Author Archive

Breakouts That Didn’t Happen: Nick Castellanos

If you took a quick look at the MLB leaderboard for hard-hit rate in 2017, you would probably surmise that Nick Castellanos actually did break out, as opposed to what the headline of this post may indicate. Castellanos hit the ball hard more frequently than all but six players this season, as you can see below. The ranking by each player indicates his end-of-season rank in standard 5×5 leagues:

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Is Byron Buxton Breaking Out or Just a Second-Half Player?

Last Tuesday, Jeff Sullivan wrote this article on Byron Buxton’s transformation into the Twins’ most valuable player. If you haven’t read it and you’re interested enough about Buxton to read this fantasy slant, you should probably also read Jeff’s analysis on Buxton’s increasingly well-rounded real-life skill set.

Yesterday, Buxton unleashed the best game of his career to this point, singling and stealing a base in the 1st inning as a prelude to his homers in the 4th, 7th and 9th. As Jeff pointed out in his post last week, Buxton has dramatically simplified his mechanics at the plate, most noticeably ditching the inconsistent leg kick he used to constantly tinker with, and that was certainly in evidence on Sunday.

Basically everything about his swing looks better than it did earlier in the season. The toe tap he’s replaced the leg kick with is allowing him to consistently plant his front leg, which means he can better incorporate his lower body compared to the “100% arms” swing he was flailing about with at the beginning of the season.

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Late-Season Waiver Wire Outfield Options

I put some pretty tight restrictions on myself for this column, as I narrowed it down to players who are both a) owned in <25% of Yahoo leagues and b) were not included in Paul Sporer’s “Nine Unheralded Players for the Stretch Run” column from last week. As it turns out, I managed to come up with three solid recommendations, so let’s get right to it.

Eddie Rosario (Yahoo 20%, ESPN 15.6%, CBS 25%, Ottoneu 32.9%)

It’s not just fantasy players who are ignoring Rosario’s white-hot streak, it’s analysts too. When I looked at CBS to find his ownership rate, I noticed that all three of their experts left Rosario out of their top 100 outfielders when they revised their rankings last week, which is an incredible oversight. Over the last month, the 25-year-old is the No. 25 OF in standard leagues, a performance that now has him inside the top 50 OF on the season.

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How Sustainable is Jonathan Schoop?

Jonathan Schoop is having one heck of a season, with a breakout that’s produced some gaudy numbers. He’s hitting over .300, he’s already hit 21 bombs, he’s tied for 8th in the league in RBI with 70 — basically, he’s doing everything you want as a fantasy owner, except stealing bases. It’s no surprise that he’s currently the No. 6 second baseman in standard leagues, even in a year that’s seen incredible production at the keystone.

With a career .192 isolated power, the 25-year-old already had good power production in the majors, but this year he’s upped that mark to a .246 ISO, supplementing his 21 homers with 26 doubles. Even more impressively, Schoop is hitting .307, a significant jump from his .261 career average.

Of course, with marked improvements like this come questions of sustainability, and justifiably so. With this in mind, let’s try and figure out what to expect from young Mr. Schoop moving forward.

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2017 Second Base Tier Rankings – July Update

Instead of updating these rankings monthly like I did for the past few years, I decided to dial that back this year, with this being the third and final edition for 2017. In the past, I found the four-week turnaround to be a bit quick, as the samples since the previous entry were always small. This year, I’ve given myself more like 6-8 weeks between updates, giving me a format I’m much more confident in.

For reference, here’s what these tiers looked like in mid-May.


I always flirt with the idea of putting someone in the top tier with Altuve, and I’ve even done it a couple times. In the end, I come back to the fact that he’s been performing at a level above nearly every other second baseman since 2014. There are times when someone else will keep up with him for a month or two, but it doesn’t last, and Altuve always ends up distancing himself from the pack again.

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Respect the Elders: Three Underowned 30-Somethings

Every year, it seems like there’s a handful of veteran players who go overlooked by fantasy owners. Part of it is likely that these 30-somethings do not excite you anymore. You’ve been scrolling past some of these names for a decade, if not longer. Your eyes simply skim through them on their quest to find that young sleeper who’s about to break out.

Another part of the the puzzle may be that no analysts write about these guys anymore. What would anyone possibly have to say at this point about a player we’ve all been watching since 2005? “He’s still here”? That’s no fun — at least, it’s far less fun than projecting the next breakout performer.

As someone who understands that life isn’t always fun, I hereby declare my intent to remind you that the following three players are worth owning, despite their relatively high ‘old and boring’ levels.

