5 Burning Questions (Fantasy Baseball)
No doubt, it’s always good to keep bias out of advice. This week, I can’t help it. Full disclosure, I am a Cardinals fan, and a diehard one at that. I can’t resist talking about what happened in St. Louis this weekend with the return of Albert Pujols.
Sometimes, the MLB season gets long. And sometimes, we need reminders of what makes baseball so special — why it has been America’s pastime for centuries. I won’t bore you with my personal, biased take on what transpired. Please though, if you haven’t seen highlights of the double-digit standing ovations he received, the two curtain calls he was compelled to take, and the magical home run he hit, take the two minutes to watch them; then tell me it didn’t give you goosebumps simply as a fan of the game.
That’s what makes baseball so special. It connects us all. This weekend in St. Louis was one small example of that. Fantasy is just one more way it does so.
In a world that constantly tries to tear us apart, baseball pulls us together. Thank you for taking the time to read this, and everyone, everywhere, enjoy the other magical moments that baseball is sure to bring us during the rest of the 2019 season. Here are your burning questions for this week.
Which first-half surprise is the most unlikely to keep it up?
The 2019 fantasy baseball season has brought us plenty of nice surprises. None may be more so than Pete Alonso of the New York Mets. Alonso has blasted home runs throughout his short minor league career, but never to the level he is right now in the majors. Come on now, it’s not even July and he’s already broken the Mets’ rookie home run record. To expect Alonso to completely fall off in the second half would be silly, but to expect the Mets slugger to keep up at his current pace of 56 home runs would be equally nonsensical.
In fact, that pace would shatter the current MLB rookie home run record of 52. Look, Christian Yelich has somehow proven he can hold an otherworldly HR/FB rate. But taking him out of the equation, Pete Alonso leads the league with a nearly 33% HR/FB rate. That’s unsustainable, and it won’t last all year. Alonso has been a diamond in the rough for fantasy owners, but don’t be surprised if his home run and all other numbers take a significant hit in the second half of the season.
Which first-half surprise is the most likely to keep it up?
Just glancing and seeing that Ketel Marte is currently a top-10 batter is enough to cause skepticism. Yes, Marte has always been talented, but he’s never hit more than 14 home runs in a minor or major league season before. Upon further exploration, however, Marte has just been…really good! Let’s examine most of Marte’s meaningful advanced statistics.
- His BABIP? No higher than it should be.
- K rate? Very good.
- His hard-hit rates? Excellent.
- HR/FB%? Not even in the top 40 in the league.
Not one single thing about Marte’s first half seems unsustainable. To take it a step further, there’s no reason why Marte can’t continue to get even better just like he has throughout the year. If you were lucky enough to snag Marte on your fantasy team this year, enjoy the fun ride.
Just how good is Yordan Alvarez going to be for owners this season?
Seriously, this dude’s been good. Of course, Alvarez isn’t going to continue at an HR/FB% at over 40%, and his average is going to fall. Let’s not kid around, though, man oh man has he taken the league by storm. If there were serious doubters about how his offensive performance would be when he did get called up, he’s somehow proved them dead wrong in just 12 games.
Alvarez’s K rate is a bit high at about 24%, which could prove to potentially be somewhat of a problem sooner or later. The thing is, being one of the more highly touted offensive prospects in a while, he might easily overcome that throughout his first major league season. If you were smart enough to grab this budding star before someone else did, 20 more home runs and an average over .300 from Alvarez could make the second half of this year very nice for you.
Is Alex Dickerson worth a look?
Yes, yes, and yes again, purely on potential upside. Alex Dickerson’s career was completely derailed by injuries with the Padres, but he’s healthy again and has found a nice home in San Francisco. Take a look at Dickerson’s minor league stats. They’re good. In multiple seasons, he hit double-digit home runs, had double-digit steals, and had an average near .300. While he might not take the world by storm and may not run like he used to, Dickerson could still be very useful for a fantasy team. Add to that the fact that he can be had for free in over 95% of fantasy leagues, and he could prove to be a steal.
Who are some closers or potential closers to keep an eye on for saves?
It seems like in the last week or two there has been more action in the closer world than the rest of the year combined. Keep an eye on these players if you’re looking for saves.
Taylor Rogers (MIN)
Not long ago, Minnesota’s closer job was up in the air. Now, Rogers seems to have snagged it. The Twins are a good team, and Rogers can be a valuable asset.
Scott Oberg (COL)
Oberg filled in for Wade Davis once this year and he did an admirable job. Unfortunately, Oberg himself, who had seemed right on the edge of overtaking Davis, had a blow up on Sunday against the Dodgers. Wade Davis has been a total disaster, however, and it’s likely Sunday was just a blip on the radar for Oberg. This is a situation to monitor closely.
Carlos Martinez (STL)
While the injury to Jordan Hicks doesn’t seem like anything major, it would be shocking if the Cardinals aren’t cautious with him and at least put him on the IL for 10 days. John Gant seemed like he’d be the easy choice a week or two ago, but he’s struggled a bit of late. Manager Mike Shildt seems to like using Martinez late in games, and he could snag a few saves in the near future or even longer if Hicks misses more time.
Emilio Pagan (TB)
Diego Castillo has really struggled and has been placed on the IL as of Sunday. Jose Alvarado, while seemingly close to a return, has been tending to a family matter for the last couple weeks. Meanwhile, Emilio Pagan has been tremendous for Tampa Bay and recorded the team’s last save chance. What more do you need to know?