NFBC Hitting Guide Week 19: Nick Gordon, Seth Brown, Victor Robles (2022)
The fantasy baseball weeks just keep dwindling, don’t they? If you’re chasing in your league, you’re probably beginning to feel the time slip away. We have plenty of reasons to dig deep and try to mine for value. That’s what I hope to do here, and it’s from a 15-team, NFBC focus. That doesn’t mean that if you play in a 12-team league that there’s nothing here for you, though. Sometimes the hot adds are worthwhile in shallow formats, too.
For the week ahead, no teams play eight games and four teams play just five games (LAD, MIL, MIN, TB). Six teams play seven games, so if you’re hunting for volume you should consider the following: ARI, BAL, CWS, KC, MIA, and PIT.
Lastly, the Rockies are actually home for six games this week. Crazy, right? It feels like they are never home. Anyway, they host the Cardinals (six games) and the Diamondbacks (seven games), so those two units get a bit of a boost. The Reds also get three games in their home park in the second half of the week against the Cubbies. So maybe there’s a Chicago bat or two we can look at for the weekend half of the coming week. Now let’s jump into it…
I know what you’re thinking — Heath, are you really leading off an article by touting Max Stassi? Well, here I am. Come and get me. Stassi is batting in the heart of the order for the Halos, something we can’t ignore for fantasy baseball purposes, even if it’s disgusting. He’ll offer modest production, but it’s still worthy of second-catcher status in 15-team leagues. His overall slash isn’t encouraging (.212/.306/.354) but he is batting .250 with a couple of home runs over the last two weeks. If the All-Star break helped him finally find his footing, we could have something useful here. I know we can’t just toss out entire months, but if you toss out Stassi’s entire month of June, you’ve actually got a useful second catcher all season. Check out the wRC+ marks by month: 104, 116, 58, 89, 129. Stassi has been better on the road this year, and six of his seven home runs are against right-handed pitching. That jives with his career marks, except for the home/away production. Historically, he has hit for a higher average and gotten on base more at home. So if that normalizes for Stassi, he could finish in the realm of a .230+ BA and push for 15 homers.
Again, it’s not exciting. But it is worthy of your second catcher spot. The Angels are projected to face five right-handed pitchers for the week ahead, and most of them are nonthreatening. Lastly, Stassi’s chase rate of 24.2% ranks inside the top five percent of the league… so while he could be making more contact, at least he’s not free-swinging out of the zone. He also walks a ton (84th percentile) and his hard-hit rate is above above average (63rd percentile). You’ll have to live with some of the swing-and-miss, but there are enough positives here to consider Stassi as a C2 option if you need a little power.
Trevino is slashing an entirely tolerable .264/.303/.457 on the year, with 10 home runs and a pair of steals. He has a career-best five percent walk rate and his 16.7% strikeout rate is the best mark of his big-league career (excepting his three-game sample in 2018). He isn’t doing much different from a quality of contact perspective this year, but he is making a little more contact and his average launch angle is higher. Apparently, that plays well in Yankee Stadium. The splits bear this out, as he has a .295 BA and seven of his 10 homers at home, compared to a .235 BA and just three homers on the road. His ISO drops from .238 at home to .147 on the road, and he’s a far above average hitter at home (144 wRC+) compared to about what you’d expect for a catcher of his caliber while on the road (87 wRC+).
I won’t say it’s all smoke and mirrors, as I think incremental growth is normally an encouraging thing. And catchers are by nature a cesspool, especially within the C2 ranks. What buoys Trevino currently is a hot streak — he’s batting .302 over the last month, and batting .367 with three dingers over just the last two weeks. The Yankees play six games on the road for Week 19, but that’s solid volume for the week ahead given that most teams play just six games.
Rumors of Gurriel’s demise were premature. The 38-year-old first baseman possesses a pedestrian .239/.287./382 slash line on the season, but that comes with a .260 BABIP (36 points lower than his career average). He still doesn’t strike out much, as his 12.8% K-rate is inside the top seven percent of the league. And while his 43rd-percentile sprint speed isn’t imposing, he has certainly picked his spots well, as he has yet to be thrown out this year. He’s heating up, too. Here are his wRC+ marks by month leading up to August: 70, 77, 116 and 119. Gurriel has fared well recently as the Astros’ No. 2 hitter, and if he can continue doing so that will only lengthen the lineup.