Shin-Soo Choo (17% Yahoo, 17.5% ESPN, 46% CBS, 92.1% Ottoneu)

I understand there might not be anything sexy about owning Choo these days. The guy does turn 35 next month, and spent most of last year struggling with injuries. However, the fact that he’s owned in about 17% of Yahoo/ESPN leagues is entirely unforgivable. Check out these numbers and tell me why he’s on your waiver wire.

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The Mostly Legit Marwin Gonzalez

As a Marwin Gonzalez owner, I’ve considered writing about him several times over the season’s first two months. I took a $1 flier on him in a 4×4 ottoneu Classic league this offseason, and at the time my expectations could be roughly summarized as “There’s worse ways to fill out a roster.” In most fantasy formats, Marwin qualifies at every position except pitcher and catcher, and he was coming off a season that saw him produce 25 HR+SB. Like I said, there’s worse ways to spend a dollar on a bench player.

Every time I’ve thought previously about writing up Marwin this year, I got hung up on the fact that I had absolutely no idea if his breakout was for real, or if it was just a fluky hot start. Actually, if I’m being completely honest, the whole reason I decided to write this piece you’re currently reading is because I still don’t know. In the following paragraphs, I invite you to join me as I take a stab at figuring out Marwin Gonzalez.

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2017 Second Base Tier Rankings – May Update

With six weeks of baseball in the books, those early-season samples are getting a bit larger. I usually post updates to this list at the beginning of each month, but the extra two weeks helped me compile rankings I’m more confident in, from a rest-of-season perspective. (Isn’t it crazy that we’re already nearly a quarter of the way through the regular season?) For reference, here’s my preseason rankings.


I made the silly mistake of not giving Altuve his own tier to begin the season, a wrong which I am presently righting. The 27-year-old spent the last six weeks doing typical Jose Altuve things, being a solid five-category contributor with no clear holes in his fantasy game. He’s on pace for about 25 homers and 40 steals, and he’s flirting with a .300 average despite posting a career high 17.2% strikeout rate.

If you need to nitpick, that K-rate is where you’d want to do it, but I’m not that worried. Altuve’s whiff rate is only up slightly — from last year’s 6.7% to 8.2% — and he’s seeing a freakishly high number of first-pitch strikes (68.7%; league-average is about 58%). The strikeouts will come down, and the average will probably pop back up a bit.

What’s so impressive about Altuve isn’t just that he’s best second baseman in fantasy, it’s that he’s so consistent in maintaining that top spot. He truly does deserve his own tier.


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The 33rd Eugenio: A Suarez Story

32 Eugenios.

According to Wikipedia, there are 32 notable athletes with the first name Eugenio. Among them are the likes of retired handballer Eugenio Serrano, and the luchador Eugenio “Konan Big” Torres Villarreal. There’s even a baseball player on there, Eugenio Velez! You might remember Velez as the guy who wore the “SAN FRANCICSO” jersey, or for being the MLB record-holder for most consecutive at-bats without a hit (46).

You know who’s *not* one of The 32 Eugenios? Eugenio Suarez, that’s who! As if this wasn’t enough of a crime already, one of The 32 is named Eugenio Suarez Santos, a low-level Spanish footballer. It’s like the Wikipedia curator (is that a thing) for #The32Eugenios — an undoubtedly high-level position within the internal Wikiheirarchy — decided that one Eugenio Suarez was enough for this list, and went with the soccer player whose most notable achievement was a season-long scoreless streak that coincided with his team’s relegation to the Spanish third division.

Meanwhile, Cincinnati Reds third baseman Eugenio Suarez — almost definitely motivated by his Wikipedia snub — is making his case to be the best Eugenio of them all. While we’re still in small-sample land, we’re not quite in teeny-tiny-sampleville anymore, and Suarez looks like he may be in the midst of a breakout.

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Taylor Motter: More Than Just a Great Head of Hair

If you follow great hair in sports as closely as I do, you already know about Taylor Motter. In Spring Training, he unleashed a hair flip so fantastic that it spawned the Mariners’ new between-innings “Hair Flip Cam.” Sadly, when I looked for footage of the Hair Flip Cam, I only found a handful of Twitter mentions. Trust me when I say that it exists and is awesome.

Acquired in a relatively minor trade with Tampa in November, Motter is a 27-year-old without a whole lot of prospect pedigree. Here at FanGraphs, Motter slotted in as the No. 11 Rays prospect pre-2016, and Seattle’s No. 18 guy this year. In short, he’s not the type of player you’d expect to be the subject of a fantasy column in April.

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