3 Burning Questions (Fantasy Baseball)
The weather is slowly but surely beginning to warm in baseball cities across America. And as the weather heats up, so are some of the best fantasy baseball players. Ronald Acuna Jr., Jose Altuve, Marcell Ozuna, and a handful of others have absolutely raked over the last 10 to 15 games, bringing their player ratings sky high. Meanwhile, some of the hottest players right now have sizzled all year long. Seriously, Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger have just been unconscious. Which leads us directly into the first burning question.
Can Christian Yelich keep up this ridiculous level of play?
First and foremost, let’s clear the air here. Yelich isn’t going to maintain his current pace and hit for 90+ home runs. But in all reality, he’s two away from passing Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez for the most home runs in MLB history (14) before May 1. He’s an unstoppable force right now.
Many crazy numbers represent Yelich’s absurd start to the year. The craziest figure, though? His BABIP is .279, which is a little bit low for a .337 hitter. Since being promoted to the big leagues in 2013, Yelich’s lowest BABIP for a single season is .336. And, I know this might come as a complete and utter shock, but he is hitting the ball harder than ever. Those numbers undeniably say the reigning NL MVP has actually gotten unlucky.
Digging a bit further, Yelich does have a 40.6% HR/FB rate that seems completely unsustainable. But this is the same player who had a 35% HR/FB ratio last season, nearly 6% higher than second-place finisher J.D. Martinez. Let’s not kid ourselves; it’s not as if his current 40% clip is so much more implausible than last season’s rate.
Simply put, Christian Yelich is doing things that are practically unheard of. Maybe it’s Miller Park, maybe he’s turning into a generational type player, or maybe he’s just getting lucky. Whatever the case, we’re officially past the time to bet against him and expect significant regression. The Brewers and fantasy owners alike have themselves a total superstar.
Who were some noteworthy risers and fallers over the last couple of weeks?
Austin Meadows (OF – TB)
Meadows makes the noteworthy risers list for a couple of different reasons. First, he’s been stinkin’ good lately. He has put his five-tool fantasy potential on full display with six home runs and three steals in 20 games. The Pirates probably wish they had kept this young fella around.
The second reason Meadows made this list, however, is because I wanted to touch on his thumb injury. The Rays remain hopeful Meadows will only miss a few weeks, so fantasy owners shouldn’t panic. Keep this guy on your roster, and it will pay off in the long run. If any owners do want to jump ship, Meadows would be a great guy to trade for and stash until he’s healthy.
Marcell Ozuna (OF – STL)
A shaky start to the season had Ozuna owners more than a bit concerned after his subpar 2018 campaign. Then he promptly unloaded eight homers in 10 games. The fact that Ozuna’s shoulder seems almost fully healthy has to be the biggest news for owners. He’s swinging freely and is currently a top-10 batter. While that might not last all season, Ozuna does look primed for a year much like his 2017 breakout in Miami.
James Paxton (SP – NYY)
Twelve strikeouts and no earned runs in back-to-back starts? I’d say that’s enough to include Paxton on the noteworthy risers list. All throughout his career, the lefty has been a polarizing player. Injuries and inconsistency, mixed with completely masterful starts, all contribute to Paxton’s divisive nature. Right now, however, the first-year Yankee is locked in on the mound. While the success may not last all season, enjoy it while it does.
Starling Marte (OF – PIT)
Marte was drafted in most fantasy leagues as a top-25 batter. Not only has he not performed up to that level, but now he’s hurt. His abdominal injury suffered after crashing into shortstop Erik Gonzalez shouldn’t keep him out long, but he was hitting a robust .203 before going down. Unless Marte immediately comes back as a polar-opposite player then he was before landing on the IL, it’s looking like it’ll be a lost first half.
A.J. Pollock (OF – LAD)
When healthy, Pollock has normally been good. That hasn’t exactly been the case so far. The season started off in decent fashion, but the last couple weeks have not been so kind. Mired in a slump that’s seen him bat .190 over the last two weeks, Pollock has hardly hit for any power and has yet to steal a single base. Better days are hopefully ahead for the Dodgers center fielder, but owners can’t be happy with his recent production.
Jose Leclerc (RP – TEX)
Leclerc was downright horrendous over the last two weeks. He didn’t allow a single run in his first four showings, only to relinquish seven over his last six appearances. While it would be nice to assume Leclerc simply gave up a few inopportune home runs, he was actually just crushed. Over those six outings, he has allowed seven hits and six walks in three innings. Leclerc inherited the closer’s job in Arlington last season after the Rangers traded away multiple relievers, but one has to imagine his leash is shrinking at the moment.
Who has been the biggest disappointment through the first month?
Joey Votto, Chris Sale, Jesus Aguilar, and Corey Kluber all came incredibly close. Boy oh boy, talk about one honorable mentions list you do not want to be a part of. But as bad as all four have been thus far, they do not compare to the disappointment Jose Ramirez has brought fantasy owners in 2019. Most experts felt Ramirez should be the third pick in fantasy drafts, and he was taken in every single first round.
What has he produced in the first month as a first-round draft pick? A line that includes only 11 runs, five RBIs, one homer, five steals, and a .152 average. It’s actually incredible that Ramirez has produced five steals, as he only has 12 hits. While his .167 BABIP surely means success will come his way soon — he’s still hitting the ball fairly hard and striking out at a low clip — it’s been a rough go so far for him and owners alike. Don’t give up the faith yet, however, as Ramirez is capable of getting hot for a long stretch. He’s the biggest disappointment of the year so far, but better days are ahead.