The Hottest CBS Pickups 4/1/19

What does one post when the sample size is still wayyyyy too tiny to evaluate anything, besides pitch velocity? Opine on what every other fantasy owner is doing, of course! So let’s discuss the most added players in CBS Sports leagues. Are fantasy owners buying the right guy or making a mistake?

Eric Lauer SP | SD — Previous Week Own % 14 | Current Week Own % 62

I’m not entirely sure if the surge in ownership was due to a juicy matchup against the Giants or the strong results after facing them. If it was the latter…come on! Sure, he managed to throw six scoreless innings, but are fantasy owners still blinded by the almighty ERA in one start and ignoring the actual underlying skills? His fastball velocity was down marginally, though nothing to panic about, he managed a meager 7.1% SwStk%, and struck out just three of 21 batters faces for a weak 14.3% strikeout rate. The only positive from the outing is he walked just one. If you didn’t care for him during your draft, you certainly shouldn’t now. He’ll likely be one of the biggest drops after his first bad outing, which is just so silly, as fantasy owners do it backwards.

Enrique Hernandez OF | LAD — Previous Week Own % 15 | Current Week Own % 61

In a major surprise, Hernandez was named the Dodgers starting second baseman over incumbent Chris Taylor. Though his BABIP has always been pathetic, he has flashed strong skills, combining solid plate discipline with some power. He’s not going to contribute in steals and the weak BABIP history suggests you can’t even expect a helpful batting average. But he’ll hit some homers and knock in some runs. His value spikes in OBP leagues. I think he’s a reasonable add, but close to replacement level in 12-team mixed leagues.

Tim Beckham SS | SEA — Previous Week Own % 17 | Current Week Own % 62

Woooo, I’m actually surprised Beckham’s ownership hasn’t jumped higher than 62% after homering three times over his first three games. After a breakout 2017 and his first season earning more than 223 plate appearances, he was awful last year, causing us to completely forge the previous season. We still have such a limited history, so it’s difficult to peg where he’ll go from here. The risk here is that he’s poor defensively, and the Mariners traded for J.P. Crawford expecting him to be their shortstop of the future. Mixed leaguers might as well own him for now, but he might not last through the summer as the every day guy at shortstop.

Greg Holland RP | ARI — Previous Week Own % 14 | Current Week Own % 54

It kinda says a lot about what fantasy owners think of Holland that even after surprisingly being named closer in Arizona, he’s still only owned in 54% of leagues. After a dominating four seasons from 2011 to 2014, Holland was just ordinary the next two years, and then terrible last year, all stemming from a decline in fastball velocity from 96+ MPH to 94 and then 93. So is his velocity back giving the Diamondbacks confidence the dominant version has returned? Nope! In fact, it’s down even further to just 91.5. I can’t imagine he escapes April with the closer role still in hand and I don’t expect him to be a particular effective reliever even in a lesser role. Hold Bradley if you still own him!

Joc Pederson OF | LAD — Previous Week Own % 27 | Current Week Own % 60

I don’t quite understand where seemingly every year, Pederson is fighting for the strong side of a platoon job. The guy owns a career .346 wOBA and posted a .354 mark last year. He walks, hasn’t struck out too much the last two seasons, and possesses excellent power. Clearly, the three homers has reminded fantasy owners of these facts. But the reality is, he’s not going to face lefties, he’s not going to contribute in steals, he owns a career .231 batting average, and his runs scored and runs batted in totals have barely been replacement level. So essentially he’s a one category guy, who at best might earn a couple of bucks in a shallow mixed league. I’m not interested.

Fernando Tatis Jr. SS | SD — Previous Week Own % 59 | Current Week Own % 90

Well duh. Having nary a plate appearance at Triple-A, I was pretty shocked that Tatis won the starting shortstop job. While I don’t mind rostering pitchers who skipped Triple-A, I think hitters skipping Triple-A are a major risk and are far less of a guarantee to enjoy immediate success. Tatis has always struck out a lot in the minors and posted a 16.5% SwStk% in Double-A. While he’s still young and improving, it still might not be enough to keep that strikeout rate below 30%. The good news is he has always posted inflated BABIP marks in the minors and also possesses good power. So even with all the strikeouts, he’s unlikely to hit .230. But he could. Since he also has above average speed, the most optimistic of projections would suggest the potential for a 20/15 season, and let’s say batting .250. Obviously, mixed leaguers need to speculate on that upside.

Domingo Santana OF | SEA — Previous Week Own % 58 | Current Week Own % 84

Okay fantasy owners, how was Santana only owned in 58% of leagues to begin with? That was the initial mistake. I’m only paying attention to one metric right now — Santana’s FB%. He has always possesses fantastic power, but has never posted a FB% above 29.3%, which is too low for a power hitter. It’s a tiny sample of just 23 at-bats, but right now, his FB% stands at the complete opposite extreme, 56.3%. If he suddenly becomes a fly ball guy, his BABIP is going to collapse and he might be at risk of hurting your batting average, but he’ll have an easy time hitting 30 homers again.

Freddy Peralta SP | MIL– Previous Week Own % 55 | Current Week Own % 80

So Peralta won a rotation spot, which likely led to the flurry of pickups, because it certainly wouldn’t have happened after his awful first start. He has such a weird profile, as a two-pitch pitcher that throws his fastball nearly 80% of the time. Even weirder is his fastball averaged just 91.4 MPH last year, which is not the type of velocity you would expect from a fastball heavy pitcher. The good news is that his velocity was up about two miles per hour during his first start, but he got few swinging strikes, and his control remains a major issue. With several others waiting in the wings for a rotation spot, Peralta is going to need to pitch well or he’ll find himself back in the minors. I think 80% owned is a bit too high, but the minor league strikeout rates are surely drool-worthy.

Mike Podhorzer is the 2015 Fantasy Sports Writers Association Baseball Writer of the Year. He produces player projections using his own forecasting system and is the author of the eBook Projecting X 2.0: How to Forecast Baseball Player Performance, which teaches you how to project players yourself. His projections helped him win the inaugural 2013 Tout Wars mixed draft league. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikePodhorzer and contact him via email.

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Thanks Pod! I always enjoy your analysis