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: Spencer Turnbull and Joey Votto


If April is the month of churning through sleeper candidates to figure out who can stick on your roster, May is the month where you start to look at disappointing performers to see if it's a simple slump or something more. There are still plenty of intriguing players on most waiver wires, but the fact that they're still there after a month of games is a strong indication that they aren't as good as they look at first glance. Spencer Turnbull of the Tigers illustrates this nicely.

More importantly, it's time to take a closer look at underperforming veterans to see if a rebound is still in the cards. The present author has a number of Joey Votto shares equivalent to the number of leagues he's in, and his start hasn't been good. At all. Is the Prince of Process done at age 35?

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 Turnbull and Votto, 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!

 

Spencer Turnbull (SP, DET)

38% Owned

The 26-year old Spencer Turnbull has a sterling 2.31 ERA in his 39 innings of work this season, though his 4.28 xFIP suggests that he's not as good as he's looked so far. Indeed, all of his so-called "luck metrics" have been favorable, with a .283 BABIP, 5.9% HR/FB, and 80.9% strand rate. While Turnbull projects as a competent streaming option moving forward, he lacks the upside to be anything more than that.

Strikeouts and walks should be among the first things you look at when evaluating any pitcher, and Turnbull's 23% strikeout rate and 8.5% walk rate are meh. His 4-seam fastball flashes brilliance (10 SwStr%, 59.5 Zone%), but it's been clocked as low as 89 mph this season. Yes, Turnbull has dialed it up to 97 mph as well, but that seems like a very large range.

The rest of Turnbull's repertoire isn't great. His sinker gets ground balls (65.4 GB%), but absolutely nothing else (4.9 SwStr%, 42.4 Zone%). It should probably be scrapped for more 4-seamers. His slider generates whiffs (18.7 SwStr%), but lacks the Zone% (38.2) and chase rate (35.5%) to be a consistent weapon. The same thing can be said about his curve (14 SwStr%, but 33.3 Zone% and 33.9% chase rate). He also throws an occasional change and cutter, but not frequently enough to consider them any more than show-me offerings.

Another problem with Turnbull is that he is yet to eclipse 120 IP in a professional season. According to Baseball Savant, scouts feel as though Turnbull hasn't logged enough innings to make the refinements to his command and control that were expected when he was first drafted. Even if 2019 keeps going well for him, the Tigers seem destined to shut him down early to preserve his relatively young arm.

Turnbull's largest MiLB sample size in the High Minors was only 98 2/3 IP at Double-A last season, where he compiled a 4.47 ERA and 3.45 xFIP. His strikeout (24.9 K%) and walk (9.5 BB%) were comparable to what he's done at the major league level, and they're fine. Just nothing to get excited about in fantasy.

In short, Turnbull is a nice streamer in favorable matchups but not a guy who warrants a constant roster spot in standard formats. He doesn't have K upside, is backed by a mediocre supporting cast, and figures to be shut down early. His next starts look like they will come against Minnesota and Oakland, two clubs that aren't exploitable in this author's estimation. Thus, let somebody else take the ERA hit.

Verdict: Chump (based on nearly 40% ownership rate)

 

Joey Votto (1B, CIN)

93% Owned

If 2018 was the worst full season in the future Hall-of-Famer's career, 2019 represents an even lower nadir: .218/.331/.353 with three homers in 139 PAs. Ageism is a thing in the fantasy baseball community, and this author has seen pundits drop a Joe Mauer comp on him. Ouch. While it hasn't been pretty, Votto's peripherals suggest that his goose isn't cooked just yet.

Votto is known for plate discipline first and foremost, so let's start there. He's still walking a lot (12.9 BB%), but not as often as he has over his stellar career (16.3 BB%). Meanwhile, he's striking out a lot more often (24.5 K%) than usual (17.7% career). Considering his SwStr% has increased from six percent last year to eight this, some are saying that Votto has lost it.

In truth, he hasn't. There is absolutely nothing wrong with an eight-percent SwStr% in 2019, and in fact it's just shy of his career mark (8.1%). More importantly, the SwStr% increase relative to last season has come entirely on pitches outside of the strike zone (61.7 O-Contact% this year, 78.4% last year). In contrast, his Z-Contact% is virtually identical year-over-year (86.7 vs. 87). It's not obvious what's wrong with Votto, but the weaker contact that tends to result from hitting pitches outside of the hitting zone is almost certainly not the solution.

Votto's renowned eye is also still in tact, as his 19.7% chase rate is actually better than his 21.5% career mark. All things being equal, we should expect Votto's walks to increase while his strikeouts decrease, bearing in mind that anybody with Votto's patience will strikeout a little bit more often than his peripherals suggest.

Votto's power is also down, but his peripherals suggest that it should be increasing. Votto hasn't hit that many fly balls over his career (33.5 FB%), but he's lifting the ball much more often in 2019 (44.7 FB%). His average airborne exit velocity is his Statcast Era worst at 90.4 mph, but his rate of Brls/BBE of 9.4% is significantly better than his 2018 performance (6.7%) and comparable to his 2017 (9.1%) and 2016 (9.7%) seasons.

Furthermore, it doesn't take that much oomph to get a ball out of Great American Ballpark. He should still hit 20+ HR if he keeps his FB% at a career high, even without much exit velocity behind it.

