Drew Silva

Fantasy Roundtable

print article archives RSS

Roundtable: Studs & Duds

Tuesday, September 26, 2017


This is the Fantasy Roundtable, where the writers of Rotoworld Baseball let the readers of Rotoworld in on a quick staff discussion. Whether it’s a top prospect arriving, a closer role changing, or we just need to vent -- our staff talks it over and you get a peek behind the curtain. It's water cooler chatter ... that we've decided to publish.


Drew Silva: For our final Fantasy Roundtable of the regular season, give me one player who surprised you in 2017 and a little on their outlook for 2018. And then one player who disappointed, with a bit on their future outlook as well.


Editor’s Note: Win a FREE trip to the World Series plus cash prizes!

 

I’ve been most impressed by Elvis Andrus, who showed flashes of becoming a better all-around player in 2016 but has taken that to a whole new level this year with a significant uptick in power. Andrus totaled just 20 home runs through his first 3,974 plate appearances at the major league level. This year, he’s got 20 home runs in 666 PAs alongside a career-best .810 OPS. He’s likely to reach 100 runs scored for the first time ever and the 29-year-old shortstop has already set a new personal-best in the RBI department with 86. Maybe the speed fades somewhat as he approaches age 30, but I think we can confidently lock Andrus in for 20-plus stolen bases again in 2018 given that he’s averaged 29 steals per season over the last five years -- including 25 this year. I don’t see any indication that his power outburst is going to be a one-time thing. In fact, I think he could even improve in that category in 2018. His flyball rate has been on the rise for the past three seasons and more of those flyballs are turning into home runs thanks to improved launch angles (and maybe -- just maybe -- juiced baseballs). Andrus currently ranks as the No. 11 overall fantasy hitter in Yahoo’s scoring system. And yet I think he might go overlooked in drafts again next spring due to all the talent at the shortstop position.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, I’ve been thoroughly disappointed in Hanley Ramirez. I drafted him wherever it was reasonable this past spring, feeling that the move from first base to designated hitter would suit his game and his personality. Hanley had excellent career numbers in that role coming into 2017 and the Red Sox were going to stack a number of high-level OBP guys ahead of him in the lineup. 100 RBI seemed like a shoo-in. 30-plus homers seemed doable. But he’s fallen well short of those marks and I even dropped him in most of my leagues before the stretch run -- counting on youngsters like Rhys Hoskins and Matt Olson instead. Injuries have played a role in Hanley’s underwhelming output -- mentions of shoulder, knee, biceps, neck, and oblique ailments can all be found in our player's news blurbs for Ramirez this year -- and I don’t expect his body to hold up any better as he moves into his mid-30s. Don’t let me talk you into him next year, even with his ADP likely dropping into the middle rounds.



Matthew Pouliot: One of the biggest surprises for me this year is Diamondbacks starter Zack Godley. His stuff has always been sort of intriguing, but he had a 7.31 ERA in nine starts for Arizona last year and I thought his max-effort delivery would make him a bullpen guy going forward. This year, though, he has a 3.20 ERA in 24 starts since joining the Diamondbacks rotation in May. He’s fanned 158 in 149 innings, with a swinging-strike rate that ranks among the top 10 in MLB and an excellent groundball rate to go along with it. I still wonder about the health going forward, but nothing about his emergence seems like much of a fluke.

 

One of my favorite players in recent years, Rougned Odor, has been as disappointing as a 30-homer guy can possibly be. He’s batting just .205. He’s currently at 78 runs scored and 74 RBI in spite of hitting 30 homers and playing 155 games. Blame the modest runs total on the pathetic .250 OBP. Meanwhile, his .185 average with RISP is mostly responsible for the lack of ribbies. The good news is that Odor is just 23 years old, he has no durability concerns and his power hasn’t gone anywhere. He’s also had his best season defensively at second base. The bad is that he seems totally unmotivated to improve his approach at the plate. I still think this year will go down as something of an aberration, but it’ll be a shame if he never becomes a better hitter than he was at age 21-22.

