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We're back to cover a few more guys who moved at the Trade Deadline. I didn't mention Lance Lynn before, but his acquisition by the Yankees was strange. The ball flies out of Yankee Bandbox, and Lynn had a severe case of gopheritis in Minnesota. He's not an option in any competitive format.

This column will focus on Asdrubal Cabrera (now of the Phillies) and Nathan Eovaldi (Red Sox). Both have serviceable fantasy lines to date, but their new homes could put their value into jeopardy. It's not a guarantee that Cabrera plays everyday for the Phils moving forward, while Eovaldi looked like a regression candidate before getting traded to a hostile environment.

Let's break them down!

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The Fantasy Jury is Out

Asdrubal Cabrera (SS/2B/3B, PHI) - 82% Owned

Cabrera is slashing .271/.322/.478 with 19 HR on the season, making him a useful piece in fantasy considering his positional flexibility. A closer look reveals that the 32-year old is probably selling out for power, an approach that should work better in Philadelphia than New York.

Let's get the park factors out of the way first. In 2017, Philadelphia inflated HR at the second highest rate in MLB (111 FanGraphs park factor). Citi Field suppressed homers slightly (99). All else being equal, we should expect Cabrera to hit significantly more homers with the Phillies than he would have with the Mets.

That's interesting, considering his 16% HR/FB is already considerably higher than his career mark of 9.5%. It's not a fluke either, as Cabrera is legitimately making better contact. His average airborne exit velocity is 93.8mph, much higher than all three of his other numbers in the Statcast Era (92.1mph in 2017, 92.3mph in '16, 92.2mph in '15). His 7.6% rate of Brls/BBE is also a personal best (4.7%, 5.7%, 5.4%), though it's still only about average compared to the league as a whole. His FB% is roughly equivalent to his career total (38.3% vs. 37.4%), but he's pulling more of them (33.6% vs. 28.5%).

Cabrera is cheating a little to make the numbers above a reality. His 20.5% K% is higher than his 17.5% career mark, a change supported by his SwStr% (9.6% vs. 8.5% career) and O-Swing% (32.8% vs. 30.5%) increases. His K% still isn't a problem, so owners can enjoy a versatile .270 hitter with pop.

Cabrera's .304 BABIP is close to his career .307 mark, and figures to increase if anything considering his underlying peripherals. His 19.9% LD% is just shy of his 20.6% career mark, while his BABIP on liners is a disappointing .661 (.701 career) despite the contact quality gains above. His grounders are besting their career averages (.254 vs. .240), but his 87mph average exit velocity on ground balls is a large enough improvement over his previous work (82.4mph, 84.3mph, 83.5mph) to believe that it's real. He's slow as molasses (25.4 ft./sec Statcast Sprint), but indifferent to the shift (57.7% Pull% on grounders).

Overall, Statcast's xBA metric pegs Cabrera as a .271 hitter, an exact match with his production to date. The only real concern here is that the Phillies have a reason to look at Maikel Franco at third base and Scott Kingery at short, potentially leaving Cabrera as the odd man out. As long as he's playing though, Cabrera is a nice MI option or bench piece in daily formats.

Verdict: Champ

 

Nathan Eovaldi (SP, BOS) - 63% Owned

The 28-year old Eovaldi has long been known as an arm with an electric fastball (97mph this year) but no results to show for it. This year, he's getting results by both ERA (3.38) and xFIP (3.66). Unfortunately, it looks like the same old Eovaldi under the hood.

Let's begin by examining that fastball. It has plenty of velocity, but is known to lack the movement necessary to fool big league hitters. This year, it's playing up. Eovaldi's heater is inducing a lot more pop-ups than it has historically (31.6% IFFB% vs. 19% career) on roughly the same fly ball rate (33.3% vs. 31% career). Its SwStr% is also up to 10.5% from a career mark of 6.7%. It looks like Eovaldi finally found spin after returning from Tommy John surgery.

