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Fantasy Baseball Frauds? Standout Performers Through Week 4

Baseball is a fickle beast. A player can be red-hot at the plate for a week, then go into an extended slump at a moment’s notice. Sometimes all it takes is one bad matchup to send a player into a funk, or for their timing to be slightly off.

The same can be said for starting pitchers. They can mow down one of the better lineups in baseball with ease in one start, then get crushed by a bad team in their next outing. That’s what makes not reading too much into hot starts important for fantasy baseball.

Let’s dive into some fantasy frauds through the early part of the season and highlight why they likely won’t be able to continue their current level of success.

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Willy Adames, Milwaukee Brewers

The Brewers have added some exciting young players to their squad this season, including Jackson Chourio. One of their reliable veterans has been Willy Adames, who was acquired from the Rays during the 2021 season. He has been an excellent source for power since joining the team, hitting at least 24 home runs in each of the last three seasons.

Entering Monday, Adames had already gone deep three time this season, leaving him with a .500 slugging percentage. However, what is out of character for him has been his .313 batting average. He hit just .217 last season and is batting .249 for his career.

Working in Adames’ favor has been an abnormally high .367 BABIP. If there is a stat to be encouraged about, it’s that he has lowered his strikeout rate to 18.9 percent. Will he bat .217 again like he did last season? Probably not. However, in the four seasons in which he has played at least 139 games, he has never finished with a higher batting average than .262. Expect his current batting average to drop significantly as the season moves along. Now might be a good time to try and float him out in trade offers to sell high.

 

Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros

Pena burst onto the scene with 22 home runs and 11 stolen bases across 136 games during his rookie season. He didn’t show a great eye at the plate, though, with a paltry 3.9 percent walk contributing to his .309 wOBA. Pena did increase his walk rate to 6.8 percent last year, while also dropping his strikeout rate to 20.3 percent.

The problem for Pena last year was that he only hit 10 home runs over 150 games. His barrel rate dropped to 4.0 percent, compared to his 9.6 percent barrel rate during his rookie season.

Pena has hit two home runs entering play Monday, but his most impressive stats are his .344 batting average and .374 wOBA. He has cut down his strikeouts even more, lowering his strikeout rate to 16.0 percent.

As good as Pena has been in the early going, don’t expect it to last. He has just a 3.2 percent walk rate and his barrel rate is still underwhelming at 4.0 percent. He has been aided significantly by his .397 BABIP. It’s alright to ride his hot streak for now for fantasy managers who already claimed him off waivers, but don’t expect him to continue to hit for such a high average in the coming months.

 

Spencer Turnbull, Philadelphia Phillies

We haven’t seen much of Turnbull in recent years because of injuries. Over the last three seasons, he logged a total of 81 innings. He struggled across his seven starts with the Tigers last year, posting a 7.26 ERA and a 5.55 FIP.

Finally having a healthy offseason under his belt, Turnbull landed in the Phillies’ starting rotation with Taijuan Walker (shoulder) sidelined. He has been excellent, posting a 1.23 ERA and a 2.89 FIP. His current 25.9 percent strikeout rate is on pace to be the highest mark of his career.

As encouraging as Turnbull has looked to begin the season, his time in the starting rotation looks to be coming to an end. He will take the mound Wednesday against the Reds, but manager Rob Thomson has indicated that he will move to the bullpen after that with Walker nearing a return.

With how infrequently Turnbull has pitched in recent seasons, he was never likely to be able to log a ton of innings this season, anyway. Moving him to the bullpen for now might help save him so that he can be available later in the season should the Phillies lose another starter. For fantasy managers who have enjoyed streaming Turnbull, it’s time to look elsewhere on the waiver wire.



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