Alright, the Fair or Foul for this week is here! The holiday this week kind of put us behind a bit, but wait no more! There wasn’t much disagreement between Shane and I on the topics this week, but hey…you get what you get!
Tomorrow we’ll post out Around the Bases with Yadier Molina. How does he stack up against other fantasy catchers?
Johnny Cueto will finish outside the top 30 SP’s…
K- As we sit here today, Ariel Miranda is the 30th ranked SP in standard leagues. If I’m going by name alone there, yes I think Cueto is better than Miranda, but there are also other guys hovering around that 30th mark that I’m not sure Cueto is better than. Guys like Samardzija, Arrieta and Manaea are all ahead of him, but sitting outside the top 30. Heck, even Drew Pomeranz is in that category and is more appealing to me at this point than Cueto is. I touched on Cueto a bit in Monday’s post, so I’m not going to go on and on about him here today. I picked him to bench this week for multiple reasons. His stats this year seem to show a declining arm. Cueto is currently sitting with a 4.25 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. Numbers like that don’t strike me as an upper-tier pitcher anymore. When I think of a top 30 pitcher I relate that to the top 2 guys from each roster. Yes, some teams #3 guys are going to be far better than other teams #2’s, but you get what I mean here. With ERA and WHIP numbers where they are, Cueto doesn’t fit as a #2 for me. Call on the field: Fair. Cueto seems to be showing regression on the backside of a nice career. Sure, he’ll put together some dazzling starts between now and October, but not enough to warrant him a spot inside the top 30.
S- Johnny Cueto is in the midst of easily his worst season since his sophomore campaign with the Reds. He’s currently sitting just inside the top 40 among SPs in standard leagues, and that is certainly not what anyone signed up for when they drafted him as the 11th SP off the board. Looking at his performance this year it’s hard to gauge how much of Cueto’s relative struggles have been luck and how much might continue to plague him in the second half of the season. The optimist might look at his BABIP that is 20 points higher than his career number, while the pessimist can say that it’s not too far removed from last year’s number. If you follow that thread, maybe this is just the pitcher Cueto is but instead of overcoming it he’s seeing the luck run out. Back to optimism, his HR/FB percentage is a ghastly 16.8%. Cueto has never been an elite HR/FB guy, but each of the last two seasons he was in the single digits. Flipping it back to the negative, though, many of the advanced stats are not in his favor. All of the ERA predictors – FIP, xFIP, SIERA – are unfavorable for Cueto and might be an indication that he’s simply off this season. The strikeouts have been buoying Cueto’s campaign and keeping him in the top 40, but even those have abandoned him recently. You have to go back to June 3rd for the last time he struck out more than five batters in a game. If he can’t turn it around and start preventing some of those fly balls from leaving the park, top 40 might become a thing of the past. It also doesn’t help that the Giants are one of the worst teams in baseball, preventing him from getting wins in his better starts. I think he’ll get better and have a few more vintage Cueto starts in the second half, but seeing all the stats in one place it’s hard not to have some concern. I set out with the intention of saying he’ll finish within the top 30, but looking at it now I think that might be a little too optimistic. Call on the field: Fair, Johnny Cueto will finish outside the top 30 SPs (but he’ll find a way to make it close).
Joey Gallo will hit 40+ HR, drive in 85+ runs & finish outside the top 12 3B (even in leagues that don’t deduct for K’s)…
K- Joey Gallo is some kind of player. He brings so much power to the lineup, but that’s literally all he brings. He currently sits at 21/41/.191 in counting numbers. 21 HR’s before the All-Star break always looks great, but it generally looks much better if you have more than 47 hits as a total for the season up to this point. This question is one of the harder ones we’ve had so far as it takes a few angles on this to really tell if it’s going to happen. 3B seems to be a fairly deep position this year with some of the lesser names having good seasons (Travis Shaw/Josh Harrison/Ryon Healy/Jedd Gyorko). Gallo currently sits ranked 21st, but only 15 points out of the top 12. I don’t doubt Gallo will reach the 40+ HR mark, but his RBI numbers might not approach the 85 mark. The Rangers aren’t doing Gallo any favors by having him hit 9th; that’s generally not going to be a high RBI spot, but at the same time you’re generally not going to have a 40-homer guy hitting last in your lineup. If Gallo can start showing something other than hitting the ball into the stands I think this is a real possibility, but unfortunately I don’t think that’s a real thing. In roughly a full season of AB’s in his major league career he’s a .185 hitter. He’s never hit above .270 anywhere in his pro career and his ridiculous 38.8% strikeout rate isn’t doing him any favors either. Call on the field: Fair, for the most part. Joey Gallo will finish outside the top 12 at 3B, due in large part because of the lack of RBI and his batting average. He won’t reach 85 RBI and he won’t reach the Mendoza line at any point this year.
