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

Lost password? [X]

Receive free daily analysis:


Already have an account? Log in here.


Forgot Password


Champ or Chump: Ryan McMahon and Victor Robles

Every draft season, it seems like somebody who had a hot September the previous season ends up overdrafted and ruining their fantasy owner's chances. One of the hallmarks of a successful fantasy season is avoiding these pitfalls, but it can be tough to distinguish legitimate breakouts from flashes in the pan.

It's still early, but the two players listed below figure to have 2020 draft costs in excess of the numbers their peripherals suggest they should be expected to produce. Ryan McMahon seems to have solidified the second base job in Colorado but looks like an Ian Desmond clone without the speed. Victor Robles can run like the wind, but his contact quality is more reminiscent of Joey Gathright than a major league regular.

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 McMahon and Robles, 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!


Ryan McMahon (1B/2B/3B)

58% Owned

McMahon's season line looks fine at first glance: .264/.344/.460 with 18 HR and five steals (one CS). However, a deeper look reveals two key issues. First, he strikes out far too often for a guy with average power numbers. Second, he doesn't hit anywhere near enough airborne balls to fully take advantage of Denver's thin air.

McMahon draws his fair share of walks (11 BB%, 29.5% chase rate), but his 29.1 K% is a bit tough to swallow. There is a ton of swing and miss in his game (15.2 SwStr%), much of which comes on pitches inside the strike zone (only 77 Z-Contact%). Coors Field is a fantastic place to hit, but strikeouts are useless even there.

You could live with an elevated strikeout rate if McMahon was providing game-changing power, but a 28.1 FB% makes significant power production difficult to count on. His career mark at the MLB level stands at an identical 28.1%, and the 24-year-old hasn't posted an above-average FB% since a 42.2% rate at Double-A in 2016. While it's possible McMahon will overhaul his swing and produce more power in 2020, paying as though it is a certainty is a bad idea. It's a shame, as his average airborne exit velocity is actually quite good (95.6 mph, but only 9.2% Brls/BBE).

McMahon also has stark home and road splits that make him completely unrosterable half of the time. His .302/.365/.523 line with 14 HR at home is great, suggesting that he can make good use of Coors. Unfortunately, a .223/.323/.340 line with four homers and 31.3 K% is awful. If you own McMahon in 2019, it's best to only start him at home if you can. If you're considering him in 2020, only pay for half a season's worth of starts.

The Rockies don't seem to trust McMahon just yet, generally hitting him fifth or sixth in the lineup. He's fine as a streamer with multi-positional eligibility (at least 10 games at 1B, 2B, and 3B this year), but isn't some kind of fantasy stalwart. Treat him accordingly.

Verdict: Chump (based on elevated strikeout totals and a low FB%)


Victor Robles (OF, WSH)

78% Owned

Robles has combined power (16 HR) and speed (23 SB, eight CS) in his first full fantasy campaign, and his .251 batting average can be worked around. It's an enticing combination in 5X5 roto leagues, and it's not hard to imagine him commanding a premium price on exam day. The problem here is that the 22-year old's contact quality has been atrocious.

Of the 365 big league batters with at least 100 batted ball events, Robles's 88.6 mph average airborne exit velocity ranks 339th. This is bad, as the speedster hits a relatively high number of fly balls (38.4 FB%) and way too many pop-ups (14.3 IFFB%) for somebody with his legs. His BABIP is only .304 overall, and his .097 mark on fly balls has a lot to do with it. Similarly, one should expect Robles's 13.4% HR/FB to plummet if he repeats such meager contact quality without a nitro-charged ball next year. Ultimately, fantasy owners want Robles to reach base and steal the next. He should leave the homers to somebody else.

That said, Robles .228 BABIP on ground balls is also below what you would expect. The problem is similar but even more extreme: Robles has the lowest average exit velocity on grounders (73 mph) among MLB players with at least 100 batted ball events. It isn't even close, as second-to-last Delino DeShields Jr. beats him by a tick and a half (74.4 mph). Remember, DeShields hasn't been able to stick in the majors because he hasn't hit enough. Robles has been significantly worse as a guy with a comparable profile.

Robles's combination of weak fly balls and even weaker ground balls leave Baseball Savant thoroughly unimpressed with his work. His xBA (which may not give him enough credit for his 29.2 ft./sec Statcast Sprint Speed) stands at .228, a number that could be tough for both the Nationals and fantasy owners to live with. His xSLG is even lower relative to his actual mark (.355 xSLG vs. .428 SLG), suggesting that the homers are likely to dry up as well.

