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>> Read even MORE of RotoBaller's original 2013 fantasy baseball articles and analysis 

RotoBaller.com Rankings & Sleepers

...FANTASY BASEBALL RANKINGS

2017 Prospects: Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 8)

Hello everyone, and welcome to my weekly Top-30 Fantasy Rankings for Impact Rookies! In this series, I will be going over the top prospects in baseball and discussing which ones figure to have an impact for the rest of this fantasy baseball season. I hope you all have enjoyed the start of conference tournaments in college baseball. Yes, I know, who watches college baseball? Well, believe it or not, it really is a great way to get a leg-up on other owners in dynasty leagues. I can tell you that next season, Clemson right fielder Seth Beer is going to be the top college bat to go in the draft (and he could be a real superstar in the making) and his teammate, shortstop Logan Davidson, has a chance to do the same in 2019. Having this kind of edge can be crucial in dynasty leagues, but knowing the prospects that are the next to be called up can be equally crucial to getting a leg-up on owners in redraft leagues as well. How did you all know Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger were going to be call ups this season? You came here and read about it. Hopefully, you will keep coming here so you can stay that one extra step above your other redraft owners.  

Top MLB Prospects - Fantasy Baseball Power Rankings

To be clear, this list is not the top 30 prospects in baseball. This is a list of the top 30 prospects who are likely going to rise to the major leagues and provide fantasy baseball value this season. The qualifications are simple: a player must not be on an active roster, they must have a clear path to the majors, and while they may have played in seasons prior to 2016, they must still have rookie eligibility. If a player is moved to the active roster of their team, they will be removed from this power rankings list and replaced.   1. Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, CWS, DL) Stats: 157 PA, .331/.401/.504, 6 HR, 10 SB, 10.8% BB rate, 27.4% K rate ETA: Mid-June On May 17, Moncada was placed on the 7-day DL with a thumb injury. It should not be considered alarming, but it still awaits to be seen how he will recover from his injury. He had been tearing it up before his injury, posting a .358/.426/.509 slash line with a pair of bombs, four steals and both an improved walk rate (11.5 percent) and strikeout rate (21.3 percent) over the month of May. At this point, he has done all he can to warrant a promotion. Expect the call to come sometime in the middle of June. 2. Lewis Brinson (OF, MIL, AAA) Stats: 139 PA, .313/.403/.496, 4 HR, 5 SB, 11.5% BB rate, 20.9% K rate ETA: Late June Keon Broxton has decided to go on a serious hot streak in the month of May after a dismal month of April. After slashing .191/.276/.324 in the season’s first month, Broxton has compiled a ridiculous .348/.384/.580 in May. But, look deeper, and there’s reason to believe that trend won’t last. First, he’s still striking out 37 percent of the time, and actually walking less than he did in April (4.1 percent compared to 7.9 percent in April). He also has an other-worldly .538 BABIP thus far. At some point, Broxton is liable to come back down to Earth, and when he does, Brinson will be there to pick up the pieces in center. Though Brinson has not been crushing Triple-A pitching in May, he has still held his own and has continued to reduce his strikeout rate and improve the walk rates (13 walks compared to 14 strikeouts in May thus far). If Brinson keeps hitting the way he has, he will be in the majors before too long. And with his power/speed combination, he could be a valuable asset for fantasy owners down the stretch. 3. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, AAA) Stats: 189 PA, .314/.362/.500, 6 HR, 3 SB, 5.8% BB rate, 26.5% K rate ETA: Mid-July It sounds like the Athletics have a time in mind for a Barreto promotion. It appears once they start selling certain players, they will promote Barreto, which could come anytime from the end of June to the middle of July, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. That is a really exciting thing for fantasy owners as Barreto has all the makings of a fantasy force in the majors. He has tapped into some raw power this season, while still making the most of his opportunities on the basepaths. Though the strikeouts are concerning, scouts still insist he will do fine in the majors, with one scout cited in Slusser’s article saying, “I’m impressed with how well (Barreto) is starting to turn on pitches.” At this point, it may not be a bad idea to stash him because he could be gone in a hurry once he reaches the big leagues. 4. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA) Stats: 172 PA, .229/.291/.325, 2 HR, 6 SB, 7.6% BB rate, 16.9% K rate ETA: Early July That slash line is still pretty ugly, but Meadows is making some strides toward improving it. Since May 9, he is slashing .296/.356/.444 with a home run and three stolen bases. It’s not great, but it is definitely moving in the right direction. And honestly at this point, that’s really all Pittsburgh needs to want to give him a chance. The Pirates currently sit in last in the division, and the play of the fill-in outfielders has been part of the problem. If they keep heading south as they are, Andrew McCutchen is likely going to be on the trade block in July, leaving a permanent spot open for Meadows. Expect him to be promoted to fill Starling Marte’s hole after Meadows' Super Two deadline passes, and then for him to remain in the outfield once Marte returns as Cutch will likely be headed out of the steel city. 5. Tom Murphy (C, COL, DL) Stats: NA ETA: Mid-June Murphy is making a lot of progress, and MLB’s injury report now has a “Possibly late May” ETA beside his name. A rehab stint will probably push that into June, but Murphy is clearly almost back to business. Fantasy owners who have been patient, you shall soon be rewarded. 6. Lucas Sims (SP, ATL, AAA) Stats: 45.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 26.4% K rate, 6.2% BB rate, 12.2% HR/FB, .194 AVG ETA: Early July The Braves rotation has been atrocious to this point, as they are currently tied with Philadelphia for the second-to-worst pitching WAR according to Fangraphs. Sims, on the other hand, has done everything possible to warrant a promotion, drastically improving his walk rates while maintaining a high strikeout rate. Though the Braves also have Matt Wisler who can start, Wisler has not found near the same success this season, and has already had several unsuccessful stints in the majors. Sims appears likely to be given a shot at the rotation at some point over the summer, and with his strikeout upside, he could be a valuable starter for fantasy owners searching for some backend of the rotation guys. 7. Reynaldo Lopez (SP, CWS, AAA) Stats: 49.0 IP, 2.94 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 23.9% K rate, 11.0% BB rate, 7.7% HR/FB, .212 AVG ETA: Mid-June Lopez really struggled over his first four starts, but he has settled in at Charlotte since then. From April 28 to the present day, Lopez has a mere 1.57 ERA over 28.2 innings in five starts, including a 2.44 FIP, 24.6 percent strikeout rate and solid 8.8 percent walk rate. It appears he has rediscovered his form, and could be in line for a promotion during the middle of June once he passes his Super Two deadline (which will be a tad later than most since he saw time in the majors last season). And with his strikeout potential and middle-of-the-rotation upside, he could be a very solid piece to be owned in mixed leagues. 8. Brandon Woodruff (SP, MIL, AAA) Stats: 44.2 IP, 3.02 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 23.3% K rate, 5.0% BB rate, 8.0% HR/FB, .228 AVG ETA: Mid-June While Lopez has excelled over his past several games, Woodruff has hit a bit of a rough patch. He has allowed eight runs over his past two starts, spanning 10.1 innings. The chief source of the problems has simply been missing out in front of the plate, and as a result he has given up two long balls and 12 total hits. But he has walked only two batters in that span and has struck out 12 batters. Overall, there is no major cause for concern yet, but keep an eye on him. If the struggles persist, his stock may need to head down a bit. But if he starts pitching like he had earlier this season, he could reaffirm himself as a midseason call-up who can provide Mike Leake-esque results. 9. Derek Fisher (OF, HOU, AAA) Stats: 188 PA, .315/.380/.565, 10 HR, 7 SB, 8.0% BB rate, 22.9% K rate ETA: Early July Fisher is looking all the part of a top prospect, and could be soon taking his talents to the majors. He has one of the better power/speed combinations in the minors, and lately has shown major improvements in plate discipline (only a 15.7 percent strikeout rate since May 9). And with Nori Aoki really scuffling in May (.167/.250/.194 slash line) and Carlos Beltran struggling overall (.247/.292/.393), an opening could soon be made available for the former UVA standout. 10. Rhys Hoskins (1B, PHI, AAA) Stats: 171 PA, .315/.404/.651, 12 HR, 0 SB, 12.9% BB rate, 15.8% K rate ETA: Early July Like Fisher, Hoskins has done all he can to warrant a call up. Unfortunately for Hoskins, Tommy Joseph found his bat over the month of May, slashing .345/.418/.707. And though I am not a huge believer in Broxton’s breakout May, there is reason to believe in Joseph’s month thus far as his .385 BABIP is not crazy, and even a slight regression would still represent a solid batting average. It is very possible that Joseph is dealt at the deadline, leaving an opening for Hoskins in the majors. But at this point, it would take a serious decline for Joseph, an injury or a trade for Hoskins to see regular PT in the majors. 11. Amed Rosario (SS, NYM, AAA) Stats: 191 PA, .360/.398/.537, 4 HR, 8 SB, 5.8% BB rate, 13.6% K rate ETA: Late June The Mets are really spiraling out of control, and as crazy as it sounds, they might be sellers at the deadline. But even if they aren’t they still have some issues to settle on the left-side of the infield with Asdrubal Cabrera still recovering from injury and Jose Reyes mired in a terrible season. Some are still unsure about whether or not Rosario is truly ready for the majors, but at this point, it seems likely he may at least be given a chance to shine after his Super Two deadline. Anything at this point to take the mind of fans off this dismal season. 12. Jacob Faria (SP, TB, AAA) Stats: 47.2 IP, 3.40 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 35.2% K rate, 9.4% BB rate, 16.7% HR/FB, .214 AVG ETA: Early June The strikeout king of the minors, Faria has established himself as one of the top arms in the Rays’ farm system. At the moment, he even appears to be higher up in the depth chart than other prospects like Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon who may be kept in the minors longer for service time reasons. And though Erasmo Ramirez has filled in for Blake Snell admirably, he is still probably more valuable as a reliever, and Matt Andriese has some concerning peripherals. The Rays may turn to Faria at some point in the near future to give them some innings, and with his insane strikeout rates this season, he could be mighty valuable in mixed leagues. 13. Zack Burdi (RP, CWS, AAA) Stats: 17.2 IP, 2.04 ERA, 1.72 FIP, 34.6% K rate, 7.7% BB rate, 0.0% HR/FB, .188 AVG ETA: Late June The White Sox have had a better season than most probably had them pegged for, but they are still certainly going to be sellers at the deadline. And with several attractive bullpen arms, they are certainly going to be auctioning off relievers, leaving many holes in their pen. One such hole will likely be the closer spot, and it seems very possible that spot could be filled by Zack Burdi who has looked all the part of franchise closer at Triple-A this season. Even if he doesn’t immediately grab the closer’s role, his insane strikeout upside makes him worthy of an own in many leagues. 14. Ronald Guzman (1B, TEX, AAA) Stats: 187 PA, .304/.374/.446, 5 HR, 1 SB, 8.6% BB rate, 16.0% K rate ETA: Mid-June Mike Napoli has been slightly better in May, but that’s almost strictly from a power perspective. His slugging percentage for the month is at .600, but his average is still a measly .246 and his on-base percentage is just .311, while the strikeouts remain high at 28.4 percent. Guzman, on the other hand, has struggled a bit more in May, but overall has outstanding numbers this season. He is still young, but has the talent to man a regular position in the majors. If he gets a chance, his ability to reach base at an incredibly high rate and knock a couple homers makes him a worthy own in deeper redraft leagues. 15. Yandy Diaz (3B, CLE, AAA) Stats: 86 PA, .343/.447/.514, 2 HR, 0 SB, 16.3% BB rate, 12.8% K rate ETA: Early July Diaz just knows how to hit. He isn’t a great power hitter and won’t steal many bases, but he is a pure hitter who knows how to reach base as well as anybody. Unfortunately for him, there is not much of a clearing in Cleveland for him to find playing time. Should he find it, he’s got that hit tool that makes him worth owning in mixed leagues, but he has not clear path to PT yet. He could be a trade chip, however, and could start nearly anywhere else but Cleveland. 16. Luke Weaver (SP, STL, AAA) Stats: 27.0 IP, 1.67 ERA, 2.42 FIP, 25.5% K rate, 1.0% BB rate, 4.8% HR/FB, .227 AVG ETA: Early July Weaver just needs something, anything to happen for him to start in the majors. He has completely dominated Triple-A so far, and is clearly the Cardinals’ sixth man in case of an injury. But thus far, nothing has happened to suggest the team may be calling him up. Even though Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright haven’t been great so far this year, neither of them are going to lose their rotation spots to a rookie anytime soon. But should you see any concerning signs in St. Louis of a possible injury in the rotation, Weaver should immediately become your top waiver priority. 17. Jeimer Candelario (3B, CHC, AAA) Stats: 132 PA, .325/.417/.675, 7 HR, 0 SB, 12.1% BB rate, 23.5% K rate ETA: Late July/Early August Candelario could have done a bit better in his big-league debut, but he did hold down a spot on the team for a fair amount of time. But I’m going to put the same thing about him now that I had before he was promoted: his only hope for a ton of fantasy production this season comes from a trade. He seems the most likely trade candidate Chicago has, which is a promising sign for owners still holding onto the talented third baseman. He would become a starter nearly anywhere he is traded, but that trade still needs to take place. 18. A.J. Reed (1B, HOU, AAA) Stats: 177 PA, .276/.379/.454, 5 HR, 0 SB, 14.1% BB rate, 28.2% K rate ETA: Early August Going back to the few struggles of the Astros, it is safe to say Yulieski Gurriel has not been quite as advertised. He has not been awful by any means, but he is only slashing .268/.300/.387 with just three homers. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either. Meanwhile, Reed has shown more offensive promise, walking a ton and continuing to flash plus power. But that strikeout rate is still scary. And that rate has only gone up in May, as it has been 29.5 percent so far this month. He has the potential to be a real impact player in the majors, but he still has a ways to go before he’s ready for a second-look in the majors. 19. Rafael Devers (3B, BOS, AA) Stats: 144 PA, .320/.389/.555, 7 HR, 0 SB, 10.4% BB rate, 18.1% K rate ETA: Early August The calls for Devers to be promoted to the majors have been coming from everywhere. Recently, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, wrote a piece about why a Devers promotion makes the most sense for Boston, and I tend to agree with him. But, it’s not up to me or Cameron. It’s up to the Boston brass. And if Boston can find an external solution on the trade market, they may be more likely to that route given Devers’ youth. Should Devers find himself on that MLB roster this season, however, his insane offensive upside would demand ownership in nearly all leagues. 20. Jose De Leon (SP, TB, A+) Stats: 8.1 IP, 2.16 ERA, 1.27 FIP, 37.5% K rate, 6.3% BB rate, 0.0% HR/FB, .167 AVG ETA: Early August De Leon has looked completely unhittable since returning from his injury . . . but it has been against High-A batters thus far. Before he completely skyrockets on this list, he will need to prove he still has it against batters at higher levels. But he has the potential to display real helium if he can continue to dominate, and might already be worth a stash in some leagues. Just keep in mind that he still has a little ways to go before the Rays are going to send him to their big-league rotation. 21. Dan Vogelbach (1B, SEA, AAA) Stats: 124 PA, .262/.379/.447, 5 HR, 1 SB, 15.3% BB rate, 19.4% K rate ETA: Early June 22. Carson Kelly (C, STL, AAA) Stats: 127 PA, .321/.402/.527, 5 HR, 0 SB, 10.2% BB rate, 15.0% K rate ETA: Early August 23. Nick Burdi (RP, MIN, AA) Stats: 17.0 IP, 0.53 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 32.8% K rate, 6.6% BB rate, 7.7% HR/FB, .158 AVG ETA: Early July 24. Patrick Weigel (SP, ATL, AAA) Stats: 45.1 IP, 4.57 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 23.0% K rate, 6.3% BB rate, 8.3% HR/FB, .261 AVG ETA: Early August 25. Ozzie Albies (2B/SS, ATL, AAA) Stats: 186 PA, .259/.308/.388, 2 HR, 13 SB, 7.0% BB rate, 22.6% K rate ETA: Early August 26. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN, AAA) Stats: 167 PA, .290/.365/.359, 1 HR, 0 SB, 10.8% BB rate, 13.2% K rate ETA: Early August 27. Dominic Smith (1B, NYM, AAA) Stats: 198 PA, .320/.379/.481, 5 HR, 0 SB, 8.1% BB rate, 14.6% K rate ETA: Early August 28. Jae-Gyun Hwang (3B, SF, AAA) Stats: 162 PA, .277/.296/.426, 3 HR, 3 SB, 3.1% BB rate, 18.5% K rate ETA: Early August 29. Dinelson Lamet (SP, SD, AAA) Stats: 39.0 IP, 3.23 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 29.9% K rate, 12.0% BB rate, 7.1% HR/FB, .219 AVG ETA: Late May 30. David Paulino (SP, HOU, AAA) Stats: 9.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 6.35 FIP, 27.0% K rate, 16.2% BB rate, 14.3% HR/FB, .129 AVG ETA: Early August  