S- Joey Gallo is basically a slightly better Ryan Schimpf, right? The Rangers slugger is one of the foremost Three True Outcomes guy currently in the league, and so far in 2017 it’s been enough to keep him getting fairly regular at bats. He’s currently sitting with 21 HR (only 47 hits overall!) and 41 RBI, which puts him on a 41/79 pace. He’s also on a 214 strikeout pace; that “achievement” would be fourth best all time for a single season. Now, obviously if you’re in a standard league that deducts for strikeouts this question should be about whether or not he’ll finish outside the top 25 3B, but without a penalty for Ks can he overcome the miserable batting average? Short answer: No. Gallo has light tower power but he doesn’t do anything else and if he’s not hitting home runs he essentially has no value to fantasy players or the Texas Rangers. With Adrian Beltre doing Beltre things since coming off the DL and a healthy Mike Napoli – not to mention Robinson Chirinos occasionally starting even with Jonathan Lucroy in the lineup – if Gallo stays cold he will likely find himself shipped off to Round Rock. Call on the field: Fair, partially at least. Let’s go point by point on the question. Will Gallo hit 40+ homers? No, I think he loses enough ABs and potentially ends up in AAA. Will he drive in 85+ runs? No again. Will he finish outside the top 12 3B (even in leagues that don’t penalize for Ks)? Without a doubt in my mind.
Eric Thames will not be a top 15 1B from today forward…
K- Even with Thames’ recent struggles over the last month he’s still a top 10 guy right now. To me, that shows a lot of what’s at the position. Other than the top 4 or 5 guys, the 1B position isn’t all that deep this year. You’ve got guys like Justin Smoak, Logan Morrison, and Travis Shaw all up near the top and I’m not sure they have any business being there. Using that logic you could argue Thames doesn’t belong there either. Thames has cooled down considerably after his torrid start to the year, but even with 8 HR’s over the last 30 days he’s still on pace to hit well over 40. His currently average of around .250 is probably more of what you can expect from him rather than up near the .300 mark. After having hit a mere .163 in the month of June I think it’s safe to say the lull of the season for him has come and gone. We’re still early in July, but he’s already equaled his May HR total and half way through his June total. In order for Thames to be a top 15 guy I think he has to rely on the play of others more than his own at this point. If he maintains as an “average” player I think he covers the bases here. Call on the field: Foul. Thames will keep right with a more reasonable pace rest of season compiling something of 20/40/.250 for counting numbers to be a top 15 1B option.
S- What a season Eric Thames has had. His April lived up to the nickname he rightfully earned in South Korea – God – but he’s fallen off to a pretty substantial degree. There are things within his game, though, that keep me optimistic that he can continue producing at a fairly high level for the rest of the season. I believe a lot of his early mashing was just MLB pitchers not being accustomed to him upon his return from Korea, and Thames took advantage of that thanks to fresh legs, excitement, and legitimate plate skills. Once the league figured out the book on him, however, it’s appeared to be a dramatic fall off a cliff. Realistically this is probably what we should have been expecting all along, but those of us that took a chance on him in our drafts were spoiled by his incredible first month of the season. I don’t think there’s much in Thames line that will change the rest of the season. The .250 average seems about right, as does the 40 homer pace he’s on. If he can continue displaying top notch plate discipline – his .377 OBP is top 20 in all of baseball & his 15.8% BB rate is fourth best – he’ll be worth keeping in your lineup even through his colder stretches. He’s had a couple durability concerns throughout the first three months of the season which could be a problem if they continue to crop up, but if he can stay on the field I think Thames is going to contribute enough to be within the top 15 1B from today forward. Call on the field: Foul, Thames does enough well that he’ll overcome the downward-trending batting average and be among the top 15 1B.
Mookie Betts will finish with 30+ HR/30+ SB & be a top 5 overall hitter…
K- I became a huge Mookie fan when I scooped him up during the 2014 season after another owner in our league dropped him. Now, this was big news at the time because his previous owner paid a hefty price for him. If I recall it was something like $30+ in a FAAB league. We all know what Mookie has done since then, great pickup on my part! Alright, alright, I’ll try to not be team-biased with this one. Betts is currently a top 5 overall hitter and his average is some 20 points less than his previous career low, albeit a short career thus far. Betts is right on pace for a 30/30 season, sitting at 15 HR and 15 SB through 82 games. If you listen to all the “experts” they’ll tell you Betts has had somewhat of a down year offensively. If that’s the case and he plays better in the second half he’ll easily hit that 30/30 mark. His month-by-month splits are a bit odd this year. The months he’s hit better for average in have seen a decline in power numbers, but in May when he hit .256 he put together 7 HR and 21 RBI. I don’t expect to see that trend continue, it will likely level out the rest of the season. Career wise, as the year goes on Betts has improved as he’s a career .320 hitter in the second half of the season. Yes, I get it, this is only his 4th full season in the big’s, but that’s more than enough of a sample size to get an idea of how he’ll perform. Call on the field: Fair. Betts will only get better at the plate as the year progesses and he’ll reach the 30/30 club for the first time in his career. Remember, he only fell 4 stolen bases shy of these numbers last year!
