10 Burning Questions: Kyle Wright, Oneil Cruz, Adalberto Mondesi (2022 Fantasy Baseball)
Every Tuesday, I’ll address 10 burning questions that I’m looking either for answers to during the week or questions that may help fantasy managers navigate the week-to-week grind of their team.
How Long Does it Take for Batted Ball Data to Stabilize?
It takes longer for us to have tangible takeaways from what hitters are doing compared to what pitchers are doing, that’s for sure. After about three starts, you can start looking at the data and form educated opinions on them for pitchers.
Of course, with the lockout, right about now is when pitchers would typically be ready for Opening Day, so even this year, it’s a tad skewed.
But for hitters, you’re looking at about 50 batted ball events.
To Baseball Savant we go!
Right now, there are precisely 31 players with 50 batted ball events, which means we are getting close to being able to look at the batted ball data and what it truly means. We’ll dive into the data headfirst in next week’s column.
Is There Anyone You’re Buying High On?
Notice how it says buying high and not selling high. We don’t see this approach as often, but there are players that I am sold on based on their early-season production.
Matt Chapman is one. He’s just under that 50-batted ball event mark, but you have to love what you’ve seen from him so far. The exit velocity, launch angle, wOBA, and Hard Hit rate are all up, while his strikeout rate is down to a manageable 25.8 percent. It seems like a hip can hinder your performance after all.
On the other side of the coin, Shane McClanahan looks to be taking the step forward as a legitimate ace for fantasy managers. He was my pick for AL Cy Young on a recent podcast I was on, and I feel good about it so far. His K% is at an absurd 36 mark. While he throws his fastball 40.9 percent of the time, it’s the evolution of his curveball and changeup overtaking his slider as his secondaries generating the most whiffs.
Who is Someone You’re Looking to Sell High?
Ah, here we go. Back to tradition! We aren’t ever looking to sell just to sell, but in Week 1, you could have gotten an elite player for Steven Kwan.
These players aren’t necessarily bad, per se, but they are overperforming in almost every sense.
The first is Jazz Chisholm, and it hurts me to put him here. Maybe it’s my own bias and being low on him entering this season, but there’s not much different about his profile then there was entering the season. He’s still striking out at a considerable clip, and there are real concerns about his ability to make contact in and out of the zone. He’s raised his launch angle a bit, which is good, and he’s been moved up to the top of the order. But there will be hot and cold weeks throughout the year, and few players have the variance that Chisholm has, where he can look like a first-round player one week and a player destined for AAA the next.
Shane Bieber is another player I’d look to sell, as the results have been satisfactory, but the stuff has not. His velocity is down across the board, and he’s a pitcher who gets hit hard and counts on his elite control. That works when you’re throwing 93, but it’s tougher to get away with when you’re throwing 90-91. He’s already allowed eight Barrels on the season, which is tied for fourth in baseball. If you can trade him for a top-36 player, I would make that swap.
Kyle Wright Isn’t This Good, Right?
What do you mean, “this good?” If you mean a fantasy ace, no. If you mean a new pitcher who can be an SP3, well, yeah. Even with the three starts under his belt, it’s still very early. We’re just starting our third matchup of the season, but there have been changes with Wright.
The two that stand out to me the most are the new and improved curveball, which Wright is throwing 33.8 percent of the time, holding the opposition to a .125 average against. The pitch has a different shape from years past, and the spin is up to 2690 from 2619 a year ago.
What’s more, Wright’s walk rate is at three percent. In the past, it lived in the 14 percent territory. If that wasn’t enough, he’s more than doubled his best K% of his career, as he’s striking out an absurd 39.4 percent of batters faced. Despite living in the zone more than he has in his career, he’s allowing the lowest zone contact rate that he’s had in five years, too, thanks to the added spin on his curve and fastball.
If you could get a slow-starting ace for him, then trade him. But if you can’t, you hold and reap the benefits. He looks legit.
Who are Some Players Rostered in 50 Percent of Leagues or Fewer I Should Target?
Here are 10 hitters and pitchers who you should add to your watchlist who are available in 21-50 percent of leagues (using Yahoo rostership numbers).
