In case you’re not already fighting Bold Prediction fatigue, it’s time to see how I did with mine.
1. Jorge Soler will hit at least 33 home runs
Vast and confounding is the mystery of Soler’s performance this season. One of the few things I am sure of is that he did not hit anywhere close to 33 home runs. Soler was more aggressive and struggled to make contact, while his ISO more than halved from his debut. You’ll see later where an extra dose of boldness hurt my chances, but not this time. I was nowhere close.
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I’ll kick this off with a couple of caveats. First, I’m not really sure how you think. You might think these players were fantastic, in which case the headline appears a little silly. I’m just going off of a vague feeling based on consuming fantasy baseball content through the season. Second, for the sake of a uniform ranking system, I’m using ESPN’s Player Rater.
Just for fun. That’s really all this is. Taking 300, or fewer, plate appearances and extrapolating them to more than twice that amount isn’t the best practice. Yet there’s something giddy about simply flouting the rules and seeing what happens.
I’ll extrapolate the stats of some key players to a full season and define that as 650 plate appearances, even though that’s not a realistic goal for some of these guys. I’ve tried to limit this exercise to players who have a shot at garnering a full season’s worth of plate appearances. You’ll notice this trends toward younger players because they haven’t put together full seasons yet, so there’s some mystery to what they could possibly do.
Of all the predictions, Goldilocks would pick these. Not too bold. Not too safe. Just right.
Why predictions? I’m a little prediction crazy. Plus, you’re not making trades at this point in most leagues, the RotoGraphs team is doing a great job of providing options to grab for a boost in the final weeks, and there will be plenty of time to analyze players for 2016 in the offseason. Here are 13 assorted thoughts and musings on the remaining 13 percent or so of the 2015 season.
I tossed out some hitters who could help a few weeks ago. Now I have some more, this time focusing on two specific needs: home runs and steals. All players are 50 percent owned or less in both Yahoo! and ESPN, with several under 10 percent for deep leagues.
Brandon Moss ( Yahoo! 50 percent, ESPN 40 percent) – Moss is playing a lot and finally playing well for the Cardinals. He appears to be fully beyond those dark days of July, when a .204 BABIP helped him produce a 44 wRC+. ZiPS and Steamer both call for an average around .240 with five home runs the rest of the way. Moss is certainly capable of doing more in a month (he hit nine homers last May), so there’s upside too.
This is what Chris Davis does. He’s always going to swing hard, resulting in what Brooks Baseball lovingly refers to as a “disastrously high likelihood to swing and miss.” But sometimes he’s going to connect on those swings with pleasant results.
This approach lends itself to results like the past three seasons when his wRC+ bounced from 168 to 95 to 138. Plenty have tried to figure out exactly what went wrong with Davis in 2014, and now with the benefit of a rebound season’s worth of data, I think it’s worth seeing if we can learn anything.
Byron Buxton is back and that’s fantastic. Sure he struggled in his first major-league stint, a measly 11-game sample beset by strikeouts and not much else, but judging him based on such a small spell is not a good idea. He should be added right away in all formats. It seems like unnecessary advice until you consider he’s owned in 32 percent of Yahoo! leagues and 25 percent of ESPN leagues.
Things become a little more simplified at this point in the season. It’s no longer about how much promise a player has as it is about what he can deliver right now. With that in mind, here are some interesting players who could be free for the taking (owned in less than 50 percent of Yahoo! leagues).
So about Carlos Correa. He looks pretty solid. It’s hard to avoid getting to excited with a player like this. I think it’s been fairly well established that Correa is good. Real good. I’ll try to tackle the fantasy implications of his first 50 games and determine how much weight to give them. Statistics through Aug. 5.
Is Correa the top fantasy shortstop for 2016?
After writing about the biggest value gainers last week, I started pondering Charlie Blackmon and A.J. Pollock. Both are power/speed guys, both are on the way to their best season, and both were kind of obvious in hindsight. That last part is what interests me. If their better-than-expected performances this season were fairly easy to see coming, then why didn’t most fantasy owners notice?
I touted Blackmon in passing, but didn’t blow a trumpet about it because I wasn’t completely confident in him. I had an inkling about Pollock, yet he didn’t make any of my teams and I didn’t write about him. I think so many missed them because they slipped into a sort of value vortex. They aren’t young, they didn’t have much buzz coming up and we’d seen enough games from them to assume we knew what they were.