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Fantasy Baseball Regression Candidates: Yainer Diaz, Chris Bassitt, Michael Massey

Fantasy Baseball Regression Candidates: Yainer Diaz, Chris Bassitt, Michael Massey

Which players are enjoying an unsustainable hot streak right now? Which players are uncharacteristically cold? And, which have been receiving too much or too little luck of late?

This weekly article highlights players who are due for some positive or negative regression compared to their recent performance to assist fantasy managers in viewing each one properly. Digging underneath the surface stats, we examine some hitting and pitching metrics to try to determine if a given player is overperforming or underperforming what should be expected.

The goal here should be clear. Now, let’s get to it.

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Positive & Negative Regression Candidates

(Stats up to date through May 20)

Players Due for Positive Regression

Yainer Diaz (C,1B,DH – HOU)

After a fantastic rookie season that saw him deliver a .282 AVG, .846 OPS, and 23 homers, most of the fantasy baseball world expected great things from Yainer Diaz in 2024. Though the power was a bit down as the Astros unexpectedly struggled out of the gate, Diaz finished the month of April sporting a solid .287 AVG with three deep drives and 13 RBI on his stat line. However, since the calendar flipped to May, he’s had an across-the-board downturn.

Over 18 games this month, Diaz has limped to a .536 OPS with no home runs, four doubles, and nine RBI across 65 plate appearances. That would indicate a terrible slump, but Diaz’s underlying metrics read quite differently. His .226 AVG for May is hiding a .290 xBA. That expected batting average is the product of an outstanding 54.7 HardHit% and a healthy 24.5 LD%. The Dominican-born slugger has also been making a ton of contact (82.5 Contact%, 93.2 Z-Contact%) while keeping his strikeouts in check (15.4%).

Stick with Diaz. He clubbed a big double against the A’s a few days ago and added a couple more hits against the Angels this past Monday night. There should be plenty of production to come. If an opportunity to acquire him on the cheap presents itself, fantasy managers should take advantage of it as soon as possible.

Chris Bassitt (SP – TOR)

A 5.03 ERA through nine starts certainly suggests that Chris Bassitt has struggled overall this season. That’s not necessarily the case. Following a pair of clunkers to begin the campaign, the veteran righty has logged at least 5 1/3 innings while giving up three earned runs or less in six of his last seven outings.

A seven-run drubbing by the Dodgers’ loaded lineup on April 26 has been the only overly poor performance of that stretch, but it’s kept Bassitt’s season-long ERA deceivingly high (4.23 xFIP). His walk rate (10.8%) and hard-hit rate (40.8%) are both up this year. However, those marks have been heading in the right direction lately. His groundball rate is on a positive trajectory as well, going from just 37.0% over his first six starts to a very promising 53.1% over his last three.

In those three starts this month, Bassitt has posted a 4.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 15-to-6 K/BB across 18 innings. Each matchup has come against a team with a winning record, two of which are currently among the top eight teams in the league in runs per game: the Phillies and Royals. Bassitt will not anchor a fantasy staff, but he should be able to steady the backend of one going forward.

Players Due for Negative Regression

Michael Massey (2B – KC)

Michael Massey compiled a pedestrian .663 OPS over 655 plate appearances for the Royals between 2022 and 2023. He did smack 15 homers last year, but a .229 AVG and 21.5 K% kept expectations for 2024 modest. Then, a lower-back issue during Spring Training delayed his start to the regular season. On April 19, after eight Minor League rehab games, Massey got his third MLB campaign going with a two-hit, two-RBI performance.

In the week following that productive debut, Massey picked up just one hit over 15 at-bats, and it seemed he would continue being an afterthought outside the deepest of fantasy formats. Then, on April 27, the young second baseman would begin a 10-game hitting streak and has not looked back. Massey came up just a triple short of the cycle in a win over Detroit on Monday, giving him a strong .912 OPS with five homers, five doubles and 17 RBI across his last 21 games.

Massey’s surface stats have been fantastic during this hot stretch, but it’s what lies beneath that should scare most off. His combination of a 16.9 LD% and 30.9 HardHit% is just highly unlikely to keep Massey an asset in batting average. The 17.2% HR/FB in this span seems quite unsustainable as well.

James Paxton (SP – LAD)

With an excellent 2.84 ERA but a discouraging 5.55 xERA, no qualifying pitcher in the league has a wider discrepancy than James Paxton. How long will the oft-injured lefty be able to maintain his 87.0% strand rate and keep that ERA down? The smart money would be on not much longer.

This year’s Paxton is not the one of old that would rack up plenty of punchouts via mid-90s heat and an effective mix of secondary offerings. The 35-year-old hurler entered the season with a career 26.3 K%, but through his first eight starts this season, that mark has been cut in half at 13.0%. Paxton’s 24-to-24 K/BB ratio across 44 1/3 is just plain ugly.

Eventually, Paxton’s elevated contact (82.6 Contact%, 91.4 Z-Contact%) and hard-hit (41.6%) rates will bring an unsustainable .242 BABIP way up. The runs will follow. Time will tell if Paxton is even able to remain in the Dodgers’ rotation.

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Nate Miller is a featured writer at FantasyPros. He has been an analyst in the fantasy sports industry for the past decade, covering the NFL and MLB. For more from Nate, check out his archive and follow him on Twitter @Miller_RotoDad.

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