History tells us he can consistently hit for average, and his BABIP should regress positively if we follow the course of his career. Even with the addition of Trey Mancini, the Astros can still play Gurriel. Mancini can occupy the DH slot or either corner outfield slot. These two guys can coexist. You didn’t draft Gurriel for power, you did so for batting average and the counting stats that come with playing for the mighty Astros. I think Gurriel can deliver enough production to warrant consideration as a corner-infield play in leagues where you need a BA and runs boost. A cursory look at projected opposing pitchers next week gives you names like Martin Perez, Glenn Otto and Adam Oller. Sounds good to me.
Voit’s trade to Washington is a positive, as he should occupy one of the top spots in that batting order for the remainder of the season. By this point, you know what you’re getting — a lot of power and a lot of whiffs. However, lately, he’s been on a bit of a heater. Over the last two weeks, Voit has a .278 BA, two homers and a whopping 10 RBI. Only six corner infielders have more RBI than Voit over this recent stretch. And batting towards the top of any batting order is notable, even if it’s for a bad team. I like Voit better for the early half of Week 19, as the Nationals take on some suspect Cubs pitching at Wrigley Field. The back half of Week 19 involves a date with the formidable San Diego Padres pitching, but as Voit reportedly wasn’t too happy about his trade to Washington, we get an exciting revenge series narrative! In all seriousness, Voit was the 2020 home run champion, blasting 22 homers over just 56 games. We have plenty of season left — 53 games remaining for Washington — and I could see him slugging double-digit homers the rest of the way if he gets hot.
Candelario is historically a second-half hitter, one who ended the first half of 2022 with a measly .234 BABIP. Don’t look now, but that BABIP is already up to .249 and he’s hitting .286 with three homers over the last two weeks. His .232 xBA isn’t stellar, but it’s a far sight better than his true .210 BA and closer to his last two seasons (.297 BA, .271 BA). Candelario is rather quietly up to 10 homers this year, which ties him for the Detroit team lead with Javier Baez. That’s awful for Detroit, but it’s enough for me to think that if Candelario can turn it around AT ALL in the second half that he’s going to play a ton.
Candelario is still just 28 years old, and last year he rapped out a league-leading 42 doubles (tied with three others) while swatting 16 homers and batting a solid .271. He’s well below that doubles pace with just 11 this year, but his production over his most recent full month of July was encouraging. He slashed .267/.353/.520, with four doubles and five home runs. That was good for a .378 wOBA and 149 wRC+. His strikeout rate was also down to 20.0% and his walk rate was up to 7.1%. If that doesn’t sound sustainable to you, then you weren’t paying attention to the last two years that Candelario gave us. The Tigers get Shane Bieber on Tuesday, but then the schedule lightens up with Aaron Civale (6.17 ERA) and rookie Hunter Gaddis. Even the back half of the week at the White Sox isn’t as imposing in real life as it may sound, with Kopech (3.38), Giolito (5.06 ERA) and Lynn (5.87 ERA). That’s a park boost with a flailing White Sox team and two starters with ERAs over 5.00. We like that.
Gordon has been a watch list guy of mine for a while, given the tools. His quality of contact numbers look great, as there’s a lot of deep red on his Statcast page. He also has speed, as he checks in at 28.1 ft/s, ranking in the 72nd percentile. There’s a lot of aggression at the plate with Gordon, as he swings 58.0% of the time. The league average swing rate is 47.5%, for reference. With that swing rate comes a lot of chasing, 42.1% of the time — basically 10% more than league average. However, his contact rate still approaches league average and he’s making hard contact 48.8% of the time (top eight percent of MLB). I think you can trust the overall line so far, which gives us five homers and five steals. His .370 BABIP may not hold, but with his contact quality and his wheels, I don’t think it will evaporate. His .266 xBA is also encouraging. Lastly… he’s getting playing time! Gordon has started in each of the last six games for Minnesota, so it’s time to consider him as a middle infielder or throw some dollars on him in this weekend’s FAAB run.
