Big Kid Adds (9/27/22)

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:

Bryce Elder (9): Elder has two starts this week and a half against the Nationals and Marlins. The matchups are fine but is Elder talented enough to take a chance on?

According to last night’s performance, there is nothing to worry about.

During his last four starts, he has posted a 0.65 ERA, 3.20 xFIP, 9.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9, and 0.83 WHIP.

He had really struggled before those starts with a 5.48 ERA, 5.9, K/9, 5.9 BB/9, and 1.73 WHIP. He changed his pitch mix during that time by mainly ditching a cutter.

Pitch: Early Usage, Recent Usage
Four-seamer: 3%, 13%
Cutter: 20%, 0%
Sinker: 34%, 49%
Change: 17%, 8%
Slider: 26%, 29%

His sinker is pretty effective with a 53% GB% and 8% Swstr%. Pitch comps show that the pitch might be missing more bats than expected.

Obviously he was worth rostering and these late-season changes make him an interesting 2023 option.

Will Brennan (8): The left-handed hitting Brennan had four straight starts but sat against a lefty starter on Sunday. In the minors this season, he has hit for a combined .314/.371/.479 with 13 HR and 20 SB. In the majors, he has posted a .267/.313/.267 line with 2 SB so far.

Brennan seems to be a Steven Kwan clone with the potential for a good batting average (low walk and strikeout rate) and steals but little power. His future value will depend on his power ticking up.

Bryan De La Cruz (7): After time in the minors and on the bench, De La Cruz has started in 12 of the last 13 games. He’s hitting .372/.404/.744 with 4 HR during that stretch.

He hit the cover off the ball (.325/.417/.475) until a May 18th forearm injury from a hit-by-pitch. From then to August 12th when he was demoted to AAA, he hit .181/.211/.304. He seems to be fixed.

With so many hitters, especially outfielders, in platoons, it is nice to see him get everyday at-bats.

Jarred Kelenic (5): I missed out on Kelenic’s (and Bae’s) run at playing time because I look at lineups on Friday. Kelenic now has four straight starts. He dominated AAA (.922 OPS, 21% K%) but struggled in the majors (.545 OPS, 36% K%). His swings-and-misses are against all non-fastballs.

Pitch: SwStr%
Slider: 22%
Change: 23%
Curve: 12%
Cutter: 19%
Splitter 47%

In his four September starts, he has just 3 K in 18 PA (1 vs OAK, 3 vs KC).

I see him as a volume play for this last stretch, but if he performs decent, there will be talk that he turned a corner. Maybe.

Ji Hwan Bae (5): I should have recommended Bae as a stolen base option. In AAA this season, he hit .289/.362/.430 with 8 HR and 30 SB. In just 12 PA this season, he already has 2 SB.

Two positives so far. He has started in three of the first four games since being promoted. Additionally, 23-year-old has a 108 maxEV thereby showing the potential for some future power.

Jonathan Heasley (5): The 25-year-old righty starts against Detroit. That’s it for the positives. On the season he has a 4.87 ERA, 5.42 xFIP, 6.2 K/9, 4.2 BB/9, and 1.45 WHIP. A .250 BABIP has improved September results but he has not thrown any better in 23 IP (3.80 ERA, 5.61 xFIP, 3.8 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, and 1.18 WHIP).

None of his pitches grade out as average with his best offering being his changeup (57% GB%, 11 SwStr%). A desperate matchup play.

Akil Baddoo (5): After a decent rookie season (.766 OPS, 13 HR, 18 SB), the 23-year-old is struggling in the majors this season (.194/.281/.267, 2 HR, 6 SB in 185 PA).

The struggles are three-fold. First, he is having problems making contact (31% K%). He’s struggling against all pitch types with sinkers being the only pitch he doesn’t have a swinging-strike rate under 10%. He even has a 13% SwStr% against four-seamers. It’s tough to make it in the majors without being able to hit fastballs.

The second issue is a drop in power. His ISO is down from .177 to .073. His StatCast HardHit% is down from 32% to 25%. His Barrel% from 9% to 3%. I can’t find a reason for the power outage but it’s an issue.

Finally, he struggles against lefties posting a .530 OPS against them and .753 OPS against righties.

I get that he has a .808 OPS in September and started in eight of the last 10 games, but there are too many underlying issues to count on him.

Trayce Thompson (5): Thompson has been good as a part-time player (.248/.342/.500, 12 HR, 3 SB in 234 PA). The hope with these adds is that he’ll play a little more with the regulars getting some rest. He has started in seven of the last 10 games.

I backed away a little because I’m not sure how much the Dodgers need to rest their players since they have a bye in the first playoff round. I could see them try to keep their players active over the last few games and then have them rest once the Wild Card round starts.

Again, there are a limited number of adds this week, so I will again give my take on the players added in four leagues.

Braxton Garrett (4): Starting Wednesday against the Brewers (Lauer) while posting decent numbers this season (3.52 ERA, 3.43 xFIP, 9.2 K/9, 1.16 WHIP).

Nate Eaton (4): He is qualified at third base and outfield while having 11 SB in 100 PA.

Reyes Moronta (4): Got his second Save on Saturday while posting below-average stats for the season (4.08 ERA, 4.57 xFIP, 1.13 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 3.6 BB/9).

Ezequiel Tovar (4): The highly touted prospect is getting a chance with the big league club after hitting .319/.387/.540 with 14 HR and 17 SB in the minors.

Evan Phillips (4): With Craig Kimbrel out as the closer, Phillips looks like the best option to step in (1.22 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 10.5 K/9, and 2.3 BB/9).

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 once, and got his first NFBC Main Event win in 2021. Follow him on Twitter @jeffwzimmerman.

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