Fantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 19 Stock Report: Not Happ-ening

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We’re moving into the home stretch of the Fantasy season. Some owners are revving up for the playoffs, while some are revving up for football season. Whatever you’re looking ahead to, there is plenty to get excited about. For myself, it was seeing Mets’ pitcher Noah Syndergaard make a cameo on the latest episode of Game of Thrones (SPOILERS). Hopefully no one was spoiled by Thor’s recounting of his experience on the show. It was nice to see him enjoying himself during an undoubtedly tough season. On the bright side, he was able to throw a spear pretty hard. That’s almost like a bullpen session. Right?

After letting the trade deadline sink in, I realized how unfair the Dodgers’ playoff rotation will be. In a seven game series, their opposition will have to deal with Clayton Kershaw and Yu Darvish two times each. The remaining three games will be handled by Alex Wood (13-1, 2.33 ERA) and whichever of Rich Hill, Hyun-Jin Ryu or Kenta Maeda is hot at the time.

My only concern for the Dodgers will be the performance of Wood. I considered putting him in the Stock Down portion of this week’s piece, but decided against it because his results are still fine. However, his average fastball velocity has fallen off a cliff since April, going from an average of 95 MPH to 91 MPH in August. Manager Dave Roberts has mentioned that Wood may be fatigued. However, a sharp decrease in velocity is normally a precursor to a more serious injury. I’m not saying he’s going to hit the DL soon, but it’s definitely a situation to keep an eye on.

On to the Stock Report.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 19 Stock Report: Not Happ-ening

Stock Up

Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians

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Salazar had a rough start to the season. He laboured through April and May, struggling with his control and command. He even earned himself a spot in an early season edition of the Stock Report when he was demoted to the bullpen. His bullpen stint was short lived before he hit the DL with a shoulder injury. His season was looking like a lost one before he returned with a vengeance.

In three starts off the DL, Salazar has allowed just three earned runs and seven hits across 20 innings pitched. He’s struck out no fewer than eight batters in any of the starts. Salazar has even managed to limit the free passes, walking just five batters. His success seems to be a result of a change in pitch selection. Eno Saris of FanGraphs wrote an incredible breakdown of Salazar’ new approach. Since returning, he’s gone back to basics and his relying more on his four seam-fastball and less on his sinker. He is also locating his fastball much better, leading to softer contact from opposing hitters.

If this trend continues, there’s no reason to believe that Salazar can’t finish the season as a top-of-the-rotation Fantasy option. He is still un-owned in nearly 20% of ESPN leagues. If he’s still on the wire in your league, you need to go add him immediately. Salazar has the potential and repertoire to be a Fantasy ace. Hopefully a new approach and new found confidence will help maintain his new level of play.

Alex Bregman, 3B/SS, Houston Astros

Bregman was one of the most sought after commodities in 2017 drafts. His hot finish to the 2016 season had owners believing that the sophomore would be one of the breakout stars of the 2017 season. The season didn’t start the way everyone wanted, as Bregman struggled through much of the first four months of the season. Between April and June Bregman carried a slash line of .249/.329/.402 with eight home runs and 26 RBI. Before the weather warmed up, Bregman was barely worth owning in re-draft leagues.

Since the calendar has flipped to July, Bregman has been much better. Since July 1st, Bregman has slashed .337/.416/.653. He’s hit five home runs and scored 27 runs during the summer hot streak. His BB/K rate has improved to 1.1, as he is once again exhibiting the plate discipline that made him successful last season.

His .341 BABIP points to some regression, but the plate discipline he is showing will help him avoid another prolonged slump. He is making just 16% soft contact since the start of July which has also helped his BABIP stay elevated. Bregman won’t provide owners with gaudy power numbers, but he will be a steady source of production in the Astro’s lineup, now that he has moved from seventh to second in the order. If he was dropped in any leagues, he needs to be scooped immediately.

Ketel Marte, SS, Arizona Diamondbacks

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The once highly touted prospect has had a tough time the last couple of seasons. Marte started the 2016 season as the Mariners starting shortstop, but was returned to the minors after hitting .258 while battling a multitude of injuries. This past offseason, Marte was traded to the Diamondbacks along with Taijuan Walker. He started this season in the minors, but was called up due to injuries suffered by Nick Ahmed and Chris Owings. Marte has just returned to the Arizona lineup after the tragic death of his mother. Despite the terrible circumstances, Marte has an everyday role and will be given every chance to prove himself.

