We have made it through week one of baseball…barely. There was a lot of crazy excitement that we saw, including a walk off grand slam in the first game with the new extra innings format. Several teams who were expected to be good have struggled, while a few teams who were projected to be bad have surprised early on. All of this has had a big impact on fantasy baseball.
*All stats are prior to Sunday’s games*
Christian Yelich was drafted in many leagues first overall, and for good reason. Last year, he hit .329 with forty four home runs and thirty stolen bases. He also added ninety seven RBIs and a hundred runs, truly contributing in all five major fantasy categories. So far this year, Yelich has registered just one hit. It happened to be a homer, but many have been let down by his early struggles. Yelich will be fine. Even if he regresses slightly, he will still be a top ten player in baseball, and probably still top five. The reason I am still bringing him up in a fantasy advice article is that owners may be frustrated, so might be willing to take a low ball offer on the best player in fantasy baseball. The same thing applies to both Cody Bellinger and Ronald Acuna Jr. who are also struggling early. Bellinger is hitting just .139 so far this season and has yet to go deep. Even more frustrating is that seemingly all other Dodgers players have been playing well. Acuna Jr. hit his first home run on Saturday, but prior to that has been disappointing as well. His average is now up to .184, but he has struck out eighteen times in 42 at bats. Arguably the three best players for fantasy have combined for -0.9 WAR, but this should turn around soon. All three should be fine and contribute across all five major fantasy categories, so people should try to steal them with a low ball offer before their values go back up.
There are many rookies who have looked really impressive so far. Brady Singer, David Peterson, Nate Pearson and Dustin May have all looked solid in their starts. These four make for a good fill in for fantasy owners who lost Justin Verlander or Corey Kluber to injury. The four have combined to only give up eight runs over 28.1 innings, good for a 2.56 ERA combined. They have also put up 25 strikeouts between the four, and all four are definitely worth adding in all fantasy formats, and especially dynasty leagues. However, it is the rookies on the offensive side that have truly shined.
Luis Robert was probably the rookie baseball fans were most excited for this year. The White Sox signed him to a six year, fifty million dollar contract before Robert even played a game, and so far that has looked correct. Through eight games, Robert is hitting .364, has hit two home runs, drove in six while scoring five times, and also stole a base. He needs to start walking a bit more, but everything else has pointed to this continuing. Robert has an utterly ridiculous .455 BABIP, and with Tim Anderson going down, Robert has moved to the lead off spot in the lineup. Robert will provide five categories in fantasy, but will be extremely hard to acquire especially with his fast start.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Mariners have a rookie who has yet to become a household name in Kyle Lewis, and thus should be easier to acquire than Robert. Everyone who is playing in a league where he is still available should stop reading this article and go pick him up (and then come back to finish this article). In eighteen games last year, Lewis cranked six homers. In nine games this year, Lewis has picked up right where he left off and maybe has gotten even better. He has hit two home runs and knocked in eight so far. However, more impressive is the fact that so far this year he is hitting .444. This will probably go down a bit, but everything points to him hitting over .300 for the year. Lewis is a star in the making, and he should be a household name soon.
The Giants Trio
The Giants have arguably been the most surprising team in baseball, sitting at 5-4 through nine games. This has been spearheaded by three players who are all off to fast starts, and at Diamond Digest we like to call BABIP Warriors. Mike Yastrzemski was my number one sleeper pick coming for people to draft, and he currently leads all position players in WAR. Yaz is currently hitting .400 and has crossed the plate ten times already this season. He is also walking at a 26.8% rate so far this year. The second player who has helped the Giants to their surprising start is Wilmer Flores. Like Yaz, Flores also has two home runs so far on the season. He is (only) hitting .300 so far this year, but may be the Giants best overall hitter. During the second half of the 2019 season, Flores hit seven of his nine home runs for the Diamondbacks. He also hit a ridiculous .350, to go with a .964 OPS, a .363 BABIP, and a 150 WRC+. The final part of the trio, and the most surprising of all, is Donavan Solano. He currently leads all players in runs batted in, with thirteen. Part of this is due to the fact that he is hitting a whopping .448 so far. These numbers will slow down a bit, but these three should provide a solid amount of offense for the Giants. All three are definitely worth acquisition consideration.
One More Player to go After, and one Player to Stray Away From
The current front runner for the NL Cy Young award may be Tyler Chatwood. I know it has only been two starts, and I don’t think he will ultimately win the award, but he has been fantastic thus far and I believe Chatwood will keep it up. Through two starts, Chatwood has pitched 12.2 innings and has given up just one run. He has also struck out nineteen batters, which represents his best two game stretch in his career. Part of why I think Chatwood will keep this up is because he has a 2.15 xFIP, and also a ridiculously high 45% swing rate. The latter number will go down, but the rest of his stats – especially the ones that matter for fantasy – should stay relatively consistent.
The one player owners should try to get rid off, whether through trade or just straight up cutting him, is Khris Davis. Davis is coming off a down year and the struggles have just continued thus far. He has just one hit on the year. Even worse, he hasn’t even been starting everyday, and I fully expect this trend to continue. Yet, he is still owned in 62% of Yahoo leagues. Owners should stray away from him now instead of holding on hope he will turn it around.
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