- J.P. Crawford (SS – SEA)
- Alec Bohm (3B – PHI)
- Ramon Laureano (OF – OAK)
- Alex Kirilloff (OF – MIN)
- Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT)
- Cristian Javier (SP – HOU)
- Eric Lauer (SP – MIL)
- Joe Barlow (RP – TEX)
- Nick Lodolo (SP – CIN)
- Lucas Sims (RP – CIN)
What About 20 Percent?
Like above, here are 10 hitters and pitchers rostered in 20 percent of Yahoo leagues or fewer who should be on your deep-league radar.
- Taylor Ward (OF – LAA)
- Andrew McCutchen (OF – MIL)
- Nico Hoerner (2B/SS – CHC)
- Sheldon Neuse (2B/3B – OAK)
- Josh Naylor (1B/OF – CLE)
- Grayson Rodriguez (SP – BAL)
- Tyler Anderson (SP – LAD)
- Bruce Zimmermann (SP – BAL)
- Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)
- Andres Munoz (RP – SEA)
Who are Some Underperforming Pitchers?
We did this last week, and had a nice response to it. So instead of some hitters who are performing above or below their expected outcomes, let’s look at some pitchers this time. We’ll start with those who have had some tough luck so far.
Using wOBA – xwOBA differential isn’t the be-all-end-all, but it gives us an idea of some pitchers who could have better days ahead – or worse, as you’ll see below – based on their outcomes so far.
This is a pretty impressive list, but just because you have a big gap doesn’t mean that the expected outcomes are good. Dane Dunning has an xwOBA of .377, for instance, and he ranks ahead of Clayton Kershaw in the differential despite Kershaw having a .217 xwOBA mark.
Who are Some Overperforming Pitchers?
OK, let’s look at the other side of things now on the rubber.
This list is also all over the place, as it has players I feel good about and also those who are obvious overachievers (Zach Plesac, Bieber, Noah Syndergaard). The -0.109 gap with Plesac is funny when you look back at 2021 and realize the leader in differential was Marcus Stroman with -0.034. If someone is buying Plesac, please sell. Sell for whatever you can get.
Who Has You Concerned?
I don’t worry about anyone early on who I wasn’t concerned about in Spring Training. But a few players I’m slightly concerned about are:
- Dylan Bundy (SP – MIN): I wasn’t in on Bundy anyway, but someone may see the results and want to buy him. He’s not even averaging 90 mph on his fastball.
- Lane Thomas (OF – WSH): I was in on Thomas as a 20/20 gplayeruy, but I’m quite concerned with what we’ve seen so far from him. Thomas’ K% has ballooned up to 30.9 percent, while his walk rate has been cut in half in the early going.
- Adalberto Mondesi (3B, SS – KC): As I said all draft season when it comes to Mondesi, I prefer to draft players who are good at baseball.
- Brendan Rodgers (2B, SS – COL): Rodgers has been just awful so far in 2022. Usually, we say NSFW for something that is too hot to handle, but this is just sickening.
Who Are Some Rookies Who Caught Your Attention This Week?
I’ll be alternating certain sections each week as we get more data. Instead of looking at teams to stream against, I’m going to look at some rookies who have caught my eye over the last week.
- Andrew Painter: Painter threw five innings and struck out 14 batters last week while allowing just one hit. Prep arms are tough to bet on, but if he and Mick Abel can stay healthy, Philly may have struck gold.
- Daniel Espino: Espino has a case to be the top pitching prospect in baseball. He struck out 14 batters last week, including 11 straight batters set down on strikes. My Lord.
- Cesar Prieto: Prieto went 7-19 with four home runs, nine RBIs, four runs, and a 1.605 OPS last week, earning him South Atlantic Player of the Week honors.
- Moises Gomez: He earned the Texas League Player of the Week honors for the second time this season after hitting .522 with three home runs.
- Joshua Mears: Mears was named the Midwest League Player of the Week with a .368 average, five home runs, 10 RBIs, a 1.718 SLG (lol), and a mammoth home run over the weekend.
— John Nolan (@John_G_Nolan) April 24, 2022
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