Dynasty Risers and Fallers: Yoan Moncada, Julio Urias, Chris Sale
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Winning dynasty leagues is all about finding the correct time to buy and sell your assets. The beginning of the baseball season offers many buying and selling opportunities for the prudent owner due to overreactions by league mates. It’s important to cut through the surface stats to find out which players are truly worth acquiring or moving.
Yoan Moncada (2B – CWS)
Moncada’s inclusion on this list isn’t just about his fast start at the plate. It’s about how he’s achieving his .326/.370/.628 slash line that has me buying where I can in dynasty leagues. The White Sox infielder has started off his age-24 season with just a 23.9% strikeout rate, a stark difference from his 33.2% career mark. He also struck out just 25% of the time in spring training. A minuscule 10-game sample and a spring of lower K rates aren’t enough to get me to fully buy in, though. In 2018, he had a bottom-20 Swing% in the MLB. When he did swing, he also had one of the worst contact rates. As a result, he found himself behind in the count far too often.
What has me buying Moncada is the fact that he’s swinging much more often. Additionally, his contact percentage is nearly 7% higher than last year, currently near the likes of Miguel Cabrera, Christian Yelich, and J.D. Martinez. He has one of the game’s best batting eyes and has vowed to be more aggressive on borderline pitches in an attempt to avoid bad hitter’s counts. It’s still too early to know if this change in approach will get him back on the path to superstardom, but I’d rather not watch this breakout from the sidelines. Check with Moncada’s owner in your dynasty league and see if he’s open to dealing him for a reasonable price today.
Julio Urias (SP – LAD)
Since Urias missed most of the 2017 and 2018 seasons after undergoing anterior capsule surgery, the potential of the former top prospect has felt more and more like an urban legend. As a result of almost two lost years, it wasn’t hard to forget about someone who made an amazing MLB debut as a 19-year old in 2016. The good news is that Urias is still just 22, and he looks better than ever back on a big league mound. His average four-seam fastball velocity (95.1 mph) ranks 15th among starting pitchers through his two April starts. Urias also mixes in plus secondary stuff with his slider, curve, and changeup. He has the repertoire and talent of a truly elite pitcher.
The Dodgers’ handling of their lefty phenom, however, will tamper his dynasty league value and create a buying opportunity. While he’s currently filling a rotation spot in place of Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Hyun-Jin Ryu, he’ll head back to the bullpen before long. It’s also likely he’ll spend some time on the IL because the Dodgers love to manipulate the relatively new 10-day system. They’ll want him ready to go for their playoff run, so the shutdown will probably come in the middle of the season. Wait until he’s moved to the ‘pen to pounce in dynasty leagues.
Joey Gallo (1B/OF – TEX)
I’ve always been a sucker for (and owner of) Gallo because of his prodigious power. The good news is that he hit 40+ home runs in each of the last two seasons. The bad news: It came with a .207 batting average and 36.3% strikeout rate. In fairness to Gallo, he held up his end of the bargain with the round-trippers. I knew what I was getting myself into and was fine with his deficiencies, but I expected a jump forward from the former top-10 prospect in 2018. Unfortunately, he took a step back as a hitter, dropping his OPS by 59 points.
The reason I was expecting Gallo to improve is the reason he’s on this list today. He’s a very talented hitter who understands and is trying to improve his weaknesses. He spent all spring trying to swing less at pitches outside of the zone, and so far that has carried over to the regular season. Though it’s just a 10-game sample, Gallo has cut his Swing% on balls outside the zone from 32.2% in 2018 to 18.9% so far this season. That has led to a far more palatable 26.3% strikeout rate. If Gallo is able to sustain those rates for a full season, he’s going to be an MVP candidate. As with Moncada, this is a tiny sample of regular season and spring training games, but I won’t be left watching Gallo become a star from the sidelines.
Yordan Alvarez (OF – HOU)
Alvarez is a perfect example of a player whose fantasy value is much greater than his real-life baseball value. There’s an opportunity to gain an advantage on your opponents who are only looking at “real life” prospects lists. For example, Alvarez ranks 125th on Fangraphs’ THE BOARD prospect list, but he’s number 23 on FantasyPros’ Prospect Consensus Rankings. While he doesn’t excel in the field at any position, he can flat out rake. He’s a big-bodied masher who hit .292 with 20 home runs in 90 games last year between Double-A and Triple-A. He’s already off to a scorching start in 2019, mashing four homers in just five games in his second Triple-A stint. This will be his age-22 season, and now is the time to go out and get Alvarez before he passes over Tyler White as the Astros’ DH of the future.
Willy Adames (SS – TB)
One of the top prospects in baseball prior to 2018, Adames put up solid numbers in Triple-A and ended up with a solid .278/.348/.406 slash line with 10 homers and six steals in his first trip through the big leagues. He’s off to a dreadful start to 2019, and I don’t see a ton of fantasy upside in his future. Adames is a player who will likely top out at around 20 homers and 10 steals in his prime. Those are solid numbers, but the Rays have some middle infielders with serious fantasy upside in their system. Shortstop Wander Franco might be the next mega-prospect, and second baseman Vidal Brujan is a switch-hitter with elite speed and contact skills. Adames will be a solid player, but he’s not worth the prospect hype he comes with, even if a slow start depresses his cost.
Chris Sale (SP – BOS)
Sale is obviously a big name to have on this type of list, but there are some ominous signs from his three 2019 starts. I’m not advocating to dump him for scraps, but I’d try to get equal value if I still can. His fastball velocity has dropped significantly to start the season, and he’s not getting any swings and misses. His swinging-strike rate is down nearly six percent so far in 2019. Injuries caught up to him for the first time in his career last season when he pitched only 158 innings. Again, I’m not suggesting that Sale is done, and maybe now isn’t the perfect time to trade him if you can’t get a fair deal. But I’d at least test the waters to see if I can get a top-20 hitter in return.