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]

Engel's Angles - Darvish's Struggles, Alcantara's Breakout and More


Each week, I will be bringing you my latest insights from around the Fantasy world. For now, I will be gathering storylines from around Major League Baseball.

This week, we look at very early results and how some intangibles and health issues can factor in overall outlooks for spotlighted players. Is it too early to panic about Yu Darvish? Is Sandy Alcantara for real? Let's take a look at some of the most interesting storylines from Week 1 of the fantasy baseball season.

Editor's Note: Scott Engel is a 20-plus year veteran of the fantasy sports industry and an inaugural member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association’s (FSWA) Hall of Fame. Check out his Insider series by subscribing to our Premium MLB Package.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off. Exclusive access to our Draft Kit, premium rankings, projections, player outlooks, top prospects, dynasty rankings, 15 in-season lineup tools, and over 200 days of expert DFS research. Sign Up Now!

 

Less Than Impressive Starts

Those who believed that Yu Darvish was a great value pick this spring were slapped in the face immediately when he walked seven and allowed three runs in Saturday’s start against the Rangers. Pitching coach Tom Hottovy told the Chicago Tribune that Darvish may have been too hyped by pitching his first game of the season at his old Texas ballpark. This is an intangible part of the game that fantasy owners must consider. Not only did Darvish want to put the memory of a lost season behind him quickly, but he also wanted to do so against his former team in their home venue.

Many other notable starting pitchers began the season with rocky outings, so maintain some confidence in Darvish for his next start Thursday against the Braves. Atlanta is hitting .221 with just 11 runs generated so far and Darvish should be a good DFS play.

-I have completely avoided Joey Votto this year and recommended that fantasy owners do the same. In fact, some fantasy analysts in the preseason wondered if Votto had any lingering back issues. Such speculation is unfounded but did not add any confidence to my outlook on him. Votto has heard the talk, as he recently wore a “Decline Phase” T-shirt during a recent pregame workout. Well, it’s too early to tell anything from one series, but Votto does not have an RBI yet. His pre-2018 history suggests Votto could still rebound and maybe last season was an aberration. But the drop-off was so instantly sharp that I remain skeptical and at age 35, continued struggles in the power and RBI departments are highly likely.

-Maybe Josh Donaldson needs to contact Joey Votto’s T-shirt company? He has one hit in his first 11 at-bats. I believe injuries may finally have caught up to Donaldson at this point of his career. I am not just saying that because of a few bad games, either. Yes, he did hit 33 homers two years ago, but he also hit .246 that season. An age of 33 years old does not mean the end for many players, but he has been plagued by a lot of health problems over the past three years that have accelerated his progressive decline. I would deal Donaldson to a believer if you drafted him.

 

Breakout Players to Watch

-There does not seem to be much excitement coming out of Miami, but Sandy Alcantara may have delivered a breakout performance in Sunday’s win over Colorado. Alcantara pitched eight shutout innings, allowing just four hits and striking out six. Most impressively, Alcantara did not issue a single walk. That was a very positive sign for him when you consider he walked 23 batters in 34 innings pitched last season, and control was an obvious concern entering 2019. Neil Walker noted that Alcantara’s slider was working well, and the Marlins pitcher also said his secondary stuff was effective. If he can maintain command and keep throwing other pitches besides his heater effectively. Alcantara could continue to flourish. Alcantara is owned in only 4.3 percent of ESPN leagues right now.

-The Tigers juggled their lineup for Sunday’s win over Toronto. The most notable change Ron Gardenhire made was to boldly put Jeimer Candelario in the leadoff spot, and he responded with a career-high five hits after going 1-for-12 with seven strikeouts to open the season. Candelario hit .224 with five home runs and 15 RBI in 192 at-bats in the leadoff spot last year. Most importantly, he only had a .314 OBP. He had two RBI on Sunday. This is a trend to monitor to see if Candelario can run with the lineup change and show even more signs of improvement in 2019. Josh Harrison hit .091 as the Detroit leadoff hitter in the first three games. Harrison obviously has more speed, but cannot utilize it if he is not getting on base. The move can possibly boost the confidence of Candelario.

-After 26 at-bats, Domingo Santana is hitting .308 with three home runs and 10 RBI as the Mariners offense has been impressive as a whole very early. Jon Morosi of FOX Sports recently indicated that all Santana needed was a comfortable spot in the lineup to call his own. He believes if Santana plays well, other teams may start calling Seattle to see if they can trade for him. But the Mariners may want to keep him for a long time. Mentally, it seems Santana has started to settle into his new home quickly after being bounced out of position in Milwaukee. Having a good level of comfort with a new team could go a long way to Santana regaining his 2017 form for fantasy players who spent a later pick on him this season.

 

Not Exciting But Still Effective

-The Rangers certainly landed a “glue guy” to stabilize the longtime third base position left empty by Adrian Beltre. Asdrubal Cabrera seems to be the unsexiest of acquisitions in the real and fantasy world. Yet he is already making a quick mark with a .455 average, two home runs, five RBI and five runs scored. You can certainly expect a .270 average and 20-plus homers, which is really good for a late flier. If you make an offer for him now, some other owner will think he is duping you because of his hot start. But you won’t have to give up much and will end up with great depth production. Cabrera does not get enough respect from fantasy players and fans, but he is considered a clubhouse and lineup stalwart to his teammates.

