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10 Burning Questions: George Kirby, Marcus Semien, Jean Segura (2022 Fantasy Baseball)

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
May 11, 2022
George Kirby

George Kirby turned in a great debut and is worth a roster spot in all fantasy leagues.

Each and 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.

What Should I Know About George Kirby (SP – SEA)?

George Kirby is good.

I could end the section there and that would be enough, but let’s actually look at him.

Kirby was fantastic in his debut, and the thing that caught my eye the most — but wasn’t surprising at all — was that he didn’t allow a free pass in six innings of work. Kirby was among the top pitching prospects in the minors for a reason, but while his stuff is good, it’s his control and command that really make him elite.

He has a solid fastball and slider — both of which rely less on movement and more on pinpoint accuracy as his fastball is average velocity — with a developing curveball and changeup. It was as good as a debut as you could hope for, and he’s an immediate must-grab pitcher with top 50 ROS potential.

He is a rookie, so there will be some adjustments for him and the league to make, but his elite command will help him overcome the adjustments quicker than the typical rookie hurler. Long term, I love his outlook. He reminds me a ton of a young Shane Bieber (SP – CLE), and while that may be an unfair comparison to give to a rookie, it’s not far off.

Are Any Other Prospects On Their Way?

I’m glad you asked! We saw a mini-palooza last week with the promotion of Kirby, Jose Miranda (3B – MIN), Royce Lewis (SS – MIN) and Jarren Duran (CF – BOS). Miranda has the most staying power, and I’m a huge, huge fan of his.

But for those who haven’t made their debuts yet, here are some names that are worth stashing before they debut and what you can expect.

Max Meyer (SP – MIA)

Elieser Hernandez (SP – MIA) was my sleeper last year, but he’s putting fantasy teams to sleep this year with his lackluster performance. We may have seen his last outing as a starter Monday night for a while, as Meyer continues to dominate the minors. Kirby has the safer floor, but Meyer has the better stuff and upside.

Oneil Cruz (SS – PIT)

He’s coming around in Triple-A even if his defense is bad in the outfield. Chris Towers at CBS compared him to a young Aaron Judge (OF – NYY) and I love that comparison. Way to go, Chris.

Grayson Rodriguez (SP – BAL)

A couple of nice bounceback outings for the Orioles standout pitcher. Rodriguez challenges Kirby, Meyer and Nick Lodolo (SP – CIN) as the top pitching prospect who will make their debut this year. In that ballpark with the new dimensions, he’s even more appealing.

Adley Rutschman (C – BAL)

Rutschman is healthy and was promoted to Triple-A. He has exactly nothing left to prove in the minors, and the Orioles just want to see that he’s healthy. Don’t be surprised if he’s up in the next week or so.

What Are Some Fun Numbers You’ve Noticed?

Here’s a fun game with numbers. Let’s call it “did you know?”

Did you know that among qualified pitchers, there is only one pitcher who has yet to allow a barrel this year? That would be groundball specialist Framber Valdez (SP – HOU), who hasn’t allowed a barrel on 94 batted-ball events. What’s more, Valdez is the only pitcher to allow a launch angle below zero, as his is -7.4 degrees.

Did you know that the player with the most hard-hit balls (95 mph or harder) this year is Rafael Devers (3B – BOS)? If you knew that, did you know that Jean Segura (2B – PHI) has more hard-hit balls this year than Giancarlo Stanton (OF – NYY), Juan Soto (OF – WSH), Matt Olson (1B – ATL), Pete Alonso (1B – NYM) and Shohei Ohtani (SP,DH – LAA)?

Did you know that two players have lost two home runs based on their expected home run total compared to their actual home run total? Those players are Trey Mancini (1B – BAL) in his new-dimensioned ballpark and Ronald Acuna Jr. (OF – ATL), who has played nine games this season.

Did you know there is only one qualified player with an FB% of 42 percent and an IFFB% of 0%? That would be Austin Nola (C – SD) of the San Diego Padres. Jose Abreu (1B – CWS) (40.2%, 0%) is the only other player above 40 percent.

Who Has Been The Most Disappointing Player?