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Aaron Judge (OF, NYY) 2. Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD) 3. Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS) 4. Josh Bell (1B/OF, PIT) 5. Manuel Margot (OF, SD) 6. Chad Pinder (SS, OAK) 7. Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA) 8. Trey Mancini (1B, BAL) 9. Jordan Montgomery (SP, NYY) 10. German Marquez (SP, COL) 11. Jorge Bonifacio (OF, KC) 12. Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD) 13. Kyle Freeland (SP, COL) 14. James Pazos (RP, SEA) 15. Ben Gamel (OF, SEA) 16. Matt Davidson (3B, CWS) 17. Jharel Cotton (SP, OAK) 18. Antonio Senzatela (SP, COL) 19. Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL) 20. Carl Edwards Jr. (RP, CHC)

Updated May Rankings and Tiers: Relief Pitcher (RP)

The comedian Lewis Black has a fantastic bit about the dumbest thing he’s ever heard in his life. After relaying the thing in question, he cautions the audience, “Don’t think about that sentence for more than three minutes, or blood will shoot out your nose.” This is more or less how it felt trying to make heads or tails of 2017’s weird and wild first month and produce updated rankings. It’s why, unlike my esteemed colleague Nick Mariano, I went only 300 players deep as opposed to 500. Had I pressed on, it might have broken my brain. All of which is to say, if you disagree strongly with any particular ranking, know that there’s a decent chance you could talk me into adjusting mine. The sheer number of injuries and surprise performances (in both directions) made putting this update together a stiff challenge. We're finishing up this series with a look at relievers. Unsurprisingly, quite a bit has changed since March - and even since we completed this update at the beginning of the month. You can find our full, updated rankings here. Note that they’re based on a standard 12-teamer, so you should make adjustment based on your specific league settings. Tiers, auction values, prospects, news and more. It's all free.  