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Marte has already collected five hits in three games since his return to the lineup. Despite the small sample size, he is showing signs of a major breakout. He has raised his walk rate to 10.7%, much improved from 3.9% last season. Marte has also switched up his approach at the plate, increasing his hard hit percentage from by 12.5% from last season. His GB% has decreased, with corresponding increases in his LD% and FB%. Marte is no longer looking like a soft hitting speedster that pitchers are willing to attack.

With Ahmed and Owings out for extended periods of time, Marte will have every opportunity to prove he belongs as Arizona’s starting shortstop. As of Tuesday night, he is owned in just 2.5% of leagues. At a position as volatile as shortstop, his production as part of the dangerous Diamondbacks lineup will be a welcome sight.

Stock Down

Hanley Ramirez, 1B, Boston Red Sox

So much for the “when he’s healthy, he’s productive” theory. HanRam has not been a very productive Fantasy option this season, hitting just .250 with 17 home runs and 42 RBI. His power contributions have been far below the expectations he set for himself after last season’s 30 home run display. No one was expecting Ramirez to actually play a full season, but his projected pace of 136 games would be his second highest total since 2012. Despite remaining relatively healthy, he is on pace for just 61 RBI and 68 runs scored.

His plate discipline has remained consistent with last season. His contact authority rates are also very similar to last season’s numbers. The big discrepancy in Ramirez’s underlying stats seems to be his BABIP, as it’s dropped to .274 from the .315 mark it was last season. His HR/FB rate has also dipped, corresponding with an increase in his overall FB%. He’s pulling the ball more often, which means he could be selling out for more power without success.

Regardless of the reason, Ramirez is not the player owners were hoping he would be. With the Red Sox whole offense struggling, HanRam has been producing like a bench Fantasy option at best. Now he is dealing with an oblique injury which could affect his power even further. Desperate owners can hold Ramirez in hopes in a late season surge, but anyone with more consistent (and healthy) options should make the switch.

Jameson Taillon, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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It’s tough for me to put Taillon in this spot, as he’s one of my favourite pitchers to watch. Over the last month, Taillon has given me no choice but to put him firmly in the Stock Down section. Prior to his skid stopping start against the Padres on Sunday, Taillon had been atrocious. He had surrendered 17 earned runs on 20 hits over just 6.2 innings. The two start nightmare raised his ERA from 3.06 to 4.74.

Two starts don’t make a whole season, however, Taillon’s struggles go beyond that two start stretch. Sunday’s quality start was the first Taillon has posted since June 29th. There’s been no mention of injury by the Pirates coaching staff, but it wouldn’t be surprising considering Taillon’s spotty injury history. There isn’t an issue with velocity, as he’s still on par with his season average.

It wouldn’t surprise me if Taillon was suffering from fatigue. He might still be getting used to a full MLB schedule and had to deal with surgery for testicular cancer early this season. Until the Pirates can help Taillon figure out his issues against teams that aren’t the Padres, Taillon may be a risky start. He isn’t worth dropping, but he’s moved himself out of must-start territory in most leagues.

Ian Happ, SP, Chicago Cubs

Happ’s short major league career has been defined by inconsistency. The first month was quite slow while he adapted to the skill of major league pitchers. He then exploded in the latter half of June, hitting eight home runs between June 4th and June 21st. In the month and half since June 21st Happ has hit just .264 with four home runs. His 30% striekout rate will ensure that his average will stay around 2.50 for the rest of the season.

Happ’s slump has cost him playing time, as he’s been on the bench in seven of the last 12 games. Jon Jay has taken regular duties in center field, leaving Happ with pinch hitting and utility duties based on matchups. Without consistent playing time, Happ is a difficult player to own outside of dynasty leagues. Owners in redraft leagues should evaluate their waiver wire situations for players with a clearer road to playing time. If Happ somehow receives a regular starting spot one again, his value will rise one again.


Check out the rest of our 2017 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

About Jonathan Chan

Winning fantasy leagues since 2004. Losing them for much longer. Follow Jonathan on twitter @jchan_811 and he'll be ready for all your questions!

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