Don't have an account?
Join the Best Live Fantasy Chat Community!

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:

NFL    NBA    MLB

Already have an account? Log in here.

[X]

Forgot Password


[X]

Champ or Chump: Blake Snell and Javy Baez


The Tampa Bay Rays would be leading three of baseball's six divisions with their current record, success largely the result of the successful "opener" strategy and Blake Snell's breakout campaign. It'll probably take fantasy owners all winter to figure out how to use openers to our advantage, but Snell's skills should be easy enough to analyze.

Meanwhile, Javy Baez of the Chicago Cubs is getting some MVP buzz for easily his best campaign to date. Unfortunately, he looks like a prime candidate to be way overdrafted next season.

You want the underlying stats? Here they are!

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

The Fantasy Jury is Out

Blake Snell (SP, TB) - 92% Owned

Fantasy owners knew that Snell had potential, but nobody saw 20 wins, a 1.97 ERA, and 30.6% K% on the horizon. Nobody's actually that good, so owners should expect his 87.7% strand rate (77.1% career) and .237 BABIP (.282 career) to regress in 2019. His ERA will probably rise above two as a result, but Snell is still an arm that figures to be worth the investment.

Let's get the nasty stuff out of the way first. Snell's best BABIP comes as he is inducing fewer pop-ups (13.2% IFFB% last year, 6.9% this) with no significant change in his FB% (37.8% vs. 36.8%). He's doing a good job limiting line drives (18.4% LD%), but did so last year too (18.3% LD%). Baseball Savant says that his .179 BAA should be .210, suggesting significant BABIP regression even if he isn't getting hit that hard.

If you want optimism, look no further than his repertoire. Snell has a four-pitch mix where every offering is at least above average. His heater has gained velocity this season (94.3mph last year, 95.8mph this), allowing its SwStr% to increase to 9.5% from a career mark of 7.2%. It has also managed to keep hitters off balance when they put it into play (.227/.334/.371 slash line against vs. .263/.377/.413 career). You'd like to see a spin rate spike to accompany the velocity, but it's actually down relative to last season (2,363 RPM vs. 2,437). Its spin is still above average though, making Snell's heater a solid pitch.

Snell compliments his heat with two diabolical wipeout pitches. The first is one of the best curves in baseball, offering a 23% SwStr%, 35.9% Zone%, and 43.2% chase rate. The second is a slider that brings a 25.8% SwStr%, 37.7% Zone%, and 41.4% chase rate to the table. His curve usage is up this year (10.3% to 19%) at the expense of all three of his other pitches, meaning that he has never thrown these two pitches more often than he is right now. If he starts throwing his slider more (currently 9.4%), there may even be K upside here.

Finally, Snell throws a solid changeup 18.7% of the time. It isn't quite as strong as his other secondaries (14.7% SwStr%, 44.1% Zone%, 32.2% chase rate), so fantasy owners probably want to see more sliders at its expense. Still, it's far from bad and represents Snell's only secondary that may be thrown for a strike.

Tampa's progressive front office is likely to limit Snell's workload, so he may never pitch 200 innings for the club. On the other hand, the team's 97 park factor for runs scored over the last five years suggests that Snell can count on a pitcher-friendly venue more often than not. He probably won't be hyped too much on such a small market club, making him a potential fantasy ace at the cost of an SP2.

Verdict: Champ

Javy Baez (2B/SS/3B, CHC) - 94% Owned

Baez has been incredible in 2018, slashing .295/.329/.571 with 33 long balls and 21 SB (nine CS) so far. Those numbers merit a place in the MVP discussion! Sadly, his peripherals really aren't that much better than they were in either of his two prior seasons, meaning that fantasy owners should be skeptical of a repeat.

The knock on Baez has always been his plate discipline, and he still isn't walking (4.2% BB%) while striking out at a high rate (25.3% K%). His career-worst 46.7% chase rate and 17.8% SwStr% could easily support a K% greater than 30%, though Baez has thus far mitigated their impact with an extremely aggressive approach (58.6% Swing%). This type of profile tends to collapse without notice, as anybody who watched Pablo Sandoval in a Boston uniform will tell you. Baez is always a batting average risk as long as his plate discipline is this bad.

Baez's .347 BABIP also seems inflated, though his career mark of .337 largely supports it. There are three troubling trends here. First, his 22.3% LD% suggests that he is hitting more line drives than may reasonably be expected moving forward (19.3% career LD%). LD% isn't sticky at all, so it's way too early to conclude that this represents "growth." Second, Statcast data suggests that Baez has been extremely fortunate this season with an xBA of just .271 vs. his actual mark of .295. The stat isn't perfect, but it's certainly not what you want to see.

Third, Baez's FB% plummeted to 31.2% (from 36% career) while his IFFB% has increased (12.7% vs. 9.4%). Reducing FB% can be a sustainable method of improving BABIP, but it's not a good idea when you have a 26.2% HR/FB (19% career) because it limits your power upside. Baez's power indicators are also very good, as his 97.5mph average airborne exit velocity ranks 13th in the league while his 13% rate of Brls/BBE ranks 26th. He also has a well-established history of pulling his fly balls (31.8% this year, 28% career). Still, it's tough to count on homers when so few of his batted balls are classified as flies.

