10 Things to Know for Week 3 (Fantasy Baseball)
Week 2 is nearly behind us with a Khris Davis explosion and a Marcel Ozuna—what would you call that? Today I’ve got 10 more things I deem most important for fantasy owners to know for the upcoming week. It may be a two-start SP streamer with hot matchups, a guy to keep on waiver wire speed dial, a minor league call up, or a change in the depth chart/lineup. I’ll have the info for you every Saturday morning. Now let’s dive into Week 3!
#1 Franmil Reyes is destroying the ball
There has not been any hitter more unlucky so far than Reyes and it isn’t especially close. Reyes is batting just .176/.268/.412 and it was even worse just two days ago. Batted ball data from Statcast indicates, however, that he should be hitting .349/.441/.783 (IE: Mike Trout-like). That -194 difference between his wOBA and xWOBA is the larger than the difference between Barry Bonds’ career and Delino DeShields. The Padres are fortunately analytically driven and have thus recognized this so Reyes is batting fifth for them and playing every day. He is owned in just 21% of leagues right now and should be the top pickup of the week.
#2 Ji-Man Choi needs to be owned this week
Look, I’m with you: I don’t buy into Choi’s hot finish to the 2018 season and it is tough to be excited about a guy with 1 HRs and a .267 batting average through 12 games. He is batting third for the Rays, however, and more importantly, draws #28 and #29 in terms of team ERAs this week on his schedule. The runs will pile up for the Rays and you can bet Choi will be in the middle of it. After you ride out his quality week, feel free to cut bait and move on to next week’s version of the same thing.
#3 Keep a close eye on Nick Anderson
This is actually a real player, I’m not trying to pull your leg. After posting a 7.71 and 6.42 ERA in consecutive Independent League seasons, the Twins signed Anderson and turned him into a lights out reliever who posted a 2.25 ERA, 0.94 WHIP and 11.4 K/9 throughout the minors. He improved even more last year with a 1.00 RA, 0.78 WHIP and 13.2 K/9 then was acquired from the Marlins since the Twins were bound to lose him anyways in the Rule 5 draft. Thus far, the 28-year-old Anderson may be the top reliever in baseball with 12 Ks and 1 run in 5.2 innings. As you likely know, the Marlins have a mess of a bullpen so don’t be surprised if Anderson takes over as their closer before long.
#4 Max Fried is the only two-star pitcher worth streaming
Typically, I would have no trouble finding three of four two-start pitchers who are worthy of streaming for both starts but this week, all of the top options from Matt Boyd and Matt Shoemaker to Joey Lucchesi and Collin McHugh are already owned in most leagues. That leaves us with Nick Pivetta who travels to Coors and Freddy Peralta who draws both the Cardinals and Dodgers. No thanks! Fried is the only one remaining who is owned in less than 50% of leagues and should offer useful starts versus the Diamondbacks and Indians.
#5 Owners have been dropping useful IL players
The 10-day IL was a great move for baseball last season but really screwed fantasy owners because at any given time, we now have 4 to 7 players who are on the IL. Commissioners have been slow to react, so our entire bench is jam-packed with guys we can’t sub in from day to day. Either that or as many owners have been doing, you can drop one of those players. Rich Hill is a top 25 starting pitcher when healthy and will be returning soon. He is somehow available in 32% of leagues. Another 37% have dropped Scooter Gennett, who has been better than Freddie Freeman over their last 1000 plate appearances (really). Make sure to keep an eye out for Matt Olson, Shohei Ohtani, Andrew Heaney, Corey Dickerson, Miguel Sano, Carlos Martinez, Ryan McMahon and even Justin Upton, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Aaron Hicks and Daniel Murphy.
#6 Tommy Pham may be a top 10 fantasy bat
Which of these two players do you like more?
