Ottoneu Hot Right Now: Most Active Options

It has been a few weeks since we have done one of these, but there are some fun names up for auction right now, so let’s take a look. There are four players with more than 25 live auctions as I write, all of them young, talented, and exciting.

Kerry Carpenter – I think Matt Carpenter is contagious. After he went nuts, another Matt C (Chapman) went off, and now we have another Carpenter hitting bombs. Carpenter came up just over a week ago and, as fortune would have it, the Tigers were playing the Guardians and as a Guardians fan, I watched his first couple games and he looked awful. Lost. Really bad. 0-8, six strikeouts, and his chase rate (52.4%) and contact rate (55.6%) almost matched. That is not a good thing.

But that is just a couple games and his minor league numbers suggested he could turn things around. Carpenter had 30 HR across Double- and Triple-A this year, with very strong overall offensive numbers. In Triple-A his plate discipline has been great. He has matched 12.3% walk and strikeout rates (and this time, matching is a good thing). While his Double-A numbers aren’t quite as pretty, his minor league track record suggests he should have decent walk rates and non-problematic strikeout rates.

And then there is that power. As of today, despite having not played a minor league game in over a week, Carpenter is still second in all of minor league ball with his 30 home runs.

Sure enough, since those ugly first couple games against Cleveland, Carpenter has turned things around. And while that is still just another four games and 17 PA, it’s enough to spark this flood of auctions.

Combined with his minor league track record, it was enough to get me interested, as well – I started one of those auctions and will be bidding in more than one. Carpenter is an interesting bat, but wasn’t really on the prospect radar a few months ago and there is still a lot of risk in the bat. Just look at his rest-of-season projections: 119 wRC+ from Steamer, 95 from ZiPS, 89 from THE BAT. If you are adding him now, you are hoping for that 119, but be ready to cut if he starts heading towards that 89.

I am not bidding a ton – probably less than $10, but I am fine going over $3-$5 because of the upside.

Brett Baty – While Carpenter wasn’t really on the prospect radar, Baty was. He was the Mets #2 prospect in FanGraphs rankings, and #26 overall on THE BOARD. He’s got great power, a solid hit tool, and looks like a very solid fantasy option. Then he went out and mashed a HR in his first MLB plate appearance.

He is, by all accounts, a top fantasy prospect and should really be rostered in all leagues. I am a bit surprised to see him so far up this list, only because I expected he would be rostered most places, already.

What you should spend on Baty depends a lot on why you are buying him. In league 13, I just won a $12 Baty. I think that is a pretty high price for a 3B prospect who may or may not stick the rest of the way. I think it is unlikely – though not at all impossible – for him to be a keeper at $14 next year. And if I were building for next year, I would have capped my bidding at $7-$8 with the hopes that he becomes a keeper around $10.

That team, however, is competing and is weak at 3B and had just failed to acquire Alex Bregman via trade. Baty is, as far as I can tell, the one lottery ticket out there that could solve my 3B issues ahead of the head-to-head playoffs. So I took my shot. 3B is so thin that there may be other contenders out there in a similar boat. If you are considering trading a prospect or other future asset for an overpriced 3B rental, Baty is less a prospect and more an alternative option. And if you have to make him a rental to get him, that may be a good use of your cap space.

This, by the way, is not the same as how I view Carpenter. In all of my leagues, there are established OF available and plenty of OF available via trade, so I am less willing to just over-pay on Carpenter to fill a need.

Estevan Florial – Spoiler: I am not bidding on Florial. Like the other two, he is young at just 24, but unlike those two, he is not making his debut, as Florial came up in 2020 and again in 2021 for 28 total plate appearances. That’s not why I am not bidding – I am not bidding because I think he comes with too much risk and too little chance of hitting meaningful upside.

Florial has just a 30-grade hit tool, per the prospect team at FanGraphs, and it shows in his numbers, as he regularly posts strikeout rates over 30%. In fact, he was over 30% in Triple-A this year, over 30% in Triple-A last year, over 30% in High-A in 2019, and he hasn’t had more than 40 PA at any stop other than those over that timeframe. There’s a hole in his swing and minor league pitchers haven’t had any issue exploiting it.

Now, a 30% k-rate isn’t a death knell for a hitter, as long as it comes with at least one, and ideally two, other things: 1) a great walk rate and/or 2) elite power. Florial might have those. Those 30% k-rates have often been matched with double-digit walk rates, which is a good sign. Contact is an issue, but he can take a walk. And the FanGraphs team tagged him with a 70 grade on his raw power, which would certainly qualify as elite.

But he hasn’t shown that power in games. He is up to 14 HR this year, a roughly 20-22 HR pace over a full season. Last year he hit 18 HR across three levels in a similar number of PA. There is probably a 25-homer season in that bat. The thing is, last year seven MLB hitters had a K-rate over 30% and none had fewer than 27 home runs. The only one under 30 (Matt Chapman, with 27) posted just a 101 wRC+, despite a 12.5% walk rate.

Basically, I don’t think Florial adds up to a meaningful fantasy outfielder, outside of 5×5 or other formats that value stolen bases. In Ottoneu points or 4×4 leagues, I’ll pass.

Shea Langeliers – One of the prizes of the Matt Olson trade, Shea Langeliers did not miss a beat changing orgs. He is putting up the best season of his pro-career by almost any measure and has very much earned his call-up to the big club. He earned that call-up despite the A’s still having an excellent catcher on their roster in Sean Murphy. Obviously the team believes in him enough that calling him up to split C/DH duties with Murphy was the best option. And sure enough, he has two starts at DH and one at C in his first three MLB games.

Langeliers is not, at first glance, an obvious fantasy prospect, as he is a glove-first C with solid power but a not-so-great hit tool. This offensive profile at almost any other position would give me real pause – can he get to the power? Will he just be a high ISO with low AVG and OBP? Will he strike out too much to matter?

But Langeliers has three things working in his favor, as far as I am concerned. First, his defense is good enough to carry him into the lineup, even if the bat isn’t great. That means he will get enough chances to work things out and that he will at least give you regular playing time. Second, he’s a C. The bar is low. Really low. Power alone has driven plenty of catchers to Ottoneu relevance – think Mike Zunino last year. Third, his performance in the minors suggests he may be able to outdo his scouting reports, as he posted a 128 wRC+ in Double-A last year and a 116 in Triple-A this year.

Looking at 2021 for a full season of data, do you know how many catchers both played regularly (350+ PA) and put up an above-average offensive season (wRC+ greater than 100)? 10. That’s it. Langeliers could easily do both next year, if Murphy is traded to make room.

There is still risk there and catchers are often slow to develop, so I don’t want to get ahead of myself. But at up to $5-$7, depending on your budget and team situation? If you need a catcher – for this year or next – why not?

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

When does Young think Jung gets the call up?