 

 

Ryan Boyer: Andrelton Simmons has long been appreciated due to his slick glove, but he's just never been very interesting in fantasy leagues because he offered very little on offense. That's changed this season with Simmons popping 14 home runs and stealing 19 bases. He had belted a combined 15 longballs over the previous three campaigns and the 19 steals have nearly doubled his previous career high. Yeah, I know that everyone is hitting home runs this year, but Simmons has legitimately changed his approach to be more pull-centric, and he's also hit way more balls in the air than he did the last two seasons (although, admittedly, he still hits a lot of balls on the ground). Angels manager Mike Scioscia has long had a reputation of letting guys run, and Simmons has really ratcheted things up in that department since landing in Anaheim. The 28-year-old also continues to be among the elite in the game at making contact, which helps keep his average up even if his hard-hit rates aren't great.

 

I owned Jonathan Lucroy nearly across the board in my fantasy leagues this year, and he's proven to be a less than wise investment, to say the least. Lucroy was coming off a fantastic 2016 season, was entering his walk year at age 30 and playing in a hitter-friendly park on a good offense, so we had every reason to believe a big year was coming. He was so bad in Texas (.242/.297/.338), though, that they traded him even as they were still gunning for a Wild Card spot. Lucroy has rebounded in Colorado (.301/.399/.429), but it's been completely Coors-inflated (.357/.439/.529). The veteran catcher hadn't posted a hard-hit rate lower than 34.7 percent from 2012-16, but this season it's plummeted to 22.3 percent, which is the sixth-lowest mark in baseball for players with 450+ plate appearances. Also, Lucroy's flyball rate this season is the lowest of his career. I can't explain why Lucroy has been so bad when he should theoretically still at least be on the fringe of his prime years (maybe he's hiding an injury?). Perhaps if he re-signs with the Rockies I might consider a share or two next season, but I certainly won't be as invested in him in 2018 as I was in 2017.

 

 

D.J. Short: In the Year of the Home Run, perhaps the most unlikely contributor has been Scooter Gennett. This is someone who entered 2017 with a mediocre .738 OPS for his career. He had never hit more than 14 home runs in a season before. The Reds actually got him on a waiver claim from the Brewers back in March. Gennett appeared destined for part-time duty after joining Cincinnati, but here he is on September 26 with 27 homers and 94 RBI to go along with a .298/.346/.547 batting line. This includes a four-homer game and four grand slams. He’s the first player ever to do that in the same season. Scooter Gennett, people. Really. The big question is whether this is repeatable. Gennett’s exit velocity doesn’t stand out, but he’s lofting and pulling the ball more than ever before. That can’t be ignored calling Great American Ball Park home. He’s also seen an increase in his hard-hit percentage. That’s a roundabout way of saying that Gennett shouldn’t be viewed as a one-season wonder. Fortunately, home runs are plentiful right now, so I don’t think it will cost much to find out next year.

 

Jon Lester had an encouraging start against the division rival Cardinals on Monday, but he has still been a disappointment for fantasy owners this season. Regularly drafted inside the top-10 starting pitchers this spring, Lester has been anything but a fantasy ace with a 4.46 ERA and 1.34 WHIP over 31 starts. Those are his worst numbers since 2012. His strikeouts are actually right in line with what he did during his excellent season last year, but he’s seen an uptick in walks while giving up a career-high 26 homers. This is even with him missing some time in August with shoulder fatigue and lat tightness. Perhaps some of this can be attributed to the uptick in home runs across the league in general, but he’s also seen his velocity decline. And as our friend Eno Sarris of FanGraphs noted on Monday, Lester isn’t throwing his four-seamer up and in to right-handed batters like he has previously. This provides some additional context for the increases in homers and BABIP. Lester should still be in good position for wins with the Cubs if healthy next season, but you have to wonder if his stuff can bounce back as he goes into his age-34 season.

 

 

David Shovein: When I think of biggest disappointments from the 2017 season, the first name that pops up is Miguel Cabrera. The 34-year-old slugger had been one of the most feared right-handed hitters in the game over the last 14 seasons, delivering fantasy owners first or second round value most seasons. Those numbers were considered extremely stable, making him a very safe target early in drafts. Then all of a sudden, he fell off a cliff in 2017, hitting just .249/.329/.399 with 16 homers and 60 RBI in 130 games. All of those numbers are far and away the lowest marks of his career. He had never slugged lower than .512 in a full season, which was way back in 2004. Sure, multiple injuries and off-field issues may have played into the poor production, but where do we go from here? He's still owed $184 million over the next six seasons and the lineup around him has deteriorated as the Tigers rebuild. Provided he's fully healthy heading into 2018, he's a player that I'll be looking to acquire on the cheap as it's hard for me to fathom that this is his new baseline.