2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Relief Pitcher (May Updates)

Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Composite
1 1 Aroldis Chapman RP 62 59 60.5
2 1 Kenley Jansen RP 60 61 60.5
3 1 Edwin Diaz RP 86 101 93.5
4 2 Craig Kimbrel RP 97 97 97
5 2 Roberto Osuna RP 94 121 107.5
6 2 Kelvin Herrera RP 104 122 113
7 2 Wade Davis RP 128 109 118.5
8 2 Seung-Hwan Oh RP 113 125 119
9 2 Kenneth Giles RP 127 163 145
10 2 Alexander Colome RP 117 176 146.5
11 3 Andrew Miller RP 118 178 148
12 3 Cody Allen RP 124 174 149
13 3 Dellin Betances RP 125 184 154.5
14 3 Greg Holland RP 146 169 157.5
15 3 Brad Brach RP 158 158 158
16 4 David Robertson RP 139 246 192.5
17 4 Mark Melancon RP 196 196 196
18 4 Chris Devenski SP/RP 168 254 211
19 4 A.J. Ramos RP 195 231 213
20 5 Matt Bush RP 186 305 245.5
21 5 Tony Watson RP 220 294 257
22 5 Brandon Maurer RP 221 297 259
23 5 Justin Wilson RP 260 260 260
24 5 Addison Reed RP 261 261 261
25 5 Santiago Casilla RP 262 262 262
26 5 Hector Neris RP 257 276 266.5
27 6 Cameron Bedrosian RP 192 348 270
28 6 Neftali Feliz RP #N/A 271 271
29 6 Hyun-Jin Ryu SP/RP 273 328 300.5
30 6 Brandon Kintzler RP 259 346 302.5
31 6 Shawn Kelley RP 250 357 303.5
32 6 Jim Johnson RP 276 338 307
33 6 Francisco Rodriguez RP 311 311 311
34 6 Raisel Iglesias SP/RP 161 462 311.5
35 6 Zach Britton RP 312 312 312
36 6 Jeurys Familia RP 313 313 313
37 6 Nate Jones RP 283 372 327.5
38 6 Fernando Rodney RP #N/A 331 331
39 6 Trevor Rosenthal RP #N/A 332 332
40 7 Ryan Madson RP #N/A 345 345
41 7 Daniel Hudson RP #N/A 354 354
42 7 Kyle Barraclough RP 287 443 365
43 7 Adam Ottavino RP #N/A 370 370
44 7 Arodys Vizcaino RP #N/A 376 376
45 7 C.J. Edwards RP #N/A 379 379
46 7 Carter Capps RP #N/A 398 398
47 7 Ryan Dull RP #N/A 430 430
48 7 Corey Knebel RP #N/A 439 439
49 7 Ty Blach RP #N/A 442 442
50 7 Sean Doolittle RP #N/A 444 444
51 7 Luke Gregerson RP #N/A 451 451
52 7 Michael Lorenzen RP #N/A 465 465
53 7 Joaquin Benoit RP #N/A 469 469
54 7 Will Harris RP #N/A 471 471
55 7 Chad Green RP #N/A 478 478
56 7 Matt Strahm RP #N/A 487 487
 

Relief Pitcher Rankings Analysis: May

Right off the bat, we've got multiple rankings in the top tier that need adjustment. Aroldis Chapman hit the disabled list a few days ago with a strained rotator cuff. He's not expected back until mid-June. Edwin Diaz was demoted from the closer role on Tuesday, one day after walking four straight batters. While he'd only blown two saves, he also hasn't looked much like the dominant reliever we saw last season. It seems like a temporary move while Diaz gets straightened out, and the talent is still immense. Obviously, however, we can't put a guy in the top three when he's not locking down games for his team. At least Kenley Jansen has been his usual self, and Craig Kimbrel is making anyone who thought he'd fallen out of the ranks of the elite (meekly raises hand) look like a fool. Things are relatively stable otherwise in the top 10, though Seung Hwan Oh and Ken Giles haven't really lived up to their preseason hype so far. As we move into the middle tiers, we see plenty of players whose valuations have fluctuated wildly in the early going. Greg Holland took the Rockies' closer job and ran with it from day one. He leads MLB with a whopping 17 saves, five more than anyone else. Of course, he's not going to go the entire season without allowing a home run, but he's certainly proven he's all the way back from Tommy John surgery. With Zach Britton out long-term, Brad Brach is closing for the Orioles. He hasn't been nearly as dominant as he was in 2016 and has blown his last two save chances, but appears to still have a firm grip on the role. Similarly, Addison Reed is the man in Queens with Jeurys Familia on the shelf, though he's struggled relative to his outstanding performance from a year ago. Sam Dyson's disastrous April opened the door for Matt Bush to seize the ninth in Texas. Until recently, the Rangers had gone on a remarkable run of games without a save opportunity. Bush converted all three chances he got last week, however, and hasn't allowed a run since April 9. The biggest jump of all belongs to a guy who isn't closing. Chris Devenski has looked a bit more human lately, but he's still sitting on a gaudy 46.8 K% and 0.82 WHIP. With most of his appearances covering multiple innings, he's been more valuable than many starting pitchers, to say nothing of relievers. A few quick hits to close things out:
  • Archie Bradley hasn't been quite as good as Devenski, but he occupies a similar role for the Diamondbacks and deserved to be ranked here.
  • There was speculation that Bradley could see some save ops, but Fernando Rodney hasn't allowed a run in his last five appearances. That streak has brought his ERA down to a sparkling 8.59. Fernando Rodney is bad, but he somehow has 10 saves anyway.
  • The Nationals' ninth inning situation has predictably been a mess, but at least last year they had a good bullpen otherwise. This year's group has been awful. They're still the best team in the National League, but it seems like even more of a lock than before that they'll trade for a closer.
  • Another guy we didn't rank who probably should have been mentioned: Bud Norris. He's been quite solid with Cam Bedrosian out, and could hold on to the job even when Bedrosian returns.
  • Names to remember ROS: Carter Capps, Felipe Rivero, Nate Jones.
 

More Rankings & Analysis

[jiffyNews category_include='5474' post_limit='8']

Updated May Rankings and Tiers: Starting Pitcher

The time for chalking things up to “just April shenanigans” has come and gone, and we here at RotoBaller felt that it was time for a rankings update with roughly 20 percent of the season in the books. Of course, now we’re closer to 25 percent but don’t worry -- we’ll always bring you the latest analysis across the site for the best context possible. This round features rankings from myself and my Reddit-famous brochacho Kyle Bishop, so you know you’re getting the best. The pitching world has been absolutely rocked by this 10-day disabled list, as many arms are finding themselves on the shelf when they might’ve simply skipped a start or just pitched through some general fatigue/ineffectiveness/dirt-bike incidents. We can’t say for certain that anything fishy is afoot, but DL trips are up roughly 50 percent and the fantasy world is still reacting to those ripple effects. As a result, those who have stayed healthy look even better thus far, and some hot starts stand out even more than usual with so many others hurt. For instance, James Paxton and Corey Kluber both got hurt pretty much as soon as we submitted our updated ranks. Obviously, Jameson Taillon's rank should be ignored and we wish him all the best in his battle with cancer.  

2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Starting Pitchers (May Updates)

