|PLAYER NAME||OWNED %||ADD % CHANGE (7 DAYS)|
|Stats||Peter Alonso||Dan Vogelbach|
While both sluggers are likely to hit a few bumps sooner or later, there are a lot of similarities in their early profiles, with the long term edge going to Alonso in raw power (think HR totals) and to Vogelbach for the slightly better offensive discipline (think AVG). Owners are now fully aboard the Vogelbach breakout because the foundation looks safe and playable in almost every league even when the inevitable adjustment arrives. Vogey is no longer just a bold prediction but has now played himself into must-add territory in even the shallowest fantasy leagues.
Jason Heyward (OF, CHC)
It’s shocking to see Heyward relevant again, isn’t it? Long written off by most fantasy owners, Heyward has found new life thanks to a profile change that (thru 15 games) should now be considered something meaningful. The 29 year old outfielder is walking more than twice as much as last season (17.6%) while striking out just 8.8% of the time thanks to a career best zone contact rate of 94.3%. Even better, he’s hitting the ball harder (36.7%) than at any other point in his career outside his rookie debut in 2010. Pitchers are taking notice, as he’s now seeing less than 40% of pitches in the zone, also a career low. It’s rare to see these skill improvements all line up together with improved batted ball results this late in a player’s career, but Heyward is notorious for tinkering with his swing so maybe this is just the culmination of a lot of hard work over the past few seasons. Regardless, since you’re basing ownership on small samples, this looks real enough to jump in with both feet, and I’d classify Heyward as a must add at this point. Good for him.
Richard Lovelady (RP, KC)
Quickly becoming one of the best names in baseball, Lovelady is demonstrating back-of-the-bullpen stuff in his early sample. The two-pitch lefty boasts a low 90’s average fastball and strong slider that have helped him rack up two holds over 3 1/3 innings for the Royals so far. More opportunities are on their way if his excellent ground ball rate (62.5%) and strikeout rate (28.6%) continue, but based on his minor league career I would bet his K/9 settles just below 9.0 going forward. You often have to jump early on limited information when speculating on relievers in Ottoneu, but there’s enough here (especially the ground ball tendencies) to buy now for ~$3 and expect meaningful contributions for the rest of the season as a 6th or 7th RP.
Nick Anderson (RP, MIA)
The entire Miami pitching staff continues to surprise and Anderson has been the best reliever on the team through the first three weeks of the season. The 6’5″ righty sports a 10.0 K/BB and is striking out almost half (48.8% K%) of the batters he’s faced over 9 2/3 innings. He’s accomplished this with a .438 BABIP too, so additional positive regression may further reduce his ERA and increase high leverage opportunities (just one hold so far). Anderson has given up two long balls in his last two appearances (29.4% ground ball rate) so that tendency will need to be monitored closely, but this is an arm worth investing at least $5 in off waivers and could find himself in position to earn significant saves over the second half of the season.
Freddy Galvis (SS, TOR)
Freddy Galvis currently has an ISO of .241 thanks to five home runs. Unfortunately, that’s where the good news ends, as Galvis is likely just filling middle infield gaps for owners who have lost more established hitters to recent injuries. Galvis is a hard sell here, as his current .339 BABIP and 20.8% HR/FB rate is boosting what is otherwise looking like an actual skills decline, hidden by a hot start. Walking (3.7% BB%) and making contact at career low rates will catch up sooner or later here. Let someone else ride the wave down.
Alex Gordon (OF, KC)
Perhaps the American League version of the Jason Heyward reclamation, the 35 year old Gordon has been surprisingly productive through the first 19 games of the season (.414 wOBA, .988 OPS). Most revealing in his change in approach is the significant reduction in strikeouts (10.7% K%, compared to career rate of 21.6%), though almost everything else is trending positive too, including a career best contact rate (83.0%), hard hit rate (39.7%), and opposite field batted ball rate (34.9%). Ground balls are up (47.6%) and he hasn’t maintained a BABIP over .300 since 2015 (currently .333), but even as those indicators regress Gordon looks like a bargain OF3 going forward (.373 xwOBA, which may be overstated a bit if he keeps hitting to the opposite field).
J.D. Davis (1B/3B/OF, NYM)
Davis has made the most of his offensive opportunities so far this season for the Mets (.957 OPS), and despite the uncertainty of playing time once Todd Frazier and Jed Lowrie return, Davis should continue to be a valuable, versatile addition to Ottoneu lineups when he plays. Davis leads the Mets with a .469 xwOBA (.408 wOBA) thanks to a quick bat and solid approach (1.0 BB/K). For context, Anthony Rendon leads all third basemen with a .493 xwOBA. So far this season Davis is a must-own player in all leagues, even if we have to wait to find out how the Mets juggle the lineup once everyone is healthy.
J.B. Wendelken (RP, OAK)
In just four more innings Wendelken will exceed his MLB usage from 2018, where he turned in a 0.54 ERA in 16 2/3 innings for OAK last year. The right hander has not been used yet in high leverage action (zero saves or holds), but his skills (10.2 K/9, 2.58 FIP) deserve at least to be watch listed in case his usage buys him more opportunity in the back end of a very good bullpen. Wendelken has three pitches, headlined by an effective fastball that averages almost 95 mph. He’s a strike thrower and he’ll probably cost you ~$2 in most leagues. Keep an eye on him.
Nick Margevicius (SP, SD)
Margevicius has never thrown a pitch in AA or AAA. In fact, he has less than 60 career minor league innings in A+, but here he is making an effective debut for the Padres, who are looking for gold at the end of every possible rainbow. Through 20 innings Margevicius has managed a 3.60 ERA thanks to terrific command (9.50 K/BB), but his average fastball (88.4 mph) is one of the slowest in baseball, so the margin for error is pretty thin here. Altogether, Margevicius looks a little like Mike Leake (owned in less than 12% of leagues), so keep that in mind going forward. You’ll want to pick your spots with Margevicius carefully, which is always easier said than done.
Brandon Brennan (RP, SEA)
Unlike Wendelken above, the 27 year old Brennan has been used in some high leverage situations (3 holds), and it has certainly helps his value that Seattle has the most wins in the American League through the first three weeks of the season. Brennan has been fortunate (.188 BABIP, 93.8% left on base), but his fastball/change combo works well due to his ability to induce the ground ball (54.5%), so if he can continue to limit the home run, he’ll be valuable as a 6th or 7th RP on most teams. He’s still relatively unknown in most leagues, so expect a winning bid of ~$3 or less.
Trey is a 20 year fantasy veteran and a five time Ottoneu champion, including the 2015 winner of the Ottoneu Champions League. He currently administers the Ottoneu community, a network of ~1,200 fantasy baseball and football fans talking trash daily. More resources here: http://community.ottoneu.com