Ottoneu Hot Right Now: May 8, 2024

The 2024 version of Hot Right Now will typically include three 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.

As Chad Young has done in previous posts, I am also going to rate each player on the following scale:

  • Don’t Bother – This means that even as auctions are started, other teams are adding this player, or he is on a hot streak, I am just not interested in adding this player. I don’t see them being worth a roster spot.
  • Don’t Stress – I can see why you would add this player. I can totally understand placing a bid, but I am not super worried about winning this player. I would bid $1 for sure, maybe a bit more, as long as it doesn’t impact my roster at all.
  • Don’t Go Crazy – I would like to add this player, but I am not willing to hamper my team to do it. I’ll look for cuts, and if I can clear money to make a big bid without losing players I’ll regret cutting, I will do it.
  • Don’t Lose – These players rarely come up but they do, from time-to-time. These are guys that I am willing to make a difficult cut to add. Don’t expect to see this designation used often.

Current Auctions

Josh Rojas – 57 current auctions

Rojas has been a hit machine as the Mariners’ third baseman hitting at the top of the order. His slash line is out of this world (.345/.421/.548), but his expected stats are all below what he is actually accomplishing:

AVG: .345, xAVG: .289

SLG: .548, xSLG: .491

wOBA: .424, xwOBA: .377

This is in part due to a high BABIP of .400, but it is also due to Rojas’ ability to spray the ball all over the field:

Josh Rojas 2024 Spray Chart

His 23.5% line-drive rate is above the league average of 19.8% and he’s consistently held that mark throughout his career. It should be no surprise that Rojas is hitting, however the power he is displaying is somewhat new. He’s only ever slugged above .400 once in his career in 2021 when he reached a .411 season mark, so we should expect the .548 current slugging percentage to come down. The question is, by how much? He is supporting his power metrics with skills like a 7.2% career-high barrel rate, a 37.7% hard-hit rate that is better than his career average, and he’s putting the ball on the ground less often than he ever has before. Lastly, Rojas’ contact rates remain high, making him a high-average hitter, but he has cut his O-Swing% down significantly leading to a career-low 16.7% K%. So, he’s getting on base more often? Does he steal? Yes, he steals. So far he only has three stolen bases, and his totals have been declining since a career-high 23 stolen bags in 2022. Maybe he’s slowing up, but his SB projections are all over 10.

Ready for a douse of cold water? Josh Rojas does not hit lefties. His platoon situation with Luis Urías and Sam Haggerty has protected his overall numbers and he’s only been in the box seven times this season against left-handed pitchers. But, take a look at his career splits:

vsL: .254/.332/.349

vsR: .260/.335/.388

It’s not that bad. While the Mariners will likely keep him in a platoon, he’s on the better side of it and should remain at the top of the order. While it’s hard for me not to write, “Don’t Lose” as there is nothing but good indications for Josh Rojas here, I’m not sure his power will remain this high and BABIP is so fickle by nature. So yes, “Don’t Go Crazy”, but Rojas is currently showcasing the skills that eventually lead to break-out seasons.

Verdict: Don’t Go Crazy.

John Means – 54 current auctions

Means checked all the boxes in his season debut last week. His changeup looked great and collected eight whiffs with a 38.7% CSW%. The location of that changeup was excellent while his slider and curveball locations matched that success for batters on the other side of the plate. Of his season debut, Nick Pollack wrote in his SP Roundup:

He elevated his elite iVBfour-seamer, kept his slider and curve gloveside, dominated with changeups armside, and now pitches for a legit Baltimore team to keep the Wins flowing.

Verdict: Don’t Lose.

Lucas Erceg – 54 current auctions

29 years old and pitching for the Athletics, Erceg has collected seven holds and two saves while limiting home runs and walks in relief. While the closer role is certainly Mason Miller’s to keep, Erceg is the next in line according to RosterResource. This is a good fantasy pickup in leagues where holds count, but otherwise may not be worth the roster spot unless something happens to Miller.