You can check out all of our updated rankings. Positional tiers, top prospects, dynasty ranks, and more. It's all free.  
Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Composite
1 1 Clayton Kershaw SP 7 6 6.5
2 1 Max Scherzer SP 10 14 12
3 1 Chris Sale SP 18 20 19
4 1 Corey Kluber SP 23 23 23
5 1 Jacob deGrom SP 28 35 31.5
6 1 Yu Darvish SP 48 26 37
7 2 Stephen Strasburg SP 37 38 37.5
8 2 Justin Verlander SP 54 30 42
9 2 Jake Arrieta SP 50 42 46
10 2 Jon Lester SP 44 48 46
11 2 Carlos Carrasco SP 38 55 46.5
12 2 Chris Archer SP 56 43 49.5
13 3 Johnny Cueto SP 45 92 68.5
14 3 James Paxton SP 74 65 69.5
15 3 Masahiro Tanaka SP 89 52 70.5
16 3 Gerrit Cole SP 75 70 72.5
17 3 Carlos Martinez SP 96 58 77
18 3 Dallas Keuchel SP 90 69 79.5
19 3 Zack Greinke SP 85 96 90.5
20 4 Danny Duffy SP 93 93 93
21 4 Michael Fulmer SP 114 80 97
22 4 Kenta Maeda SP 92 108 100
23 4 Jose Quintana SP 110 105 107.5
24 4 Lance McCullers SP 129 91 110
25 4 David Price SP 98 123 110.5
26 4 Marcus Stroman SP 123 99 111
27 4 Danny Salazar SP 134 95 114.5
28 5 Kyle Hendricks SP 137 106 121.5
29 5 Rick Porcello SP 122 135 128.5
30 5 Julio Teheran SP 154 107 130.5
31 5 Rich Hill SP 148 127 137.5
32 5 Julio Urias SP 142 133 137.5
33 5 Jameson Taillon SP 188 89 138.5
34 5 John Lackey SP 145 134 139.5
35 5 Aaron Nola SP 149 138 143.5
36 5 Cole Hamels SP 143 149 146
37 6 Aaron Sanchez SP 184 110 147
38 6 Sean Manaea SP 158 141 149.5
39 6 Tanner Roark SP 159 144 151.5
40 6 Noah Syndergaard SP 169 136 152.5
41 6 Luis Severino SP 183 128 155.5
42 6 Madison Bumgarner SP 170 145 157.5
43 6 Matt Harvey SP 198 131 164.5
44 6 Michael Pineda SP 157 182 169.5
45 6 Jharel Cotton SP #N/A 170 170
46 7 Dylan Bundy SP 207 153 180
47 7 Jeff Samardzija SP 203 175 189
48 7 Steven Matz SP 178 210 194
49 7 Adam Wainwright SP 204 185 194.5
50 7 Drew Pomeranz SP 144 247 195.5
51 7 Vincent Velasquez SP 185 206 195.5
52 7 Jonathan Gray SP 150 243 196.5
53 7 Sonny Gray SP 236 160 198
54 7 J.A. Happ SP 180 218 199
55 8 Jerad Eickhoff SP 212 188 200
56 8 Ervin Santana SP 244 159 201.5
57 8 Ivan Nova SP 252 154 203
58 8 Robbie Ray SP 190 217 203.5
59 8 Chris Devenski SP/RP 168 254 211
60 8 Lance Lynn SP 247 181 214
61 8 Matt Shoemaker SP 235 199 217
62 8 Felix Hernandez SP #N/A 221 221
63 8 Gio Gonzalez SP 241 203 222
64 8 Jake Odorizzi SP 200 249 224.5
65 8 Ian Kennedy SP 245 213 229
66 8 Marco Estrada SP 237 227 232
67 8 Robert Gsellman SP 275 197 236
68 9 Zack Wheeler SP 271 205 238
69 9 Jeremy Hellickson SP 279 216 247.5
70 9 Carlos Rodon SP 249 252 250.5
71 9 Blake Snell SP #N/A 251 251
72 9 Alex Cobb SP #N/A 255 255
73 9 Joe Ross SP 286 225 255.5
74 9 Eduardo Rodriguez SP 264 250 257
75 9 Michael Wacha SP #N/A 259 259
76 9 Daniel Norris SP 299 220 259.5
77 9 Taijuan Walker SP 201 322 261.5
78 9 Kevin Gausman SP 298 228 263
79 10 Francisco Liriano SP 291 236 263.5
80 10 Alex Wood SP 269 262 265.5
81 10 Daniel Straily SP 268 #N/A 268
82 10 Andrew Triggs SP 272 266 269
83 10 Garrett Richards SP #N/A 270 270
84 10 Chris Tillman SP #N/A 272 272
85 10 Matt Moore SP #N/A 273 273
86 11 Kendall Graveman SP #N/A 278 278
87 11 Michael Foltynewicz SP 282 277 279.5
88 11 Zach Davies SP #N/A 283 283
89 11 Brandon McCarthy SP 263 310 286.5
90 11 Jason Hammel SP #N/A 287 287
91 11 Mike Leake SP 262 319 290.5
92 12 Miguel Gonzalez SP #N/A 293 293
93 12 Hector Santiago SP #N/A 299 299
94 12 Raisel Iglesias SP/RP 161 462 311.5
95 12 Patrick Corbin SP 274 356 315
96 12 Drew Smyly SP #N/A 323 323
97 12 Wily Peralta SP #N/A 329 329
98 12 Bartolo Colon SP #N/A 330 330
99 13 Anthony DeSclafani SP #N/A 333 333
100 13 Junior Guerra SP #N/A 336 336
101 13 Archie Bradley SP 267 406 336.5
102 13 Jaime Garcia SP #N/A 340 340
103 13 Tyler Anderson SP #N/A 342 342
104 13 Collin McHugh SP #N/A 343 343
105 13 Tyler Chatwood SP #N/A 344 344
106 13 Joe Musgrove SP #N/A 355 355
107 13 Derek Holland SP #N/A 362 362
108 13 Jose Berrios SP #N/A 363 363
109 13 Brandon Finnegan SP #N/A 364 364
110 14 Tyler Skaggs SP #N/A 369 369
111 14 Chad Kuhl SP #N/A 397 397
112 14 Adam Conley SP #N/A 400 400
113 14 Trevor Bauer SP #N/A 410 410
114 14 Matt Boyd SP #N/A 411 411
115 14 Jordan Zimmermann SP #N/A 422 422
116 14 Hisashi Iwakuma SP #N/A 425 425
117 14 Bud Norris SP #N/A 429 429
118 14 Wade Miley SP #N/A 433 433
119 14 Jimmy Nelson SP #N/A 452 452
120 14 Tyler Glasnow SP #N/A 455 455
121 14 James Shields SP #N/A 467 467
122 14 Wei-Yin Chen SP #N/A 474 474
123 14 Tyson Ross SP #N/A 475 475
124 14 David Phelps SP #N/A 476 476
125 14 Matt Garza SP #N/A 477 477
126 14 Mike Montgomery SP #N/A 482 482
127 14 Nate Karns SP #N/A 492 492
128 14 Homer Bailey SP #N/A 493 493
129 14 Scott Kazmir SP #N/A 494 494
130 14 Tom Koehler SP #N/A 495 495
131 14 Ariel Miranda SP #N/A 496 496
132 14 Tyler Duffey SP #N/A 497 497
133 14 Seth Lugo SP #N/A 498 498
 

Starting Pitcher Rankings Analysis: May

50 percent of the preseason Tier One guys are on the DL, with Madison Bumgarner and Noah Syndergaard both out for the foreseeable future. Yu Darvish takes a small step forward into the bottom of the tier, but Jacob deGrom is the real mover and shaker here. He’s leapt from No. 14 to No. 5 here, though two of his three May starts haven’t gone so hot. Still, only one of them was a real clunker (May 3, five walks and five earned against the Braves) and he bounced back from that to strike out 11 Giants in a quality start. Heck, he won that game against Atlanta. He’s just 2-1 through eight starts, but owns an absurd 12.39 K/9 that leads the National League and his 3.16 SIERA ranks inside the top 10 as well. His K’s are no fluke either, as his 15.3 percent swinging-strike rate trails only Danny Salazar, Chris Sale and Max Scherzer. Those guys can bring the electricity. Buy in to the stuff and hope the Mets can support him. Dallas Keuchel, eh? He skyrockets to No. 18 from No. 39 here thanks to a perfect, MLB-leading 7-0 record with the third-best ERA out of qualified starters (1.84). He also leads the league in innings as of May 17 with 63 2/3 frames under his belt, which just makes him all the more sweeter for those of you in points leagues. Sure, his 7.63 K/9 won’t win anything on its own but it’s more than serviceable enough to go along with his league-leading 66.9 percent ground-ball rate. He seems to have regained his ability to just relentlessly snipe the edges of the strike zone and leave hitters with nothing good to hit while still limiting walks (1.98 BB/9,) so it’s hard to ignore this. Aaron Sanchez drops from No. 23 to No. 37 thanks to gaining a bit of a Rich Hill vibe to him with Blister: The Sequel popping up far too often. It doesn’t help that when he’s been on the mound he’s surviving on some luck rather than skill, as his 4.77 FIP/4.40 xFIP/4.62 SIERA are pretty ugly with a relatively-low 43.6 percent ground-ball rate thus far (54.4 percent in ’16.) Yes, 18 1/3 innings where he hasn’t even been healthy for all of them make for an incredible tilted sample size to analyze, but there’s no questioning that his stock takes a hit regardless. He also made some real value with his 15-2 record last season, and Toronto needs to get their bats back in order before we can see Sanchez getting enough support for serious wins in ’17. Ervin Santana only sits at No. 56 (for good reason,) though I’ve still got him nearly 100 slots higher than Kyle. I hate/am astounded by his peripherals as well, but his turnaround began in the middle of 2016 and he’s got the seventh-best ERA over the last calendar year (2.88) and seems to be channeling his early-2010s form when he habitually outpitched his underlying metrics. However, he never posted rates like these: .128 BABIP, 98.4 percent strand rate, 25.9 percent soft-contact rate, 52.5 percent pull rate. What that says is he’s getting lucky, but is also inducing terrible contact and batters are out in front of a lot of his offerings. It’s not an ideal (or sustainable) path to success, but he’s not going to suddenly become a pumpkin either. Other notable risers are types like Luis Severino, Ivan Nova, Lance Lynn, Eduardo Rodriguez, Alex Wood and Andrew Triggs. I would put Wood higher today now that I feel more secure about his slot in the rotation, though I fear the Dodgers will place him on the DL with some minor injury as they continue to utilize their pitching depth to conserve innings. I guess that comes off as accusatory -- just calling it as I see it, and it’s smart baseball by them with their roster. And I would boost Nate Karns up a ton today as well, toward the SP50 range. Matt Garza, Ariel Miranda and even Wade Miley would draw a small bump up from that last group as well.  

