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: Keston Hiura and Jose Ramirez


The Brewers have summoned top prospect Keston Hiura to replace the injured (and struggling) Travis Shaw on their roster, giving fantasy owners another hyped toy to play with. Unfortunately, it appears as though the excitement surrounding the 22-year-old's big league debut far outpaces his realistic output, potentially driving many owners to waste FAAB or waiver priority.

Meanwhile, owners who drafted Jose Ramirez expected elite production have received nothing close to it. Exactly who is Jose Ramirez moving forward?

Keep in mind, our Champ / Chump conclusions are based on whether we think a player will outperform their expectations. For example, a pitcher we view as "Tier 2" can be a Champ if they're seen as a Tier 3 pitcher, or they could be a Chump if they're perceived as a Tier 1 pitcher. All ownership rates are from Yahoo! leagues unless otherwise noted. Let's take a closer look at Hiura and Ramirez, shall we?

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!

Keston Hiura (2B, MIL)

51% Owned

Hiura, the 15th-ranked prospect according to MLB.com, had a successful big league debut on May 14 with two hits and a walk. Scouts have been raving about Hiura ever since the Brew Crew selected him ninth overall in the 2017 First Year Player's Draft, but a brief look into his High Minors history suggests that he may not yet be worthy of a substantial fantasy investment.

Hiura cracked the High Minors for the first time last season, slashing .272/.339/.416 with six homers and 11 SB (five CS) over 307 PAs at Double-A. He flashed decent plate discipline (7.2 BB%, 18.2 K%) and posted a relatively neutral .323 BABIP, but didn't hit many flies (34.6% fly ball rate) or do much with the airborne balls he had (8.1% HR/FB). Hiura's success rate on the bases was also well short of where it would need to be to run on a contending team, leaving him with a line that doesn't really move the needle in fantasy.

Hiura still graduated to Triple-A San Antonio for 2019, and he slashed a much more exciting .333/.408/.698 with 11 HR and four steals in his 147 PAs there before his big league debut. His 10.2 BB% was a little bit better, but his 27.2 K% represents nearly a 10-point jump relative to his Double-A work. His 36.5% fly ball rate was virtually a repeat, but a HR/FB spike to 35.5% (and elevated BABIP of .405) made him look much better than he actually was.

While it is possible that something clicked and Hiura is primed to enter the league as a star, the Pacific Coast League seems like a far more likely explanation for his sudden outburst. The PCL has always been a hitter's league, and the introduction of the livelier MLB ball this season has caused all offensive statistics to soar. San Antonio was a pitcher's park in the Double-A Texas League (0.683 HR factor from 2014-16), but road games and a livelier baseball seem to have conspired to give Hiura a makeshift "Coors effect."

Scouting reports may be able to shed more light on the equation. Baseball Savant gives Hiura a 70-grade hit tool, but that really doesn't jive with his elevated strikeout rate at Triple-A. FanGraphs assigns Hiura a 50-grade hit tool right now with potential to get up to 60 in the future, a forecast that seems more aligned with who he is today. There is a comparable discrepancy with his Game Power, with Baseball Savant giving him a 60 while FanGraphs assigns a 45 with 60 in the future. In short, Hiura looks like a tremendous asset in keeper and dynasty formats who nevertheless has some work to do.

This author is also concerned by his playing time, as both Travis Shaw and Mike Moustakas are unlikely to be benched at full health. The Brewers also hit him seventh in his big league debut, a lineup role that doesn't do any favors to his fantasy value. Hiura is a must-own asset in keeper leagues and an adequate roster patch in the near-term, but it says here that it won't click right away for him. That Triple-A strikeout rate is simply too high to project immediate success.

Verdict: Chump (based on hype relative to realistic performance at first)

 

Jose Ramirez (2B/3B, CLE)

99% Owned

To date, Ramirez's surface stats have been awful: .195/.290/.312 with four homers and 10 SB. This is not what fantasy owners were expecting when they spent a first-round pick on Cleveland's superstar, and at this point doubt is probably creeping in. Thankfully, Ramirez is better than this, though probably not quite as good as his 2018 (.270/.387/.552 with 39 HR, 34 SB).

Ramirez's pop is completely missing in action, so let's start there. He has increased his FB% each year since 2014, going from 28.4 to 36.2 to 36.3 to 39.7 to 45.9 to 47.3 in that time frame. Since he currently sports a career-best FB%, that's not why he stopped hitting for power. Similarly, his 93.3 mph average airborne exit velocity is Ramirez's second-highest mark in the Statcast Era, handily beating his 2018 mark (92.4 mph). A lack of oomph isn't the problem either. Ramirez pulls a solid 27.9% of his flies (28.6% career), providing another metric that looks similar to his history.

Somehow it has only added up to a 6.6% HR/FB (16.9% last season, 10.8% career). His rate of Brls/BBE (7.7%) is down relative to 2018's 8.5% mark, but the difference isn't that stark. Baseball Savant's xStats have Ramirez as deserving a slugging percentage of .436 vs. his actual .312 mark, so owners have to be patient. Pushing 40 long balls again is probably not in the cards, but his volume of flies and decent raw power should land comfortably in the 25-30 range for the foreseeable future.

