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: Nico Hoerner and Ketel Marte


Is it just me, or are an unusual number of superstars missing time due to injury down the stretch? If you're looking for a Christian Yelich replacement, Trent Grisham was previously covered in the column as an intriguing add with playing time concerns. Those playing time concerns have now evaporated, so Grisham is an astute add in all formats. If you find yourself in need of a fill-in for Javy Baez, his replacement for the Cubs (Nico Hoerner) looks like a sneaky good fantasy play as well.

If 2019 isn't going the way you wanted and you're already looking forward to 2020, you might be wondering what to make of Ketel Marte. Seriously, where did this season come from? Is it sustainable? Both questions are answered below.

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 Hoerner and Marte, 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!

 

Nico Hoerner (SS, CHC)

10% Owned

Hoerner is a 22-year old former first-round pick who's currently hitting .444 (in two big league games). He wasn't supposed to be called up this early, but the loss of Baez for the season would seem to give him an extended opportunity. In fantasy terms, Hoerner seems reminiscent of Placido Polanco: an MI-eligible bat who's great for batting average while contributing a little bit of speed and pop.

Hoerner's MiLB resume is limited, as he only had more than 100 PAs at one level (Double-A this year). He hit .284/.344/.399 with three homers and eight steals (four CS) in 294 PAs, giving us a brief look into his practical skill set. He walked at a decent clip (7.1 BB%) while avoiding strikeouts (10.5 K%), flashing the plate discipline that often portends immediate success at the big league level. His 35.5% fly ball rate was fine, but a 3.6% HR/FB meant that he didn't show too much pop. A .311 BABIP also made sense given his contact-oriented profile.

With so few actual games to work with, we'll have to rely on what scouts think. FanGraphs gives him a 45-grade hit tool that goes up to 55 in the future, with 50-grade raw power and 35/45 scores for present and future game power, respectively. His 55-grade speed suggests the potential for 20-25 steals over a full season.

The Baseball Savant crew is more optimistic, seeing 60-grade hit and 45-grade power to go with 55-grade wheels. Their scouting report notes a wrist fracture that Hoerner suffered back in April, potentially suppressing his power numbers for the campaign. They see "sneaky 15-homer power" to go with a high average and stolen bases, a skill set that a lot of owners could use down the stretch.

While Hoerner appears to have everyday PAs locked down, his lineup role is still in flux. He hit sixth in his big league debut, but 8th in his second career start. Part of Polanco's fantasy value came from good lineup spots on strong teams. The Cubs are indeed a strong club, so a favorable lineup position could make the comp look prescient. Hoerner is a great add if you're looking for batting average, steals, or a "do no harm" fill-in. He probably lacks explosive upside moving forward, but he makes for good roster glue in 2020 if he has an everyday role.

Verdict: Champ (based on strong contact skills, speed potential, and everyday ABs)

 

Ketel Marte (OF/2B/SS)

89% Owned

If you had Ketel Marte hitting .329/.389/.596 with 32 big flies and 10 steals (two CS) this season, raise your hand. If you're raising your hand right now, you're lying. He only hit 22 homers from 2015-2018, after all. Marte was a nondescript utility guy heading into draft season, but he'll command a much higher price in 2020 drafts. While he is definitely better than he once looked, advanced peripheral stats suggest that he isn't actually this good.

There are three core components that go into a player's offensive production: plate discipline, BABIP, and HR/FB. Marte's 8.4 BB% and 13.9 K% are both really strong, but neither represents that much of an improvement over his career rates (8.2% and 13.9%, respectively). His peripheral metrics are also trending in the strong direction, albeit slightly. His 31.9% chase rate is marginally higher than his career mark of 30.5%, as is his 7.9 SwStr% (7.4% career). While Marte's plate discipline is better than this author would have guessed, there isn't any massive change here that explains his 2019 campaign.

Marte's .342 BABIP is surely playing a larger role in his success (.313 career), and some of it can be attributed to a higher LD% (22.6 this year vs. 21.3 career). He's also been helped by the fact that opposing teams have shifted him 186 times so far, a move that doesn't make sense in theory (53 Pull% on ground balls) or practice (.364 batting average vs. shift). Neither factor is a lock to stick around in the future. Marte is also besting his career BABIP on grounders (.275 vs. .254), flies (.176 vs. .133), and line drives (.683 vs. .673), but his improved contact quality could make his new numbers sustainable.

