Matt Bishop | July 12, 2019
I am wrong a lot. I was wrong when I said Matt Strahm had an elite skill set and proceeded to pitch to a 9.00 ERA since June 20 and get demoted to the bullpen. I was wrong when I called Kole Calhoun a league winner only to watch him hit .227 with a .764 OPS and 100 wRC+ since June 3. And I was way off base when I called Jose Peraza a serviceable SS option the rest of the season after turning in a dreadful .755 OPS and 95 wRC+ since April 25. But no matter how off base these claims can be, 3 out of 10 in baseball ain’t bad. Good luck and godspeed.
Alex Verdugo, OF LAD
.303/.350/.489 (.839 OPS) 9 HR 34 R 39 RBI
6.9% BB 9.6% K .349 wOBA 119 wRC+
12.2% HR/FB 43.8% Hard
How good is Alex Verdugo? It depends on who you ask. If you check his Statcast page, his hard-hit rate and average exit velocity are middle of the pack, while his expected stats are well above average (xwOBA, xBA, xSLG). That might not get it done for most and force some to doubt his skillset. And even though EV and launch angle are all the rage these days, hitting the ball hard isn’t everything.
Plate discipline and quality of contact tend to go overlooked in baseball. Verdugo’s 9.6% K rate ranks 3rd in all of baseball, while his 5.5% swinging-strike rate is good for tenth in the league. His 87.3% contact rate is elite and is good for 9th in baseball.
His contact inside the strike zone is elite along with his swinging strike rate:
When comparing his patience and plate discipline metrics to the rest of the league, he is clearly elite in this climate. And even as a 23-year-old Rookie, Alex Verdugo is producing almost identical metrics to Astros slugger Michael Brantley. While I know this may be a stretch, look for yourself:
He appears to be hitting his stride in the last 30 days:
Since 6/11 (104 PA):
.333/.365/.563 (.928 OPS) 5 HR 15 R 11 RBI
5.8% BB 6.7% K .380 wOBA 139 wRC+
23.8% HR/FB 45.1% Hard
Don’t forget that he is striking out less than 10% of the time as a rookie and could really do damage when he gets comfortable. He has long been the Dodgers prized prospect and there is a reason they wouldn’t trade him. With a path to everyday playing time, Alex Verdugo could be special.
Kyle Schwarber, OF CHC
(73% CBS, 64% ESPN, 53% Yahoo)
Kyle Schwarber is hitting .220 this season against Left-Handed Pitchers (LHP). Ironically, he is a .190 career hitter against LHP. And while that may not seem significant, his 52.4% hard contact rate against lefties this season has far exceeded his 37.1% career hard-hit rate against southpaws. What is even more important is that his pull percentage against lefties is down drastically to 31.0% in 2019, while his career pull percentage against lefties is 45.5%.
2019 AGAINST LHP
.220/304/.407 (.711 OPS)
CAREER AGAINST LHP
.190/.301/.330 (.631 OPS)
We are still waiting on Schwarber to find himself and grow into that special bat that we have been hearing about. But for a player who is historically bad against lefties, decreasing your strikeout rate and significantly improving your batted ball profile could only help with the soul searching. If you need outfield help, he could be a decent trade target and a decent bench bat…for now.
Anthony Rendon, 3B WAS
.309/.393/.608 (1.002 OPS) 20 HR 67 R 62 RBI
10.7% BB 14.8%K .407 wOBA 151 wRC+
I know dude. You are not going to get Anthony Rendon for cheap and will most likely have to pay an arm and a leg for his services. But let me thoroughly explain why he is worth his high price tag and is a serious Buy High Candidate.
In Rendon’s impressive 7 year career, he has never hit more than 25 home runs in a season. As of the 2019 All-Star Break, he has already hit 20 home runs. If that isn’t enough to get you excited, he is also carrying the highest slugging percentage (.608) and wOBA (.407) of his career by a wide margin. His 10.7% walk rate is the 2nd highest of his career and his 151 wRC+ is a career-high.
But what if I told you that there is room for even more positive regression in his profile rest of season and more chances to milk the teet? His .306 BABIP is low in comparison to his career .313 BABIP and could get even better, compared to his .323 last season. His 31.0% groundball rate is the lowest of his career, while his 48.2% flyball rate is a career-high.
His hard-hit rate currently sits at 49.0% while he has never finished higher than 37.8% in his entire career. He is currently hitting .200 against changeups, while he is a career .256 hitter against off-speed pitches. And he is currently seeing the most changeups he has ever seen in his career, which should decline as the season goes on.
Anthony Rendon is a beast and maybe having the best statistical season of his career. But don’t take my word. Take a look at his Statcast page.
