Mailbags are a useful tool for identifying the most pressing topics on the minds of fantasy owners. Receiving questions along the lines of which players to pick up, whose streak will continue, and who to sell high on all contribute to a more reader-oriented blog, where the topics I write about are more relevant to what you, the reader, are interested in.
Questions are always appreciated, and you can feel free to email me any queries you might have at email@example.com with the subject “SushiOnSports” or simply to comment on one of my posts.
Now that we have the introduction out of the way, let’s discuss a question I recently received from a reader:
is Jason Heyward’s resurgence for real? What’s up with Joey Gallo?
To address the first part of Noah’s question, let’s first provide some background. Heyward was drafted in the top 100 picks in most leagues and was expected to provide stolen bases with some power. Through the first third of the season, it looked like his owners had no shot at recouping their original investment, culminating in an article from a couple of weeks ago where I questioned why he was still owned.
I guess Heyward reads this blog because just a couple of days after I wrote that post, he went on an absolute tear. In the two weeks since that article, Heyward has raised his average twenty points, his OBP thirty points, stolen two bases, and racked up four home runs, nine runs, and ten RBIs.
Despite this recent surge, Heyward doesn’t seem to be improving substantially. His BABIP over this time period is a fluky .370 and his walk rate is below his career average (although still higher than this season before this streak). The one positive is his strikeout rate, which is much better during the last two weeks than it’s been during this season and throughout his whole career.
Here’s the problem with reading into this streak at all: it’s been only fifteen games, an extremely small sample size. The only thing that the streak has done is bring his seasonal numbers up to acceptable totals. My advice is to sell, and to sell fast while his stats look good. He’ll continue to steal bases and perhaps knock in a few runs, but Heyward is not going to end up with stats even somewhat similar to what he’s put up over the past couple of weeks.
Next, we’re on to Joey Gallo, whose lightower power is his claim to fame. When he was surprisingly called up to the majors after Adrian Beltre was injured, Gallo was supposed to be a three true outcomes type of hitter, and he’s lived up to that billing. His per-162 games stats are 74 walks, 34 home runs, and a record-shattering 263 strikeouts, beating out Mark Reynolds 2009 season by 40 punchouts.
In regular 5×5 leagues, Gallo is a significant asset, helping in four categories. In OBP leagues, he’s even more valuable. However, in any league that counts strikeouts or any kind of hit other than home runs, then he’ll be less valuable. In 5×5 and OBP leagues, I’d hold onto Gallo, but in any other league, I’d rush to trade him.
Honestly, I would have traded him the second he was called up. People always love rookies because they’ve never failed before, and that’s a tendency that discerning owners can take advantage of. For instance, Kyle Schwarber came up for a week and dominated. If anyone in your league thinks he’s going to be Miguel Cabrera this season with catcher eligibility, then take advantage of that. Another opportunity to use this principle is with Jose Fernandez. Although he’s not a rookie, he hasn’t pitched so far this year so he’s still got a 0.00 ERA. In fact, I own Jose Fernandez in my home league and ever since it came out a couple of weeks ago that he would be making his season debut on July 2nd, I’ve been trying to see if anyone would overpay for him.
Speaking of selling high, remember my Buy-Low, Sell-High article from a few weeks ago about the right way to buy low and sell high? If you haven’t read it yet, it’s useful to read, but there are a couple of young third basemen right now who match the definition I gave of players to sell high on to the letter: Todd Frazier and Nolan Arenado.
Both have been scorching hot recently, particularly Arenado. Frazier’s hit seven home runs in his last eleven games while Arenado’s mashed eight in his last seven. I had the misfortune of playing against Arenado this week when he had more games with multiple homers than games without any. Both players were good before their streaks and seem to have vaulted into the upper echelon of fantasy baseball. Both players are almost certainly not going to continue to be as amazing as they’ve been, even though they’ll still be very good players. If you’re lucky enough to have one of these players, then you have a magnificent sell-high opportunity. Don’t let it pass you by.
How do you decide whether numbers like Heyward is putting up are doomed to regress or might continue?
I use three steps to determine the likelihood of any streak continuing:
1. I examine more advanced stats indicative of luck (BABIP, HR/FB%, etc.) on the player’s Baseball-Reference.com page and on FanGraphs.
2. I compare those peripherals to the player’s numbers throughout his career, to determine whether or not he normally puts up these sorts of numbers at the same two sites.
3. I determine if there are any internal factors that could be contributing to the streak. For a hot streak, perhaps a player has a new batting stance, or for a cold streak, perhaps he has a sore wrist.
After I use those steps to ascertain if anything has truly changed in the player, I figure out if anything his changed in his situation that may help or hinder his fantasy value, such as a move up or down the lineup.
All of that information contributes to my opinion on both the likelihood of a player regressing and how his fantasy value has changed based on that hot streak.
Hope that answers your question,
I think this will help me immensely in my active fantasy baseball career. Thanks!