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Fantasy Baseball Burning Questions: Jake Burger, Brady Singer, Daulton Varsho

Fantasy Baseball Burning Questions: Jake Burger, Brady Singer, Daulton Varsho

It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means.

Each and every Wednesday, I’ll address 10 burning questions that I’m looking either for answers for during the week or questions that may help fantasy managers navigate the week-to-week grind of their team.

CTAs

Is Jake Burger the White Sox best fantasy hitter?

I had the Twins winning the AL Central preseason, because I thought – and still think – that they are one of the more sneaky-good teams in baseball. I feel good about that call, but I feel less good about my prediction that the White Sox would finish second in the American League.

They’ve been downright awful, and it’s been a group effort to be that bad. One of the few bright spots for them so far has been the emergence of Jake Burger. For a team that has Eloy Jiménez, Tim Anderson, Andrew Vaughn, Andrew Benintendi, and Luis Robert, it would be hard to imagine that Burger may just be the best fantasy option for the Southsiders this far into the season.

Yes, here we are. Burger leads the team in WAR, wRC+, and home runs. Chicago has to find a way to keep him in the lineup all year at this point – especially if he’s continuing at this pace. The average and the strikeouts hurt, but he’s a good MI option at worst and as of now, is the most valuable player on the White Sox at the plate.

If you had that on your 2023 Bingo Card, congrats. 

Should we cut Brady Singer?

This one came from friend of the column Anthony Machcinski on Twitter, as he may be entitled to financial compensation for being hurt by Singer.

It’s been a brutal season for him so far, and the spring hype around him kind of surprised me, as he never profiled as more than a potentially decent floor pitcher without the upside to be much more. What’s hurting Singer is, even with a good ballpark to pitch in, that he’s getting crushed left and right.

The average exit velocity against his pitches is 94.8, and he has a HardHit% of 60.6. For reference, the league-average numbers in those areas are 88.4 mph and 35.9%.

That’s … not good. All of his offerings are getting hit, too, as his sinker, slider, and changeup have xBAs of .316, .307, and .422, respectively. And mind you, it is May, and we aren’t a start or two into the season so far.

I’d be more than comfortable with dropping Singer and allowing someone else to pick him up in hopes that he turns it around. The upside just doesn’t justify the risk.

What’s up with Daulton Varsho?

I was in on Varsho, and I was in on him at a high level. I mean, who didn’t love a catcher-eligible player who would play left field and steal bases regularly? The thing is, he’s been pretty bad so far.

He’s not hitting the ball hard, and he’s especially struggling against fastballs this year compared to last year. And pitchers are taking notice, as he’s seeing them 61.1 percent of the time.

What’s more, he seems to be pressing, as he seems to be trying to hit for more home runs with his increased Under% going from 26% last season to 32.4% this season.

The good news is that his plate discipline numbers haven’t changed much, so I’m expecting some better days ahead for him. 

Can you just take the L on Jorge Mateo already?

I did an update on my top 300 players for points leagues at The Athletic recently, and I got a little bit of blow back because I didn’t have Mateo listed inside the top 300. I get it. Really, I do. He’s been good so far this season and has a revamped swing which has resulted in more power.

The thing is … I don’t buy it. So yes, I’ll take an April L on him, but let’s treat this like a boxing match, shall we? We can go round by round here.

He was hot to start last season and then fizzled off before coming back to fantasy relevancy. The decrease in strikeout rate is definitely promising, but I’m willing to be on the track record a bit more throughout his career than I am with his one-month sample. 

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:

  • Joey Gallo (OF/1B – MIN)
  • Keibert Ruiz (C – WAS)
  • Brett Baty (3B – NYM)
  • Jarren Duran (OF – BOS)
  • Triston Casas (1B – BOS)

Pitchers:

  • Reid Detmers (SP – LAA)
  • Will Smith (RP – TEX)
  • Taj Bradley (SP – TBR)
  • Logan Allen (SP – CLE)
  • Josiah Gray (SP – WAS)

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:

  • Max Kepler (OF – MIN)
  • Alex Kirilloff (OF/1B – MIN)
  • Jake Burger (3B – CHW)
  • T.J. Friedl (OF – CIN)
  • Matt Mervis (1B – CHC)

Pitchers:

  • Tanner Houck (SP/RP – BOS)
  • Bryce Miller (SP – SEA)
  • Kyle Bradish (SP – BAL)
  • Matthew Liberatore (SP – STL)
  • Griffin Canning (SP – LAA)

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.

  • Brent Rooker (OF – OAK) – Power has always been there for him, but he’s finally getting a chance to show it … in Oakland. How much longer will he be there, though?
  • Josiah Gray (SP – WAS) – I’m not a Gray guy per se, but besides his April 1 start, Gray has been really, really good.
  • Clayton Kershaw (SP – LAD) – I think we just think of Kershaw as being this old veteran who is just hanging on, but the future Hall of Famer has a 1.89 ERA and 0.76 WHIP.
  • Jarren Duran (OF – BOS) – Duran has moved up the Boston lineup, and it makes sense with his .404/.421/.692 slash line with the type of power he has shown so far. He’s looking like a post-hype breakout.

Who has you concerned?

  • Jose Miranda – The strikeout rate is good, and the xBA is actually much better than his actual batting average, but the lack of quality of contact concerns me a bit.
  • Jazz Chisholm – I’m not like panicking or anything on him, but when he has a league-worse 35.7K% and a .212 xBA, I have to be a little concerned, no?
  • Nick Lodolo – The fear is happening, as Lodolo has allowed eight home runs and has a 12.5 Barrel% allowed. That’s not ideal for a pitcher in Cincinnati. 

Any random findings?

A few, actually. Thanks for asking, Michael.

  • Kevin Gausman’s 20 Whiffs on his splitter on April 29 were the most in a single game ever on the pitch. He broke his own record.
  • Geraldo Perdomo is still hitting .383 on the season, but has just 1 Barrel.  
  • Bo Bichette’s 45.3 Oppo% leads the league. Sean Murphy has the lowest total at 9.8%.
  • Isaac Paredes leads the league with a 57.5 Pull%. Steven Kwan has the lowest mark at 19.6%.

Who would lead the league in ERA pitching in Mexico City?

The Mexico City games were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. If you’re a bettor, seeing a 20.5 total line had to make you do a double-take.

So, if a team was placed in Mexico City, who would you want starting for you? Well, the answer is no one, of course, as I have a strict policy to not roster any Colorado Rockies pitcher. But if I had to go with one, I want someone who is slider-heavy to counteract the environment. I also want someone who has pinpoint accuracy with the pitch, and has experience throwing in Coors Field.

I’ll go with Clayton Kershaw, who has made many, many starts in Coors Field, and his 45.4 Slider usage rate is fourth in baseball. Give me Kershaw and let me hope that his groundball rate will carry over.


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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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