I can barely believe we have reached the fantasy baseball quarter pole already. It only feels like yesterday I was coming out of drafts excited about my team and ready for the season ahead. On the upside however, the quarter pole mark of the season gives Jay Holmes, Kyle Robert and myself a chance to not only reflect on our preseason picks for fantasy MVP, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year, as well as our selected sleeper and bust picks, but also to have a little review of the season and give out ideas of what may be to come.
So without further adieu, here is my take on how each of us have performed so far with our preseason picks, before we each give our opinion on the current fantasy MVP and Cy Young, as well as suggesting potential sell high and buy lows.
MVP: So far only one of us has hit here and I am pleased to say that my man Paul Goldschmidt sits not only first among first baseman, but first overall among hitters having put together a wonderful season with both power and steals.
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Jay selected Andrew McCutchen who sits 43rd among hitters – which is not disastrous, but for where you drafted him, you’re undoubtedly disappointed. And owners will be desperately hoping he can up his performance in the second half of the season.
Kyle selected Jose Bautista who has once again struggled with injuries and now sits 74th among hitters and, as always, the big IF on his performance is his return to full health so he can play the field regularly.
Cy Young: A pretty good hit here from all three of us with my pick of Max Scherzer occupying the number one spot for starting pitchers on the player rater (more about him later).
Jay’s selection of Sonny Gray sits a fantastic fourth and Kyle’s selection of Madison Bumgarner is 16th. Gray has had a fantastic season so far on a struggling Oakland squad and the key thing is he has been striking guys out.
Bumgarner has not been a flat out ace by the numbers on the player rater but you wouldn’t be disappointed if you drafted him with the way he has performed. And I expect him to just keep steaming ahead.
ROTY: A big swing and a miss here so far for myself with the selection of Castillo, because he just didn’t come up as early as I expected (again, more on him later).
Jay hit the home run here with Kris Bryant, who came up as soon as he was eligible. And while it took a few weeks, when the power came it came in droves and he currently ranks as 29th on the player rater.
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Kyle’s selection of Joc Pederson has been an awesome pick, as well, with the Dodger currently occupying 32nd place on the player rater, and a pushing Bryant all the way for ROTY honours.
Sleeper: I selected Michael Taylor as my sleeper pick for 2015 because of his 20/20 possibility. And currently he is on pace for 15/15, but those stats are accompanied by a horrible 0.220-ish average. With the injury histories in that outfield he will be in and out of the line-up all year, but for him to be a fantasy relevant guy he needs to up that average.
Jay selected Josh Harrison who had a horrific start to 2015 but has turned it around, as May has stretched on. And now his stat line sits in the 0.260 region with 27 runs scored and sitting 98th on the player rater means he’s outperforming his ADP, making this a good call from Jay.
Kyle selection, Jorge Soler, has had a sluggish start to 2015 and has been massively over shadowed by his Cub team mates. Sitting 63rd among outfielders on the player rater, he’s currently performing below his ADP. So, we’ll call this a miss so far, but Kyle still believes as you will see later.
Bust: My pick of Yoenis Cespedes isn’t looking horrible right now, as he is out performing even the optimists expectations and sits 23rd among outfielders on the player rater with 26 runs scored and 28 driven, whilst batting 0.283.
Jay’s selection of Justin Verlander is a technical win as the former CY Young award winner has yet to pitch in the majors in 2015, but at the same time he was drafted very late in many leagues and has been able to occupy a DL spot since the first week of the season. We will come back to this one later for sure.
Kyle’s pick of Nelson Cruz to be a bust has been a massive bust in itself as Cruz has ripped it up in Seattle, and is currently on pace for 50-plus homers. Cruz is another guy who appears later in this article.
Jay Holmes: Bryce Harper – I really struggled for a moment. Bryce Harper has been fantastic but I almost picked Paul Goldschmidt. Looking at ADP value vs current production makes it a no-brainer. I highly doubt he finishes with 70 HR and 160 RBI, but wherever he lands, he’ll be close to the number one overall outfielder. You can’t ask for much more from a guy getting drafted in the 8-12 range.
Ben Rolfe: Todd Frazier – The only reason I selected Frazier over Goldschmidt is the ADP factor. Whereas Goldschmidt was going in the first round, Frazier was available in the seventh round in 12 team leagues. Frazier is currently the lowest drafted of the top 10 hitters on ESPN’s player rater and has been one of the best five category contributors in fantasy this season. He’s currently on pace for 50-plus homers, 20-plus steals, 115 runs and 105 RBI. And he’s currently batting at a 0.280 average to boot. At just 29 years old there is a chance we could be looking at a top three first baseman for the next five-plus years, especially if he continues playing in Cincinnati, where he is crushing it this year.
Kyle Robert: Bryce Harper – Bryce Harper is starting to have the season many have been waiting for. Owners started to get frustrated with Harper and he started to drop in ADP, going in the third round of most leagues. Harper, who is only 22, has been incredible this season. He is hitting .329 with 18 home runs and 43 RBI. He has even stole two bases for good measure. The only player above Harper on ESPN’s Player Rater is Paul Goldschmidt who was a top six-ish pick in most leagues. I expect these monster numbers to continue all season long.