-Kole Calhoun is hitting .313 so far with a .375 OBP and a .625 slugging percentage. The Angels really need Calhoun to keep stepping up with Justin Upton out and not much else power-wise in the lineup. Justin Bour can hit homers in bunches, but when he is cold, Calhoun has to step into that void. Last year, Calhoun hit 10 home runs in July, so he is capable of filling a power gap. The pressure is on Calhoun right now, so you will either see him respond to your fantasy delight, or swoon to the point where you will have to replace him in your lineup. We’ll know soon which scenario applies.

More 2019 Fantasy Baseball Advice




More Recent Articles

 

Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Spin Rate

Spin rate has become one of the most recognizable Statcast metrics, with supporters of a given pitcher highlighting his spin rates to make their case. Unfortunately, the baseball world has done a lousy job conveying what spin rate really means. The result has been a ton of owners who know that spin rate exists, but... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Khris Davis

The Oakland Athletics finished 2019 with a record of 97-65, which was good for a second-place finish in the AL West and a second-consecutive wildcard birth. They did this despite a statistically down season from their superstar, Khris Davis. Davis struggled mightily in 2019 by slashing .220/.293/.387 with 23 HR, 73 RBI, 61 R, and... Read More


ADP Cost Analysis: Trey Mancini vs. Christian Walker

One of the most important skills in a fantasy draft is the ability to identify a player with similar value at a lower ADP. When you're able to find similar production at a lower cost, this allows you to use an earlier pick to fill out other areas of your roster, resulting in a stronger... Read More


Bases Loaded Podcast - Relief Pitchers Preview

Mike Kurland (@Mike_Kurland) is joined by Jorge Montanez, Zach Braff and Mike Simione as they jump into their relief pitcher preview! Subscribe to the Bases Loaded podcast, part of RotoBaller Radio's Podcast Network. Like and Subscribe to the RotoBaller channel on Youtube to get all our latest podcasts and catch us on iTunes and BlogTalkRadio as well!... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Jose Urquidy

It's been a tumultuous winter for the Houston Astros. Not only were they embroiled in a sign-stealing scandal (which has, naturally, progressed apace to unsubstantiated conspiracy theories about ever more sophisticated methods of cheating), but they watched staff ace Gerrit Cole sign a mammoth free-agent deal with the Yankees. Plenty of virtual ink has been... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers - Mark Canha

Mark Canha had a solid 2019 campaign and is one player that probably deserves more attention heading into 2020 than he is currently receiving. He finished the season hitting .273/.396/.517 with 26 HR, 58 RBI, 80 R, and 67 BB in 410 at-bats. It was a very productive line for a guy that played in... Read More


Four Prospect Sleepers for 2020 Redraft Leagues

Recently, Rotoballer launched a list of the Top 50 MLB prospects for the coming year. The top of the list was populated by names such as Gavin Lux, Luis Robert, and Brendan McKay. These players, among others, feature a promising combination of talent and favorable playing time projections to suggest they’ll be the cream-of-the-crop among... Read More


ADP Cost Analysis – Robbie Ray vs Trevor Bauer

With fantasy baseball draft season in full swing, those of us who partake in this joyous game are now looking through as much draft data as possible in a bid to find players we love who have lower average draft positions (ADP) than we believe they should. All this to eke out as much draft... Read More


2020 Keeper Value Rankings - Second Base

Keeper Value Rankings are intended for Keeper Leagues in which a fantasy owner must forfeit a designated draft pick in order to keep a player into the upcoming season. These rankings are based on Keeper "Values". In the marketing world, Value can be defined as "the extent to which a good or service (player) is... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Sleepers – C.J. Cron

As another fantasy baseball season approaches, we once again have the chance to discuss C.J. Cron as a fantasy sleeper. Cron will be playing for his third team in three seasons. It is tough to wrap one's head around the idea that a player of Cron's talent continues to be undervalued by professional and fantasy... Read More


2020 Starting Pitcher Rankings - H2H Points Leagues

Points leagues may seem like a slight variation from traditional 5x5 category scoring leagues but you must approach draft day with a very different strategy if you wish to truly compete. All preseason long, RotoBaller has you covered with the latest rankings for all fantasy baseball league types. Here we present our points league rankings... Read More


Second-Half Improvements: Buy Into These Starting Pitchers

The second half of the season is always put under a microscope for starting pitchers. Fantasy players have a love for the second half of the season, as the belief is that pitchers who take a step forward could carry over that success the next season and perhaps even build upon it. But, as we... Read More


How to Attack RP in SV+HLD Leagues

No position has seen as much evolution in recent seasons as the relief pitcher. Gone are the days where starters were expected to go seven innings as most teams have embraced the idea of "super-bullpening" and try to fit as many pitchers that can throw 95+ MPH into their bullpen as they can. Many fantasy... Read More


Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball: Pitch Info

One of the most fundamental questions in fantasy sports is if a player's current performance is sustainable. More than any other sport, baseball has a slew of statistical measures that can be dissected in numerous ways to analyze player performance. Pitch Info is a publicly-available pitch tracking system that provides a lot of different data to... Read More


2020 Fantasy Baseball Staff Rankings

Below you will find RotoBaller's 2020 fantasy baseball rankings, tiers and auction dollar values for the 2020 MLB season. Our Ranking Wizard displays our staff's rankings for various league formats, all in one easy place. Here's what you'll find: Mixed, Head-to-Head, Points, AL/NL Only, Two-Catcher Top 2020 prospects, Dynasty leagues, Keeper values Export the rankings easily... Read More