It’s Wednesday, and you know what that means.
Each and every Wednesday, I’ll address 10 burning questions that I’m looking for either answers to during the week or questions that may help fantasy managers navigate the week-to-week grind of their team.
Let’s get to it.
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Fantasy Baseball Burning Question
Is Sal Frelick this good?
It’s been a fun season for those of us who like prospects, as teams have not been shy about promoting their young players. That continued this past week in Milwaukee as the Brewers promoted outfield Sal Frelick.
I was kind of surprised that they called him up, as he wasn’t exactly crushing it in Triple-A with a .247/.333/.342 slash and two homers with eight steals.
But so far, he’s been phenomenal through three games with the Brewers – including hitting cleanup for them.
Yes, he has a home run already, which isn’t at all part of his game, and he’s hitting .556/.583/.889 in a huge sample of 12 plate appearances. But it has been great seeing the early returns with his plate discipline, which has been a calling card for him in the minors. He has a 16.7 BB% and an 8.3 K% so far, which isn’t far off from his Triple-A numbers in 40 games.
He’s going to be better in real life than in fantasy, and if you can flip him for one of the underperforming rookies, I’d do it. If not, he’s fine to stream until he cools off.
Who will be the first player from the draft to debut?
The MLB Draft took place a few weeks ago, and fans are already dreaming about when their respective team’s first-round pick will debut.
Paul Skenes was the headliner of the draft, of course, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him after the All-Star break next year. But will he be the first player from his draft class to make it to The Show? No, I don’t think so.
Nolan Schanuel, the 23-year-old first baseman out of Florida Atlantic, has started his pro career for the Angels already in the minors. He, along with potentially Chris Clark or Camden Minacci, could debut for the Halos next season. The Angels always have a type. After going extremely pitcher-heavy a few years ago, they’ve gone toward the path of drafting advanced hitters and pitchers in the draft in hopes of immediate returns.
If you’re built to win now, Schanuel is a great grab in your FYPDs next year.
Who is the closer-in-waiting in Pittsburgh?
The Pirates announced that they will listen to trade offers for their closer David Bednar. After a surprising start to the season, the Pirates have regressed to what we assumed they’d be – not that great.
Things are looking up, and their path to the rebuild being at a competitive level in 2024 is still on track. But for this year, it makes sense to move as many veterans as they can at the deadline.
And yes, that includes Bednar.
See, it makes little sense for a non-competitive team to put focus on who their ninth-inning guy is, and with the volatility of closers from year to year, moving Bednar at his peak value to a team who is in the running is the smart baseball play.
But as fantasy managers, we care about those save opportunities – even for the worst of teams like the Pirates.
If – and hopefully when – Bednar gets dealt, who is the guy to roster in Pittsburgh?
I’m going to lean toward Colin Holderman, who has the perfect name for an eighth-inning guy.
Holderman has pitched in 11 high-leverage innings this year, allowing six earned runs and striking out 10 batters. The .293 average against isn’t that great, nor is the pure stuff, but given that Holderman’s high-leverage numbers are better than Dauri Moreta‘s 6.75 ERA, I can see the Pirates leaning toward Holderman as the main closer – even if it becomes a bit of a committee.
Who is the most underrated player in fantasy?
We always talk about buying low and selling high, as well as players who stand out to us. But we should give a little love to a player who is rostered in nearly 70 percent of Yahoo leagues but remains underrated in the community.
Enter Ezequiel Duran, who has been simply phenomenal for the red-hot Rangers this year. The issue with Duran is that the Rangers lineup is so loaded that he wouldn’t find himself with everyday plate appearances.
That’s going to change for the foreseeable future, as Duran should be the everyday shortstop with Corey Seager on the IL.
In 292 plate appearances, Duran is slashing .297/.339/.509 with 13 home runs, 78 runs + RBIs, and five steals.
It’s a true breakout season for him after he failed to make a big splash last season in his rookie year.
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).
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.
Who are you encouraged by?
Here are some players I’m encouraged by.
Will Benson (OF – CIN) – It’s the flashy rookies who get the coverage, but Benson has been in his bag, too. He’s hitting .313 with three home runs and six steals over the last month.
Felix Bautista (RP – BAL) – We knew Bautista has been amazing, but did you know that he’s the No. 4 overall player in fantasy so far this season?
Cody Bellinger (OF, 1B – CHC) – Bellinger seems like a lock for comeback player of the year, right? He’s been on fire since the break, hitting five home runs and batting .436 since then.
C.J. Abrams (2B, SS – WAS) – Abrams seems to be figuring out this game of baseball after a slow start to his career. The power has even been there a bit, too, as he’s up to 10 homers on the season.
Who has you concerned?
- Eduoard Julien – He’s been absolutely fantastic, but that BABIP is so high that we are going to see a correction soon.
- Anthony Rizzo – Over the last two weeks, Rizzo is batting just .212 with one homer.
- Bryan Reynolds – Is Reynolds in Operation Shutdown for the Pirates? He’s hitting .195 over the last two weeks with one home run and no steals.
Any random findings?
A few, actually. Thanks for asking, Michael.
- Austin Riley has six home runs over the last two weeks, but right behind him with five are Chas McCormick, Wilmer Flores, Bellinger, and Triston Casas.
- Kenta Maeda has 17 strikeouts over his last 12.2 innings pitched. He’s been great since returning from the IL.
- Camilo Doval is 4-for-4 in his last four save opportunities, but he has just two strikeouts during that stretch.
Should Shohei Ohtani still be the MVP if he’s traded?
This is going to be really interesting to follow. Right now, Ohtani is the clear MVP in the American League, but if the Angels trade him before the deadline – they really, really should – and he goes to a National League team, will he still win the MVP?
I think the simple answer is no because a player should accumulate enough time in his respective league to earn the honors for that year.
If Ohtani plays the final two months-plus in a different league, will he accrue enough time?
I’d usually say no, but this is Ohtani. He’s broken baseball in the best way possible. He’s the player who should be MVP each and every year as long as he’s as dominant as he is.
He’s changed fantasy. He’s changed scouting. He’s changed every facet of the game as the most talented player to ever play baseball.
Give him the MVP. Hell, make him the unanimous MVP of baseball.