We are officially in the stretch run of the fantasy baseball season, as we have approximately two weeks to go. Which, when you think of it, is a whole bundle of emotions wrapped into one potentially explosive box. It’s sad that baseball is almost done, happy that we made it this far with minimal cancellations, confusing in dynasty leagues because we don’t know what to believe, ruthless in redraft leagues because almost nobody is safe. Needless to say, it’s been a wide array of feelings this year, which is essentially 2020 in a nutshell.
That said, instead of crying about it, let’s play the cards that we’ve been dealt. We can and need to move forward with our lives and make the most of what’s left. Sure it’s been crazy but, we can still make it great. So, with two weeks or so to go, let’s look at those players who are in the midst of a hot streak AND see if they’re worth keeping for the rest of the season to help you out during the stretch run.
Feelin’ Hot Hot Hot
For months and months in the offseason, Mondesi was proclaimed as the fantasy baseball saint of steals, as he was being drafted incredibly high due to the fact that he was going to win you your category in steals. Then the season began and he stunk….badly. In fact, as of September 3, he found himself batting .179, with no home runs, eight stolen bases and hitting from the 8th spot in the order. It was an ugly period for him. And then something happened. Maybe he saw that he was a cold streaker, just right here, during Week 6, and thought to himself, “hey, I don’t want to disappoint Dave Funnell of RotoFanatic”. Hardly likely, but something clicked since that point in time because he’s been hot hot hot!
What’s changed? Not a heck of a lot actually. He’s still swinging and missing at around the same rate as he was before this streak, and has actually chased and missed more than he has previously. Looking at that whiff rate too, he’s still striking out a ton, which is concerning. That said, the only positive I can say is that he’s showing a bit more patience at the plate as the total number of pitches seen during a game are up slightly. So then, why is this all of a sudden happening? Other than a slightly higher Launch Angle, which is important, I would say that he’s now positively regressing into the player we all knew that he’d be coming into 2020. We all knew his approach at the plate was awful, that his patience was thin and that he was recovering from shoulder surgery. Yet, despite all of that, we all bought in and drafted him anyways. He may not finish the year with the stats we expected, but he will help you dominate in the steals category.
Ranked number one in baseball through running splits, Mondesi is a speed demon. He leads the majors in stolen bases. Lately, he’s been more aggressive. Last week he hit three home runs and stole four bases during those games (with at least one in each game).
Redraft: should be rostered and started in all leagues. Keep in mind, this would be around the end of May over a regular 162-game season, and he would be rightly labelled as a “slow starter”. This year, however, he’ll be considered a bust.
Keeper/Dynasty: should be rostered and is a nice buy low for 2021 since the bust label will stick with him over the winter and he’ll probably drop down a few rounds in the drafts. I worry there’s a Mallex Smith vibe hanging around him, but I’m willing to take a chance on him rebounding next year and maintaining some sense of consistency.
Coming off a roller coaster month of August, Duvall entered the final month of the season batting .241 with a modest five home runs, en route to another disappointing year, which has been the story of his life. And then, as we found ourselves turning the pages of the calendar, Adam Duvall brought back his 2017 self and started mashing. He broke team records by becoming the first Brave ever to have multiple three homer games within a season. He also recorded nine runs batted in within a game, which puts him near the top of the all-time single game record books. He’s hitting primarily extra base hits, as twelve of his first fourteen hits this month have been doubles or home runs. And finally, much like my favourite weekly podcast, it’s all about the Launch Angle, as he raised it significantly this month:
Redraft: continue to roster and play him until this streak runs dry. At age 32, he’s a career .235 hitter, yet this year he stands almost 30 points higher than that (though his xBA puts him at lower than his career marks). I don’t see this lasting long term, so play him, but have a short leash with him. He will strike out a lot, but as long as he contributes with some power, he should be safely placed in your outfield.
Dynasty/Keeper: unless he finishes off the year with career high (162-game projected) marks, I’d only look at him late in drafts in 2021.
