We’re now about three weeks into the season, obviously still a very small sample to work with but it’s worth taking a look at current trends around the league. Some young guys around the league are having a great start helping their long term value while others are on the opposite side of the spectrum. On the other side of things, there are some older players who are showing signs of decline that you’ll need to make a decision on. In this article, I’m going to look at these players and talk about their current stock and what I’d do from here. Let’s get right to it:
Taijuan Walker – Despite spending a long time in the spotlight as an elite prospect, Walker is still only 23 years old. His first 37 starts over 3 seasons were subpar on the whole. Walker started to come on strong at the end of last season and it’s carried over to this year. In his three starts so far, he has a 1.50 ERA and 0.94 WHIP with 14 K’s in 18 innings. While we’d like to see the K’s up, only have 2 walks in 18 innings is outstanding for his future. Walker’s FIP is also 2.70 meaning despite the big strikeout totals, this isn’t really luck. I think at the end of the season, Walker will end as a #2 starting pitcher with the upside for more down the line. I’m holding him where I have him and looking to buy him if I can.
Vincent Velasquez – Yes, I know that his three stars have come against the Padres and the Mets twice. However, there’s no denying his upside if he can keep the walks down. Between AA and the Astros last season, Velasquez’s BB/9 was in the mid 3’s. After walking 3 in his first start against the Mets, he hasn’t walked anybody in his last two. That, along with simply staying healthy, are the two concerns here. As much as the Astros like Ken Giles, they wouldn’t have moved Velasquez for him if they didn’t have injury concerns over his arm. It’s likely that the Phillies shut him down late in the season which makes things a big difficult in keeper leagues for people contending this season. I’d hold him where I have him and in regards to buying, it depends how much I want to gamble. I’d be much more inclined to get him on a rebuilding team. Personally, I’d take the gamble because there’s ace potential here.
Trevor Story – Everyone knows about his insane start (insert fire emojis here) but there are some reasons I’d look to sell high here. One, his K rate is through the roof; in 71 plate appearances Story has struck out a whopping 27 times. That’s 273 times over 162 games which puts a massive cap on what Story can do, especially with his on base percentage (currently sitting at .310). His ISO right now is .470 which we can simply say is unsustainable. The other worry (short term only) is that if he slumps later on and Jose Reyes is on the roster, they’ll probably give Reyes his fair share of games to try to give Reyes some semblance of trade value. I’d look to move Story to somebody who thinks Coors magic will keep him crushing homers while at the end of the day, he’s probably only a little more than a 20/15 guy with a .250 average. That carries plenty of value but nowhere near where his stock is right now.
Dexter Fowler – Fowler is remarkably #9 on the Razzball Player Rater so far (link to player rater here ). He’s done his part and the team is mashing behind him. That said, I think we know what Fowler is at this point no matter what team he’s on. The runs should continue to be outstanding, in fact he’s a good bet to lead the league there. That said, the average, home run and RBI pace are all surely to come down. The thing is that I suspect he doesn’t have much value in keeper leagues anyways. If I owned him, I’d just hold and let the good times roll unless somebody made you a real offer for him. I wouldn’t target him in a trade unless his owner isn’t overvaluing his start.
Bryce Harper – I’m only including him here because he’s probably in his own tier now long term. As good as Mike Trout, Carlos Correa and Manny Machado are, Harper is mashing and proving last season wasn’t a fluke. He’s still only 23 years old too. If you own him, don’t trade him.
Albert Pujols – It’s been a rough start for Pujols and it’s only gotten worse lately as he’s in the midst of a 0-19 slump. Pujols is 36 years old so could we be looking at the end? I’m saying no because he slumped at the start of last season as well and he’s been working the count well allowing him to maintain a decent walk rate. If I owned him, I’m probably holding unless you can sell him based on name value alone. Last season’s .244 average should be repeatable and if he provides 30ish home runs again, then you’re getting plenty of value, especially if you got him in the 9th round like Grey.
Carlos Gomez – Gomez has been atrocious to this point with no home runs, only 1 RBI and a .237 OBP. He’s 30 years old now and the steals disappeared last season. After 3 seasons of 34+ steals, Gomez had only 17 last season and had his worst success rate of his career getting caught 9 times. He’s currently batting 7th in the lineup which is also going to hurt his counting stats quite a bit. With all of the talent the Astros have, it’ll take an injury for him to move back up. I don’t own him anywhere but if I did, I’d be looking to sell immediately to somebody paying for his past.
Jose Abreu – In his last 11 games, Abreu is 4 for 40 with 2 runs, a home run and 3 RBI’s. On the season, he’s only hitting .180. Am I concerned? Not really. He’s walking at a normal rate and more importantly, he’s 29 years old. Abreu should be in his prime or at least still close to his peak so this should just be a normal downswing. I still expect him to get 30/100 and a .280+ average at the end of the day so hold if you have him and make some buy low offers if you don’t.
Corey Kluber – I feel like everybody who has owned Kluber last season hates him even though he was extremely unlucky to post a 3.49 ERA. Even with the horrible start this season, his FIP is sitting at 3.35 meaning it should turn around. The strikeouts are terrific and is usually is accompanied by a strong BB/9. I’m buying everywhere I can.
Luis Severino – I was down on him to start the season and I see no reason to change now. The biggest bright spot is that he has only walked one batter in 16.2 innings. Unfortunately for him and the Yankees, he’s given up a whopping 25 hits and only has 11 strikeouts. The division is full of top notch lineups and that’s not going to change any time soon. For the long term, I’ll also concerned about him staying as a starting pitcher with that delivery. I think that he’ll eventually have to go to the bullpen and with all of the horses the Yankees have, he won’t be closing. If I had him in a dynasty, I’d look to trade him as soon as possible and I’d probably just drop him in standard 12’ers.
That’s all for now guys. As always, feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments below. I’ll be back next week with a new post on something else from a keeper perspective. Take care!