Scouts didn't see such poor contact quality coming, as the FanGraphs team gave him 50/50 raw power, 45/50 game power, and a 60/65 hit tool. Baseball Savant concurred, giving Robles 60-grade hit and 50-grade power tools. Robles could flip a switch and meet these expectations, but it may not happen in 2019 or even 2020. Blindly betting on linear prospect development has proven again and again to be a poor play, no matter what the scouts say.

Robles has meh plate discipline (6 BB%, 23.5 K%), so he'll need to hit in order to reach the lofty SB ceiling his raw wheels. He's also hitting toward the bottom of Washington's lineup, a trend that's likely to continue unless Robles starts hitting the ball harder. Growing pains seem likely moving forward here.

Verdict: Chump (based on how bad his contact quality is)


More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice

More Recent Articles


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 7

Welcome to our Week 7 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

Week 7 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 7 Busts? Players To Consider Avoiding

We're almost halfway through the NFL season already. Time really does fly. At this point in the year, you should know whether your fantasy squad is a pretender or contender for a fantasy title. You may only be missing a couple of key pieces. If so, you should certainly consider trading for a player or... Read More

Fantasy Football IDP Rankings for Week 7 (Top 100)

Luckily for fantasy owners in IDP leagues, Week 7 sees the return of Darius Leonard to the field (and our top 10 ranks), as well as the Bears Defense. While perennial stud Luke Kuechly, exciting rookie Devin Bush, and surprising DPOY candidate Shaquil Barrett are on bye, we aren't losing too much from the player... Read More

A Necessary Guide to Streaming Tight Ends in 2019

Okay, follow my instructions, keep calm, and everything is going to be alright. Don't panic yet! We've burned almost half of the football fantasy season, if we assume playoffs start in Week 14. So far, it's been a wild one, and as expected, the tight end position has been as unpredictable as ever. We all... Read More

Is Stefon Diggs Really Back?

Weeks 1-5: 4.6 targets, 3.2 receptions, 50.6 yards per game, one touchdown. Week 6: 11 targets, eight receptions, 167 yards, three touchdowns. All of these numbers show a marked improvement on the season averages of Stefon Diggs in Minnesota. But, do they tell the whole story? Do they really signify that Diggs should be considered... Read More

Buys and Sells - The King's Guide for Week 7

Not every football fan is a baseball fan. But many of us sports aficionados did follow the game for awhile, and still do. At some point, many of have witnessed a trade, where a team out of contention dealt away a star player for some minor leaguers. One team received an immediate impact player, while... Read More

Offensive Line Rankings Analysis: Week 7

In Week 6, we once again saw some great football, starting with the New England Patriots continuing their undefeated start to the season and ending with one of the most controversial games of the week as the Green Bay Packers overcame the Detroit Lions. The London games continued with Jameis Winston struggling once again, this... Read More

Wide Receiver Snap Counts and Target Trends - Week 6 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

NCAA Prospects To Watch: Week 8

We’re almost halfway through the college football season, which means small sample sizes are becoming larger, and players are beginning to rise up the draft boards. While that means the cream is rising to the top, it also means that some unique names have emerged as players to know for the 2020 NFL Draft. This... Read More

Week 7 Stream Team - Free Agent and Bye-Week Streamers

Now that 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 in winning a championship. Each week, I... Read More

Fantasy Football Booms, Busts - Joe Mixon, John Brown, Calvin Ridley

Will Week 7 be a lucky week for fantasy football players? Fantasy players will not have to worry about Jameis Winston throwing interceptions, Baker Mayfield missing receivers by miles, or backup quarterbacks ruining JuJu Smith-Schuster’s fantasy value thanks to their teams being on bye. Fantasy players will still have to win by picking the perfect... Read More

Jets Offense Ready for Takeoff - Le'Veon Bell, Jamison Crowder, Robby Anderson

The Jets picked up their first win of the season on Sunday, a rousing two-point victory over the Dallas Cowboys. Sam Darnold was the big story, returning to revive an offense that had scored 23 points in three games without him. Suddenly optimism is reigning in New York/New Jersey after the franchise QB came back... Read More

Running Back Start/Sit Advice - Week 7

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the running back position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 7 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

Wide Receiver Start/Sit Advice - Week 7

Pierre Camus and Chris Mangano break down the wide receiver position to help with tough fantasy football lineup decisions for Week 7 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