One piece of caution, however. All five of Gordon’s home runs have come against right-handers, and the Twins look slated to face a trio of left-handed Angels in the back half of the week. So if we’re talking FAAB, I think you have to add him now. But it’s possible you may need more power in your lineup for the back half of the week. Gordon can offer you average (.270) and on-base skills (.372) against lefties, but we haven’t seen the pop in that split just yet.
Leadoff Adam Frazier has been a thing recently, and it has been a thing of beauty. It may not hold with Julio Rodriguez slated to come off the IL next week, but it could. And even if it doesn’t, this is the version of Frazier that Seattle thought they were getting when they brought him on. For what it’s worth, the soonest Rodriguez can be activated is this coming Wednesday, but the most recent news said he could also be held out until Friday. Add it all up, and you may have one more week of leadoff Frazier.
If you look at Frazier’s career in totality, there’s one season that doesn’t fit — the abbreviated 2020 year. That season, Frazier’s .246 BABIP and ensuing .230 BA were far off of his career norms. We’ve known him for a while now as a .270+ hitter with some power and some on-base skills against right-handers. He also has a tolerable .259 BA against lefties, however. Anyway, the point is that Frazier is in play, especially when he’s hot and especially against right-handed pitchers. Over the past two weeks, he’s batting .286 with 14 hits, seven runs scored and an eye-popping three steals. That’s more than good enough for your MI spot, and four of the six projected starters he’ll face in Week 19 are right-handers.
That’s right. If you’re a consistent reader, you know that I’ve talked up Brown for three weeks running now. And I know that I mentioned him previously, too. You have to stop ignoring the power/speed combination here, folks. Brown has 16 homers and a whopping eight steals, so he’s well on his way to an unheralded 20/10 season. His efforts for a poor Oakland team just don’t seem to be getting enough love in fantasy baseball circles, so I’m here to tell you, again, to get Brown into your lineups. The positional flexibility is just the proverbial cherry on top. Lastly, over the last two weeks, Brown is on a heater. He is hitting .368 with four home runs and a stolen base…so it doesn’t appear that he’s done making his mark on 2022. Big picture, you want him against RHP, against whom he has hit 15 of his 16 homers along with a tolerable .249 BA. You can ‘manage’ him against LHP, against whom he is hitting just .170 with one homer. Still… this is a useful fantasy baseball player, either as a CI bat or to round out your five-man outfields.
Look, despite the Tigers being abysmal, Castro is having a resurgent season. A .245 BA with four homers and six steals isn’t nothing, even if he probably slots in better as a middle infield player. That said, I’m trying to give you as many options as possible, and I liked the two MI guys I mentioned. Anyway, Castro is playing almost every day for Detroit, and over the last two weeks, he has scored 10 runs. That’s up there with Aaron Judge, Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich, Jurickson Profar and Starling Marte for the lead among all outfield-eligible players. In short, there are a lot of names that don’t surprise you atop that leaderboard, but there are two names that might. One is Castro, and he benefits from the same uninspiring slate of pitching for the week ahead that I mentioned when I touted Candelario.
It’s still Robles time, people! He’s right up there with Castro with eight runs scored over the last two weeks, and the difference is that he is batting leadoff for Washington, while Castro typically finds himself in the No. 6 or No. 7 spot. As for Robles, I’ve been touting him for a couple of weeks now. If this guy continues to hit ANYWHERE in the .240+ range for batting average, you’re going to continue enjoying the runs scored and the steals. And over the last two weeks, guess what we have? A .240 BA, eight runs scored, a homer and two steals. Don’t expect a lot of RBI, obviously. But for the season, Robles is batting .236 with four homers and 13 steals. That plays at the bottom of your five-man outfields, so just stop fighting it, okay? Robles needs to improve against RHP, but he is smacking left-handers around (.333/.378/.452) and he’ll face at least two southpaws in the week ahead.
Last week’s plays: Seth Brown, Trayce Thompson
I have to say, I don’t know how I’m feeling about myself after some of these recommendations today. If you thought it was awful, feel free to drop me a line on Twitter @HeathCapps, and let’s make each other smarter for the week ahead!
Whether you’re new to fantasy baseball or a seasoned pro, our Fantasy Baseball 101: Strategy Tips & Advice page is for you. You can get started with our Sabermetrics Glossary or head to a more advanced strategy – like Maximizing Your Potential in Multi-Lineup Contests – to learn more.