Fantasy Baseball

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 9 Stock Report: God of WAR


Before we get into the 2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 9 Stock Report, I want to do one thing. That one thing is take a break from Fantasy Baseball and give a round of applause to Jameson Taillon.

The 2010 second overall pick has gone through a lot in his young career. He dealt with Tommy John Surgery in 2014 and sports hernia surgery in 2015, costing him two full seasons of his career. Coming into 2017 Taillon was finally healthy and ready to showcase the talent that made him such a heralded prospect. Unfortunately, Taillon was struck by bad luck once again, and recently underwent surgery to treat testicular cancer. The surgery was a success and Taillon is healthy and pitching once again.

Now back to Fantasy. Taillon’s first rehab start for Double-A Altoona was spectacular. In three innings of work, he allowed just one hit and one walk while striking out six. He was scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Tuesday, which has seemingly gone well. As he nears a return to the Pirates’ rotation, he needs to be added in all leagues.

2017 Fantasy Baseball Week 9 Stock Report

Stock Up

Zack Godley, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks

Okay, maybe he isn’t a God of WAR (0.8 career WAR) but I couldn’t pass up the snappy title. Godley has done nothing but impress since being called up in late April. Through five starts, he holds a 1.99 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. For many owners, his solid performance has been a surprise, considering his 6.39 ERA through nine starts in 2016. His FIP and xFIP (4.97, 4.20) last season showed room for improvement, but he didn’t carry the peripherals you would normally see from a solid Fantasy option.

Godley has seen a marked improvement in several key areas. Most importantly, his 1.57 HR/9 has regressed to a manageable 0.57 mark. His BABIP has also fallen from .313 to .244. Godley is also inducing much weaker contact this season, generating 66.2% ground balls while lowering his LD% and FB% by a combined 13%. A near five percent decrease in his hard-hit rate has also contributed to his massive improvement.

All of this is based on a small sample size, but Godley had shown he has the talent to be a solid contributor this season. If he can control his stuff more consistently (eight of his 11 walks have come in two starts) he should maintain an ERA close to his xFIP of 3.23. He won’t maintain an ERA below two, but his upside behind the D’Backs offense is more than worthy of a flier. He’s only 38% owned in ESPN leagues and should be much higher for someone who’s posted four consecutive quality starts.

Justin Smoak, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays

The post-post-post hype sleeper is finally breaking out! Smoak is finally looking like the power hitter that the Rangers and Mariners thought he could be. In just 50 games, he’s matched the RBI total he posted all last season and is only two home runs behind his 2016 total.

The biggest improvement for Smoak has been with his K-rate. This season, he’s lowered his strikeouts to just 18.2%, the first time in his major league career he’s been under 20%. Another huge improvement he’s made is in his contact rates. He’s making contact with 94.1% of his pitches inside the zone, by far a career high.  His BABIP is close to the career high he set last season, and it’s not unrealistic to believe he can maintain it with a career-high hard hit percentage.

Smoak has taken full advantage Steve Pearce’s injury and should be in line for most of the playing time at 1B moving forward. With the Jays lineup looking dangerous again, Smoak should continue to be a solid producer. As of Tuesday night, he’s unowned in nearly 50% of ESPN leagues.

J.C. Ramirez, SP, Los Angeles Angels

While he hasn’t been lighting the world on fire, Ramirez has shown enough to deserve a look as a back-end starter. After a tough start to the season, Ramirez has picked it up in May. The former reliever has posted a quality start in four of his last five outings, winning two of them. Ramirez is not a strikeout guy by any means, striking out just 6.90 batters per nine innings. However, his control helps him keep runs off the board, as he’s walked just five batters in his five May starts.

His peripherals suggest that an ERA in the area of 3.50 is attainable for Ramirez. He’s excellent at mixing up his pitches to make up for the fact that his fastball doesn’t generate a lot of swinging strikes. With a solid slider and curveball in his repertoire, Ramirez should maintain his value as a solid back-end rotation option in mixed leagues.

Stock Down

Maikel Franco, 3B, Philadelphia Phillies

Before suffering a broken wrist in 2015, Franco showcased the power and on-base skills to be a Fantasy force for many years to come. Following a monster performance in Spring Training last season, Franco was tabbed as the next breakout star. Things didn’t quite work out that way, as Franco finished the season an average-at-best option. With a chance to bounce back this season, Franco has done nothing but fall flat on his face.

Through 190 plate appearances, Franco is slashing .209/.268/.349 with six home runs and 28 RBI. Most of those RBI came early in the season, and lately, Franco has even been benched by Pete Mackanin in an attempt to clear his head. It hasn’t done much good, as he has recorded just two hits in his last six games. Many of Franco’s problems can be traced back to his batting stance. Essentially, the movement in his batting stance leaves a lot to be desired in Franco’s ability to hit outside pitches. Anyone who has seen Franco at the dish can he the issues he has when he awkwardly whiffs at pitches on the outside part of the plate.

Franco’s stock is way down at this point in the season. He’s shown no improvement as a hitter, actually getting worse over time. Until he figures out how to stop hitting so many ground balls to his pull-side, his average and production will suffer. For now, he’s nothing more than an upside bench stash in deep leagues.

Nick Castellanos, 3B, Detroit Tigers

For the second straight season, Castellanos was a popular late-round pick for owners looking to fill their third base slot with decent production at a lower price. Thus far, the Tigers third basement has provided nothing but headaches. Through 49 games, Castellanos is batting just .212 with four home runs.

Castellanos’ strikeout rate has always been poor, but it’s gotten even worse this season, rising to a career-high 27%. He is making more hard contact this season sitting at a ridiculous 47%. However, his ground ball rate has spiked to 39%, the highest of his major league career. A BABIP of .280 points to a little bit of positive regression. However, after two seasons of waiting for a breakout, Castellanos doesn’t seem capable of the numbers his peripherals always seem to imply.

As with Franco, Castellanos is a deep league stash for owners who have the bench space to spare. However, the upswing on whatever improvements he makes won’t be worth holding onto if he slumps for much longer.

Danny Salazar, SP, Cleveland Indians

Salazar has towed the line between an upper and lower tier pitcher in his career. At times he’ll demonstrate elite strikeout stuff with decent control. Recently, he’s been all strikeouts and nothing else. This season, he is striking out a career high 12.55 batters per nine innings. However, those gaudy K numbers are being accompanied by a horrid 4.82 BB/9. His control problems, in part, have lead to a 5.50 ERA and 1.59 WHIP.

Another huge issue for Salazar has been his ability to keep the ball in the yard. His 1.89 HR/9 will hurt anyone, especially if there are constantly men on base due to free passes. With Corey Kluber returning to the Indian rotation, Salazar has been moved to the bullpen in an effort to correct his issues. The move like likely temporary, but is still a huge hit to his value. As good as his skill-set could be in a relief role, he will not overtake Andrew Miller or Cody Allen in line for high leverage innings.

If he is able to earn back a spot in the rotation, his value would spike. However, Terry Francona did not how long Salazar would be in the bullpen, dropping his current value and clouding his future value.

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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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