Statcast Risers & Fallers: Week 3 (Fantasy Baseball)
Welcome to a new weekly piece for FantasyPros! I will use Statcast to unearth sleepers who will help push fantasy teams over the top while identifying bust candidates that should be dropped or traded before it’s too late.
Last week’s xwOBA leaders contained a mix of star players along with some surprises thrown in for good measure.
J.D. Martinez continues to mash, spraying the ball hard to every part of the ballpark. Despite a strong start at the plate, Martinez has actually been very unlucky. His year-to-date .401 wOBA trails his .499 xwOBA by nearly 100 points. Look for his counting stats to explode as the weather gets warmer and the ball starts traveling further.
Franmil Reyes smacked three homers last week, results supported by a .631 xwOBA. Like Martinez, Reyes has significantly underperformed his expected metrics with a league-leading 146-point wOBA underperformance. If you’re a Reyes owner, make sure to hold on to him. If you’re looking to acquire him at a cheap price, now is the time to strike.
Indians outfielder Leonys Martin, after a sluggish start to the season, hit three long balls to the tune of a .567 xwOBA last week. Martin can be a strong source of power and steals, but be wary of his matchups, as he did all of his recent damage against right-handed pitching. Against lefties this season, Martin has a mere two singles and a double in 22 plate appearances to go along with eight strikeouts.
Austin Meadows and Cody Bellinger continue to justify their hot starts by hitting the ball hard. Carlos Santana owners, meanwhile, should look to offload him before reality checks in. While his .539 xwOBA from last week looks strong, it was propped up by three intentional walks. Jurickson Profar looks to be finally digging himself out of the basement, although his 47 wRC+ on the season doesn’t show it yet. If your team could benefit from steals and positional versatility, grab Profar now.
Sorry to disappoint fantasy owners, but Hanser Alberto probably shouldn’t be on your rosters … Just kidding. I actually had no idea who Alberto was until 10 minutes ago.
Many of the names on this week’s xwOBA laggards list aren’t fantasy relevant, but there are some intriguing developments to pay attention to.
Lewis Brinson, who started the season off snakebitten by hitting the ball hard without much to show for it, now has simply reverted to not showing much at all. Save for super deep keeper leagues, there is no need to roster him.
Omar Narvaez’s named earned some helium after a hot start on a surging Mariners squad. His underlying performance, however, has cratered since then. While Narvaez might be an asset in some deeper OBP leagues, there is little to justify his 44% ownership in Yahoo leagues right now with a.333 wOBA compared to a .242 xwOBA.
In spite of a $144 million contract, one has to wonder how much longer the San Diego Padres can afford to trot out Eric Hosmer on a daily basis. The first baseman owns a putrid 47 wRC+ on the year and is taking reps away from Reyes and Wil Myers. Hosmer is owned in 85% of ESPN leagues, a mind-boggling total considering his slugging percentage rests at moribund .437 since the start of 2016.
Ketel Marte is a hot commodity (66% Yahoo, 74% ESPN) in fantasy leagues due to his positional versatility and power surge so far this year. Yet his Statcast metrics are lagging with a .212 xwOBA performance last week and .294 on the season. I wouldn’t make any rash decisions just yet, but monitor Marte more closely going forward.
Mitch Moreland teases relevance every April but then regresses to mediocrity by midseason. Sure enough, he posted a nearly 106-mph exit velocity on six FB/LD last week. Unfortunately, Moreland’s best attribute, his power to center/right-center, is heavily suppressed by the vast expanse of Fenway Park. This has resulted in wOBA readings 30 to 50 points below his expected figures each of the last two seasons.
While Carlos Correa’s overall exit velocity on the season — 86.9 mph — is underwhelming, he’s hitting the ball hard when it counts, namely on fly balls and line drives. This is great to see after an injury-marred 2018 season dragged down his Statcast readings to the bottom of the league.
A personal favorite of mine, Chad Pinder is quietly going about his business with a .556 SLG and 139 wRC+ in a role that allows him to start four to five times per week. Pinder was a serial xStat underperformer in previous seasons, but Lady Luck seems to be finally siding with the Athletics utility man, as his wOBA is currently exceeding his xwOBA by 50 points.
Trey Mancini busted the cover off the ball last week, slashing .346/.452 /.692 with a 101-mph average exit velocity on eight FB/LD. Mancini owns a 185 wRC+ this season and is already owned in 91% of ESPN leagues. If you’re an owner, hold your shares, but don’t give up the farm in a trade given his .444 wOBA compared to a .382 xwOBA.
The legend of Khris Davis keeps on growing, as the A’s slugger clubbed five home runs in a three-game span last week. Unsurprisingly, he paced the league with seven barreled balls.
Jose Altuve’s knee issues seem to be in the past; the diminutive Astro smacked five barrels last week en route to six home runs. Kudos to Altuve drafters who stuck by him through last season’s rough patch, as he seems primed to make up for a lack of stolen base attempts with some new-found power.
Kevin Pillar probably has the craziest stat line of any hitter in 2019: four home runs and 14 RBIs, basically all of which came last week, to go along with a .245 wOBA and 46 wRC+. How is that possible? A .140 BABIP had led to a .180 batting average. I’m not sure how real Pillar’s five-barrel power surge last week is, but given that he was already a floor 30 HR+SB player, keep an eye out to see if the power sticks.