Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: April 2
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
We have nearly a full week of regular season action in the books now and it’s been an exciting week. While we don’t want to overreact to just a few games of action, it is still important to take notice of who is doing well (or not) and why. We can use these small samples in determining what adds/drops or trades that we should target. Player’s fantasy values never stop changing and making the right moves in-season is crucial to winning a championship.
Christian Walker – I briefly spoke about Walker in today’s Round Up saying “Walker was a guy I was excited about when the Diamondbacks traded Goldschimdt to the Cardinals. It opened the door for Walker to get some playing time and even though he is still not an everyday role, he is taking full advantage of every bit of playing time he is getting. He started on Opening Day and delivered a 2-4 with a home run stat line. The next day he was used as a pinch hitter and he cracked a clutch game-tying three run home run in the seventh inning. Last night he finished 2-4 with a run scored and he is now hitting .545 (6-11) with two home runs on the young season.” To dive a little deeper, Walker had a fantastic Spring Training in which he hit .370 (17-46) with a home run, 11 RBI, and ten runs scored. This all comes after back-to-back strong seasons at AAA in which he hit a total of 50 home runs, drove in 185, and hit .305 (256-838). He hits fifth in the Dbacks lineup when he starts and as long as he continues to produce he is going to garner more and more playing time. For now he is just a deep league add, but everyone should have him on their watch list.
Cody Bellinger – Bellinger is the number one ranked player in fantasy right now and is looking more like the guy we saw in 2017 than the guy we saw in 2018. He already has four home runs, eight RBI, seven runs scored, a stolen base, and is hitting .458 (11-24). Although he has a very high ceiling (that we have already seen) he is still a solid sell high target right now for those that own him. His current pace is of course unsustainable and he has bounced around the Dodger lineup, hitting as low as seventh. If looking to aquire Bellinger, that ship has sailed and his asking price will likely be higher than anything you should be willing to give up.
DJ LeMahieu – For LeMahieu his stock being up is less about how he is playing (though he is 4-8 with two runs and two RBI) and more about the fact that he will be an everyday player now with Andujar’s injury. A career .298 hitter, he should have plenty of opportunities to score and drive in runs in a strong Yankees offense. He also gets to play half his games in Yankee stadium, which will give him a chance to duplicate the double-digit home run output that he has had in two of the past three seasons. It is probably too late to get him at a decent price in a trade, but if he is available in your shallow league, go ahead and pull the trigger and pick him up. The only downside to LeMahieu is that he will likely continue to bat near the bottom of the order unless the Yankees decide to switch things up.
Sandy Alcantara – Alcantara was lights out in his first start of the season, shutting out the Rockies for eight innings and striking out six. He gave up four hits and walked zero while needing just 92 pitches to get through the eight frames. Alcantara has really good stuff, but has had major control issues, so the zero walks were a key part of this outing. If, and that's a big if, he can continue to keep his walks down, he could be in line for a breakout season. Last season he only gave up 25 hits across 34 innings pitched, but his absurd 23 walks led to 1.41 WHIP and 3.44 ERA. He is worth an add in most leagues, but keep in mind he is far from a sure thing. His home ball park should help him, but no park helps against walks.
Gleyber Torres – Torres actually hasn't hit that bad, as he is 5-16 (.313), but he has just one extra base hit, zero home runs, zero RBI, zero steals, and has only scored one run. A lot of the issues with Torres right now is the fact that he has hit in the bottom third of the lineup in nearly every game. He is the only position player that was drafted within the top-75 that is not hitting within the top-six of his team's batting lineup and it appears to be putting a pretty big damper on his counting stats. However, Torres is still a very talented player and did move into the six-hole last game due to the injuries to Stanton and Andujar. He is a perfect buy-at-a-discount target right now in fantasy if his current owner in your league is willing to part ways.
Jurickson Profar – Profar has gotten off to a frozen cold start as he is hitting .138 (4-29) with zero home runs, zero RBI, and zero stolen bases. Profar had a nice breakout campain in 2018, but his follow up season isn't looking great right now. His BABIP is at a rough .160 mark while his hard contact percentage is down 13% from last season and his soft contact percentage is up 8%. His new home field will likely put a damper on his home run output, but Profar is not this bad. If his fantasy owner is panicking, now is the time to pounce and pull the trigger on making a trade for him. His position versatility makes him a great own as long as he hits halfway decent. Everyone goes through slumps and he just happens to be going through one to start the year.
Yadier Molina – Molina is off to a 1-20 (.050) start to the season with one RBI and one run scored. Molina had a great 2018 season in which he hit 20 home runs with a .261 batting average, but eventually his age (36) is going to catch up with him. This is his sixteenth season in the bigs and the catcher position puts more ware on the body than anywhere else. It is unlikely that he just completely fell off a cliff this year, but this could be the year that he finally starts to regress a bit. I wouldn't panic if I was a Molina owner, but I also wouldn't target him as a possible buy-low player either. For now, I think the best approach with Molina is to just wait and see.
Stocks to watch
Joey Lucchesi – Lucchesi is someone the fantasy industry was very split on this draft season. One side looked at his strong first half (3.04 ERA) and overall rookie season (4.08 ERA, 145 strikeouts across 130 innings pitched) while the other side would quickly point out his post all-star break ERA of 4.88 and his high hard contact percentage against of 40.6%. Lucchesi doesn't have an overpowering fastball, but his strong off-speed offerings make his pitch repertoire a mixed bag. The lefty had a strong first outing as he pitched 5.1 shutout innings and allowed just three hits while striking out seven. However, the outing came against a weak Giants offense and it's tough to gauge how much stock should be put into it. His start against the Diamondbacks tomorrow could have him as a stock riser if he is able to pitch well once again. Personally, I am a fan of Lucchesi and think his 'Churve' pitch is a thing of beauty.