Fantasy Baseball Stock Watch: May 21
Justin Vreeland surveys the fantasy baseball world and examines whose stock is rising and whose is falling.
In a different kind of edition with the stock watch this week, we are going to revisit players that have already been in the stock watch at some point earlier this season. Like we always say, player’s fantasy values never stop changing and these guys are no different. As always, 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.
Jordan Lyles – Lyles first landed in April 16 Stock Watch in the Stocks to watch section. In the breakdown we identified a lot of positives, reasons why he could possibly have a breakout year, and that he would have a good chance to keep the good times rolling in his next start against the Giants. Seeing that he’s in the stock up section, you can probably guess where this is headed. In that start against the Giants he tossed six shutout innings and since April 16 he has picked up three wins, struck out 35, and posted a 2.34 ERA across 34.2 innings of work (six starts). His season totals are impressive, with a 4-1 record, 1.97 ERA, .199 batting average against, and 47 strikeouts across 45.2 innings. He has had some luck on his side, with a .252 BABIP against and 87.3 LOB percent, but his 3.22 FIP indicates that he would still be doing very well even without the luck. He should be owned in all formats and there aren’t a whole lot reasons to not believe that this will be the best year of his career. Possible trade targets: Eric Hosmer or Jose Quintana.
Tommy La Stella – La Stella made his first appearance in the April 23 Stock Watch as a stock riser. In the breakdown we identified a lot of positives and recommended him as a pickup in fantasy. Since then, he has hit .371 (26-70) with five home runs, 15 RBI, and 13 runs scored across 20 games. For the season, La Stella is now hitting .310 with 11 home runs, 27 RBI, 24 runs, and has walked (13) more than he has struck out (10). The underlying numbers all speak to how well this guy is playing and don’t really point out much regression coming. His .269 BABIP is still .024 points lower than his career average, his 46.2-percent hard contact rate is elite, his 13.4-percent soft contact rate is the best of his career, his 24.6-percent line drive rate is fantastic, and his 6.7-percent strikeout rate is second best in all of baseball. The lefty has moved to the top of the Angels lineup when they face righties and has been in the lineup against lefties lately (he had been sitting against lefties for the majority of the season). Do I think he will keep this home run pace? No. Could he reasonably hit 20+ home runs and hit over .280? Yes. Possible trade targets: Victor Robles or Madison Bumgarner.
Rafael Devers – Devers landed in the April 16 Stock Watch with a falling stock, but was recommended as a strong buy-low option and someone to go and trade for. Since then, he has hit .339 with four home runs, 23 RBI, 21 runs scored, and five stolen bases across 32 games (121 at bats). He is hitting .314 on the season with four home runs, 25 RBI, 31 runs, and six steals across 47 games. He has been batting fifth or six in the Sox lineup on a regular basis and as the Boston lineup has heated up, so has he. His metrics look good too; his 15.2-percent strikeout rate is the best of his career, as is his 9.6-percent walk rate, 34.7-percent hard contact rate, and 14.3-percent soft contact rate. His 10.3-percent HR/FB rate is still well below the marks he posted in the previous two seasons, which means more home runs should still be coming. The only negative thing in his profile is his .359 BABIP, which is .044 points above his career average and points to a decrease in his batting average coming, but not a large decrease. Possible trade targets: David Peralta or Jose Berrios.
Byron Buxton – Buxton was a part of the April 23 Stock Watch and was in the stocks to watch section. He had zero home runs at the time, but we pointed out a few reasons why that was going to change and recommended him as a “buy, buy, buy before it is too late.” Since then, Buxton has hit .267 (20-75) with four home runs, 15 RBI, 14 runs, and has stolen a pair of bases across 22 games played. For the season, he is hitting .267, with four home runs, a league-leading 18 doubles, 24 RBI, 25 runs, and eight steals. His metrics look good too, his 33.3-percent hard contact rate is the best of his career, his 51.9-percent fly ball rate is the highest it’s ever been, and his 23.9-percent strikeout rate is the best of his career (6.8-percent lower than his career average). Putting the ball in play at a much higher rate will lead to a higher average, especially when you have the speed that Buxton has, so his batting average being the best of his career is not all that shocking. While he may not be putting up ridiculously good fantasy numbers, he is playing well and is providing solid production in what may result in a strong bounce back campaign. Possible trade targets: Elvis Andrus or Robbie Ray.
