New Everyday Players — Aug 11, 2022

The new everyday players keep popping up. So let’s just keep going so you have additional names to consider in deeper (and perhaps shallower) leagues.

Aristides Aquino | OF CIN

Aquino missed more than a month and a half due to a strained calf and now is not only healthy, but has a starting job. Since returning from the IL toward the beginning of August, he has started six of seven games. At age 28, he’s not a prospect, but you might remember the splash he made in 2019. He technically debuted in 2018, but recorded just one plate appearance, so 2019 was his first extended look at the MLB level.

Then, he showed elite power, posting a 28.8% HR/FB rate and .317 ISO, with an absurd maxEV of 118.3 MPH. He also made the most of his power by posting a 44.9% FB%. Unfortunately, he hasn’t come anywhere close to that initial success since. He continues to swing and miss often and his strikeout rate has climbed every year and currently sits at a crazy 42.6% this year. It wasn’t so alarming when he was striking out often in 2020 and 2021 because he walked at a double digit clip. But this year even his plate patience has disappeared, as his walk rate has slipped to just 4.3%. I have no idea what happened to his discipline.

To go along with the walk and strikeout rates moving in the wrong direction, his ISO has fallen to a weak .118, while his HR/FB rate isn’t that much higher than the league average. If you can’t count on him for power, then you get nothing. Aquino is hitting fewer fly balls this year than usual, raising his BABIP, but it hardly matters at this point given his strikeout rate.

I really want to get excited here given the power potential. His time at Triple-A this season is a reminder if how exciting he could be, but also maddening. On the one hand, he posted an insane 42.1% HR/FB rate and .390 ISO, plus a 30.2% LD% driving a .432 BABIP, over a small sample of 77 at-bats. On the other hand, he still struck out 36.3% of the time and posted a 20.4% SwStk%. If he struggles so badly making contact against Triple-A pitchers, it’s hard to be optimistic he’ll suddenly make better contact against MLB pitchers.

Sure, give him a try in deep leagues if you need home runs. It’s certainly possible he goes on a home run binge for a week or two.

Jake Fraley | OF CIN

Another new face in the Reds outfield, Fraley has recorded just 72 plate appearances this year thanks to injury. He returned at the end of July and has started as a member of the strong side of a platoon. Fraley enjoyed some nice minor league success, posting a bunch of wOBA marks over .400 and ISO marks consistently above .200. He also showed off his speed, pacing for around 30 steals. The power/speed potential here was intriguing.

Last year, he also dealt with injuries that limited him to just 265 PAs, but showed us exactly what fantasy owners were hoping for. He posted an 185 HR/FB rate en route to a 20+ homer pace and stole 10 bases, which paced out to a 20/20 season over a full year. His walk rate also skyrocketed, giving him a significant value boost in OBP leagues.

The one red glad was a low .265 BABIP, which led to a .210 batting average. While his xBA suggests that batting average shouldn’t have been significantly better, he did post an elite LD% and low IFFB%, both of which typically lead to well above average BABIP marks.

Now in a much better hitting environment than when he played for the Mariners, I like his power/speed contribution potential. I do get frustrated owning platoon players, so he’s a better choice in daily transaction leagues. But I think he’s still at least a consideration in shallower mixed leagues, but really only a strong add in deeper formats and NL-Only leagues.

Jose Barrero | SS CIN

Gosh, the Reds have really made over their offense! The Reds’ former top prospect and 31st best overall last year was recalled earlier in the month and has started every game since. He actually debuted back in 2020 and has enjoyed several cups of coffee in the Majors, but perhaps this is finally the last time he gets shuttled back and forth and sticks.

Barrero enjoyed a power breakout in the minors last year and he did what you love to see. His power actually jumped even higher at Triple-A, so looking back at his progression, his HR/FB rate and ISO have both increased at every single level. That’s growth you dream of! His FB% also jumped at Triple-A, so he’s really doing his best to take advantage of his blooming power. Furthermore, his walk rate has also increased at every level, so he’s just becoming a better and better hitter. He’s kept his strikeout rate around league average, which is impressive considering he does swing and miss, but not at an alarming level.

He also hasn’t just shown power, but speed as well. He stole 16 bases over two levels last year to go along with 19 homers. That’s a 20+/20+ pace over a full season.

Unfortunately, his Triple-A season this year hadn’t gone so well, which is why the timing of his recall is quite surprising. His power fell back to match his Double-A performance last year, which is perfectly fine, but makes me feel a bit more like maybe his Triple-A outburst was more of a fluke. Most concerning is the collapse of his plate discipline metrics. His walk rate fell off a cliff, while his strikeout rate skyrocketed, driven by a SwStk% that surged over 20%. That’s some big time struggling. It’s really surprising to see this after he posted a splendid .419 wOBA at that same level last year.

He’s now a question mark in the short-term, but is likely still worth taking a shot on, perhaps even in shallower leagues if you’re in need of a middle infielder. The power/speed combo in a hitter’s haven is enough to hope it was just an extended slump at Triple-A that he endured.

Elehuris Montero | 1B/3B COL

I usually pay attention when anyone new becomes a starter on the Rockies, but I totally missed Montero. The 23-year-old isn’t exactly a top prospect, ranking 17th on the team, but has started seven straight games since his recall at the beginning of August.

Montero has posted mid-to-high teen HR/FB rates since 2019, peaking just over 20%. His ISO marks have remained well above .200 since last year, so it’s clear he’s got power in his bat, which is what you want to see from a hitter calling Coors Field home. He also makes good use of his power by hitting fly balls at a high-30% to 40% clip.

What’s interesting to see is his BABIP trend, a mark that has bounced all over the place from a low of .245 to a high of .372. Coors is a notorious BABIP inflator, so there’s a good chance over a reasonable sample that he ends up posting a better than average mark.

I think the biggest question here is his playing time. He has rotated between first, third, and DH, but is clearly blocked at the first two positions so won’t be able to steal any of those jobs unless injury strikes. That leaves DH, which could be filled by anyone, so he’ll need to hit, of course, to keep his starting job. So far, his results have been inflated by a .432 BABIP, but the rest of his skills have been quite weak. He’s walked just once versus 22 strikeouts, and hasn’t shown much power. I would be willing to roster him when the Rockies have a majority of home games in a week, but he could be demoted to the minors at any time.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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1 year ago

Kerry Carpenter. 270/330/480