 

As far as players who greatly exceeded by expectations this season, how about Tommy Pham? This is a guy who was going outside the top 700 players on average in fantasy drafts this past spring. He was coming off of a year where he hit a mere .226/.324/.440 with nine homers, 17 RBI and a pair of steals in 183 plate appearances. Everything finally clicked for the talented 29-year-old in 2017, clearing the way for a monstrous season where he has slashed .308/.408/.522 with 22 homers, 91 runs scored, 71 RBI and 23 stolen bases in only 123 games. He's one of just eight players that has gone 20/20 this season. The batting average may be slightly propped up by his .370 BABIP, and the 26.5 percent HR/FB rate may tick down a bit, but this is a player whose stock is definitely on the rise heading into 2018. It wouldn't surprise me if he was drafted inside the top 25 outfielders next season.

 

 

Nathan Grimm: Man, where did Whit Merrifield come from? Florence, South Carolina, according to his Baseball Reference page, but in a less literal sense, the 28-year-old has been one of the biggest surprises this baseball season. It didn't come as a complete surprise after Merrifield batted .283/.323/.392 in 81 games as a rookie last year, but a 70-point spike in slugging percentage -- swatting 18 homers after hitting just two in his debut campaign -- was news. As were his 33 stolen bases, which are third in the majors behind usual suspects Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon and ahead of guys like Jose Altuve and Byron Buxton. Looking ahead, there are a few things that are important to note: that he'll turn 29 years old in January; that speed is usually the first thing to go with offensive players; that his strikeout and walk numbers are generally in line with what he did in the minors; and that a surprisingly small number of his homers this year were considered lucky or "just enough" by ESPN's Home Run Tracker. Those considerations suggest that while 2017 may go down as a career year for the second baseman, something like 15/25 with a .280/.325/.440 line is doable next year, and that plays in our game.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, Jonathan Villar could very well be in Merrifield's Florence, S.C. hometown for all we know; he's certainly not in the Brewers' lineup most days. After a fantasy championship-winning 2016 season in which he stole 62 bases with 19 homers and a .285/.369/.457 line, Villar has fallen off track and seemingly out of favor in Milwaukee by hitting .241/.294/.374 with 11 homers and 23 steals in 120 games this year. Orlando Arcia is locked in as the Brewers' shortstop of the future but Neil Walker is a free agent this winter, Isan Diaz and Keston Hiura aren't knocking on the door and Eric Sogard is still Eric Sogard, possibly clearing the way for Villar to return to the starting lineup by next spring. If that happens -- in Milwaukee or elsewhere -- the 26-year-old still has the tools to be a dynamic fantasy player, perhaps just not the one we dreamed of this spring. The range of outcomes is huge with a player like Villar, but he could steal 40 bases and hit 15-20 homers with a full slate of at-bats. And next spring, it won't cost nearly as much to find out.

 

 

You can follow and/or get in touch with these @Rotoworld_BB writers on Twitter: @drewsilv, @matthewpouliot, @RyanPBoyer, @djshort, @DaveShovein, @Nate_Grimm.






Drew Silva is a baseball editor for Rotoworld and also contributes on NBC Sports' Hardball Talk. He can be found on Twitter.
Email :Drew Silva



Highest Searched Players over the last 7 days



Video Center

  •  
    Dose: Raiders Win Thriller

    Dose: Raiders Win Thriller
  •  
    RotoPat: Week 7 Rankings

    RotoPat: Week 7 Rankings
  •  
    Dose: Diggs Not Practicing

    Dose: Diggs Not Practicing
  •  
    Power Rankings: Saints Rise

    Power Rankings: Saints Rise
  •  
    Waivers: Top Dallas RB?

    Waivers: Top Dallas RB?
  •  
    Dose: Mariota Wins in Return

    Dose: Mariota Wins in Return
  •  
    Dose: Vintage Peterson

    Dose: Vintage Peterson
  •  
    Silva: Week 6 Matchups

    Silva: Week 6 Matchups