I got this text last night from someone who is in a few leagues with me. He gave me some names and it made me think more about it.

For me, there have been disappointing players (Akil Baddoo (OF – DET), Marco Gonzales (SP – SEA)) who went later in drafts, but the most disappointing players are the ones who cost you the most to acquire and have returned the least amount of value so far.

My initial thought was that Trevor Story (2B,SS – BOS), Marcus Semien (2B,SS – TEX) and Brandon Woodruff (SP – MIL) were among the top of the list of disappointing players, but my answer is Story given the ADP, expectations moving to Boston and the baked-in regression we had for Semien.

But let’s head over to the Razzball Player Rater to see what they have to say, shall we?

The Player Rater has Semien as the 538th best player overall on the season and Story at 545. Ahead of both of them are guys like Charlie Culberson (3B,LF – TEX), Cole Sands (SP – MIN), Kenny Rosenberg (RP,SP – LAA) and Albert Pujols (1B – STL).

Who are Some Players Rostered in 50% 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% of leagues (using Yahoo rostership numbers).

Hitters:

Pitchers:

What About 20%?

Like above, here are 10 hitters and pitchers rostered in 20% of Yahoo leagues or fewer who should be on your deep-league radar.

Hitters:

Pitchers:

When Do I Worry About Standings?

It’s a hot topic in the fantasy industry. There’s no real right answer, but the actual right answer is that you should be evaluating them at all times. If you see early that you’re struggling in a category, you should look to address it.

As far as to worry? I don’t really pay attention to where my team is at compared to other teams — while still looking at my own team’s weaknesses and strengths — until six weeks into the season. So, essentially, next week is when it starts to matter to me.

The “oh snap” part of the season is June 1 for me, and that’s where I decide the actionable steps I need to take to make up ground.

To Shift Or Not To Shift

This column is typically geared toward the redraft player, but with the shift going away for 2023 and with a decent amount of data in hand for 2022, now is a decent time to make some buy-low offers on some players who are heavily shifted against and could see their numbers go up in 2023.

Joey Gallo (OF – NYY) comes to mind first, of course, as he’s shifted against 93.7% of the time and has a .262 wOBA when shifted against. When he’s not shifted against — 6.3% of the time — he has a .497 wOBA (tiny, tiny samples). He’s still going to strike out a lot and not hit for a high average, but he’s going to ascend with his value.

I’m not sure anyone is selling Corey Seager (SS – TEX), but his .248 wOBA against the shift (88.5% shifted against) and his .595 wOBA without the shift (11.5% of the time) make him an interesting target.

There’s a pretty big discrepancy with Seth Beer (1B – ARI), who is shifted against 77.4% of the time. He has a .228 wOBA against the shift and a .428 wOBA when the shift isn’t deployed.

We are already working with the smallest dataset, but let’s break it down more, shall we? Mitch Haniger (OF – SEA) has an exact 50/50 split as far as when teams are shifting against him in a total of 36 plate appearances. In those, Haniger has a .150 wOBA against the shift and a .470 wOBA when the shift isn’t used against him.

Who Has You Concerned?

It’s now a point in the season where I’m actually starting to get concerned about some players. Here are a few of them:

  • Marcus Semien: He’s pressing so much with chasing pitches out of the zone. He’s also not making solid contact at the dish. There’s no chance he returns draft-day value, but he won’t be this bad.
  • Trent Grisham (OF – SD): Maybe we just overrated him a bit after 2019. Just maybe. His xBA is .199 and his xSLG is .299. Both are terrible, terrible numbers. The Brewers crushed that trade.
  • Tanner Houck (SP,RP – BOS): It’s not a concern in the talent, as he’s really, really good, but it’s a concern in the role. The Red Sox seem to want Garrett Whitlock (RP,SP – BOS) in the rotation, and Houck’s role is a little less clear. He could vulture some wins as a piggybacker, though.
  • Akil Baddoo: I don’t want to talk about it. He was one of my favorite targets for draft season, and he’s been absolutely terrible. I believe in the talent long-term, but he may be on the outside looking in all season.

Who Are Some Standout Rookies To Watch?

Here are some of the standout rookies from the last week:

CTAs


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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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