Hey all, after a midseason sabbatical to take care of some family things, I’m back. And I’m seeing the world with a bit more clarity. Call it a furthering need for authenticity. When you are confronted with the mortality of your father—for me the positive visage of what a patriarch looks like: selfless, giving, strong, and dependable—you begin to take stock of where you stand in life. Yes, this is just a silly fantasy game we play, but authenticity matters. At least to me, it does. I do my best to practice this with my work and family, why would I not do it here as well. And much like last year, I had a vision of St. Willink before me. He challenged me to take full ownership of my life and own all my wins and losses. Especially the losses. Nothing is someone else’s fault. Variance and regression are part of the process, just ask Miles Mikolas!
I am responsible for all my takes, and all my taeks. Whether they are good or bad… I am responsible. I am a capable and willful person that can tilt the scale; if I fail, I need to learn from it and better myself. If I succeed, I need to learn from it and replicate it. Like last year, I don’t know if anyone else in the biz does a post like this but I’m going to do it again, with gusto. Maybe I’ll start a trend. Reviewing all my deep dives from the preseason through the end of April. Here. We. Go.
Since I’m a delicate flower, I want to talk about the positives first. Feel free to leave me glowing praise in the comments about how awesome my deep dives are, and that they have been an indispensable resource for you to smite your foes and lead you onward to victory.
Nestor Cortes – My pride, my joy. Mi amor. May the sunlight ever-glimmer off the sweat-soaked mustache draped over your upper lip like the heroic pelts of a successful hunt on the shoulders of warriors from lore past. Nasty Nestor has been just that. Nasty. Through the first half, Nestor has not disappointed: 8 Wins, 2.63 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 99 Ks in 95.2 IP. In many ways, he has actually gotten better this year.
The metrics on his “true” ERA all point to him being better this year while holding his LOB above 80% for another ~100 IP. He’s now sustained that for nearly 200 innings. Simply amazing. A big help to that this year is he has increased his GB rate five points to 32.5%. Not only that, but his average fastball velocity has actually gone up, from 90.8 to 91.5 mph. But… we are now in uncharted waters, his 2nd half will be more innings than he’s ever thrown, so there could be some load management in his future to preserve him for playoffs. You can find my full player breakdown for him here.
Lourdes Gurriel Jr – If Nestor had my love, then Lourdes had my song. Psalm? Yes, that too. This song was in the form of an 80’s glam rock power ballad. As most of them are, this too is bittersweet. Through the first half, Gurriel has hit .317/.363/.436 with 41 RBIs. Plenty to like there, especially with the league average now sitting at .243, yikes. What’s that you say? He only hit 5 HR before the All-star break… yes that’s the bitter. Hey, they can’t all be home runs.
The biggest thing of note for him though is his HR/FB rate was comically low at 5.5%, so there’s plenty of reason to expect a big 2nd half from him. A power correction is on the way. Also, for his career, he has a .511 SLG and 127 wRC+ after the All-Star Break. Needless to say, we could see a wild finish. You can find the full breakdown for him here.
Frankie Montas – Money Montas! The wins, obviously, have not been there. And the trade has not come yet. Not much you can do about that when the team sells everything before the season except you. Aside from that, you can’t argue with the rest of his stat line: 3.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 100 Ks in 96.2 IP. So far he’s been able to sustain the success from last year by maintaining his returned velocity (96+) and the renewed groundball rate above 40%. This is in large part due to his commitment to the splitter at 25% and maintaining the fastball.
Second-half concerns? Remains to be seen. You know the A’s are going to do everything they can to make sure he’s healthy long enough to trade him. So far reports say his shoulder is healing normally, but to say I’m not a little concerned would be lying. However, if he checks out okay and then is traded to a contender like the Cardinals that are rumored, there’s a lot to like about that situation. Cardinals always seem to get extra out of someone in their pitching staff (see Mikolas this year) and that team will always score runs. Full breakdown link here.
Jon Gray – What started out as a nightmare storm has cleared up the gray skies. Regression to the mean? Indeed. He certainly had plenty of bad luck at the start of the season but has settled in after May and looking like a stable boy in a barn of bull shit. Through the first half, Gray has recorded a 3.71 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 100 Ks, 89.2 IP. Not bad at all for a guy that started the season with a 5.56 ERA at the end of May. Since June 1, Gray has a 2.34 ERA and 2.90/2.91 FIP/xFIP… finally meeting expectations.
This is what we’ve been waiting for. The last 2 months have been a correction to a BABIP that led to a low LOB. Now we are seeing that positive regression, but don’t get it twisted. His command lately has been much better than his career line so expect him to settle closer to where his totals sit now, roughly a 3.50 ERA pitcher with decent Ks. You can see the full breakdown here.
Anthony Santander – My feature outfielder in OF Mice And Men, I gave you a few late OFs to target in drafts that I had my eye on who could net plus value. The other 2 have had injury troubles, but Santander has rebounded nicely from his 2021 season that was largely due to poor luck with BABIP and returned to essentially exactly what he has been in years past, 25ish HR hitter and a .250 AVG, and as late as he was going, you gotta love it.
Eric Lauer – I had my eye on him following last year, but after his first couple starts this season, he looked different. Come to find out his velocity had made yet another jump, now above the 93 mph threshold. And coming from a location specialist working for the Brewers, count me in. For the first half, Lauer delivered a 3.64 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 100 Ks, 96.1 IP. That’ll play. And for a pitcher taken after pick 300 or off of waivers, you’ll take it.
A rough June has soured a lot of joy he first brought, some of it regression, some of it bad luck. But if you rostered him for the full first half, you got exactly what I projected him for. All that to say, while it was going great it wasn’t meant to be that good. And when it was really bad, it wasn’t supposed to be that either. Going forward? A lot of it depends on his velo… At the end of May through June his FB dipped below 93 mph and then it rose back up and now after the break, it’s down again.