Unfortunately, Statcast measures spin and we know that Eovaldi's is actually down (2,114 RPM vs. 2,284 in 2016). Without a corresponding spin rate spike, the .222/.250/.383 triple slash line his heater has allowed looks like a fluke destined to revert to its awful career numbers (.287/.359/.425).

Another possible reason for Eovaldi's success is his new cutter. All right, it's not technically new since he threw it 7.2% of the time in 2016. However, it's now a featured part of his arsenal (30.7% usage). It's a strike much more often than not (64.8% Zone%), induces whiffs at a strong rate (8.9% SwStr%), and limits contact quality when put into play (.195/.230/.329 line against this year). Heck, it even spins (2,371 RPM). This pitch is legitimately good and ideally replaces Eovaldi's fastball moving forward, but he still doesn't have the secondary pitches to get the Ks his velocity suggests.

Eovaldi throws a curve 2.2% of the time, but that's low enough to ignore in our analysis. He also throws a mediocre split (11.6% SwStr%, 47.8% Zone%, 36.1% chase rate this year), but the increased Zone% (39.1% career) seems to have robbed it of its strikeout potential (14.9% SwStr%, 42% chase career). It's doesn't seem like a secret weapon.

Eovaldi's slider has been great by results this year (17.8% SwStr%, 52.1% Zone%, 41.4% chase rate), but historically hasn't been anywhere near that good (13.4% SwStr%, 46.1% Zone%, 36.7% chase). Its spin rate is virtually unchanged (2,153 RPM vs. 2,114 in 2016), and a 17.8% SwStr% with a >50% Zone% is unprecedented, so regression seems likely.

That's bad, as Eovaldi's K% is barely league average right now (22.6%, 17.4% career). His BB% is way down (3.3% vs. 7.2%), but he's likely to either start throwing balls again or get hammered. Either way, it'll be ugly in fantasy.

That's where the analysis would end if Eovaldi didn't get traded, but we have to consider how the move to Boston affects him. It's easier to score runs in Fenway Park than Tampa Bay, as the two stadium's ballpark factors suggest (104 vs. 97 over the last five years for run-scoring). However, the bigger problem is a massive decline in the infield defense department.

Eovaldi has allowed a .230 BABIP this year against a career mark of .303, so regression was already likely. Breaking it down, the two biggest contributors to his performance to date have been a microscopic 16.4% LD% (21.3% career) and a minuscule .169 BABIP allowed on ground balls (.250 career). The former would correct anywhere, but the latter is especially problematic with the Red Sox.

Quite frankly, the Red Sox are unaware that infield defense is allowed. Mitch Moreland has been okay at first base (one DRS), but Rafael Devers has been a disaster at third (-10 DRS), Xander Bogaerts plays shortstop like he has a grand piano strapped to his back (-11 DRS), and the combination of Eduardo Nunez and Brock Holt have combined for -15 DRS at 2B, most of which are on Nunez (-13). Ian Kinsler was probably added primarily for his glove (10 DRS this year), but he's on the DL already. That won't help Eovaldi at all.

The Rays weren't great for Eovaldi, but they were better than Boston figures to be. The team's first basemen have combined for -12 DRS between them, but the combination of Joey Wendle and Daniel Robertson have been okay at second (two DRS) while SS Adeiny Hechavarria (four DRS) was good enough to cancel Matt Duffy's -4 DRS at 3B out.

Biston's outfield defense is actually better than Tampa's (eight Outs Above Average vs. zero), though that calculus might be different if Kevin Kiermaier ever stayed healthy. At any rate, Eovaldi is due for massive BABIP regression compounded by terrible infield defense in an offense-friendly ballpark. He doesn't have much strikeout upside, and seems likely to walk more batters going forward. You can stream him for wins with Boston's bats backing him up, but don't expect anything more than that.

Verdict: Chump

 

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