The year 2020 has been a bust for everything Boston Red Sox, as it’s clear that they’re not contending at all this season. What better way to prepare for a healthy 2021 season by having some of your prized prospects get the call to the Major League club to see if they can handle MLB pitching and learn from any mistakes they might make? Enter Bobby Dalbec, the number three prospect within their system, who comes with first base and third base eligibility. Since his arrival, he’s breaking team records as well, as his power potential has been on full display for all to see.
Dalbec came into the majors with an interesting profile. He brings an interesting combination of patience and power, albeit with a high K%-BB% rate after every promotion. Since coming up to Boston, he’s certainly mashed, but his strikeout rate of 46.5% is ridiculously high, though unsustainable. Give him time to adjust and, like many times before, he should show added patience.
Redraft: if you need the power like Snap!, you can do worse than riding with Dalbec. He’s someone who, as seen above, hit 27 home runs in 2019, and can definitely continue here. I see him finishing the year with double digit home runs. Don’t expect much else from him though, as there is minimal speed there with a handful of opportunities available.
Dynasty/Keeper: much more intriguing option here as he’s an upgrade for the Red Sox over Michael Chavis. That said, he (Dalbec) may find himself in a similar platoon situation with Chavis, or, even more, competing for at-bats with him (depending on what the Red Sox do in the offseason). I like Dalbec a lot actually, and if he can gain third base eligibility for (or during) next year, he gains value in my opinion, as third base is rather thin. If you are out of it for this season, pick him up and give him a shot for 2021.
In the offseason, I wrote about the Orioles offence and how there was potential there for some late round sneakiness. While I was wrong about some things (*cough* Austin Hays *cough*), I did talk a bit about DJ Stewart. To quote myself:
He will face a lot of right-handed pitchers and will play a lot of games where his approach at the plate can be positively emphasized and used to his advantage. I expect him, with health and playing time on his side, to outperform his Steamer projections and to give fantasy owners everywhere a positive return.
Let’s see how he did:
Overall, I think Stewart has had a good season, despite missing most of August, and should finish the year with some nice counting numbers. A lot of it has to do with his recent surge in power where he hammered six combined home runs against both New York teams. That said, there are some concerning trends in 2020 that need to be addressed. He possesses a .173 xBA, which coincides with his high swing and miss and chase swing rates. However, when we dig a bit deeper, we find that it’s not all doom and gloom.
The overall numbers appear to be a bit skewed since they don’t reflect the gains Stewart has made. He’s swinging and missing in the strike zone less often than before, he’s actually chasing and missing less often and his expected batting average is significantly higher. This is all after his extended time on the IL.
Redraft: roll with this free source of power from the waiver wire and ride your way to fantasy success! Use a short leash as it could come to an end. It’s a small sample, and Stewart is still building his resumé. This could be the start of something bigger and better.
Dynasty/Keeper: he’s definitely an interesting name to monitor. As someone who knows how to take a pitch and doesn’t always strike out a lot, he could be taking the next step forward. If I were a betting man, I’d say he’ll regress a bit to start next season, but he’ll catch back on and actually be fantasy relevant over a longer period of time than we’ve seen in 2020.
Earlier this year I also wrote about Josh Bell, as he was struggling to do much of anything. I went so far as to say that I’d replace him as my starter at first base and even listed others I’d rather have at that position going forward. Well, he must have gotten wind of it (alongside Mondesi) and decided that enough was enough. A few days into September, he began showing more plate discipline, stopped chasing and started getting locked in at the plate. Since those adjustments, the results have been astonishing.
The right side of the data, aka the September side, shows a much harder hitting profile which is similar to his early 2019 performance. In fact, his overall hard hit rate in 2020 is eerily close to that of last season. Since September 6, Bell has produced a 2:3 K:BB rate while hitting two home runs and knocking in three runs. While he will jokingly tell you his success is due to regularly skipping batting practice, it ultimately is because he exercised patience and forced pitchers to pitch to him. He’s raised his batting average up forty points, which also shows how small a sample this really is.
Redraft: honestly, you need to ride this out. He’s done it before, so maybe he’s figured it all out. If you still have him on your roster, what more do you have to lose?
Dynasty/Keeper: if he can finish the year strong and in similar form, he’s worth another look after a long offseason with proper planning and training. With so many pitchers well ahead of the batters, it’s been a year of catching up with the bat. Maybe I was wrong about him.