Ottoneu Hot Right Now: May 24th, 2023

The 2023 version of Ottoneu Hot Right Now will include three different sections:

  1. Current Auctions: A closer look at players being auctioned at a high rate.
  2. Roster Adds: Analysis of players with high add% changes.
  3. Hot Performers: Players with a high P/G or P/IP in recent weeks.

The FanGraphs Ottoneu team plans to run this feature weekly, updating fantasy managers on the biggest movers in Ottoneu leagues with an analysis of how these players could or could not help your roster.

Current Auctions

Mickey Moniak – 66 current auctions

The 66 auctions make a lot of sense when you consider that Moniak is a former top pick and is currently putting up a million points per game (ok, 9.52 P/G but that’s basically a million). Moniak just turned 25 and it is tempting to believe he has turned a corner, but that 9.52 P/G isn’t really supported by much. He’s striking out 37.9% of the time and walking just 3.4% of the time (that’s literally one walk). His 35.3% hard-hit rate is not good. He’s barreling the ball at a high rate, but with such a low HH%, it’s hard to believe he can maintain that. His .558 wOBA is great, but his .316 xwOBA – despite all those barrels – is awfully telling.

So how is he succeeding? A sky-high 33% HR/FB rate (which went up Tuesday night) is not sustainable without a lot more hard contact. And his .643 BABIP will drop by at least half in the very near future.

What you are left with is a guy striking out a ton, never walking, making minimal hard contact, and somehow getting away with it. It’s an ugly profile and I am staying far away.

Kris Bubic – 57 current auctions

This one is straight-forward and boring. Bubic was being auctioned for high prices in April, and then was cut everywhere when it was announced he needed Tommy John Surgery. That happed in April 21. We are no just over 30 days out from that, so all those managers who cut Bubic in late April are re-auctioning him now in order to clear their cap penalties. Sometimes when a manager re-auctions a guy, it is worth jumping in to try to steal him away. This is not one of those times.

Paul DeJong – 53 current auctions

DeJong has had an up-and-down career and it is back up early in 2023. A bit like Moniak, his 7.17 P/G is inflated by BABIP and HR/FB rate, but his aren’t quite as scary. The .327 BABIP is well-above his career .278 and probably a bit concerning it’s such a large jump. His HR/FB rate is also 33% and will also come down, but he has a 49.1% hard-hit rate. That doesn’t mean he has earned his HR/FB rate while Moniak didn’t, but he is at least hitting the ball hard more often.

DeJong also has a couple of things going for him that are fairly sustainable. The first is that he is pulling the ball more than ever. Already a pull-happy hitter, he is up to career-high 49.1% pull rate this year, which will certainly help to explain the jump in his hard-hit and HR/FB rates. The second are the new rules. From 2020-22, DeJong faced the shift about a third of the time and had a .238 wOBA vs. the shift. He had a .319 wOBA when he didn’t face a shift. That’s a pretty drastic difference and it’s something he never has to worry about again.

I wouldn’t count on DeJong to sustain his performance so far, but getting back to that .319 wOBA he posted without the shift, plus some gains from the additional pulled balls, would still be enough to make him a useful Ottoneu player. Expect low OBP and good power and if you need a MI who fits that description, go get him.

Joe Kelly – 51 current auctions

Kelly has historically had some real issues with walks and that has prevented him from being a particularly exciting Ottoneu reliever, despite plenty of strikeouts and relatively few homers allowed. This year, he is in the zone more often, he is throwing first-pitch strikes far more often, and hitters are chasing more often, and the result is the walks have cratered from 9.8% for his career to 2.1% for the season. That has him at 9.31 P/IP on the season. On top of that, he added his first save a couple of days ago, which always drives up a reliever’s value. If you need a reliever, he is worth grabbing – just watch those walks because you will want to bail if they come back.

Roster Adds

There were six players added in 25% or more of leagues this week and four of the six (James Paxton, 46.15%; Matt McLain, 40.06%; AJ Smith-Shawver, 39.1%; and Dominic Fletcher, 37.18%) were covered in this space a week ago. Today, we will look at the other two.

