Big Kid Adds (7/12/22)

While the NFBC Main Event garners most of the attention, there are a handful of leagues with even a larger entry fee ($2.5K to $15K). They get originally named “High Stakes Leagues” and this year there are nine of them. With so much money on the line, these fantasy managers are going to try to gain any advantage. Most of the time, these managers will be a week or two ahead of everyone else on their adds. Here are the players and some information on the ones added in five or more of these leagues.

Nolan Jones (9): It was not a surprise that the 24-year-old Jones was added in all nine leagues. His AAA production was balanced with 3 HR, 4 SB, and .311 AVG. In his 13 MPH plate appearances, he had a 1.515 OPS. Projections have his full-season stats at 20 HR, 12 SB, and a .235 AVG. Even if he doesn’t continue providing power, speed, and average, two out of three will be useful.

He was a top-100 prospect from 2019 to 2021 (#96, #50, #45) but a hand injury hampered him and he struggled in AAA last season (.238/.356/.431 with 13 HR and 10 SB). Then, he proceeded to fall off all prospect lists. He has gone from good, to hurt, to struggling, to finally good again.

Even if his production isn’t game-changing it should be helpful if he’s starting every day. His third base and his soon-to-be outfield eligibility make him at least a bench bat.

Brett Martin (8): Martin went from not being on anyone’s closer radar to the best available option. On Friday, Joe Barlow was removed from the closer’s role.

Then Brett Martin got a Save on Friday, Saturday, and Monday. Martin looks to be the favorite for the job going forward.

Martin isn’t your typical closer. First, he throws left-handed. Also, he doesn’t rely on velocity (94-mph fastball) but a 57% GB%. He throws a sinker (7% SwStr%, 73% GB%), curve (22% SwStr%, 39% GB%), and slider (16% SwStr%, 44% GB%) to end up at 7.3 K/9, 3.0 BB/9, and 3.47 xFIP.

Finally, he hasn’t shown much of a platoon split. This season, he has a 3.81 xFIP against lefties and a 3.23 xFIP against righties. For his career, it’s a 4.03 xFIP against lefties and 3.93 against righties.

Carlos Santana (8): In 116 PA since June 1st, Santana is hitting .326/.448/.547 with 5 HR. There was some thought that the 36-year-old was done, but he’s found new life with the Mariners.

He’s just selling out for power with Seattle. He’s hitting more balls in the air (13 degree avgLA to 19). He’s hitting them harder (42% HardHit% to 55%). To make the change he’s swinging more (41% Swing% to 46%) but making less contact (82% Contact% to 78%). The end results are his 7% HR/FB% going to 23% HR/FB% and his isolated power from .125 to .402.

Maybe the new approach will end, but ride it while it lasts

Brayan Bello (8): The 23-year-old righty was performing great in AAA (2.81 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 12.6 K/9) but struggled in his first two major league starts (8 IP, 9 ER, 7 K, and 6 BB). I haven’t watched the start and am having a tough time evaluating him.

His 97-mph sinker is a nice foundation. In the minors, it helped lead to a 63% GB% and when compared to some comps, it should continue generating groundballs.

Here are the comps on his change and slider

While both didn’t miss a ton of bats in his first starts, they should do better in the future.

The one drawback is that he’s shown command issues with minor league walks rates hovering around 10%. He’ll have the chance to work out the kinks in AAA

Max Castillo (7): Usually I try to catch all rookie starters and I missed Castillo while doing my weekly FAAB. He threw 4 IP (59 pitches) in his Sunday start with his average fastball velocity down about 0.5 mph off his reliever norm. As a reliever, his strikeouts were great at 11.9 K/9 but he was only able to strike out three batters in the four innings.

On the season (~250 pitches) his fastball has been average (7% SwStr%, 42% GB%), his change good (13% SwStr%, 61% GB%), and slider not so good (11 SwStr%, 0% GB%). So far, his fastball is the only pitch he can throw for strikes (57% Zone%) and not his change (29% Zone%) and slider (36% Zone%). The lack of command can be seen in his minor league numbers with a 3.1 BB/9 in 2021 AAA, a 4.3 BB/9 in 2022 AA, and a 3.3 BB/9 in 2022 AAA.

Maybe he’s just a one-week play with the Jays facing the Royals (Keller) this week. Between the limited pitches and lack of control, I’m going to prioritize other pitchers.

Aledmys Díaz (7): I like this move for the next week and a half as a temporary replacement. It’s likely that Yordan Alvarez won’t return until after the All-Star game and Diaz and his triple position eligibility (2B, SS, 3B) will get regular at-bats.

Diaz has struggled a bit this season hitting .234/.281/.359 with 5 HR and 1 SB in 178 PA. He usually posts a higher batting average (.267 AVG for his career) but with similar 15 to 20 home run power. Nice bench bat.

Matt Carpenter (6): The 36-year-old Carpenter has been on fire hitting .344/.447/.859 with 10 HR in just 77 PA. There are two factors to consider with his value (and everyone else), talent and playing time.

On the talent side, the big change is that he’s just pulling everything (43% Pull% to 58%) and putting everything in the air (27% GB% to 14%). That approach works great in Yankee Stadium but he’s taken the show on the road where he’s hit half his home runs. And he’s made these adjustments while keeping his strikeout and walk rate constant.

Opposing teams might be going off last season’s information when he had a 10% SwStr% against four-seamers and just 6% this season. He’s seemed to rework his swing to attack four-seamers with eight of the 10 home runs coming off the pitch. I wonder if pitchers will adjust and start throwing him more sinkers. The league is throwing four-seamers at a 34% clip and Carpenter is seeing them 39% of the time. Or the Yankees will just use him against four-seam pitchers.