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Updated May Rankings and Tiers: Outfield (OF)

The comedian Lewis Black has a fantastic bit about the dumbest thing he’s ever heard in his life. After relaying the thing in question, he cautions the audience, “Don’t think about that sentence for more than three minutes, or blood will shoot out your nose.” This is more or less how it felt trying to make heads or tails of 2017’s weird and wild first month and produce updated rankings. It’s why, unlike my esteemed colleague Nick Mariano, I went only 300 players deep as opposed to 500. Had I pressed on, it might have broken my brain. All of which is to say, if you disagree strongly with any particular ranking, know that there’s a decent chance you could talk me into adjusting mine. The sheer number of injuries and surprise performances (in both directions) made putting this update together a stiff challenge. Nick finished up the infield with a look at shortstop yesterday, so today we'll be talking outfielders. You can find our full, updated rankings here. Note that they’re based on a standard 12-teamer, so you should make adjustment based on your specific league settings. Tiers, auction values, prospects, news and more. It's all free.  

2017 Fantasy Baseball Rankings: Outfield (May Updates)

Ranking Tier Player Position Kyle Nick Composite
1 1 Mike Trout OF 1 1 1
2 1 Bryce Harper OF 4 2 3
3 1 Kris Bryant 3B/OF 2 7 4.5
4 2 Mookie Betts OF 6 3 4.5
5 2 Trea Turner 2B/OF 14 9 11.5
6 2 A.J. Pollock OF 24 11 17.5
7 2 Charlie Blackmon OF 27 18 22.5
8 2 Nelson Cruz OF 26 21 23.5
9 2 Ryan Braun OF 22 28 25
10 2 George Springer OF 33 25 29
11 2 Yoenis Cespedes OF 30 31 30.5
12 3 Giancarlo Stanton OF 25 39 32
13 3 J.D. Martinez OF 29 37 33
14 3 Carlos Gonzalez OF 39 41 40
15 3 Khris Davis OF 40 44 42
16 3 Christian Yelich OF 43 45 44
17 3 Justin Upton OF 53 64 58.5
18 3 Kyle Schwarber C/OF 42 77 59.5
19 3 Aaron Judge OF 70 54 62
20 3 Jose Ramirez 3B/OF 80 46 63
21 3 Matt Kemp OF 83 50 66.5
22 4 Ian Desmond OF 88 51 69.5
23 4 Gregory Polanco OF 73 78 75.5
24 4 Adam Jones OF 82 84 83
25 4 Andrew McCutchen OF 68 119 93.5
26 4 Marcell Ozuna OF 76 112 94
27 4 Stephen Piscotty OF 91 104 97.5
28 4 Odubel Herrera OF 78 118 98
29 4 Michael Brantley OF 136 73 104.5
30 5 Billy Hamilton OF 109 114 111.5
31 5 Andrew Benintendi OF 132 103 117.5
32 5 Mark Trumbo OF 151 90 120.5
33 5 Lorenzo Cain OF 119 126 122.5
34 5 Chris Owings SS/OF 79 168 123.5
35 5 David Dahl OF 111 156 133.5
36 5 Adam Duvall OF 140 129 134.5
37 5 Joc Pederson OF 112 166 139
38 5 Ben Zobrist 2B/OF 138 143 140.5
39 5 Jackie Bradley OF 115 180 147.5
40 5 Matt Holliday 1B/OF 173 124 148.5
41 5 Jose Bautista OF 105 198 151.5
42 5 Domingo Santana OF 160 146 153
43 6 David Peralta OF 135 172 153.5
44 6 Nomar Mazara OF 152 164 158
45 6 Dexter Fowler OF 133 192 162.5
46 6 Kole Calhoun OF 130 195 162.5
47 6 Jay Bruce OF 194 137 165.5
48 6 Carlos Beltran OF 153 194 173.5
49 6 Yasmany Tomas OF 205 147 176
50 6 Corey Dickerson OF 187 167 177
51 6 Michael Conforto OF 155 202 178.5
52 6 Mitch Haniger OF 217 142 179.5
53 6 Kevin Kiermaier OF 218 158 188
54 6 Carlos Gomez OF 199 187 193
55 7 Hunter Pence OF 179 223 201
56 7 Randal Grichuk OF 197 211 204
57 7 Ender Inciarte OF 189 229 209
58 7 Steven Souza OF 167 279 223
59 7 Scott Schebler OF 215 235 225
60 7 Jose Peraza SS/OF 202 258 230
61 7 Melky Cabrera OF 227 239 233
62 7 Keon Broxton OF 228 248 238
63 7 Jason Heyward OF 238 242 240
64 7 Brandon Drury 3B/OF 242 238 240
65 7 Rajai Davis OF 258 224 241
66 7 Hunter Renfroe OF 254 241 247.5
67 7 Brett Gardner OF 255 244 249.5
68 7 Manuel Margot OF 175 325 250
69 8 Jayson Werth OF 213 288 250.5
70 8 Max Kepler OF 225 280 252.5
71 8 Starling Marte OF 177 334 255.5
72 8 Shin-Soo Choo OF 280 234 257
73 8 Kevin Pillar OF #N/A 261 261
74 8 Jacoby Ellsbury OF 240 290 265
75 8 Joshua Bell 1B/OF 266 #N/A 266
76 8 Byron Buxton OF 300 233 266.5
77 8 Yasiel Puig OF 239 311 275
78 8 Aaron Altherr OF 253 308 280.5
79 8 Curtis Granderson OF 229 337 283
80 8 Brandon Moss OF 292 291 291.5
81 8 Gerardo Parra OF 293 295 294
82 8 Jarrod Dyson OF 281 314 297.5
83 8 Avisail Garcia OF #N/A 301 301
84 8 Robbie Grossman OF #N/A 309 309
85 8 Hernan Perez 3B/OF 243 378 310.5
86 9 Josh Reddick OF 278 349 313.5
87 9 Jorge Soler OF #N/A 335 335
88 9 Alex Gordon OF 277 401 339
89 9 Nick Markakis OF #N/A 339 339
90 9 Cameron Maybin OF #N/A 366 366
91 9 Steve Pearce 1B/2B/OF #N/A 371 371
92 9 Danny Valencia 1B/3B/OF #N/A 374 374
93 9 Denard Span OF #N/A 377 377
94 9 Michael Saunders OF #N/A 385 385
95 9 Seth Smith OF #N/A 387 387
96 9 Andrew Toles OF #N/A 388 388
97 9 Delino DeShields OF #N/A 389 389
98 9 Travis Jankowski OF #N/A 390 390
99 9 Lonnie Chisenhall OF #N/A 392 392
100 9 Enrique Hernandez OF #N/A 395 395
101 9 Jon Jay OF #N/A 396 396
102 9 Ben Revere OF #N/A 408 408
103 9 Leonys Martin OF #N/A 412 412
104 9 Tyler Naquin OF #N/A 413 413
105 10 Roman Quinn OF #N/A 416 416
106 10 Mallex Smith OF #N/A 417 417
107 10 Alex Dickerson OF #N/A 423 423
108 10 Brett Eibner OF #N/A 424 424
109 10 Trayce Thompson OF #N/A 428 428
110 10 Colby Rasmus OF #N/A 432 432
111 10 Brandon Nimmo OF #N/A 434 434
112 10 Brandon Guyer OF #N/A 435 435
113 10 Melvin Upton Jr. OF #N/A 437 437
114 10 Hyun-soo Kim OF #N/A 446 446
115 10 Jefry Marte 1B/OF #N/A 449 449
116 10 Jeremy Hazelbaker OF #N/A 453 453
117 10 Abraham Almonte OF #N/A 454 454
118 11 Chris Young OF #N/A 457 457
119 11 Franklin Gutierrez OF #N/A 460 460
120 11 Andre Ethier OF #N/A 464 464
121 11 Ezequiel Carrera OF #N/A 470 470
122 11 Eddie Rosario OF #N/A 486 486
123 11 Ryan Rua OF #N/A 489 489
124 11 Jabari Blash OF #N/A 490 490
125 11 Albert Almora OF #N/A 500 500
 

Outfield Rankings Analysis: May

There's been some minor reshuffling in the top three tiers, but for the most part, it's the same players involved. The notable exception, of course, is Aaron Judge. The rookie has slowed down a bit recently with just one home run in his last eight games, but he still leads MLB with 14 bombs. It's worth noting that even with that (relative) drought, his HR/FB% remains close to 50 percent. Given that only one player has ever finished a season with a HR/FB% above 35 percent, it's fair to expect a comedown. Additionally, Judge's elevated strikeout rate will make it tough for him to continue hitting for a high average. Still, he's been much more impressive than any of us expected in 2017. Moving into the middle tiers, there are some notable risers. Marcell Ozuna has looked more like the elite hitter from the first half of last season than the middling bat of the second half, lending credence to the idea that injury derailed his breakout campaign. Speaking of injury rebounds, Michael Brantley appears to be fully recovered from the shoulder problems that ruined his 2016. Chris Owings is finally cashing in on the promise he showed before his own shoulder issues a couple of years ago, offering opportunistic fantasy owners a blend of power and speed with the added bonus of shortstop eligibility. Jay Bruce is proving he still has something left in the tank, though he'll need to avoid a third straight second-half collapse. Teammate Michael Conforto has taken advantage of the Mets' ever-lengthening list of players on the disabled list and made himself impossible to bench. The most pronounced drop - outside of the suspended Starling Marte -  belongs to Jose Bautista, who fell from 20th to outside the top 40 outfielders thanks to Nick's pessimistic ranking. The veteran has smacked four homers in May, including three in the past week. Reports of his demise may have been greatly exaggerated. Jackie Bradley Jr. has always been a streaky hitter, and he's been ice-cold to start 2017. In hindsight, my preseason valuation was overly optimistic...though it doesn't look nearly as awful as my bold prediction that Byron Buxton would put up a 20/40 season. There's three-quarters of the season left to play, but that one's already DOA. Can't win 'em all. A few quick hits to close things out:
  • Matt Holliday validated my faith in a rebound, and I failed to give him as much of a bump in this update as I should have. Go ahead and swap him with Bradley in my rankings.
  • Mark Trumbo has been even worse than I expected, but he's due for some positive regression. There's no way he ends the season with single-digit HR/FB%.
  • Aaron Altherr deserves a lot more love than he got here, and I regret not pushing him harder as a sleeper this offseason.
  • Kevin Pillar was my most glaring omission.
 