Not saying correlation equals causation, but, I’m of the mind (and the stats reflect it) that his success has followed the effectiveness of his fastball, which seems to be tied in part to his velocity. Full breakdown here.
Trevor Rogers – Success of a different breed, I saw something in Trevor one night and then followed the stats. This led to me writing a warning for everyone here. Rogers hasn’t been the same as he was last year and most of it is tied to his mechanics. Well, since I suggested trouble ahead and look to sell your stock in redrafts, he has posted a 5.23 ERA, 1.51 WHIP, 68 Ks, 72.1 IP. A far cry from the 10+ K/9 SP2 everyone was drafting him to be this season and not worthy to roster in any league during that time. I think he’ll need an offseason to make the mechanical changes needed to stick in his muscle memory. And he got rocked again last night for 6 runs in 3.2 IP.
Ugh, now for the less glamourous part of our story. Time to take my lumps as part of this extreme ownership exercise. Please be nice in the comments below and tell me everything will work out in the end.
Hunter Renfroe – Almost put in the injury category, but in extreme ownership, we’ll take it on. Though not a total loss, we’ll count Renfroe here because he didn’t completely fulfill the role we drafted him for. So far this season in 62 games he has 16 HR, 36 RBI and slashing .257/.310/.517 despite the power showing up late… which is, not terrible. But 2 trips to the IL have cut into his usefulness. As rates go, if he was pacing to play 144 games like he did last year he’d be in line for 37 HR, 84 RBI… which is actually good, and an xBA of .237 is right in line with the projections we were aiming for.
Not the 5 percentile outcome we were hoping for but could continue to give what we need from a run-producing power bat… provided he stays healthy. A good 2nd half could be in store with his top 13 percentile barrel rate, exit velocity, and top 20 xSLG rate. It seems the only thing stopping him has been playing time, brighter skies ahead should he seize it. Full breakdown can be found here.
Seiya Suzuki – Sigh. After a storybook first couple weeks in April, Seiya went ice cold mid-month and it lasted into and throughout all May, hitting an abysmal .217 with zero home runs and was caught stealing twice. Then he was injured on the hand and missed the entirety of June. That first half, he hit .272 with 6 HR and 26 RBIs in 54 games. Not great Bob. But despite his troubles and an unexpected 27% K-rate he has still managed a 93rd percentile chase rate. His plate discipline DID travel.
That said, what is promising in addition to his chase rate, is a respectable barrel%, exit velocity, and walk rate. That together with what looks to be a low HR/FB rate of only 10% would suggest that a power rebound in the 2nd half is on its way. And some good luck in the HR ball could put him in line to have a shot at still meeting my projection, or at least getting close to it compared to the first season of Matsui. The key for him has not been fastball as we might have thought, but an evident struggle with offspeed pitches. He sits ready to fire at velocity but gets caught with his pants down vs the change, etc. The full breakdown on Seiya can be read here.
Yoshi Tsutsugo – I could go on to explain everything wrong with him. Or I could simply say, I should have known better than to trust the Pirates with fixing a player. The only thing the Pirates can fix is rookie service time. Full dive here.
Nick Martinez – Nick hasn’t quite lived up to expectations as a starting pitcher. In 52.1 IP starting, he had a 4.30 ERA, 1.55 WHIP, and an 8 K/9. Not really lighting up the stat sheet. The main problem he had was walks in the form of a 4.64 BB/9 as a starter (something he didn’t struggle with in Japan or with Team USA) and getting blasted on his fastball. In the first half, opponents hit .388 vs his fastball and .333 against his cutter. Despite the velocity bump north of the 93 mph threshold, he was still getting hit in hitters’ counts.
The Padres saw that too and moved him to the bullpen. A 10 run-score value and a mere 18.8% whiff rate suggests he hasn’t been able to keep people off his primary pitch that too often led to a walk or hit. Since then, he’s been able to hold a 2.25 ERA, 0.96 WHIP from the bullpen and used in both long relief and late innings. As a starter though, in a crowded SD rotation, there doesn’t look to be any room for him in the short term. You can see my full breakdown here.
The Injured – A look at Chaos
Crap with an asterisk? Crap*. That’d make an interesting band name right? It would kind of grow with the band, from being humorously self-deprecating (or defecating) to ironically reductive of metalinguistic awareness (look mom! I know words). Injuries are an interesting gray area. To a certain degree, we can’t predict injuries as they are a function of chaos. Chaos is inherent in the system. We know it’s out there but we never truly know where it will appear, only that it will and does.
Certain areas (or players) we know are prone to more chaos, and the dice is say, a 4-sided one versus a 6-sided one or a 10-sided one which leads us to examine if was it just bad “luck” or bad process? That then begs the question, was it a worthy roll or misallocated resources? This can become subjective and situational, but later picks don’t cost much draft capital, so the dice roll most often is factored into the cost, and most late picks are seen as churn and burn territory anyway…
Kyle Lewis / Tyler Naquin – The others featured in my late OF post, Lewis has yet to play this season due to setbacks/delays but is looking ready for the 2nd half, possibly as early as this weekend. And Naquin, when on the field, has been pretty good and what we expected, but his ABs have been cut short due to injury. But he too is back now for the 2nd half. Both represent decent buys on the waiver/FAAB board for the second half.
Thanks for coming with me on this journey of self-examination and ownership and feel free to discuss your assessment with me in the comments below!
If you want more Coolwhip to top off your baseball experience, fantasy or otherwise, you can follow me on Twitter: @CoolwhipRB.