He’s a tough player to roster because of his erratic playing time. Before this stretch of six starts in a row, he started in five of the previous 28 games. Before that, it was six starts in eight games. This stretch began when Anthony Rizzo went on the IL. The other issue is that the Yankees are looking to add another bat so there will be less playing time for everyone.

Here is how I’d play the situation. I’d roster without needing to start him. If the playing time dries up, he can be dropped. But if the playing time remains, he has added on the cheap.

Josh Winder (6): Winder is tough to figure out. His 3.12 ERA and 1.24 WHIP are decent, but his 6.0 K/9 and 2.7 BB/9 put him with a 4.70 xFIP and 4.62 SIERA. The key to his success so far is that his high flyball rate (37% GB%) have not turned into home runs (8% HR/FB%, 0.9 HR/9). He has been limiting weak contact (88% percentile using my metric) so he might be able to have an ERA under his estimators.

As for his pitches, they are average to good and I’d expect better overall results. His fastball induces easy-to-catch flyballs (21% GB%). His slider misses bats (16% SwStr%). His change does everything (20% SwStr%, 61% GB%). And his curve does nothing (5% SwStr%, 36% GB%). The problem is that he throws the change 14% of the time and the curve 12%. It’s likely if he just dropped the curve and threw his change more he’d see better results.

There is upside potential with him but he’s not reaching it yet.

Corey Knebel (6): The Phillies had Brad Hand and Seranthony Domínguez step into the closer’s role when Knebel was struggling early in the season. On Thursday both pitched with Dominguez getting the Save. Then both pitched on Friday with Hand getting the Save. So on Saturday, Knebel got the Save. What mess and just keep track of it going forward for the offical closer.

As for Knebel, he lost his closer job on June 15th. At that point, he had a 3.60 ERA, 8.3 K/9, 11 Sv, and 4 BS. Since then, it’s a 1.80 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 5.4 BB/9, 2 Holds, and the Save. I’m not sure he’s done anything to re-earn the job, he might have been the most rested arm.

Diego Castillo (6): I think Castillo could be rosterable in 12-team or deeper leagues if he played every day. He’s started six in a row after only starting in one of the previous seven. He’s kind of like Carpenter that the playing time comes and goes. There was a stretch in early June where he started in 10 straight. Just before this last stretch, it was three of ten. It looked like it might dry up with Ben Gamel coming off the IL, but Bryan Reynolds went on the IL so Castillo remains in the lineup.

As for Castillo, he’s a straight home run play with 10 so far in 232 PA with his power metrics backing it up (39% HardHit%, 14 degree LA, 110 MaxEV). The rest of his profile is a drag. He’s got poor plate discipline (5% BB%, 27% K%) leading to a .204/.246/.380 slash line. His .625 OPS is below replacement level and that might be why he keeps losing his job. He has though been on fire in June hitting .296/.345/.593 (.400 BABIP, 35% K%) so the Pirates might just roll with the hot bat.

Akil Baddoo (6): Here are Baddoo’s last few days.

He was hitting:

And then promoted

And now in the majors.

What will have people interested in Baddoo is his speed after he stole 18 bases in 461 PA last season. He was forced into the fire last year by being a Rule 5 pick (can’t be demoted in the first season) and struggled some making the jump from High-A to the majors. He wasn’t completely outmatched hitting .259/.330/.436 with 13 HR.

This season, the major league results weren’t as good (.140/.218.220) and he was demoted. In AAA, he shoved hitting .300/.405/.500 with 3 HR and 7 SB in 131 PA.

For those in roto leagues with a fastest finger waiver wire, he needs to be added immediately and then determine his role. For those in weekly FAAB leagues, the key will be tracking his playing time role. Today’s game against a lefty looks to be the be the only indication if he’ll start in a platoon before the All-Star break.

Kutter Crawford (5): The 26-year-old righty has effectively made four starts in a row (one was 5 IP in relief). During that stretch, he has a 2.33 ERA, 3.64 xFIP, 11.2 K/9, and 1.03 WHIP. A .233 BABIP and 94% LOB% has suppressed the ERA.

He throws the kitchen sink (four-seam, kutter, splitter, slider, and curve) and is violating the Yu Darvish Rule. So far, his four-seam, kutter, and slider have performed best and the curve and splitter have been horrible so a pitch-mix change should lead to an improvement. He didn’t start the season throwing the slider, so it seems to be a nice addition.

One issue for Roto leagues is the walks (4.5 BB/9). That’s a WHIP (1.43) killer, especially from a starter. Looking through his minor league walk rates some are better, some are worse so a high rate could continue.

Finally, there may not be a spot in the rotation for him with Chris Sale and Nathan Eovaldi coming off the IL.

Jeff, one of the authors of the fantasy baseball guide,The Process, writes for RotoGraphs, The Hardball Times, Rotowire, Baseball America, and BaseballHQ. He has been nominated for two SABR Analytics Research Award for Contemporary Analysis and won it in 2013 in tandem with Bill Petti. He has won four FSWA Awards including on for his Mining the News series. He's won Tout Wars three times, LABR twice, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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1 year ago

One thing to keep an eye on with Nolan Jones is the Guardians have not yet let him face a lefty, even pinch-hitting for him in a game where he was 2-3 with a double when the Sox brought in a lefty. He actually has massive reverse platoon splits in the minors this year and essentially no platoon splits last year so I’m not sure why they’re treating him as a straight platoon bat but something to monitor.