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FANTASY BASEBALL SLEEPERS

MLB Closers & Saves: Fantasy Baseball Depth Charts

Saves are an important component for many fantasy baseball leagues. Closers are one of the most volatile positions in fantasy baseball, and one of the highest turnover positions in MLB. Each year, closers drop like flies and many MLB teams make in-season changes due to injuries or poor performance. Stay on top of all closer depth charts for the AL and NL, and dominate in saves this year. To see our tiered staff rankings for closers and relief pitchers, see our fantasy baseball rankings dashboard. We will be updating the MLB Closers & Saves Depth Charts all season long. Bookmark this page, and keep checking back for updates!  

AL EAST: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Backup / Handcuff More Holds  Candidates Immediate Waiver Add
Questionable Yankees Aroldis Chapman (INJ) Dellin Betances Tyler Clippard N/A
Solid Red Sox Craig Kimbrel Tyler Thornburg (INJ) Matt Barnes, Joe Kelly N/A
Solid Blue Jays Roberto Osuna Jason Grilli Joe Smith N/A
Questionable Orioles Brad Brach Darren O'Day Mychal GivensZach Britton (INJ) Brad Brach
Solid Rays Alex Colome Xavier Cedeno Erasmo Ramirez N/A
 

AL CENTRAL: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Backup / Handcuff More Holds Candidates Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Tigers Justin Wilson Alex WilsonShane Greene Blaine HardyFrancisco Rodriguez N/A
Solid White Sox David Robertson Nate Jones (INJ) Dan Jennings N/A
Solid Indians Cody Allen Andrew MillerBryan Shaw Dan Otero N/A
Solid Royals Kelvin Herrera Joakim Soria Matt Strahm N/A
Solid Twins Brandon Kintzler Glen Perkins (INJ) Ryan Pressly, Matt Belisle N/A
 

AL WEST: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Backup / Handcuff More Holds Candidates Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Rangers Matt Bush Keone Kela Jeremy Jeffress, Sam Dyson N/A
Questionable Angels Bud NorrisCam Bedrosian (INJ) Blake ParkerHuston Street (INJ) Andrew Bailey (INJ), Mike Morin Bud Norris
Solid Athletics Santiago Casilla Ryan MadsonSean Doolittle (INJ) Ryan Dull (INJ), John Axford Santiago Casilla
Solid Astros Ken Giles Luke Gregerson Will Harris N/A
Volatile Mariners Edwin Diaz Nick Vincent, Tony Zych Steve Cishek N/A
   

NL EAST: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Backup / Handcuff More Holds Candidates Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Braves Jim Johnson Arodys Vizcaino Ian Krol N/A
Solid Marlins A.J. Ramos Brad Ziegler Kyle Barraclough, David Phelps N/A
Solid Mets Addison Reed Fernando Salas Jeurys Familia (INJ) N/A
Questionable Phillies Hector Neris Joaquin Benoit Pat NeshekJeanmar Gomez N/A
Questionable Nationals Koda Glover Shawn KelleyEnny Romero Matt AlbersBlake Treinen, Joe Blanton Koda Glover
 

NL CENTRAL: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Backup / Handcuff More Holds Candidates Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Cubs Wade Davis Pedro StropHector Rondon Koji Uehara N/A
Solid Reds Raisel Iglesias Michael Lorenzen Drew Storen N/A
Questionable Brewers Corey Knebel Jacob Barnes, Neftali Feliz Carlos Torres Corey Knebel
Solid Pirates Tony Watson Daniel Hudson Felipe Rivero N/A
Solid Cardinals Seung Hwan Oh Trevor Rosenthal Kevin SiegristBrett Cecil N/A
 

NL West: 2017 Fantasy Baseball Closers & Saves

RotoBaller Stability Rating Team Name Current Closer Backup / Handcuff More Holds Candidates Immediate Waiver Add
Solid Diamondbacks Fernando Rodney J.J. Hoover Randall Delgado N/A
Solid Rockies Greg Holland Adam Ottavino Jake McGee, Carlos Estevez N/A
Solid Dodgers Kenley Jansen Sergio Romo, Grant Dayton Luis AvilanPedro Baez N/A
Volatile Padres Brad HandBrandon Maurer Carter Capps (INJ) Ryan Buchter Brad Hand
Solid Giants Mark Melancon Derek LawHunter Strickland Josh OsichCory Gearrin, George Kontos N/A

2017 Prospects: Top 30 Impact Rookies for Fantasy Leagues (Week 8)

Hello everyone, and welcome to my weekly Top-30 Fantasy Rankings for Impact Rookies! In this series, I will be going over the top prospects in baseball and discussing which ones figure to have an impact for the rest of this fantasy baseball season. I hope you all have enjoyed the start of conference tournaments in college baseball. Yes, I know, who watches college baseball? Well, believe it or not, it really is a great way to get a leg-up on other owners in dynasty leagues. I can tell you that next season, Clemson right fielder Seth Beer is going to be the top college bat to go in the draft (and he could be a real superstar in the making) and his teammate, shortstop Logan Davidson, has a chance to do the same in 2019. Having this kind of edge can be crucial in dynasty leagues, but knowing the prospects that are the next to be called up can be equally crucial to getting a leg-up on owners in redraft leagues as well. How did you all know Ian Happ and Cody Bellinger were going to be call ups this season? You came here and read about it. Hopefully, you will keep coming here so you can stay that one extra step above your other redraft owners.  

