It has been quite the exciting week in the world of sports. The NHL is getting ready to welcome the Vegas Golden Knights into the league and teams have been wheeling and dealing in preparation for the expansion draft. The NBA is getting ready for the draft and free agency. Rumors have come out that the Cavaliers are trying deal for every superstar possible in an attempt beat the Warriors.
That sound you heard was 28 other fan bases crying out in terror, then falling into a silent acceptance.
While the rest of the sporting world is on the edge of their seats, the baseball season is chugging along. Now is when Fantasy leagues can weed out the non-committed players who quit half way into the season, and aren't worth inviting back next season.
Kudos to all owners who are preparing for the dog days of summer by checking up on the Super-2 deadlines for Yoan Moncada and Austin Meadows. Before those two are called up, here are six players who are due for a serious evaluation.
2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 12 Stock Report
Jacob Faria, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
What an impression Faria has made over his first three starts. Over his first three 19.2 innings pitched, Faria has given up just three earned runs on 15 hits and four walks. The rookie also carries a 10.07 K/9 to go along with his 1.37 ERA and 0.97 WHIP. He hasn't done this against weak offenses either, as Faria has stymied both the Blue Jays and Tigers offenses in his last two starts.
Faria came into the season ranked as the Rays no. 8 prospect, so he does have the pedigree to support his hot start. Faria's minor league numbers support his current strikeout rate, as he held a 10.6 K/9 across 24 starts in Triple-A. His minor league walk rates point to some regression in his control, but his BB/9 has been much improved in 2017. Faria's SIERA sits at 3.18, which is closer to what his ERA will look like at the end of the season.
Of course, he won't maintain an ERA lower than Clayton Kershaw's. However, he can be a solid contributor for pitcher needy owners in the second half. For now, Faria is showing that he belongs at the major league level. Owned in just over 50% of ESPN leagues, he needs to be added in all leagues for his upside.
Matt Adams, 1B/OF, Atlanta Braves
Since his days with the Cardinals, Adams has been an intriguing player. He's flashed plenty of power potential in the past, but has not been able to hold down a starting job due to his defense and injury issues. He lost a lot of weight this off-season and has been much better because of it. Used mainly as a pinch hitter in St. Louis this season, Adams has thrived since his trade to Atlanta in the wake of Freddie Freeman's injury.
On the season, Adams is slashing .294/.346/.564 to go along with 11 home runs and 34 RBI. More impressively, 10 of his home runs and 27 of his RBI have come with the Braves. His ISO has spiked to .351 with Atlanta, while his BABIP is actually below his career average at .312. Adams has never been the type of player who walks a lot, so his 7.4% walk rate will likely remain stable.
Adams has been one of the most valuable hitters in Fantasy over the last 15 days. He ranks in the top 15 in both home runs and RBI over that span. His WRC+ of 154 with Atlanta would place him ninth in the league ahead of players like Anthony Rizzo, George Springer and Jose Altuve.
The worry with Adams has been what his role will be when Freddie Freeman returns. However, there are rumours that Freeman will return from the DL as a third baseman, leaving Adams to play at first. With steady playing time, Adams has the ability to be a top 10 first baseman.
Cameron Maybin, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The former top prospect has had trouble finding a home recently, having played for four teams in the last four years. This season, Maybin is finally putting together a season worthy of his former prospect status. Maybin still tends to deal with frequent injuries, but for now, he's healthy and is absolutely raking at the dish.
Since returning from the disabled list a couple weeks ago, Maybin has been on fire. He has hit safely in all 10 games he's played, while also hitting two home runs and stealing eight bases. He's up to 43 runs scored on the season, which puts him in the top 30 league wide despite missing close to 15 games due to injury. With stolen base numbers around the league declining, Maybin's SB numbers are a God-send for owners looking for speed off the wire.
Maybin has improved his BB% by five percent this season, helping further boost his stolen base numbers. Despite hitting two home runs in his last three games, Maybin will not contribute much in the HR and RBI categories. However, his run scoring and SB numbers will be extremely valuable as long as he remains healthy.
Marco Estrada, SP, Toronto Blue Jays
Estrada has been a nice surprise for owners over the last two seasons. Pitching in the tough AL East, Estrada has compiled 21 wins and ERA's of 3.13 and 3.48 in 2015 and 2016 respectively. However, he seemed to out pitch his peripherals ever year, as his xFIP was more than a full run higher than his ERA in both of his successful seasons.
This season, Estrada's peripherals have finally caught up with him, as he holds a 4.98 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in 15 starts. Over his last four starts, Estrada has been especially bad, allowing 23 runs over his last 16.1 innings. Estrada's biggest problem seems to be the return of his home run problem. Prior to 2015, Estrada was a fly-ball pitcher who carried a 1.73 HR/9 in his final season as a Brewer. With the Jays, Estrada managed to bring that number down to 1.19 despite remaining a primarily fly-ball pitcher. This season, his HR/FB rate is up nearly 4% to the highest mark in three years.
His peripherals (4.02 xFIP) point to improvement in his ERA. However, nothing in his performance indicates he'll pitch much better than an ERA around 4.00. His value has been some what salvaged by a career best K/9, but his value will continue to fall until he can limit the long ball.
Gregory Polanco, OF, Pittsburgh Pirates
It's been a tough 2017 for Polanco. Through 222 plate appearances, Polanco has just four home runs and 17 RBI. His average has fallen to .249 and he continues to suffer from injuries seemingly every other week. Last season was a breakout for Polanco in the power department, as he obliterated his previous career bests with 22 home runs and a .205 ISO. This season, Polanco has sacrificed power for plate discipline, as his ISO has fallen to .122 while his K% has improved by nearly 6%.
It's unclear whether or not Polanco's injuries have affected him at the plate. However, it's safe to say something has drastically changed. His soft contact rate has increased to a career high 24%, while his hard contact rate has plummeted by 13%. He is also swinging at more pitches outside the zone. This might be the culprit for his soft contact and GB% increases.
For the most part, Polanco has been inconsistent throughout his career. Due to risk of injury, the Pirates may limit him on the basepaths. Unfortunately, he doesn't have the power to make up for it like teammate Andrew McCutchen did. With limited power/speed upside at this point in the season, Polanco deserves a spot on the bench or the waiver wire, depending on league size.
Rick Porcello, SP, Boston Red Sox
It's not a huge surprise to see that Porcello has regressed from his Cy Young winning 2016. It would have been difficult for a pitcher who relies on weak contact, to maintain his ERA with the peripherals he held last season. This season his BABIP has increased to .366 while his LOB% has decreased to 68%. An ERA spike was expected due to his unsustainable .269 BABIP in 2016.
Of course, Porcello probably isn't as bad as his 5.05 ERA indicates. He is still providing nice K/BB numbers, but he has proven to be very hittable recently. Over his last eight starts, he has thrown just two quality starts. He has also given up at least eight hits in all of those eight starts.
Despite striking out a career high 8.26 batters per nine innings, Porcello is not finding much success this season. When a pitcher is giving up 43% hard contact, it doesn't matter how many batters he manages to strike out. Porcello's stock has dropped dramatically and shows no sign of rising in the near future.