Speaking of contact quality, Marte's 20.1% HR/FB is nearly double his 11.1% career mark. He's pulling a lot more of his fly balls (35.2% vs. 25.4% career), but his Statcast contact quality metrics aren't anything to write home about (93.4 mph average airborne exit velocity, 9.2% rate of Brls/BBE). That said, his contact quality is much better than it was in the past.

Back in 2018, Marte posted a 92 mph average airborne exit velocity and a 5% rate of Brls/BBE. In 2017, those numbers were 90.2 mph and 2.7%. 2016, 87.2 mph and 0.3%. In 2015, 88.7 and 1.7%. Marte has been trending favorably since 2016, but the numbers were never good enough to deserve fantasy attention until this year. It seems likely that gradual gains over time would be more sustainable than a sudden explosion, so this could be a good thing.

Marte has also increased his FB% to 34.3 from a 30.2 career mark, but that's still not high enough to rely on a 30-HR season. Per Baseball Savant's expected metrics, Marte deserves a .296 batting average (a 35-point drop) and .498 slugging percentage (98-point drop) in 2019. Those are the numbers you should pay for in 2020, but you probably won't get him at that price until 2021. You should definitely add Marte on waivers if you play in the 10% of formats where he somehow remains unowned, but he probably won't be worth the extra dollar in next year's drafts.

Verdict: Chump (based on the likelihood of regression and high 2020 cost)

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice




More Recent Articles

 

The Tape Tells All - Robby Anderson Fantasy Outlook

Welcome to another edition of "The Tape Tells All," where I break down some film of an NFL's player performance and try to draw some fantasy football conclusions from that film. This week, I'm looking at New York Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson, who's shaken off a slow start to the 2019 season by going... Read More


Fantasy Football Risers, Fallers - Zach Ertz, Emmanuel Sanders, Robert Woods

Whether due to their own play, the play of others, or injuries, players' stock increases and decreases on a weekly basis. Perhaps more than any other, the NFL is a league that experiences ups and downs at a rapid pace. With only 16 games, there’s little room for error and seemingly endless opportunities for improvement.... Read More


Fantasy Football Disaster Recovery: Sit Your Studs?

Welcome to Disaster Recovery, where each week I'll examine why your studs played like duds. This isn't a place to find out why you should have sat a player for somebody else on your bench. Disaster Recovery is here to examine the guys who you didn't think twice about starting and to help you decide if you should... Read More


Week 15 Warning Signs: Matt Ryan, Carson Wentz, Julio Jones

You made the playoffs. Awesome. Now you have even won your first game. That is even better. But now what? There are many players, some of whom performed in the first round, who may not be so fortunate this week. Whether it is a bad matchup or injuries to key players around them, this could... Read More


WR/TE Leaderboards After The First Playoff Round - NFL Next Gen Stats

Things finally got serious. If you're here, it's only because one of two reasons: 1) you have followed the series all along and want to keep reading just so you don't feel bad with yourself, or 2) you won your first round of the fantasy playoffs and are still on the lookout for the smallest... Read More


Deeper League Free Agent Pickups for Week 15

The first week of the fantasy playoffs is in the books, and hopefully you're still writing another chapter in it. Week 14 was absolutely brutal from an injury perspective, with several big name players getting carted off the field and burying multitudes of fantasy teams in the process. Mike Evans, Calvin Ridley, Devante Parker, Alshon... 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 15 Josh Jacobs (shoulder) is now expected to suit for Week 15. Adam Thielen (hamstring) is expected to return... Read More


Tight End Start/Sit Advice - Week 15

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the tight end position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 15 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


Week 15 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 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


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


FAAB Bidding - Week 15 Waiver Wire Targets

Assisting our famous waiver wire pickups list, and our weekly waiver wire columns by position, this column focuses on suggested waiver wire bidding percentages for fantasy football owners in leagues using a Free Agent Acquisition Budget (FAAB). As a caveat, these prices do not by any means indicate how much these free agent players will... Read More


Quarterback Start/Sit Advice - Week 15

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the quarterback position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 15 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 15

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 15 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


Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 15

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 15 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