Player A: 27 HRs, 27 SB, 120 R, 84 RBI, .290 BA
Player B: 28 HR, 28 SB, 115 R, 91 RBI, .301 BA
Ok, ok so it is Player B, but that is close right? Mookie Betts is Player B over his last two seasons averaged. Player A is Pham’s pace if he had stayed healthy the past two seasons. Granted, injuries are always a concern with Pham, but when healthy, he has, in fact, been a top 10 fantasy hitter. The power hasn’t come quite yet this year but the Rays have him stealing more than ever and he is currently on pace for 58 steals. He has more than any of those Royals hitters, Whit Merrifield, Adalberto Mondesi and Billy Hamilton. That won’t keep up, but 30 to 35 with power, a quality average and leading the AL in runs is a possible outcome. If you can, acquire him now before his price skyrockets.
#7 Niko Goodrum does not appear to be a fluke
I’ve received a few tweets asking whether Goodrum was a quality pickup. My instinct was, “of course not!” but then I looked deeper into the numbers. He wasn’t awful last year as a 26-year-old rookie, knocking 16 homers with 12 steals in 444 at-bats. He doesn’t have much to show for in the power/speed departments so far but the steals will come and his batted ball metrics scream positive regression. Yes, the utility infielder with a .932 OPS should actually have better stats if he hadn’t been so unlucky. In fact, Goodrum’s .482 xwOBA trails only Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger, J.D. Martinez, Gary Sanchez and Anthony Rendon so far. He has been killing the ball. Now, 50 plate appearances is a small sample size so don’t think he is suddenly a superstar but he just may have morphed into Justin Turner with some speed.
#8 Designate a bench spot in April for ace hunting
There are a handful of potential aces who have been dropped for one reason or another. This list ranges from Freddy Peralta and Nathan Eovaldi to Michael Pineda, Matt Strahm, Nick Pivetta and Luke Weaver. My strategy this time of year is to use one roster spot as a revolving door for these pitchers. It is like streaming, where you pick them up the day before the start, but you don’t actually use them quite yet. Let’s be honest, one blow-up from Peralta could cost you the week. If he tosses another 2-hit, 11-strikeout gem, however, you can bet he would go from 30% owned to 70% and costing you 40 FAAB to acquire. Add him now at no risk and no cost, then when one of these guys turns their season around and becomes an ace, all it cost you was a bench spot for a few weeks.
#9 Your window to sell Tim Anderson is about to close
Through mid-May last year, Anderson was the second-best fantasy shortstop. He was on pace for 35 homers and 50 stolen bases but then batted close to .200 for the rest of the season with just 13 steals and 16 swipes. Anderson is as streaky as hitters come so instead of counting on him as a super-breakout, recognize that you ought to be selling now. Not only is he stealing a ton of bags (easier to do when you are on base twice as often as usual), he is still batting near .500. As you might imagine, that is carried by a whopping .581 BABIP. Baseball Savant suggests that the quality of his batted balls should have him at a much more reasonable .335. Remember, Nick Martini and Manny Pina both had months last year where they batted over .400. I mean, Dan freakin Uggla had a 33-game hitting streak! Those flukes are bound to happen in a small sample size, but we know Anderson to be a .230 to .260 hitter so sell him with that in mind.
#10 Now is the best time buy-low on breakout SPs
This may seem counterintuitive, but you ought to buy-low on Luis Castillo and Tyler Glasnow. I get it, they are both dominating right now, so it might not seem like a buy low. Sure, their value is up since draft season from around 120 and 170 overall to maybe 90 and 130, but that doesn’t disqualify them as buy lows. Rather, I see them each as worth far more than their current trade market value. Neither breakout is much of a surprise, as they both have huge ceilings, but keep in mind, most Blake Snell and Trevor Bauer owners at this time last year were trying to “sell-high” because they figured the hot starts to be a fluke. Rather, they went on to be the best pitchers in the American League. While a hot start is no guarantee to continue, the underlying metrics suggest they are both legitimate Cy Young contenders so put your offer in now to that owner who thinks he is selling high.