Mark Vientos, Leagues with Add (7 Days) – 60.26%

With 70-grade raw power and a weak hit tool, you quickly get visions of Joey Gallo, but Vientos did something fun this year – he stopped striking out. Well, not completely, but his 20.5% K-rate in 166 Triple-A PA was a huge improvement over the rest of his minor league career. That earned him a call up to the Mets, but what it did not earn him was a regular job. Vientos started Wednesday, Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. With an off-day Monday and Saturday missed due to rain, that isn’t as bad as it sounds, but he has still started just 4/6 games since his promotion and been pulled for a PH in one, resulting in just 14 total PA. Especially in a points format, that few PA/G really hurts.

He does have a HR already, to go along with a single and a walk, but he also has four strikeouts. What should we make of all that? Not much. You can’t read much into 14 PA. I believe in the power, but I worry he will regularly get pulled late in games in favor of Vogelbach – and that is when Vientos even gets to start – which will deflate his value. I would be happy to have picked him up, but I suspect he won’t be a good use of a starting spot very often, unless his role expands.

Jake Burger, Leagues with Add (7 Days) – 25%

Burger is a good example of a guy who looked to have playing time issues and performed his way out of that question – for now. As the White Sox get healthy, those questions could creep up again, but it’s hard to see the Sox refusing to give PA to a guy with a 153 wRC+ and 6.16 P/G (although I suspect the Sox are unfamiliar with his Ottoneu scoring prowess).

The concern I have with Burger is less playing time and more how good he actually is. Going into Tuesday night, he .333/.375/.833 for a 220 wRC+ in his hitter-friendly home park. He has struck out in just 22.2% of game at home. On the road, he has a .133/.235/.300 line for a 50 wRC+ with a 44.1% K-rate. And that was before he went 0-5 with five strikeouts in Cleveland Tuesday.

What explains that kind of split? He is fairly fly-ball heavy and the White Sox play in one of the most homer-friendly parks in the league. That probably explains some of it. The rest? I have no idea. But as it stands, he is unusably bad on the road. You absolutely cannot put him in the lineup when the Sox are away from home. And if that continues, playing time will dry up, as well.

The Sox have five more on the road this week and then a six-game homestand starting Monday. I would be hesitant to use him this week (especially in power-sapping Detroit) and then give him another shot when he is home next week. But if he really can’t be used on the road, he would be a sell high for me – he might be already.

Hot Performers

Bryan De La Cruz was a hot topic this off-season and got off to a solid start, but a cold spell caused him to get cut loose. Two weeks ago in Cold Right Now I said, “I still like what De La Cruz brings to the table, but he is going to have to earn his way back to my dinner parties. I am moving on.”

This was based on a big jump in strikeouts and a lack of walks, leading to an ice-cold stretch. Since that article was published, he has had three walks in 15 days and has struck out just 18.4% of the time on his way to a 219 wRC+. I think we just have to learn to live with the streakiness. I love seeing a player who struggles and adjusts to find success again and so, Bryan, you are invited back to meals at my house. But if you get unruly again, I will probably move on again.

Jeimer Candelario is rostered in under a quarter of leagues, but the last couple weeks he has been on fire. And while it is tempting to write that off based on his high BABIP, it’s really the plate discipline that is driving the changes, along with a big jump in HH% and line drive rate. The liners, in particular, are what stood out in his successful 2020 and 2021 seasons. If he can pair that with the type of plate discipline we are seeing lately, he could be a very useful 3B, and I am tempted to pick him up anywhere 3B is becoming an issue for me.

A long-time fantasy baseball veteran and one of the creators of ottoneu, Chad Young's writes for RotoGraphs and PitcherList, and can be heard on the ottobot podcast. You can follow him on Twitter @chadyoung.

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1 year ago

Great article! Thanks for the Ottoneu coverage. I always look forward to these.