingness to overemphasize a single narrative that we see in statistics. You see, most of us who play this crazy game spend a lot of time trying to figure out why something unexpected is happening, and we tend to start looking in the same places. When we find things in one of those places, it’s easy to stop our analysis right then and there. In the case of 2019 Wil Myers, that first place was his strikeout rate, which jumped to 34.3%. Combine that with decreased contact rates both inside and outside of the zone, and you get a pretty simple-to-follow recipe for bad stuff happening. That, in and of itself, isn’t necessarily a terrible thing… except for the part where we all kind of stop thinking and just assume a guy is washed up.
Again, we have more coming on Wil Myers and what might be happening from someone much smarter than me (Dan Richards, in this case). However, while the strikeout rate might still be elevated, there’s reasons to keep digging to see if there’s still a power-speed combo worth buying here. I’m not suggesting Wil Myers is turning it all around and is due for another shot at a 30-30 season or anything, but don’t let his 2019 trip you up too hard.
Ben Gamel (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-4, R, 2B, RBI. He’s more of an NL-only play, but he’s the most capable center fielder remaining in Milwaukee and according to our own Michael Ajeto, he both does and does not look like Christian Yelich.
Michael Conforto (OF, New York Mets)—3-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI, SB. We already knew he could hit the ball hard, but this was already his second stolen base of the season after stealing a career high of seven in 2019. It might not sound like much, but adding even just a little speed to Conforto’s profile makes him significantly more interesting due to his excellent on-base skills and 30-home run power. While his relatively slow sprint speed will put a pretty hard cap on his stolen base totals, projecting even ten swipes in a full season would move him WAY up my board, particularly in OBP formats.
Luis Robert (OF, Chicago White Sox)—1-3, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SB. He turned 23 yesterday, and to celebrate, he took another step towards winning the AL Rookie of the Year. This was his third game in the leadoff spot in place of the injured Tim Anderson, and he’s gotten on base nine times and scored five runs. So far, the hype has been real and he looks like he could be a superstar in the making.
Avisail Garcia (OF, Milwaukee Brewers)—2-4, 2B, 3 RBI. The hard-hitting outfielder batted cleanup for the Brewers last night, which is a development worth watching for those in need of some power and RBI. The lineup in Milwaukee will likely shuffle a bit as they try to deal with the loss of leadoff hitter Lorenzo Cain, and Garcia is one of the few reliable right-handed bats in their lineup.
Kyle Seager (3B, Seattle Mariners)—2-3, 2B, RBI, BB. He had one of the hottest months in baseball last August, slashing .323/.417/.699 over 26 games, good for an astounding 192 wRC+. He proceeded to cool back off into a sub-par fantasy third baseman shortly thereafter, but he’s off to a strong start in 2020 and shouldn’t be entirely ignored in deeper formats that use a corner infield spot. There’s enough power here to cobble together a decent number of RBI behind what has been a very surprising Mariners lineup thus far.
Wilson Ramos (C, New York Mets)—2-4, R, HR, 3 RBI. It’s great to see Ramos finally hit that first home run of the season, but unless he can go on a bit of a hot streak, he’ll continue to look more like a streaming catcher in 10- and 12-team single-catcher formats now that’s he’s batting near the bottom of that Mets lineup and striking out twice as often as he did last season. There’s still time for him to turn it around, of course, but if a guy like Travis d’Arnaud (who I’ll cover in a moment) is hanging around on your wire, you wouldn’t be faulted for making the swap.
Khris Davis (DH, Oakland Athletics)—2-3, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, BB. I’m not sure when we start worrying about Khrush in 2020, but the fact I’m thinking about that already is not a great sign. Seven games is not a useful sample size, and there’s reason to believe that his less-than-stellar 2019 was due to injuries that limited him all season, but this home run was his first extra-base hit of the season, and he’ll need a couple more before I feel comfortable putting him in my lineup.
Alex Dickerson (OF, San Francisco Giants)—2-5, R, HR, RBI. This was his third straight start batting second for the Giants and it’s hard to see the lefty falling out of the top four spots in the lineup in the near future. This team has over-performed offensively by a staggering amount, but Dickerson might be the most interesting fantasy bat so far along with Mike Yastrzemski. The pop we’ve seen since he came on board in 2019 is, to an extent, validated by Statcast’s expected slugging of nearly .500 in that time. I’m not sure he’s useful in 10- or 12-team fantasy league yet (unless you have deep benches and start five outfielders), but I’d at least keep an eye on him.
Travis d’Arnaud (C/1B, Atlanta Braves)—2-4, R, HR, RBI. In his last 81 games, d’Arnaud is slashing .281/.336/.505 with 17 home runs, 47 runs scored, and 71 RBI. Those are strong numbers for a full season for a catcher (or at least what we consider a full season for a catcher), and he’s done it in just 81 games. He’s shuffled between fifth and sixth in the batting order so far in his first four games for the Braves, which is prime real estate for RBI and a rare spot to find a catcher—particularly one that remains available in over 60% of leagues. Quite frankly, he’s in my top eight at the position and I have him over more popular picks such as Wilson Ramos, Carson Kelly, Sean Murphy, and Yadier Molina, and with Will Smith in a true timeshare so far and Omar Narvaez moving down in the batting order while giving up at bats, d’Arnaud is close to overtaking them as well.
Ender Inciarte (OF, Atlanta Braves)—1-3, R, 2B, BB, SB. It’s been a slow start for the lefty, but he’s now got back-to-back starts with a hit. Even with the return of Nick Markakis, I think Inciarte continues to get the lion’s share of playing time in center due to his defensive prowess In deep leagues, his speed could still be an asset (even if the batting average isn’t there right now).
Max Kepler (OF, Minnesota Twins)—3-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI. The leadoff man for the Twins hasn’t done much walking yet, but I suppose he doesn’t need to quite so much with all the hitting they’re doing up there. He now has five hits with three doubles in his last two games and with the weak pitching (and particularly weak left-handed pitching) in the Central, Kepler is a strong outfielder in all formats.
Yoan Moncada (3B, Chicago White Sox)—3-8, 2 R, HR, 2B, RBI. In 2019, he took a step forward by being more aggressive on close pitches (which had previously been his downfall by way of the backwards K). It lowered his once sparkling walk rate, but allowed him to make better use of his fantastic bat skills, which far outweighed any lost free passes. So far in 2020, he’s kept up the aggression on close pitches while also taking plenty of walks. If he keeps that out, we might see yet another level to his game.
Chadwick Tromp (C, San Francisco Giants)—1-3, R, HR, 2 RBI. He’s been a bit of a surprise through four games for the Giants, who find themselves in a bit of a pinch at catcher. I can’t really recommend him for fantasy purposes, but wow, what a name!
Leury Garcia (2B/OF, Chicago White Sox)—3-5, R. That’s seven hits in two days for Garcia, who continues to defy the odds and pile up base hits. In AL-only or extremely deep formats, you could do a lot worse than Garcia, who many forget has three consecutive seasons with a batting average north of .270 and who stole 15 bases in 2019.
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