Fantasy Cy Young:
JH: Sonny Gray – I shall not waiver from my pre-season pick. Gray has been lights out for the A’s, racking up 66 K’s in 74.0 IP and has a 6-2 record. I think wins don’t define a pitcher’s season/career, but it’s still important to some leagues (even some of mine). His WHIP, as of this writing, is a glowing 0.97. Most importantly, he is keeping his Quality Start % (QS%) above 70%, where most aces should (more on this later).
BR: Max Scherzer – After much deliberation over the top five pitchers on the player rater I decided to stick with my boy from the preseason. As many predicted, Scherzer has gone from superb last year to sublime with his move to the NL. Through 10 starts in 2015 Scherzer has a 6-3 record giving up a grand total of 12 earned runs in 71.2 innings pitched. Of those 12 runs five came in one game meaning he has given up just seven runs across the other 64 innings! He has struck out 85 batters and walked just 10 and his record could have been even better given that his three losses have come on games where he has allowed zero, two and one earned runs with poor hitting and fielding preventing him from being 10-0 (his no decision he gave up just one run). Scherzer could be challenging Kershaw for number one pitcher off the board next year at this rate.
KR: Dallas Keuchel – This season Dallas Keuchel has been outstanding. He is 7-1 with a 1.76 and .91 WHIP. He also has 60 strikeouts this season. He currently sits in top 10 of ESPN’s player rater. Keuchel has been the third best pitcher this season. Keuchel was not drafted among names like Clayton Kershaw, Felix Hernandez and Corey Kluber. Instead was taken as the 211th player of the board. A few players taken before Keuchel include: Matt Shoemaker, Neftali Feliz and Mike Fiers. Keuchel is showing no signs of slowing down and should be a monster all season.
JH: Yasiel Puig – I really can’t believe I wrote his name as a buy-low candidate. I will admit that his hamstring injury has helped his value drop. He wasn’t exactly on fire before the DL stint, either, so it’s appropriate that he’s fallen from ‘highly overrated’ in my eyes, to a nice value grab for the right buyer. I’d be asking current owners in the hopes their fears and frustration can get you a $0.70 on the dollar discount.
BR: Rusney Castillo – I was going to pick Lucroy here but I don’t think owners have given up on him, so instead I went for my ROTY pick from the preseason in Castillo. It took Castillo forever to be called up with a stint on the minor league DL delaying his call up to the majors. He has only been in the majors for eight games so far, so to judge him too harshly on his current numbers would be unfair but if he is to stick in the Red Sox outfield he needs to bring his average up from 0.233 and his OBP up from 0.258. He has stolen one base so far this year and currently has no home runs, scoring just one run and driving in just one as well. The more concerning thing is that he has been batting at the bottom of the order. And unless he improves his average and OBP then it’s tough to see him moving up the order with Boston desperately trying to salvage their disaster of a season so far.
KR: Jorge Soler – I attached my cart to the Soler wagon this offseason and I’m not jumping off now. He is currently batting .276 with four home runs and 18 RBI. The best is still to come for Soler. He currently has a BABIP of .400 which is good enough for fourth in the major leagues, ahead of Paul Goldschmidt, Nelson Cruz and Prince Fielder, who are all hitting over .320. Soler is also in a lineup that has the potential to produce multiple runs. He will drive in more runs and score more runs as his batting average starts to climb. Trade for Soler if you can or pick him up as he has been dropped in some leagues. The best is yet to come, jump on while you still can.
JH: Mike Pelfrey – Get back in there and sell, SELL! Remember that QS%? Pelfrey is sporting a 53%. That means he’s succeeding on borrowed time; he’s playing with house money. His current Groundball to Flyball ratio is 1.35, but his career average is closer to .90. Should he regress towards the mean (and he will), more flyballs usually lead to more HRs. His 2.77 ERA is going to balloon and I doubt he finishes the season sub-4.00, let alone sub-3.00. Remember the $0.70 on the dollar you’re offering for Puig? You should be happy to get $0.50 on the dollar for Pelfrey because he’ll probably be waiver-wire bait by the end of July
BR: Nelson Cruz – This one is a little controversial because Cruz has been crushing it this year with 18 homers at a 0.337 average but we saw a hot start last year before he slowed up massively in the second half of the season. Cruz’s career batting average is in 0.270 range and while he has had years posting an average of greater than 0.300 he hasn’t done it in five years. He is slugging at a career high rate of 0.663 but also he is on pace for a career high in strikeouts. An ageing player performing above his career average and striking out more stinks of regression to me and right now you can probably get top 20-25 value for him.
KR: Shelby Miller – Currently Shelby Miller is having a fantastic season. He is 5-2 with a 1.48 ERA and .88 WHIP. He is also averaging 6.58 strikeouts per 9 innings. However, it is very likely to start getting rough for Miller. Having a FIP of 3.36 and a xFIP, which takes defense out of play, of 3.87. In Miller’s last two season, he had an FIP in the mid threes and his ERA was in the same ballpark. Miller will still be useful this season but if you can sell him as a top 40-ish player I would jump at the opportunity