Ramirez's .195 batting average might be even more puzzling. A quick glance at his profile reveals that the problem is a microscopic .206 BABIP (.287 career), and there are a lot of contributing factors. Guys with extreme fly ball profiles tend to post lower BABIPs, so regressing Ramirez to .300 is almost certainly incorrect. However, there is no obvious reason for his BABIP on line drives to be .440 (.656 career). Similarly, his LD% of 19.4 is a hair shy of his career 21 percent rate. LD% is a notoriously fickle stat especially in small sample sizes, so regression should be expected here.

Ramirez has also been shifted in 94 of 126 opportunities despite the fact that his 55.8% pull rate on grounders is nowhere near high enough to justify it. His .256 BABIP on grounders is actually higher than his career mark of .245, so he appears to be making use of the extra space. He's currently not hitting whether the shift is on (.204) or not (.219), but Ramirez figures to get a lot more singles soon if opposing teams keep treating him as a dead pull hitter.

Ramirez also still boasts strong plate discipline numbers, walking at a 10.8% clip against a strikeout rate of 14.2%. Both his chase rate (27.4% vs. 25.5% career) and SwStr% (6.7 vs. 5.1%) are slightly worse than his norms, but neither could be called a problem with a straight face.

Ramirez is 10-for-12 on the bases in 2019, so his running game is exactly what his owners were expecting. He also continues to hit second or third in Cleveland's lineup despite his struggles, so the counting stats should be there when he rights the ship. It's tough, but selling Ramirez for pennies on the dollar is simply not the right thing to do.

Verdict: Champ (based on likelihood he rebounds to a 20+ HR pace with speed)

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice




More Recent Articles

 

Week 15-16 Playoff Defense (DEF) Streamers and Starts - 2019 Fantasy Tiers, Rankings

Still doing things a little differently this week--for those of you who are still alive. I want to take a look at the playoffs as a whole (and in this case we are considering Weeks 14-16) and determine which DSTs you can ride all the way through and which ones you should stream this week.... Read More


Monday Night Fantasy Football Starts/Sits - Week 14

Finally, we had a good fantasy matchup last week. And now, as punishment, we get this. The Eagles against the Giants is a good rivalry game. But for fantasy? Not so much. Even key players Saquon Barkley and Carson Wentz have been severely disappointing in 2019. The game is not going to be something to... Read More


Week 15 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

You have to love fantasy football. You have to, otherwise you would have given up by now. In a week that most likely represented the first matchup of the fantasy playoffs or a must-win in some form for the vast majority of players, we were treated to the following: Alvin Kamara netting three fantasy points,... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

It is almost inconceivable that we are progressing into the second week of fantasy postseason matchups. Congratulations to those of you whose teams are still competing in the playoffs. Your meticulous planning during the draft process and the regular season has been rewarded with an opportunity to win your leagues' championships. This critical week provides the opportunity to... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 15

Week 15 is upon us, which means that even the holdovers who play in leagues with four team playoffs and no byes are now in fantasy playoff mode. This is it: the home stretch. Are there any wide receivers left on the waiver wire who can help you in the playoffs? Let's look at some... Read More


Week 15 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football season is over, either because you did not make your league’s playoffs or because you have had enough of failing in DFS contests, then this column is not for you. Congratulations if you HAVE qualified for your fantasy league’s playoffs! To reach the postseason you must have received some decent play... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs in almost in the books, and if you're fortunate enough to have advanced then it's already time to start thinking about Week 15 lineups, especially for those who stream quarterbacks. Luckily, there are plenty of viable options available as eliminated owners have stopped making moves, and if you... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 15 Lightning Round

An injury-laden Week 14 decided many matchups, with several big names going down in a Red Wedding-esque affair. Not only was Josh Jacobs was a late inactive, but Jared Cook, Devante Parker, Albert Wilson all left with concussions, Mike Evans pulled up with a hamstring injury, Calvin Ridley and Ryan Griffin hurt their ankles, Derrius... 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 14 Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Jared Cook has been ruled out of the game after... Read More


Week 14 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 14... Do You Know Who to Start? Each Sunday morning of the NFL season, RotoBaller's experts will be moderating the industry's leading live chat room and answering a bunch of your fantasy football questions, from around 10:30 AM to 1:00 PM ET. Come join in on the fun, and get your... Read More


Updated Week 14 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 14 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 14 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: Josh Jacobs (shoulder) has officially been ruled out. Will Fuller (hamstring) is expected to miss Week 14. Adam Thielen (hamstring) has officially been ruled out. Le'Veon Bell... Read More


Fantasy Football Mailbag - Q&A for Week 14

This article's content may vary week-to-week, but generally, it will be answering questions fielded from either the @RotoBallerNFL twitter account or my personal one (@RotoSurgeon). This week, the focus is on start/sit questions, and there were plenty. Every week, many of us struggle with which quarterback to start, or who to flex, and I am... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 14

Welcome to our Week 14 matchup analysis and start/sit column for fantasy football. We'll be covering every single contest from the Sunday slate in one convenient location, helping you make the best decisions for your fantasy lineups. Be sure to check back regularly because this article will be updated as news comes in regarding injuries and other... Read More


Wide Receiver Matchups To Target In Week 14

In Week 13, Davante Adams and Tyreek Hill were the high-end options that had great matchups. Adams had a huge two-touchdown game while Hill only came up with 55 scoreless yards, falling victim to game flow as the Chiefs led from start to finish, scoring a defensive touchdown in the process. Several of the wide receivers... Read More


Week 14 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