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Fantasy Baseball Burning Questions: Josh Bell, Jarred Kelenic, Chris Sale

Fantasy Baseball Burning Questions: Josh Bell, Jarred Kelenic, Chris Sale

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means. I’ll be addressing 10 burning questions that I’m looking either for answers to during the week or that may help fantasy managers navigate the weekly grind of their team.

* You’ll notice three values for Shohei Ohtani: Hitter-Only, Pitcher-Only, Combined.

Fantasy Baseball Burning Questions

Let’s get to it for week three of the 2023 MLB season.

Why is everyone getting injured?

Can we please just pretend that this is MLB The Show and turn off injuries? It happens every year, I get that, but it doesn’t take away from the brutal injury stretch that we’ve seen over the last week.

But why are the injuries happening? Well, like Alanis Morisette, I’m not a doctor, so I don’t have actual answers. But a combination of weather, Spring Training, WBC, and fluke seem to be the likely case.

We avoided a big one with Jazz Chisholm last week, but he’s one of the few that has had good news on scary injury fronts.

Depth and position eligibility, more than ever, are important.

Who should be my shortstop?

Remember when the draft talk was about just how deep shortstop was? That was a fun time just a few weeks ago.

Now, we are not only looking to replace Oneil Cruz, who broke his ankle last week, but also Tim Anderson, and potentially Corey Seager and Dansby Swanson. Oh, and Carlos Correa‘s back is acting up.

Fun times for all!

A few shortstops who I’d be targeting if I’m looking for a replacement for one of the above are:

As my good friend Olivia Rodrigo said – “God, it’s brutal out here.”

When is it time to worry about Josh Bell?

Just a reminder that I take questions on Twitter for this column every week. I’ll be better about asking for them in advance instead of like two hours before the deadline. But our buddy Ryan Gover (@RGlove11 on Twitter) came through for us:

I’ve always been down on Bell, as he reminded me of a James Loney-type player. That’s fine, but for fantasy, that’s not fine. The groundball rate always scared me, but I have to say I was intrigued by the move to Cleveland for him.

There are some concerns with Bell right now – especially his 75.9 percent groundball rate. The concerns I had in the past were when the number lived in the 50s so this isn’t good, but I also expect it to normalize. What Bell is doing right now is swinging at more pitches outside of the zone than usual, but also making less contact with those pitches.

It’s too early to worry about just about anyone (boring answer, I know), and Bell falls into this group. I’d give him until at least May to see the strides by correcting his plate approach to unlock the higher LD%.

What’s been the result of the new shift rule?

It’s hard to quantify with so few batted ball events and with teams still being creative with their shifting.

What I did, though, was look at the top 10 players who were shifted against the most last year and looked at their wOBA against the shift vs their wOBA this year with no shift.

Does it tell us much? Not really, but I think it’s a good approach as we gather more data. I love to see Seager – minus the injury concern – mashing like we all expected him to do sans shift. Also, Tucker is still somehow a superstar but also underrated at the same time.

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).

Hitters:

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA) 

Logan O’Hoppe (C – LAA) 

Vaughn Grissom (2B – ATL) 

Brett Baty (3B – NYM)

Brice Turang (2B,SS – MIL)

Pitchers:

Seth Lugo (SP/RP – SD)

Jhony Brito (SP – NYY)

Michael Wacha (SP – SD)

A.J. Puk (RP – MIA)

Mitch Keller (SP – PIT)

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.

Hitters:

Chas McCormick (OF – HOU)

Oswald Peraza (SS – NYY)

Edouard Julien (2B – MIN) 

TJ Friedl (OF – CIN)

Kyle Farmer (SS – MIN)

Pitchers:

Kris Bubic (SP – KC) 

Brayan Bello (SP – BOS)

Kyle Muller (SP – OAK)

Jose Quijada (RP – LAA)

Matthew Liberatore (SP – STL)

Who are you encouraged by?

Quite a few players, actually. I’m looking forward to the point in the season where we can stop saying “it’s early,” because it feels like too much of a cop-out. But there are some encouraging signs that we can look at and apply early on.

Here are some players I’m encouraged by.

Jarred Kelenic (OF – SEA) – I don’t want to get into the trap again, but he’s making really good contact, especially on the outer edge of the zone.

Kris Bubic (SP – KC) – Ah we found this year’s big Twitter discussion player. Bubic has been dreadful throughout his career, but he looks like a brand-new pitcher.

Mitch Keller (SP – PIT) – Speaking of brand-new pitchers, Keller fits that mold, too, with a revamped arsenal.

Jorge Mateo (SS – BAL) – I don’t think that Mateo is a good player, but he’s stealing bases left and right.

Alec Bohm (3B – PHI) – The hard-hit question has never been, well, in question, but it was whether or not he could lift the ball or not. So far, so good.

Who has you concerned?

I pretty much don’t worry about anyone early on who I wasn’t worried about in Spring Training. But a few players I’m slightly concerned about are:

  • Anthony Volpe: Not because I don’t think that he’ll be good – he will! – but the game is tough for rookies at times. The Yankees also have Oswald Peraza waiting if they want to send Volpe down for more seasoning.
  • Chris Sale: Is he toast? Potentially, though it’s early. The velocity is super low on the fastball, and he’s trying to spot it high in the zone to induce more swing-and-misses. We saw him ditch it the longer he went in his latest start.
  • Lance Lynn: The bounce-back hasn’t happened like I had hoped it would. If neither he nor Lucas Giolito get right, the White Sox will be in for yet another long year.

Any random findings?

A few, actually. Thanks for asking, Michael.

  • Gunnar Henderson has a 40K% – the highest in all of baseball.
  • The Blue Jays have three guys in the top six in the league for number of hard-hit balls with Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Matt Chapman, and Bo Bichette leading the way.
  • Matt Olson is tied for the third-most Barrels in baseball with eight – tied with teammate Ronald Acuna Jr. The two Atlanta sluggers are the only players in the top 10 with an average Launch Angle below 13.9 degrees. They sit at 5.2 and 4.5 degrees, respectively.

Who won the Twins/Marlins trade?

It’s so much fun when two teams make a trade and it works out well for both. As much flack as the Marlins get for many of their deals – deservingly so – the Jazz Chisholm for Zac Gallen deal worked out as well as it possibly could for two teams.

The Marlins did it again this offseason, when they dealt Pablo Lopez for Luis Arraez. Both players have been outstanding this season, posting 0.7 and 0.9 WARs, respectively.

But looking at it – who won? Well, it’s not as simple as that, because ultimately, you can win a deal based on depth and what helps your team the most as opposed to what’s on paper.

For the Twins, they’ve had so many issues developing pitchers, that they’ve built their model around trading for and signing veterans to round out their staff. They’ve done it well, too, despite the injury concerns that they have.

For the Marlins, the best thing their franchise does is develop arms, so trading from that area of strength for an impact bat makes sense.

I give this one a full tie – just like the Chisholm and Gallen deal.

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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