S- Boy, those concerns about Betts’ slow start sure were all for naught. His .280 batting average is lower than we hoped for, but that’s mostly because of a poor May (.256 for the month) that he’s left in the rearview mirror. Coincidentally, Betts’ May was his best power month so far this season, so there’s a bit of an interesting dichotomy in his first half numbers. Ultimately I think the average will get better – his BABIP is over 30 points lower than his career mark – and he’ll stay on roughly the same HR pace thanks to an ISO and HR/FB that are in line with last season. I believe in Betts’ speed and baserunning as well. Last season he finished with 31 HR and 26 steals and he’s more or less in line with that pace this year (currently on pace for 29 of each). With a little luck and aggressiveness in the second half, I see no reason Betts can’t get to the 30/30 mark. The real question is whether that will that be good enough to finish a top 5 overall hitter. He’s been on an incredible hot steak and has gotten just into the top 5 in standard leagues, and I see no reason to doubt that he’ll be able to maintain that ranking for the rest of the season. Call on the field: Fair, Mookie Betts will hit 30 HR, steal 30 bases, and finish among the top 5 hitters in fantasy leagues.
Who is the biggest snub from each ASG roster?
K- For the first time in a while the fans seems to have done a nice job with the voting. More importantly, the All-Star game is back to being just a display of the game’s best, rather than having some stupid impact on the World Series, bravo Rob Manfred! Now, the fans weren’t perfect as I could make a few arguments on the NL side of things on who should be the starters, but hey, we’re not perfect. I get that Gary Sanchez has had a nice season, but he’s missed a chunk of time, but Alex Avila is the only other guy that would make much sense as the back-up catcher, but I’m not sure I could argue him being there over Sanchez. The guy I want to go with here is in the Final Vote, so I’m going to leave him out…for now. Revisit me after the Final Vote winners are released and I’ll let you know how I feel about it. I think Khris Davis got hosed. He’s got 23 HR and 57 RBI heading into the break. Sure he K’s a lot and doesn’t hit for much average, but there’s nothing wrong with a power guy hitting .250! His numbers sure seem to be flashier than Michael Brantley’s 5 HR, 31 RBI and .301 average. Brantley isn’t even a top 30 option in LF in fantasy baseball! Back to the Final Vote thing, if Elvis Andrus doesn’t win that he’s easily the biggest snub in the AL this year.
For the NL, I’ve got to go with Alex Wood. He hasn’t lost, he has an ERA under 2 and a WHIP under 1! How do you keep a guy out of an ASG with those kinds of numbers!? Yeah, yeah, you have to get a representative from each team, I get it, but that doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s ridiculous Alex Wood didn’t get in. You MIGHT be able to argue him in over his rotation mate, Clayton Kershaw, but nobody would listen to you on that one.
As for the Final Vote, I think Elvis Andrus and Anthony Rendon are the deserving ones, but Mike Moustakas and Justin Turner will be your likely winners.
S- My answer for the National League is a no doubter: Dodgers SP Alex Wood. He’ll almost certainly make the roster once you factor in injuries and SPs who pitched the weekend before the All Star Break – I would be surprised if he doesn’t replace teammate Clayton Kershaw, who starts on Sunday – but Wood should have been a no doubter on the initial announcement. I don’t begrudge guys like Brad Hand and Pat Neshek making it because of the technicality that every team needs to have a representative – and it’s not like the Dodgers were underrepresented with Kershaw, Corey Seager, Cody Bellinger, and Kenley Jansen all making the team, plus Justin Turner among the Final Vote candidates – but Wood is having an undeniable season. Sure, he started the year in the bullpen, but since becoming a starter he has been Kershaw-esque in his brilliance and should be rewarded. I’m ignoring the Final Vote guys – though Justin Turner and Anthony Rendon without question belong – so a couple other guys who deserve mentioning are Nationals SP Gio Gonzalez, Brewers 3B Travis Shaw, Marlins C JT Realmuto (seriously, game played at Marlins home stadium and you go with Yadier Molina as the backup catcher?!), and Pirates RP Felipe Rivero.
The American League is a little bit tougher. The only player who made the cut who is truly undeserving in my estimation is Yankees RP Dellin Betances, though there are a handful of guys who in a perfect world would be named All Stars. My pick for the AL’s biggest snub is Aaron Hicks. Sure, he operated as the Yankees fourth OF for much of the season, but that only shows how great he’s been across his 200 ABs. While he is currently on the DL, that shouldn’t have stopped him from being named an All Star. Hicks has finally shown the potential that always existed and he’s been marvelous for a fun Yankees team. A few other guys who would have been worthy selections are Angels SS Andrelton Simmons, Astros RP Chris Devenski, Blue Jays RP Roberto Osuna, and Tigers C Alex Avila.
All info courtesy of espn.com, cbssports.com, & baseball-reference.com