Corey Seager – Seager landed in the April 9 Stock Watch piece as a player whose stock was down. While many called him a buy-low target at the time, I called him overrated and recommended trading him off your team. Since then, Seager has hit .223 with three home runs, 14 RBI, 21 runs, and has stolen zero bases across 35 games. His stock has done nothing but fall further down and if you still have him, you’re basically stuck with him now, until he heats up. For the season, he is hitting .230 with four home runs, 19 RBI, 27 runs, and has zero steals across 46 games played. The metrics aren’t looking too good either; his 36.3-percent hard contact rate is five percent lower than his career average, his 16.1-percent soft contact rate is nearly three percent higher than his career average, and his 21.0-percent line drive rate is over three percent lower than his career mark. He is also striking out at a high clip (for him) of 21.1-percent and hitting infield fly balls at the highest rate of his career at 5.3-percent. His stock won’t get much lower than this, so if you like him, now would be the time to buy, but keep your expectations for him reasonable. Possible trade targets: Matt Chapman or James Paxton.
German Márquez – Marquez made his first appearance in the April 9 Stock Watch piece in the stocks to watch section. We talked about his poor home numbers and how we needed to see how he pitched in Coors before calling him a stock riser. The results have not been pretty, to say the least. Through five home starts, Marquez has a 5.34 ERA and 1.67 WHIP, compared to a 2.55 ERA and 0.79 WHIP on the road. As great as he has been on the road the last two years, we can’t move him into fantasy ace territory if we have to sit him anytime he is pitching at home. For the season, his totals are a 3.80 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and he has 65 strikeouts across 64.0 innings pitched. No part of that is all that great. The metrics don’t really point out a pitcher who has been unlucky either. He is giving up hard contact at the highest rate of his career (39.5-percent) while inducing soft contact at the lowest rate of his career (11.9-percent). His .316 BABIP against is right in line with his career .317 mark, and his FIP, xFIP, and SIERA are all in the threes. It appears that Coors remains undefeated and Marquez is who he is. Possible trade targets: Ozzie Albies or Sean Doolittle.
Miles Mikolas – Mikolas made his debut in the April 16 Stock Watch in the falling stock section. Despite a rough start to the year, I said to still avoid trying to buy-low on him. He had been pitching pretty decent, but after giving up seven earned runs across 1.1 innings of work in his most recent start his ERA for the season is at 4.88. He has just 37 strikeouts across 55.1 innings pitched with a 1.19 WHIP. As stated previously about him, I tend to not like low strikeout guys and viewed him as a big regression target this season, and it has happened. He hasn’t been unlucky either, with a 4.86 FIP, 4.34 xFIP, and 4.45 SIERA. He is giving up hard contact at the highest rate of his career (33.9-percent) while inducing infield fly balls five percent less often than his career average. His 26.7 CSW rate is about two-percent below league average and his stuff just isn’t all that great. He is not someone that you want to own on your team. Possible trade targets: Max Kepler or Rick Porcello.
Stocks to watch
Jurickson Profar – Profar landed in the April 2 Stock Watch piece as a stock that was falling. This is the one guy in this piece that we missed the mark on, after calling him a nice target to buy-low on. Since then, he has hit just .215 with six home runs, 25 RBI, 18 runs, and three steals across 135 at bats (37 games). His stock has continued to fall, but he lands in the stocks to watch section this time around because he is starting to show signs of life. Over the last five games, Profar is hitting .350 (7-20) with two home runs, six RBI, and four runs scored. His position flexibility is awesome and if he can stay hot he will have a lot of value to your fantasy roster. Also, if we look at his underlying metrics, we see a player who has had terrible luck this year. His .200 BABIP is the worst of his career and .064 points lower than his career average, despite the fact that his 39.7-percent hard contact rate is the best of his career and seven percent higher than his career average. He also has a very solid 22.0-percent line drive rate, which is higher than it was last season in his breakout campaign. Lastly, his 13.4-percent strikeout rate is the best mark of his career. So, he is putting the ball in play more than ever and at hard rate higher than ever, but is hitting well below his career average. See how that doesn’t add up? He should be able to turn it around with time.