Monday was probably the most welcome reprieve from fantasy baseball I’ve had in years. After a first half crapped upon and spoiled by my rosters’ inclusions of Jason Heyward, Jose Reyes, Yovani Gallardo (I sympathize, almost every commenter we have), and Andre Ethier, I was saved the Gom jabbar-caliber torture of merely looking at my roster—not setting it, not thinking about it, not watching my team suck giant Andy Dirks, but simply just seeing who’s on my roster. This week, I actually enjoyed a Monday night. I went out with friends, got a few cocktails, had some sushi, chitchatted about things that “actually matter” (FANTASY SPORTS MATTER, MOM! NO I’M NOT HUNGRY), and lived a social life untethered by the emotional and intellectual restraints of staring at stats and hoping for the best. But, despite my melodrama—similar to the past few sentences I just wrote—I’m right in contention in every league. So, pretty reader (hey ), let’s take a gander at some guys you might/won’t want for the rest of 2013 and for 2014, 2015, etc. IT’S FANTASY TIME AGAIN YAYYYYYY.
Dexter Fowler (188 ADP in 2013, will be around 100 next year)
Fowler’s got skillz, I think.
After being the #15 pre-2009 prospect according to Baseball America, Fowler pretty much spent four years sucking until 2012 came. Last year, at age 26, Dexter seemed to figure at least a few things out. Well, actually, he figured one thing out. Wait, well, maybe he just got stronger.
Really, the only major difference between Fowler in 2010—.260 BA, 6 homers, 13/20 SB—and 2013 Fowler is his power, which is improving his batting average and homer total. All those doubles that he used to hit are kind of, sort of now flying over the fence. He’s striking out and walking at the same rate he has his entire career, is still hitting too many fly-balls (you could argue this is good, considering his BAbip is high anyway… COORS), and is still a good-not-great base stealer. Last season, his .390 BAbip had fantasy drafters scrambling for the new “power/speed/average?!” on the block, but from my angle, all that promise stops there.
While 10 homers, 13 steals, and a .284 BA are pretty for 74 games, Fowler’s HR/FB rate is at a sickly high 9.3%—a number that can’t and obviously won’t sustain. Last year he was at 7.5%, a then-career high, when he hit 13 on the season — he has 10 now.
Also, and perhaps speaking to a guy who’s learned how to hit in a specific ballpark rather than physically filling out, Fowler’s home/road splits are gross. He’s at .336/.405/.526 while in Coors, and is .232/.358/.391 while away (though he oddly has five homers in Coors and five away). There are too many fickle numbers in Fowler’s underlying stats to imply continued improvement and that the “Fowler we’ve all been waiting for” is here to stay. A lot of people expect that he’ll continue to break out and that he’s finally found the trick of his specific trade, but the lofty HR/FB rates and unsustainably high LD-rates imply Fowler was too hot to last in the first half. I’d sell now to guys desperate for a spark. He’ll be drafted higher than you got him for this year, but won’t live up to his perceived value going into next year.
Brandon Belt (227.6 2013 ADP, 210 in 2014)
Belt’s been a “what if” for a long time. After raking in the Minors for two years and getting the power-speed first baseman label (if that’s a thing) upon his call up to San Fran, Belt found himself in Bruce Bochy’s doghouse. Partly because of Aubrey Huff (LOL) he never got the chance to start full-time or to accrue steady at-bats, and was relegated to a platoon party for a long time. Fortunately, though, Belt was given the everyday role at first starting in 2013, as the roster was finally cleared up and Belt had finally begun to show some improvement in the spring. Unfortunately, though, there’s not been much production yet. Fortunately, I think it’s coming.
Belt’s boasting a 27% LD-rate in 2013 and finally has a regular HR/FB rate of 8.1%. He’s making more contact overall — he’s improved his contact on pitches out of the zone by 10.1%, his contact on pitches in the zone by 4.6%, and his contact on all pitches by 5.3%. Via regular at-bats, he’s improved his approach against lefties (though not against righties) and, with the better approach and more reps, will be a solid CI guy for the rest of this season. His stock probably won’t rise too much going into next year, so keeping him won’t net you much.
Oswaldo Arcia (N/A, 215 in 2014)
A 19% LD rate, 28% K rate, 0.81 GB/FB, 72.4% contact rate, and .343 BAbip don’t add up. You probably weren’t interested in him for this year, but unless his peripherals improve, he’s actually just as unexciting as his team, his pre-2013 prospect stock, and this entire paragraph.
Marcell Ozuna (N/A, 200)
Like… where is the power?
Ozuna doesn’t seem to care for walks and, like almost everyone in baseball today, has a propensity to strikeout too much, which, by the laws of relativism, might not be too much because others are doing it more. Is 100 strikeouts in a season good now? How far do I have to adjust to determine if a guy strikes out too much? The Braves are ruining baseball.
Ozuna’s one of those guys with that violent, raw power like Yoenis Cespedes. Oddly, he hasn’t shown it yet. Like, not even at all. After 24 homers in the FSL in a Jupiter park that favors pitching, Ozuna seemed to be the next Dayan Viciedo (yuck)—all pop and no average. Fortunately for Ozuna, a .337 BAbip has kept his average at .273 to float him until that reputed power comes around. He’s currently at a 3.1% HR/FB rate, but, when you watch him, he drives the ball to gaps and clearly has that rocket power that’ll eventually and naturally trend toward an increase in homers. He’s only making contact on 51.8% of the out-of-the-zone pitches he swings at, and he’s swinging at 35.6% of them, so expect an increase on his 21.6% strikeout rate.
Don’t give up on Ozuna’s power yet—and don’t for a while, even if it doesn’t improve this year—and I’d acquire him if I needed some cheap power on a light-hitting team down the stretch. His splits aren’t overly lopsided, and he’ll be super cheap, if you even have to pay for him at all. I’m expecting a power turnaround in the second half, and dudes dig the long ball, so he could be in the 200s going into next year, which is higher stock than the price you paid or will pay for him. PAGNOF?
The deadline looms… make suggestions for guys you want blurbs on in next week’s column.
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