Verdict: Don’t Go Crazy.

Roster Adds

Wenceel Pérez – Add% Change (7 Days) – 35.0%

The 24-year-old Detroit Tigers outfielder has been running a .375 BABIP supporting a .305/.388/.542 slash line. In January, Wenceel fell into the “Not Quite Enough Defense” section of the “Other Prospects of Note” grouping of the Tigers Prospects List. Eric Longenhagen wrote:

Pérez fell off the list when he stopped playing shortstop. He now has some experience in center field, and if it turns out he can actually play there (he is not as good a defender as Trei Cruz, in my opinion), then he’ll stick around on the 40-man as upper-level depth.

So he doesn’t have the prospect pedigree, but he is hitting in the major leagues. Pérez is a switch-hitter who we should keep an eye on, but he hasn’t displayed underlying skills that support his hot start. He does have good contact rates even though he is chasing the ball outside of the zone more than the average. Pérez is worth a $1 flier bid, but there’s nothing in his underlying profile to suggest any more than that.

Verdict: Don’t Stress.

Josh Smith – Add% Change (7 Days) – 34.7%

Sometimes, it’s simple. Make more contact in the zone and things will get better:

Josh Smith wOBA and Z-Contact%

This dramatic contact rate increase has allowed Smith an impressive .302/.408/.481 slash line in 36 games so far this season. He has made the most of Josh Jung’s spot in the lineup needing to be filled. This is a young hitter who has shown significant improvements in his line-drive and ground-ball rates while making better swing decisions against lefties and righties. If he continues to improve, the Ranges will have to find space for him. However, Corey Seager and Josh Jung are not going to be replaced, so Smith will be fighting an uphill battle.

Verdict: Don’t Stress.

Trevor Larnach – Add% Change (7 Days) – 26.3%

Larnach’s slash line is popping .354/.407/.521. His xBA of .340 is not too far off from his actual and the same goes for his xSLG of .598. He has dramatically cut his K% down to 18.5% and compared to a career mark of 32.5%, one has to wonder if he’s figured something out. But, his O-Swing% has actually increased while his K% has decreased which is typically not the way to sustain a low K%:

Larnach K% Decrease, O-Swing% Increase

Something doesn’t add up and I would temper any expectations of a big breakout. Larnach also remains in a platoon-heavy offense, so playing time takes a hit. While he’s been off to a great start and is worth adding, a strikeout rate increase seems imminent.

Verdict: Don’t Go Crazy.

Hot Performers

Stats reflect the last 14 days for both hitters and pitchers.

Ryan Jeffers – (10.3 P/G)

Jeffers has hit four home runs, stolen a base, and hit .356 in the past 14 days. He has been a part of a surging Twins offense but has mostly been splitting time with Christian Vázquez.

Max Kepler – (9.8 P/G)

Kepler has hit two home runs, stolen a base, and slugged .784 in the past 14 days. He remains in a platoon position as a left-handed batter sharing time with Manuel Margot and Austin Martin.

Luke Weaver – (9.8 P/IP)

Weaver has been dealing as a late-inning, multi-inning reliever out of the Yankees pen. He’s collected three holds, has a career-high 11.8% SwStr%, and has an excellent 19.8% K-BB% compared to a 13.3% reliever league average.

Cole Irvin –  (7.3 P/IP)

How many more wins does Irvin have to collect before you’re ready to pick him up? In his last three starts, Irvin has allowed only two walks and zero runs. But, low BABIPs, high left-on-base rates, and low strikeout totals spread a word of warning.

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Buhners Rocket Armmember
20 days ago

Should be noted that Jeffers is only splitting time behind home plate with Vazquez because he’s often been the DH when he’s not catching. He’s on pace for 125 starts batting high in the order this year which is insane value for a catcher even if he only runs a .750 OPS the rest of the way.