Welcome to 2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Triston Casas Finally Putting It All Together!
In his last five games against the Tigers and Royals over the past weekend, Casas drove in five runs and homered twice. That was the ninth home run and his 17th RBI that Casas produced in just the last four weeks. Those home runs represent almost half of his season total in 2023 (19) and are more than half of his RBI (45). When Casas was drafted in the first round of the 2018 amateur draft, the Red Sox thought they were getting a high-contact, high-OBP corner-infielder. But this year, the power has also arrived.
Over the last month of the fantasy baseball season, Casas has been nothing short of fantastic. For a player drafted around pick 228 in spring drafts, he is trending toward reaching a massive profit at that position long before the season is done. Is he doing something uniquely different this season? What is contributing to the hot second half and is it sustainable all season? Let's dig in and find out.
2023 Fantasy Baseball Trends: Triston Casas Finally Putting It All Together
Triston Casas is One of Baseball's Most Valuable Hitters in the Second Half of 2023
You can't find a hitting or power stat in the second half of MLB this year where Casas doesn't show up near the top. Whether it's standard stats or advanced metrics, Casas is among the league's best. Casas is 13th in average (.329). He is 13th in on-base percentage (.424) and second ins slugging percentage (.729). He is third in home runs (10) and 28th in RBI. Only MVP candidates Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson have a higher second half wRC+ (Diaz is at 203).
Casas isn't going to help you in the steals department (zero this year), but at just a 25% strikeout rate and 14% walk rate, he is getting on base and hitting for power at a higher pace than he ever has. Only three players in 2023, Casas, Austin Riley (he is still hot!), and Matt Olson, have at least 10 home runs and a .300 batting average since the All-Star Break.
Even with a zero in the steals department, Casas is a top-10 fantasy hitter by multiple fantasy player raters through the first half of August. And while Casas has always been a nice source of average and runs, he has never done anything like this with his power. He is already at 4x what his home runs were in 2022 and we still have five weeks of the season left. His batting average is more than 50 points higher than last season. And he is already set career-highs in just about every stat across the board.
What's been the key to Casas' success? It turns out all Casas needed was a little lift.
Casas Finally Made All the Right Adjustments
The one major knock on Casas in his shortened rookie season in 2022 was, how does a guy with so much power potential just crater in terms of slugging percentage in his first big league action? Every minor league year leading into 2023, Diaz had a slugging percentage of at least .472. A player with his power potential and his strength should not be making so many outs on the ground. Casas seemingly mastered the first two elements of the three true outcomes but just didn't want anything to do with home runs. That has all changed in 2023.
Casas has dropped his ground ball rate a full 20% off of his 2022 number (56%). At 36.1% this season, it is right in line with any other season in his minors career. The trade-off, of course, is that he is hitting balls much more in the air this year. At a 43.7% fly ball rate, he is sitting at eight percentage points above his 2022 numbers. The movement to normalize both of those numbers has made for a stark contrast during this year. Here are 2023's rolling averages of groundball and flyball rates this year courtesy of Fangraphs.
Ever since his horrific parts of the 2022 season (.197/.358/.408), Casas has been heading in the right direction. It's now culminating here in the second half 2023. But it's not just more flyballs and a launch angle (15.6 degrees) that is thirteen percent higher than last year (2.2 degrees). What is contributing just as much is how hard Casas is hitting the ball right now. Casas' 20.6% barrel rate ranks third among all batters this half of the season, according to FanGraphs.
With many more balls hit in the air and those balls being struck with much more authority, his sudden power surge should be no surprise. It's trending towards giving Casas a career-defining second half and those who bought in around pick 228 and were patient are reaping their rewards right now.
What to Expect From Triston Casas the Rest of 2023?
As we near the end of the 2023 fantasy campaign, the changes for Casas look legit. The new lift on the ball, more balls in the air, and harder contact all look to be leading to sustained power this season. Some might point to the fact that Casas has a .249 expected batting average as evidence that he will negatively regress. But his expected slugging percentage and expected wOBA are all trailing his seasonal numbers so there might even be room for improvement. As long as he can keep the ball off the ground, Casas should continue to produce a career year.
We know things like the on-base ability, the strikeout rate, and the prodigious power are things that should stick around. Casas has enough of a minors track record with those stats that we are really just looking at maintaining the newfound power. He is making the right kind of contact for power and making it more than ever before. Casas' contact rate and zone rate this season are all higher than his 2022 season. Everything seems to be coming together already in 2023 for the 23-year-old. Fantasy managers have looked at Casas for a couple of years and wondered when the power would show up. Now, it finally looks like it is here to stay.
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