Ottoneu Hot Right Now: Most Active Auctions

Ottoneu never rests, even for holiday weekends, and extra time off often serves as an opportunity to catch up on cleaning up rosters, filling gaps in the lineup, or just making interesting trades and pickups. As we wrap up 4th of July weekend, there are five players who are up for auction in 25 or more leagues.

David Peterson – Peterson is kind of a known entity, having pitched 174.2 innings over 37 appearances (34 starts) for the Mets since 2020. But don’t just gloss over him, cause there is something actually interesting at work here.

Even when he put up a 3.44 ERA in 2020, Peterson didn’t pitched particularly well, at least by fantasy standards. He posted a 4.52 FIP that year, and both his ERA and FIP went up in 2021. This year is a different story. Peterson has pushed up his strikeout rate to 24.7% (from 19.5% in 2020) and pushed down his walk rate to 9.1% (from 11.7% in 2020) continuing a trend he started last year. Out of 126 pitchers with 50+ IP this year, Peterson is 56th in K%-BB%. That isn’t great, but it is pretty average, and “pretty average” is good enough to warrant some fantasy consideration.

Peterson has made some changes to his pitch mix that help explain the improvement. He is using his four-seamer more and his sinker less, and throwing his fastballs less overall, in favor of a few more breakers. His velocity is up across the board, particularly on his slider. That slider jumped whiff rates around 36% the last couple of years (league average is 32%) to 49.3% this year.

All of this is enough to make him a useful piece for an Ottoneu rotation. You won’t start him every time out, but you can use him when matchups dictate. I may try to pick him up in a league or two, with bids based on available space. Where I have the cap space and a need for SP, I would bid up to $6, but I would not want to cut useful players to clear cap space.

Harold Ramirez – Ramirez has been playing fairly regularly and hitting everything in sight. He has a 140 wRC+ on the season, and it is only improving lately. Ramirez has had hot stretches before – his ability to make hard contact is well-known, and a big part of why he keeps getting opportunities with new teams (the Rays are his third MLB team and his 6th org).

Over the last couple weeks, though, his rolling 15-game wOBA has risen to heights he hasn’t seen before. What is driving that hot streak? In the month of June, he had a 10.7% BB-rate, the highest monthly rate of his career in which he had more than 35 PA. He also had a .434 BABIP. If you are going to buy in on Ramirez, you have to ask yourself: how sustainable are those two numbers?

You already know that a .434 BABIP isn’t likely to continue, but changes in plate discipline can take effect quickly, meaning the walk rate is worth investigating. And that’s where things break down. Since June 1, his chase rate 43% – it is 43.7% on the season and 43.6% for his career. His swing rate in this zone is 73.7% – it is 75.2% for the season and 72.5% for his career. His contact rates haven’t changed much either. Ramirez has always been a free-swinger and he is still a free-swinger.

Which leads me to believe this hot streak won’t continue. Ramirez projects to be a solid hitter, so even when the hot streak fizzles, he’ll have some value. If you need OF help, he’s not a bad option, but don’t count on getting a star.

Evan Phillips – Phillips has flashed impressive strikeout-rates in the past, but struggled due to high walk-rates. Last year, he started to rein in the walks, but it was a small sample (13.1 IP) and his K-rate dropped as well. This year, the strikeouts are back (a career-high 30% K-rate) and the walks have hit a new low (a career-low 6.7%). He’s got nine holds on the year, four of which have come in the last two weeks, as he becomes more entrenched in the back of the Dodgers pen.

As you churn through relievers, looking for guys who might stick, Phillips is a great option, and worth spending a few bucks to grab. If the walks come back, move on.

David Villar – From a couple journeymen and a reliever, we move onto names with a bit more intrigue. And we start with a guy who I was totally unfamiliar with before I started working on this article.

Villar is a 25-year-old prospect for the Giants, with a FV of 40 on THE BOARD as the 31st ranked prospect in the org. He’s also absolutely crushed the high minors the last two years after missing 2020 due to the pandemic. In 727 PA across Double- and Triple-A, Villar has 41 HR and, thanks to a strong walk rate, has been getting on base regularly, as well (.409 OBP this season).

And now, he is also a Major Leaguer! Villar was called up and made his debut on July 4th, playing 2B, hitting 7th, and going 2-4 with a single and a double.

Villar is currently only 3B-eligible, and scouting reports suggest he belongs at a corner, but he has made 11 minor league starts at 2B and 11 more at 1B in the minors this year. The Giants have needed help all around the infield this year, so he may move around a bit.

Villar looks to me a bit like a (very) poor man’s Nolan Gorman – power first corner IF bat that can handle playing 2B if needed, and therefore may end up with the ability to slot into your MI. He has shown some strikeout issues in the minors, so there is risk in the profile. And the track record is short – but the Giants have shown an ability to get the most out of players.

The other risk for Villar is playing time. The Giants like to platoon, and he could be a small-side platoon guy. Brandon Crawford on the IL but should be back soon, and Thairo Estrada is on the COVID IL. Both could return and push Villar back to the minors.

If he’s up for auction in your league right now, or if you have a roster spot and want to gamble early, bid a couple bucks and see what happens, knowing he might be a cut within a matter of days. If you would rather wait and see how he is used, you can do that, but know that his price may go up in the meantime (or it may drop to zero).

Brayan Bello – The clear headliner of the group, Bello is the top pitching prospect in Boston’s organization and is all lined up to make his MLB debut Wednesday, as the Sox search for healthy starters. Bello’s been impressive in both Double- and Triple-A this year, striking out more than a third of the hitters he faced and giving up just 22 ER in 85 innings.

If there’s a concern in the profile, for me it’s the walks. His 10% walk rate in Triple-A (9.3% in Double-A) would be the third highest walk rate among qualified MLB SP. In fact, his minor league K% and BB% remind me of Dylan Cease, whose 11% walk-rate is the highest among qualified pitchers, but hasn’t stopped him from being extremely effective, though it has limited how deep into games he can go.

The question for me is if Bello can maintain his minor league rates or if he loses enough strikeouts and gains enough walks that he can’t be effective. That said, the talent is real and I would bid up to $5, maybe even a bit more, for the shot to see how he handles his debut and subsequent starts. Just remember, rookies often have bumpy roads. He’ll be a risky play this year, but the long-term upside is real.

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 month ago

Good stuff. Always look forward to the Ottoneu content!