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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Stock Report: Not An Ideal Sale (2022)

by Eric Cross | @EricCross04 | Featured Writer
Apr 12, 2022
Byron Buxton

To say Byron Buxton had a good opening weekend is a bit of an understatement.

Welcome to the first Dynasty Stock Report here on FantasyPros. I’ll be doing this article weekly throughout the season, focusing on players trending one way or the other, both at the Major League level and in the minors. Each week, I’ll look at one riser and one faller from MLB and MiLB and how they should be valued moving forward. This week features a potential MVP candidate, a top-25 prospect, a former AL Cy Young, and a troubled top pitching prospect.

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Fantasy Baseball Dynasty Stock Report

MLB Riser: Byron Buxton (OF – MIN)

This one was hard to pick, but I’ll go with one of the most exciting players in the game, Byron Buxton. At times throughout his professional career, Buxton has flashed his MVP-caliber upside. Unfortunately, those flashes have been infrequent due to his problematic durability issues caused by his all-out style of play. The best fantasy season to date that we’ve received from Buxton was either the 16/29 season he put up in 2017 albeit with a .253 AVG and 29.4% strikeout rate, or last season when he hit.306 with 19 homers and nine steals in just 61 games. Shohei Ohtani (SP, DH – LAA) would’ve won the AL MVP regardless, but Buxton had a season that likely would’ve made him the third finalist instead of Marcus Semien (2B, SS – TEX).

That dominant performance last year already had Buxton’s stock rising entering 2022, but then he proceeded to add fuel to the fire by cranking five homers this spring with five doubles and a steal in 12 games. The approach is still a bit aggressive, as it always has been, but Buxton’s quality of contact metrics have been off the charts in the last two seasons, especially last season. In 2021, Buxton posted a stellar 17.9% barrel rate, 92.5 mph AVG EV, .521 xwOBACON, 53.8% hard-hit rate, .647 SLG, and .341 ISO. Need me to wait a minute while you pick up your jaw? If Buxton can even give 130+ games this season, he has a chance to put up top-20 numbers, and he’s off to a great start with three homers in his first three games. The full-fledged breakout has to happen at some point, right? Right?!

MiLB Riser: Miguel Vargas (3B – LAD)

When it comes to top-100 prospects, Miguel Vargas is easily one of the most underrated. All he’s done as a professional is hit, hit, and hit some more. And in 2021, the power took a step forward as well. Vargas has hit .308 or better in each of his three professional seasons, posting a .316 AVG and .384 OBP overall. Vargas’ contact rates have been stellar, sitting at 79.5% (A+) and 82.6% (AA) in 2021 to go along with 27 doubles, 23 homers, and 11 steals in 542 plate appearances.

Year Level(s) PA Slash HR ISO
2018 RK/A 229 .330/.404/.465 2 0.135
2019 A/A+ 559 .308/.380/.440 7 0.132
2021 A+/AA 542 .319/.380/.526 23 0.207

 

But while Vargas was hitting for a high average, the power wasn’t going along for the ride. He hit 37 doubles in 2019, but that game power didn’t materialize until 2021, with 23 homers and a .207 ISO. Vargas has recently moved inside my top-25 prospects as I feel his bat is very close to Josh Jung’s (3B – TEX) with the ability to add 5-10 steals annually. He’ll continue to fine-tune his game in the upper minors this season before potentially taking over at the hot corner in Los Angeles in 2023 as long as the Dodgers don’t bring back Justin Turner (3B – LAD). The arrow here is firmly pointing up.

MLB Faller: Chris Sale (SP – BOS)

It doesn’t matter if you’re a Red Sox fan like myself or someone who has rostered him in fantasy leagues; we’re all likely frustrated with Chris Sale right now. After missing nearly two seasons due to Tommy John surgery (Granted, one was 2020), Sale will now miss even more time after breaking a rib throwing back before the season. Wonderful. Let’s say that Chris Sale is back in early June when he’s eligible to come off the IL. At that time, he will have missed around 40% of his starts since joining the Red Sox in 2017. The last time he made 30 starts or exceeded 160 innings was back in that 2017 debut with Boston when he made 32 starts and amassed 214.1 innings.

This isn’t cutting the mustard for someone being counted on as both Boston’s staff ace and the ace or #2 starter for fantasy teams. Cutting the cheese is more like it because this flat-out stinks. When he’s actually been on the mound, Sale has still been good, but nearly as good as we saw during the end of his White Sox tenure and the beginning of his Red Sox tenure. After peaking at 95.2 mph on his fastball back in 2018, Sale has averaged 93.4 and 93.6 mph in 2019 and 2021, respectively. On top of that, his once lethal slider has missed fewer bats of late, dropping from a 44.4% whiff rate in 2018 to 35.7% in 2019 and 32% last season.

He’s still a very good arm when healthy, but he’s no longer “fantasy ace” good, and when you factor in his durability issues, Sale’s dynasty arrow is firmly pointing down. I hate to say all of this as a diehard Red Sox fan, but it’s the truth.

MiLB Faller: Sixto Sanchez (SP – MIA)

This feels like cheating a bit given his Major League tenure, but Sixto Sanchez still qualifies as a prospect and fits the mold for this article. Coming up through the minors, Sixto was considered one of the top pitching prospects in baseball, given his electric stuff and advanced command and control for his age. However, even when he was posting impressive ratios (2.58 ERA, 1.02 WHIP), Sanchez never could pump his strikeout rate up to the level you’d expect when watching him pitch. In 335.1 minor league innings, Sixto recorded a lackluster 22.1% strikeout rate and was at 20.9% in his seven Major League starts for the Marlins back in 2020. Sixto then went on to miss the entire 2021 season with a shoulder issue and won’t even debut this season until July or so, but even that’s not a guarantee.

There’s no doubting the talent and the upside here, but the durability issue with his throwing shoulder is a massive red flag right now. Even when he gets back on the mound, Sanchez will need to show that he can miss more bats than he has during his professional career if he ever wants to be the impact arm he’s capable of being. I’m hoping that can still happen, just as it did with Dustin May (SP – LAD) early in 2021, because Sixto’s stuff is electric with a four-seamer and sinker in the upper 90s, high-80s changeup, and a mid to upper-80’s slider and cutter. Even though his dynasty stock is on the decline, he’s not a bad buy-low target if the price is low enough given his high ceiling.

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Eric Cross is a featured writer at FantasyPros. You can check out more of his work on his Archive or on Twitter @EricCross04.

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