Finally, we come to Votto's average. His .280 BABIP is well off of his .351 career mark, largely because of the fly ball increase noted above and a 20 LD% (25.7% career). LD% is a fickle stat that is rarely predictive of anything, so using it to pronounce Votto dead would be silly. An increased number of fly balls would exert permanent downward pressure on Votto's BABIP, but the expected power numbers are a fine trade-off. Votto has a career-worst 5.3 IFFB% (1.2%), but that's hardly bad in the grand scheme of things. In short, there's nothing to see here.

One potential cause for concern is his 70 Pull% on ground balls that has led to Votto being shifted in 63 of 82 opportunities this season. It hasn't hurt him yet (.286 vs. shift), but prime Joey Votto didn't care about the shift at all (56 Pull% on grounders career). Votto is slow (25.2 ft./sec Statcast Sprint Speed) and always has been (25.4 ft./sec in 2015), so a pulled ground ball tendency could prevent him from attaining his .231 career BABIP on ground balls moving forward.

In summation, Votto still has elite plate discipline, has joined the fly ball revolution, and continues to hit first or second in the Cincinnati batting order. The results have been ugly to date, but Votto makes for an intriguing buy-low if his current owner is willing to sell for pennies on the dollar. If anything, his batting average is the most suspect part of his profile. There is no way Votto is in the same class as a Joe Mauer.

Verdict: Champ (based on likelihood that he will rebound to something at least resembling career norms)

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice




More Recent Articles

 

Week 10 Start/Sit: Monday Night Football Matchups Analysis

We got a good one on Monday night folks. Both for the NFC West division and, more importantly, for fantasy. Two of the top teams in the NFL matchup at Levi's Stadium. We can finally find out if the 49ers are for real, or if they were just beating up on bad teams all season.... Read More


Week 11 Waiver Wire Pickups & Adds

It's crunch time, with precious few games left before the fantasy regular season ends. There aren't many new names emerging on the waiver wire at this juncture but the RB situations in Atlanta and Detroit bear watching, while the Jets passing game has shown signs of life. No, really. Each week, we will advise you... Read More


Waiver Wire Express - Week 11 Lightning Round

With 10 weeks down and only a few more weeks of the fantasy regular season to go, your vision for the playoffs should be coming into focus. The Giants, Packers, Seahawks and Titans are on bye -- with the Cardinals, Chargers, Chiefs and Vikings in Week 12 to round out the weekly vacations. To help... Read More


Running Back Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 11

The regular season continues to advance at a relentless pace as we have now entered the planning process for Week 11. Some of you are in the favorable position of only needing slight modifications to rosters that are destined to enter the fantasy playoffs. But many of you are still searching for the most effective... Read More


Wide Receiver Waiver Wire Pickups - Week 11

Did you survive the terrible, no good, very bad six-team bye week? If so, welcome to the other side, when roster building gets slightly easier going forward. If not, I'm sorry, but you still have time to get things back on the right path. Let's talk about some wide receivers who might be able to... Read More


Week 11 Tight End Waiver Wire Picks and Streamers

If your fantasy football squad is still in the playoff hunt heading into Week 11, then congratulations on not being the Pat Shurmur or Freddie Kitchens of your league. Fantasy football players will have to live without New York’s Evan Engram, Green Bay’s Jimmy Graham and Tennessee’s Jonnu Smith as their teams are on bye.... Read More


Quarterback Waiver Wire Pickups and Streamers - Week 11

We've got plenty to unpack at the quarterback position following an exciting Week 10. While no major injuries occurred in game, the revelation of Matthew Stafford's back injury was quite a surprise and left some owners scrambling just before lineups locked. So the year of the backup continued this week, as 16 of the 32... Read More


Week 10 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


NFL Matchup Ratings Tool - Weekly Player Projections

  If you see the red "Upgrade" button below, then you are not a Premium subscriber, or have not yet logged in. Learn more about our NFL Matchup Ratings and projections system.   NFL Matchup Ratings - Weekly Lineup Projections FLEX RB WR TE QB DEF K ** click column headers to sort table Player... 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 10 Matthew Stafford has been ruled out with fractured bones in his back. Patrick Mahomes will make his return in... Read More


Week 10 Chat - Live Fantasy Football Game Day Q&A

It's Sunday Morning Week 10... 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 10 PPR Rankings (Top 300)

Welcome to Week 10 RotoBallers. Below are our updated consensus Week 10 PPR rankings for fantasy football, including some running notes on relevant injuries, player news and rankings updates: LeSean McCoy is a healthy scratch for Week 10. Matthew Stafford has been ruled out with fractured bones in his back. Patrick Mahomes will make his return in... Read More


Fantasy Football Starts and Sits: Matchups Analysis for Week 10

Welcome to our Week 10 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 10 Wide Receiver / Cornerback Matchups To Target in Week 10

In Week 9, the Seahawks defeated the Buccaneers 40-34 and, as expected, provided some offensive fireworks. The high-scoring contest resulted in Tyler Lockett, Mike Evans, and D.K. Metcalf all finishing in the top-three of fantasy scoring at the wide receiver position. Tyreek Hill proved to be too fast for the Vikings secondary, finishing as the... Read More


The King's Key Starters and Tough Calls - Lineup Spotlights for Week 10

Welcome to Week 10, RotoBallers! Below you will find some of my spotlight plays and tough lineup decisions for the upcoming week of the fantasy football season. These player selections are based on my Premium Weekly Lineup Rankings, available as part of the RotoBaller's NFL Premium Pass. Enter promo code KING at checkout for a... Read More