Top MLB Prospects - Fantasy Baseball Power Rankings

To be clear, this list is not the top 30 prospects in baseball. This is a list of the top 30 prospects who are likely going to rise to the major leagues and provide fantasy baseball value this season. The qualifications are simple: a player must not be on an active roster, they must have a clear path to the majors, and while they may have played in seasons prior to 2016, they must still have rookie eligibility. If a player is moved to the active roster of their team, they will be removed from this power rankings list and replaced.   1. Yoan Moncada (2B/3B, CWS, DL) Stats: 157 PA, .331/.401/.504, 6 HR, 10 SB, 10.8% BB rate, 27.4% K rate ETA: Mid-June On May 17, Moncada was placed on the 7-day DL with a thumb injury. It should not be considered alarming, but it still awaits to be seen how he will recover from his injury. He had been tearing it up before his injury, posting a .358/.426/.509 slash line with a pair of bombs, four steals and both an improved walk rate (11.5 percent) and strikeout rate (21.3 percent) over the month of May. At this point, he has done all he can to warrant a promotion. Expect the call to come sometime in the middle of June. 2. Lewis Brinson (OF, MIL, AAA) Stats: 139 PA, .313/.403/.496, 4 HR, 5 SB, 11.5% BB rate, 20.9% K rate ETA: Late June Keon Broxton has decided to go on a serious hot streak in the month of May after a dismal month of April. After slashing .191/.276/.324 in the season’s first month, Broxton has compiled a ridiculous .348/.384/.580 in May. But, look deeper, and there’s reason to believe that trend won’t last. First, he’s still striking out 37 percent of the time, and actually walking less than he did in April (4.1 percent compared to 7.9 percent in April). He also has an other-worldly .538 BABIP thus far. At some point, Broxton is liable to come back down to Earth, and when he does, Brinson will be there to pick up the pieces in center. Though Brinson has not been crushing Triple-A pitching in May, he has still held his own and has continued to reduce his strikeout rate and improve the walk rates (13 walks compared to 14 strikeouts in May thus far). If Brinson keeps hitting the way he has, he will be in the majors before too long. And with his power/speed combination, he could be a valuable asset for fantasy owners down the stretch. 3. Franklin Barreto (2B/SS, OAK, AAA) Stats: 189 PA, .314/.362/.500, 6 HR, 3 SB, 5.8% BB rate, 26.5% K rate ETA: Mid-July It sounds like the Athletics have a time in mind for a Barreto promotion. It appears once they start selling certain players, they will promote Barreto, which could come anytime from the end of June to the middle of July, Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. That is a really exciting thing for fantasy owners as Barreto has all the makings of a fantasy force in the majors. He has tapped into some raw power this season, while still making the most of his opportunities on the basepaths. Though the strikeouts are concerning, scouts still insist he will do fine in the majors, with one scout cited in Slusser’s article saying, “I’m impressed with how well (Barreto) is starting to turn on pitches.” At this point, it may not be a bad idea to stash him because he could be gone in a hurry once he reaches the big leagues. 4. Austin Meadows (OF, PIT, AAA) Stats: 172 PA, .229/.291/.325, 2 HR, 6 SB, 7.6% BB rate, 16.9% K rate ETA: Early July That slash line is still pretty ugly, but Meadows is making some strides toward improving it. Since May 9, he is slashing .296/.356/.444 with a home run and three stolen bases. It’s not great, but it is definitely moving in the right direction. And honestly at this point, that’s really all Pittsburgh needs to want to give him a chance. The Pirates currently sit in last in the division, and the play of the fill-in outfielders has been part of the problem. If they keep heading south as they are, Andrew McCutchen is likely going to be on the trade block in July, leaving a permanent spot open for Meadows. Expect him to be promoted to fill Starling Marte’s hole after Meadows' Super Two deadline passes, and then for him to remain in the outfield once Marte returns as Cutch will likely be headed out of the steel city. 5. Tom Murphy (C, COL, DL) Stats: NA ETA: Mid-June Murphy is making a lot of progress, and MLB’s injury report now has a “Possibly late May” ETA beside his name. A rehab stint will probably push that into June, but Murphy is clearly almost back to business. Fantasy owners who have been patient, you shall soon be rewarded. 6. Lucas Sims (SP, ATL, AAA) Stats: 45.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 3.76 FIP, 26.4% K rate, 6.2% BB rate, 12.2% HR/FB, .194 AVG ETA: Early July The Braves rotation has been atrocious to this point, as they are currently tied with Philadelphia for the second-to-worst pitching WAR according to Fangraphs. Sims, on the other hand, has done everything possible to warrant a promotion, drastically improving his walk rates while maintaining a high strikeout rate. Though the Braves also have Matt Wisler who can start, Wisler has not found near the same success this season, and has already had several unsuccessful stints in the majors. Sims appears likely to be given a shot at the rotation at some point over the summer, and with his strikeout upside, he could be a valuable starter for fantasy owners searching for some backend of the rotation guys. 7. Reynaldo Lopez (SP, CWS, AAA) Stats: 49.0 IP, 2.94 ERA, 4.06 FIP, 23.9% K rate, 11.0% BB rate, 7.7% HR/FB, .212 AVG ETA: Mid-June Lopez really struggled over his first four starts, but he has settled in at Charlotte since then. From April 28 to the present day, Lopez has a mere 1.57 ERA over 28.2 innings in five starts, including a 2.44 FIP, 24.6 percent strikeout rate and solid 8.8 percent walk rate. It appears he has rediscovered his form, and could be in line for a promotion during the middle of June once he passes his Super Two deadline (which will be a tad later than most since he saw time in the majors last season). And with his strikeout potential and middle-of-the-rotation upside, he could be a very solid piece to be owned in mixed leagues. 8. Brandon Woodruff (SP, MIL, AAA) Stats: 44.2 IP, 3.02 ERA, 3.84 FIP, 23.3% K rate, 5.0% BB rate, 8.0% HR/FB, .228 AVG ETA: Mid-June While Lopez has excelled over his past several games, Woodruff has hit a bit of a rough patch. He has allowed eight runs over his past two starts, spanning 10.1 innings. The chief source of the problems has simply been missing out in front of the plate, and as a result he has given up two long balls and 12 total hits. But he has walked only two batters in that span and has struck out 12 batters. Overall, there is no major cause for concern yet, but keep an eye on him. If the struggles persist, his stock may need to head down a bit. But if he starts pitching like he had earlier this season, he could reaffirm himself as a midseason call-up who can provide Mike Leake-esque results. 9. Derek Fisher (OF, HOU, AAA) Stats: 188 PA, .315/.380/.565, 10 HR, 7 SB, 8.0% BB rate, 22.9% K rate ETA: Early July Fisher is looking all the part of a top prospect, and could be soon taking his talents to the majors. He has one of the better power/speed combinations in the minors, and lately has shown major improvements in plate discipline (only a 15.7 percent strikeout rate since May 9). And with Nori Aoki really scuffling in May (.167/.250/.194 slash line) and Carlos Beltran struggling overall (.247/.292/.393), an opening could soon be made available for the former UVA standout. 10. Rhys Hoskins (1B, PHI, AAA) Stats: 171 PA, .315/.404/.651, 12 HR, 0 SB, 12.9% BB rate, 15.8% K rate ETA: Early July Like Fisher, Hoskins has done all he can to warrant a call up. Unfortunately for Hoskins, Tommy Joseph found his bat over the month of May, slashing .345/.418/.707. And though I am not a huge believer in Broxton’s breakout May, there is reason to believe in Joseph’s month thus far as his .385 BABIP is not crazy, and even a slight regression would still represent a solid batting average. It is very possible that Joseph is dealt at the deadline, leaving an opening for Hoskins in the majors. But at this point, it would take a serious decline for Joseph, an injury or a trade for Hoskins to see regular PT in the majors. 11. Amed Rosario (SS, NYM, AAA) Stats: 191 PA, .360/.398/.537, 4 HR, 8 SB, 5.8% BB rate, 13.6% K rate ETA: Late June The Mets are really spiraling out of control, and as crazy as it sounds, they might be sellers at the deadline. But even if they aren’t they still have some issues to settle on the left-side of the infield with Asdrubal Cabrera still recovering from injury and Jose Reyes mired in a terrible season. Some are still unsure about whether or not Rosario is truly ready for the majors, but at this point, it seems likely he may at least be given a chance to shine after his Super Two deadline. Anything at this point to take the mind of fans off this dismal season. 12. Jacob Faria (SP, TB, AAA) Stats: 47.2 IP, 3.40 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 35.2% K rate, 9.4% BB rate, 16.7% HR/FB, .214 AVG ETA: Early June The strikeout king of the minors, Faria has established himself as one of the top arms in the Rays’ farm system. At the moment, he even appears to be higher up in the depth chart than other prospects like Brent Honeywell and Jose De Leon who may be kept in the minors longer for service time reasons. And though Erasmo Ramirez has filled in for Blake Snell admirably, he is still probably more valuable as a reliever, and Matt Andriese has some concerning peripherals. The Rays may turn to Faria at some point in the near future to give them some innings, and with his insane strikeout rates this season, he could be mighty valuable in mixed leagues. 13. Zack Burdi (RP, CWS, AAA) Stats: 17.2 IP, 2.04 ERA, 1.72 FIP, 34.6% K rate, 7.7% BB rate, 0.0% HR/FB, .188 AVG ETA: Late June The White Sox have had a better season than most probably had them pegged for, but they are still certainly going to be sellers at the deadline. And with several attractive bullpen arms, they are certainly going to be auctioning off relievers, leaving many holes in their pen. One such hole will likely be the closer spot, and it seems very possible that spot could be filled by Zack Burdi who has looked all the part of franchise closer at Triple-A this season. Even if he doesn’t immediately grab the closer’s role, his insane strikeout upside makes him worthy of an own in many leagues. 14. Ronald Guzman (1B, TEX, AAA) Stats: 187 PA, .304/.374/.446, 5 HR, 1 SB, 8.6% BB rate, 16.0% K rate ETA: Mid-June Mike Napoli has been slightly better in May, but that’s almost strictly from a power perspective. His slugging percentage for the month is at .600, but his average is still a measly .246 and his on-base percentage is just .311, while the strikeouts remain high at 28.4 percent. Guzman, on the other hand, has struggled a bit more in May, but overall has outstanding numbers this season. He is still young, but has the talent to man a regular position in the majors. If he gets a chance, his ability to reach base at an incredibly high rate and knock a couple homers makes him a worthy own in deeper redraft leagues. 15. Yandy Diaz (3B, CLE, AAA) Stats: 86 PA, .343/.447/.514, 2 HR, 0 SB, 16.3% BB rate, 12.8% K rate ETA: Early July Diaz just knows how to hit. He isn’t a great power hitter and won’t steal many bases, but he is a pure hitter who knows how to reach base as well as anybody. Unfortunately for him, there is not much of a clearing in Cleveland for him to find playing time. Should he find it, he’s got that hit tool that makes him worth owning in mixed leagues, but he has not clear path to PT yet. He could be a trade chip, however, and could start nearly anywhere else but Cleveland. 16. Luke Weaver (SP, STL, AAA) Stats: 27.0 IP, 1.67 ERA, 2.42 FIP, 25.5% K rate, 1.0% BB rate, 4.8% HR/FB, .227 AVG ETA: Early July Weaver just needs something, anything to happen for him to start in the majors. He has completely dominated Triple-A so far, and is clearly the Cardinals’ sixth man in case of an injury. But thus far, nothing has happened to suggest the team may be calling him up. Even though Lance Lynn and Adam Wainwright haven’t been great so far this year, neither of them are going to lose their rotation spots to a rookie anytime soon. But should you see any concerning signs in St. Louis of a possible injury in the rotation, Weaver should immediately become your top waiver priority. 17. Jeimer Candelario (3B, CHC, AAA) Stats: 132 PA, .325/.417/.675, 7 HR, 0 SB, 12.1% BB rate, 23.5% K rate ETA: Late July/Early August Candelario could have done a bit better in his big-league debut, but he did hold down a spot on the team for a fair amount of time. But I’m going to put the same thing about him now that I had before he was promoted: his only hope for a ton of fantasy production this season comes from a trade. He seems the most likely trade candidate Chicago has, which is a promising sign for owners still holding onto the talented third baseman. He would become a starter nearly anywhere he is traded, but that trade still needs to take place. 18. A.J. Reed (1B, HOU, AAA) Stats: 177 PA, .276/.379/.454, 5 HR, 0 SB, 14.1% BB rate, 28.2% K rate ETA: Early August Going back to the few struggles of the Astros, it is safe to say Yulieski Gurriel has not been quite as advertised. He has not been awful by any means, but he is only slashing .268/.300/.387 with just three homers. It’s not bad, but it’s not good either. Meanwhile, Reed has shown more offensive promise, walking a ton and continuing to flash plus power. But that strikeout rate is still scary. And that rate has only gone up in May, as it has been 29.5 percent so far this month. He has the potential to be a real impact player in the majors, but he still has a ways to go before he’s ready for a second-look in the majors. 19. Rafael Devers (3B, BOS, AA) Stats: 144 PA, .320/.389/.555, 7 HR, 0 SB, 10.4% BB rate, 18.1% K rate ETA: Early August The calls for Devers to be promoted to the majors have been coming from everywhere. Recently, Dave Cameron of Fangraphs, wrote a piece about why a Devers promotion makes the most sense for Boston, and I tend to agree with him. But, it’s not up to me or Cameron. It’s up to the Boston brass. And if Boston can find an external solution on the trade market, they may be more likely to that route given Devers’ youth. Should Devers find himself on that MLB roster this season, however, his insane offensive upside would demand ownership in nearly all leagues. 20. Jose De Leon (SP, TB, A+) Stats: 8.1 IP, 2.16 ERA, 1.27 FIP, 37.5% K rate, 6.3% BB rate, 0.0% HR/FB, .167 AVG ETA: Early August De Leon has looked completely unhittable since returning from his injury . . . but it has been against High-A batters thus far. Before he completely skyrockets on this list, he will need to prove he still has it against batters at higher levels. But he has the potential to display real helium if he can continue to dominate, and might already be worth a stash in some leagues. Just keep in mind that he still has a little ways to go before the Rays are going to send him to their big-league rotation. 21. Dan Vogelbach (1B, SEA, AAA) Stats: 124 PA, .262/.379/.447, 5 HR, 1 SB, 15.3% BB rate, 19.4% K rate ETA: Early June 22. Carson Kelly (C, STL, AAA) Stats: 127 PA, .321/.402/.527, 5 HR, 0 SB, 10.2% BB rate, 15.0% K rate ETA: Early August 23. Nick Burdi (RP, MIN, AA) Stats: 17.0 IP, 0.53 ERA, 2.17 FIP, 32.8% K rate, 6.6% BB rate, 7.7% HR/FB, .158 AVG ETA: Early July 24. Patrick Weigel (SP, ATL, AAA) Stats: 45.1 IP, 4.57 ERA, 3.28 FIP, 23.0% K rate, 6.3% BB rate, 8.3% HR/FB, .261 AVG ETA: Early August 25. Ozzie Albies (2B/SS, ATL, AAA) Stats: 186 PA, .259/.308/.388, 2 HR, 13 SB, 7.0% BB rate, 22.6% K rate ETA: Early August 26. Jesse Winker (OF, CIN, AAA) Stats: 167 PA, .290/.365/.359, 1 HR, 0 SB, 10.8% BB rate, 13.2% K rate ETA: Early August 27. Dominic Smith (1B, NYM, AAA) Stats: 198 PA, .320/.379/.481, 5 HR, 0 SB, 8.1% BB rate, 14.6% K rate ETA: Early August 28. Jae-Gyun Hwang (3B, SF, AAA) Stats: 162 PA, .277/.296/.426, 3 HR, 3 SB, 3.1% BB rate, 18.5% K rate ETA: Early August 29. Dinelson Lamet (SP, SD, AAA) Stats: 39.0 IP, 3.23 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 29.9% K rate, 12.0% BB rate, 7.1% HR/FB, .219 AVG ETA: Late May 30. David Paulino (SP, HOU, AAA) Stats: 9.0 IP, 3.00 ERA, 6.35 FIP, 27.0% K rate, 16.2% BB rate, 14.3% HR/FB, .129 AVG ETA: Early August  

