Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: May 7
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
We are still early into the season and while we don’t want to overreact to a little over a month of action, it is still important to take notice of who is doing well (or not) and why. We can use this information to determine 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. This week we are adding something new; after each breakdown, we will include a player or two who may be worth targeting if looking to sell the player who we did the breakdown on. That information can be used to help you kind of get a gauge of where you should be valuing him at this point in time.
Ketel Marte – While there have been many breakouts this season that have been heavily discussed in the fantasy community, one guy that there hasn’t been enough talk about is Marte. The 25-year old has all the tools to continue to be a fantasy stud. Thus far, he has nine home runs, 26 RBI, three steals, 23 runs scored, and a .261 average while hitting anywhere between leadoff and the six spot for the Dbacks. Marte set a new career high with 14 home runs last season and it looks like he’s going to blow by that number this year. The underlying numbers are nice on Marte too, he is hitting fly balls at a higher rate than ever (37.4-percent), his hard contact rate (43.5-percent) is well above his previous career high from last season, and he is hitting soft contact (14.8-percent) less than ever. “But what about his BABIP?” you ask? His current .263 BABIP is 36 points lower than his career average. To top it all off, Marte provides multi-position eligibility. Possible trade targets: Eugenio Suárez or Jameson Taillon .
Spencer Turnbull – The rookie right-hander has been fantastic for the Tigers thus far and his stock is up in fantasy circles. Through seven starts, Turnbull has a 2.31 ERA and has struck out 38 across 39.0 innings of work. However, he is walking a pretty high number of hitters (14 walks already) and his 3.32 FIP indicates he has had some luck on his side. That being said, his 26.9-percent hard contact rate against and 19.4-percetn soft contact rate against are both fantastic marks. Equally impressive is that two of his best starts this season came against elite offenses in Boston and Philly, allowing just six hits and one run across 11.0 innings. He is also gaining the trust of his management, as his last start was the first one that they allowed him to go seven innings and also the first time they let him cross the 95 pitch mark (102 pitches). He is probably more of a mid-to-high three ERA guy than his current mark, but even with that regression he would still make for a solid own in 15-teamers and deep 12-teamers. Possible trade targets: Rafael Devers or Eduardo Rodríguez .
Eric Sogard – Sogard has been leading off for the Blue Jays and he has been playing great; through 60 at bats he has four home runs, 12 RBI, 12 runs, two steals, and a .350 average. He is nearly age 33 and it is unlikely that he is going to have some random big breakout, but he already has a career high in home runs and hitting at the top of a lineup (even a poor one like the Jays) can boost any players value. In fact, he is playing so well that Toronto is currently working Lourdes Gurriel Jr. in the outfield at AAA (and make him more of a super-utility guy) so that Sogard can continue to be an everyday player. However, there are some underlying numbers that show regression is coming. His current .347 BABIP is 73 points higher than his career .274 mark, despite the fact that he is actually hitting soft contact (25.5-percent) about five percent more often than his career average. Those numbers don’t play well together for continued success. That being said, he is hitting fly balls more often than ever (6.4-percent higher than career average) and is hitting the ball hard very often (41.8-percent, which is 20.7-percent higher than his career average). Fantasy owners can’t really sell too high on him yet, but if he can keep it going for another week or two, there may be a window to move him. Possible trade targets: Adam Eaton or Sonny Gray .
Dan Vogelbach – Vogelbach was a hot waiver wire name after a crazy start to the season, but he has returned to Earth and his stock is plummeting. Sure, if you simply look at his overall season line of nine home runs, 18 RBI, and a .279 batting average he is still doing well, but looking under the hood is where things fall apart. Over his last 13 games, Vogelbach is 6-for-35 (.171) with one home run and four RBI. His average has dropped 74 points from .353 to his current .279 mark. The cold spell also has him riding the pine more frequently, sitting three times over the last eight games. It was a breakout that really wasn’t believable from the start. For fantasy owners of Vogelbach, if you hadn’t already sold high, your window to get much of anything for him is running out. Get what you can and move on. Possible trade targets: DJ LeMahieu or Jon Gray .
Joey Votto – To put it simply, Votto has been abysmal. Through 33 games, he is hitting .226 with three home runs, six RBI, and 16 runs scored. Yikes. He is hitting the ball hard less often, striking out more than ever, hitting less line drives, and walking at his lowest percentage since 2009. Known as a guy that never pops up on the infield, he is doing it in 2.9-percent of his at bats this year (his most frequent amount since 2008), which may not sound like a lot, but consider the fact that he did it fewer than 0.5-percent of the time in each of the past three seasons. He hasn’t really been unlucky either, as his xBA and xSLG are both below league average. Votto is 35-years old and it is obvious that he is a player on the decline. He won’t stay this bad all year, but it is very likely that this will be the worst season of his career. Possible trade targets: David Dahl or Kenley Jansen .
Marwin Gonzalez – Gonzalez, like Votto, has been flat-out terrible this year. Through 100 at bats, he is hitting .200 with two home runs, eight RBI, and eight runs scored. His multi-position eligibility is great for fantasy, but since he is producing absolutely nothing in any category, it really limits the value of all his positions. His underlying numbers don’t scream that a turnaround is coming either. His groundball percentage is higher than his career average, his fly ball percentage is lower than his career average, and he is striking out at a career high rate (26.4-percent). He has been the Twins everyday third baseman this year, but Miguel Sanó is very near his return to the Twins and with his return Gonzalez will be moved into a super-utility role that has him out of the lineup a few days a week. No trades should involve him because he shouldn’t be owned at this point, in any format.
Stocks to watch
Trent Thornton – Thornton has been a very mixed bag of results this season and it has fantasy players very unsure what to think with him. In his first two starts of the year, Thornton gave up one run over 12 innings of work while striking out 12. Those first two outings had him as a hot add, but then the wheels came off a bit and he gave up four runs, four runs, and five runs across his next three starts while only tallying 12.2 innings pitched. However, over his last two starts he has given up just two runs over 10.2 innings of work while striking out 15. So what do we make of him? His FIP and xFIP align right up with his ERA, so he hasn’t been lucky or unlucky. He is giving up a lot of hard contact (41.3-percent), but also inducing a strong number of soft contact (20.7-percent). His strike outs have been great and if he can limit his walks (14 through 35.1 innings), Thornton could go from a solid streaming option to a fully own-able player. Unfortunately, pitching for the Jays will limit his win output.
Gio González – Gonzalez had many doubters – both in real life and in fantasy – heading into this year, but through two starts with the Brew Crew he has looked great. He has given up three runs across 10.1 innings while striking out nine. Most impressive is the fact that he has only walked one batter (albeit a small sample), a guy with walk issues through his entire career; if he can continue to pound the zone he will have a much better chance at success. Keep in mind that it has only been two starts, but he also hasn’t given up a home run and is inducing fly balls at a career low rate of 24.1-percent. It is far too early to overreact to anything he has done so far, but he is worth a look in deep leagues considering he is a guy that has had success throughout his career, and it’s not like he’s a fossil at age 33. It also doesn’t hurt that he pitches for a good team and one of the league’s best offenses. His stock will be up if he pitches well against the Cubs in his next start.