WAIVER WIRE ADDS
Adam Frazier, 2B/OF PIT
(29% CBS, 32% ESPN, 20% Yahoo)
.287/.341/.416 (.757 OPS) 4 HR 49 R 26 RBI
5.9% BB 11.5% K .321 wOBA 98 wRC+
Adam Frazier doesn’t inspire much confidence in any format, sporting a .765 career OPS with a slightly above average career 104 wRC+. But Frazier’s strikeout rate (11.5%) is currently the 9th lowest in the league, while his contact percentage (85.1%) ranks 20th in baseball. Low strikeouts and high contact percentage make Frazier a High Floor player. Even more so is the fact that his contact percentage is down more than 2% from his 87.3% in 2018, which was good for 19th in the league. If he could only hit.
Well, it looks like he is starting to hit, putting together an impressive run in his last 21 games:
Since 6/12 (84 PA):
.390/.429/.571 (1.000 OPS) 1 HR 18 R 11 RBI
4.8% BB 7.1% K .412 wOBA 158 wRC+
This is a drastic change and legitimate production in spite of the 1 HR. While you really can’t expect more than 10 HRs out of Frazier this year, he is hitting the ball harder, which is evident from his 42.0% hard-hit rate in June. He has never reached a 40% hard-hit rate in any month of the first half (Mar/Arp, May, June, July) in his entire career. Pair that with low strikeout totals and elite contact skills, he should be serviceable rest of season.
Jake Bauers, 1B CLE
(28% CBS, 30% ESPN, 15% Yahoo)
.245/.316/.410 (.726 OPS) 11 HR 34 R 36 RBI
9.0% BB 25.8% K .311 wOBA 89 wRC+
21.3% LD 37.1% FB 32.5% HC 15.1% HR/FB
Paired with a shiny prospect pedigree and a plus hit tool, Tampa Bay Rays top prospect Jake Bauers was dealt to the Cleveland Indians in December of 2018. Known for his above-average bat and in-game power, Bauers has really struggled with the transition to the majors. And while he hasn’t yet lived up to his expectations, there may be better days ahead:
Since 6/11 (80 Plate Appearances):
.333/.362/.560 (.922 OPS) 4 HR 8 R 14 RBI
5.0% BB 25.0% K .382 wOBA 137 wRC+
30.4% LD 26.8% FB 37.5% HC 26.7% HR/FB
Bauers is hitting .476 in July with a 41.2% Line Drive Rate and 41.2% Hard Contact rate. That is good for a 1.188 OPS and a 217 wRC+. I know this 5 game sample size is insignificant, but paired with his last month of production, this could lead to something.
Jackie Bradley Jr. OF BOS
(36% CBS, 39% ESPN, 28% Yahoo)
Streaky, yes. Inconsistent, yes. Jackie Bradley, Jr. is the definition of frustrating in fantasy, but everyone is convinced there is something there. And maybe there is because he has flashed glimpses of potential in the past and we continue to pay admission. But since the beginning of June, he has been awesome:
SINCE 5/31 (140 Plate Appearances):
.314/.403/.554 (.957 OPS) 6 HR 17 R 18 RBI
10.7% BB 22.9% K .395 wOBA 146 wRC+
That is almost a month and a half of legit production. The .386 BABIP in this time frame is clearly not sustainable and it is very doubtful he can maintain this pace, but what do you have to lose.
Freddy Galvis, SS TOR
(37% CBS, 17% ESPN, 41% Yahoo)
Freddy Galvis currently has a 102 wRC+ with a .775 OPS on the season. In his 8 year career, he has never had a wRC+ over 85 or an OPS over .700 in any season. He has literally jumped from a well below average player to an average player. And while the juiced ball may be helping his cause, he is providing value for fantasy owners while he never has before. Check out his last month of work:
SINCE 6/12 (107 Plate Appearances):
.337/.383/.602 (.985 OPS) 6 HR 16 R 19 RBI
.406 wOBA 158 wRC+
Galvis is currently carrying the highest batting average of his career (.270) and the 2nd best hard-hit rate of his career (35.2%). While this may not be sustainable, he is clearly doing things he has never done in his career, which is why he is worth a look down the stretch.
Jeimer Candelario, 3B DET
(10% CBS, 5% ESPN, 2% Yahoo)
The only thing Jeimer Candelario ever had going for him was playing time. After compiling a less than appealing .710 OPS in 2018, he came into the 2019 draft season as a deep deep sleeper and one with upside. He proved everyone wrong by starting violently slow, slashing:
.179/.277/.269 (.546 OPS) 2 HR 18 R 9 RBI
.245 wOBA 48 wRC+ 31.1% HARD
It got so bad for Candelario that he was eventually demoted to the minor leagues on 5/15 to fix his woes. He would respond by hitting .345/.427/.631 (1.058 OPS) in 96 plate appearances. He got the call on 6/26 and is absolutely raking:
SINCE 6/26 (46 PA):
.350/.435/.725 (1.160 OPS) 4 HR 5 R 7 RBI
.473 wOBA 202 wRC+ 57.1% HARD
I know this is a small sample, but the demotion to the minors may have woken up his bat. Candelario’s production is clearly capped by a struggling Tigers squad, but there are worse options out there and he could provide value and decent counting stats rest of season.
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