Baez's premium content quality is also new, as he averaged 94mph on airborne balls in 2017 with an 8.4% rate of Brls/BBE. Both figures are only slightly above average. In 2016, his contact quality was average at best (92.2mph average airborne exit velocity, 6% Brls/BBE). Baez needs to prove that he can sustain this contact quality with a higher volume of fly balls before fantasy owners can consider him a reliable 30-HR bat.

Finally, we come to Baez's speed. His Statcast Sprint Speed is strong at 28.8 ft./sec, but his success rate on the bases leaves something to be desired (70%). The Cubs look like contenders for the foreseeable future, meaning that Baez could earn a red light moving forward.

Baez has bounced all over Chicago's lineup despite his success this season, making it tough to know if you're drafting him for RBI or runs scored. Joe Maddon is notorious for lineup tinkering, so this is unlikely to change anytime soon. Throw in the possibility of a 30% K%, less than 30 homers, and a red light on the bases, and there are too many question marks here to invest an early round pick.

Verdict: Chump

 

More 2018 Player Outlooks




More Recent Articles

 

Thursday Night Football Matchups Analysis - Week 11

Thursday Night Football came down to the wire in Week 10, with Melvin Gordon looking like his old self while rumbling for 108 rushing yards and a score on 22 carries. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Chargers, poor clock management from Philip Rivers stymied any hope of surmounting a late Oakland Raiders 18-yard rushing touchdown... Read More


Week 11 Fantasy Football Staff Rankings

Below you will find all of RotoBaller's fantasy football weekly rankings, tiers, player news and stats for the 2019 NFL season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Weekly PPR Rankings Weekly Half-PPR Rankings Weekly Standard Rankings Dynasty League Rankings     Fantasy... Read More


Week 11 Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Below are RotoBaller's Week 11 defense tiers and rankings, or which defenses to stream, start and target off the waiver wire for Week 11 of the NFL and fantasy football season. In case you missed it, this is our seventh year now writing this weekly column. Our weekly tiered defense rankings are a guide to making waiver... Read More


Buys and Sells - The King's Trade Targets for Week 11

The fantasy football trade deadline is now imminent in most leagues. You must make your final trades either this week or next week in many leagues, whether they are private or public. The time to buy low and sell high is just about over in most cases. Now you must deal to either win this... Read More


Fantasy Football News and Injuries - Running Updates

Below is a quick-hit list of running notes on relevant injuries and player news, including pre-game reports and live in-game updates. Stay tuned for updates all throughout the week and on Sunday morning game day:   Week 11 Emmanuel Sanders (ribs) is still not practicing this week. Ty Johnson (concussion) resumed practicing on Thursday. George Kittle... Read More


Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Philip Rivers, Devin Singletary, Alshon Jeffery

Fantasy football players are going to have to go under the radar to find booms and busts this week because many of the NFL’s superstars will be on bye. Fantasy footballers will not be getting any Aaron Jones touchdown runs or Daniel Jones touchdown tosses this week, nor will they be getting any 300-yard passing... Read More


Keep Stashing Running Backs the Right Way

Hells to the yeah, my fellow #AllBenchRB truthers. For those of you who don’t know what #AllBenchRB is, let me give you a short recap before I get to the goods. #AllBenchRB is a strategy I’ve coined where you fill your bench with, as the name implies, only RBs. Or at least as many running... Read More


Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 10 Analysis

Wide receivers are essential components toward your ultimate goal of securing league championships. As the season unfolds, an expanding collection of tools are available that can provide you with an extensive level of knowledge. Those results provide the foundation for this weekly statistical breakdown of the wide receiver position, which is designed to help you fulfill... Read More


Week 11 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that the bye weeks are in full swing; streaming becomes a more viable and almost necessary strategy. Knowing who to add and when to start them could be the ultimate difference-maker in a weekly matchup. Making the right streaming decisions throughout the season could easily be the difference between missing the playoffs and having... Read More


Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 11

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in RB3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More


The King's Week 11 Lineup Rankings and Analysis (Premium Content)

Welcome back, RotoBallers! Below you will find my Week 11 fantasy football lineup rankings. The ranks are available in PPR, Half PPR, and Standard formats. They will be updated as needed, so make sure to check back for the latest versions, especially on the weekends. Skill Position analysis versus the FantasyPros industry Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR)... Read More


Tight End Start/Sit Advice - Week 11

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the tight end position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit in order to give you the best advantage to win your weekly matchup. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on... Read More


Quarterback Start/Sit Advice - Week 11

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the quarterback position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit in order to give you the best advantage to win your weekly matchup. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube... Read More


Wide Receiver Start/Sit Advice - Week 11

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 11 of the 2019 NFL season. They decide who to start or sit among those in WR3 or flex consideration. Like and subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest... Read More


Warning Signs: Saquon Barkley, David Johnson, Aaron Rodgers

Another week, another bout of crazy results. While survivor pools came to a screeching halt with the Saints and Colts losing, there were also some worrying situations that crept up for fantasy teams. This week brings many questions. What should we do with the Atlanta run game? The answer there is nothing. How do we... Read More