MLB Rookie Rankings

1. Aaron Judge (OF, NYY) 2. Cody Bellinger (1B/OF, LAD) 3. Andrew Benintendi (OF, BOS) 4. Josh Bell (1B/OF, PIT) 5. Manuel Margot (OF, SD) 6. Chad Pinder (SS, OAK) 7. Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA) 8. Trey Mancini (1B, BAL) 9. Jordan Montgomery (SP, NYY) 10. German Marquez (SP, COL) 11. Jorge Bonifacio (OF, KC) 12. Hunter Renfroe (OF, SD) 13. Kyle Freeland (SP, COL) 14. James Pazos (RP, SEA) 15. Ben Gamel (OF, SEA) 16. Matt Davidson (3B, CWS) 17. Jharel Cotton (SP, OAK) 18. Antonio Senzatela (SP, COL) 19. Dansby Swanson (SS, ATL) 20. Carl Edwards Jr. (RP, CHC)

Week 8 Waiver Wire: Outfield

Welcome back to the Outfield Waiver Wire, where we look at the best outfielders available in at least 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. Consider this column your recommendations for Week 8 outfield waiver wire pickups. We're getting a bit deeper into the season now, but there are still plenty of guys who can help you floating around on the waiver wire. Not every move can be a blockbuster. Value is value, wherever you can find it. This column is designed to help you do just that. Let's get down to business.  

Week 8 Outfield (OF) Waiver Wire Targets

Josh Bell, 1B/OF, Pittsburgh Pirates (46% owned) Two weeks into the season, Bell was hitting a putrid .200/.273/.250 with only two extra-base hits, both doubles. In the month since, Bell has been outstanding. He's hit nine home runs, tying him with Cody Bellinger for second among all rookies. The newfound power has helped him hit .269/.358/.624 over that span, with 35 R+RBI. It's also led to some time in the cleanup spot recently. David Peralta, OF, Arizona Diamondbacks (43%) Peralta continues to be an underappreciated fantasy asset. After injuries derailed his season last year, the 29-year-old has picked up right where left off during his 2015 breakout. A pinch-hit single on Sunday raised his overall line to a robust .324/.372/.493, with four homers, four stolen bases, and 23 runs scored. That batting average ranks 17th in baseball among qualified hitters, and given today's strikeout-heavy environment, high-average hitters are tougher to find than they used to be. Peralta's one of them, and he's got pop, speed, and hits second in a potent lineup. Ian Happ, 2B/OF, Chicago Cubs (40%) A week ago, it seemed difficult to find enough at-bats for Happ to maintain fantasy relevance on a loaded Cubs roster. With how well he's performed, though, it now seems equally difficult to imagine him returning to the minor leagues. The 22-year-old phenom has slashed .346/.452/.731 with a pair of homers as Chicago has almost immediately installed him as both center fielder and cleanup hitter. There's been a lot of swing-and-miss to his game in his MLB debut, but he's also drawn five walks. Happ has some speed as well, having swiped 16 bags across two levels of the minors last season. Domingo Santana, OF, Milwaukee Brewers (27%) As a Phillies fan who remembers his rookie-ball debut, it feels like Santana has been around forever, but he's still just 24 years old. He's also improved every season at the MLB level so far. Even last year, when he battled myriad injuries, Santana saw his numbers tick up across the board. To this point in 2017, the hulking right fielder has chopped a half-dozen points from his strikeout rate. He's hitting .273/.370/.439 with five homers, four steals, and 41 R+RBI. Over the last three weeks, he's gone hitless just four times and slashed .373/.462/.552. Yet his ownership rate has barely budged. Time to take notice. Josh Reddick, OF, Houston Astros (23%) Through his first month as an Astro, Reddick was hitting .281, but hadn't produced much beyond that. He had just a single home run and was 1-for-2 on stolen base attempts. Since then, while he hasn't added to the latter, he has gone deep five times. Despite a .239 BABIP during that 15-game span, he's hit .276/.348/.569 with 22 R+RBI. Reddick has hit second in the Houston lineup most of the season, so the run-scoring opportunities figure to continue rolling in. He's especially worth consideration in points leagues due to his extremely low strikeout rate.  

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Strikeout Rate Risers and Fallers for Week 7: Buy or Sell?

We’re constantly trying to come up with new features that will help you dominate your fantasy leagues. Last year, we built a tool that identifies the biggest trends in a pitcher's strikeout rate over the last thirty days. With our sample size being so small this early in the season though, we will look at the difference between pitchers' final 2016 K-Rate and their current K-Rate through two to three starts. Missing bats is the #1 way a pitcher can control his own fate. If hitters make contact, the pitcher is largely at the mercy of the atmosphere, the weather, the ball park, the ability/work ethic of his fielders, and sometimes just sheer luck. This is ultimately why strikeouts are so important.  By looking at pitchers with positive trends in their strikeout rate, we can spot improving or declining pitchers. If the K-rate is improving, but the ERA and WHIP are less than ideal, it can present a buying opportunity. On the flip side, you may want to sell a pitcher with a declining K-rate, if he wasn't supposed to be that good to begin with. This particular article will focus on two strikeout rate risers and two fallers, and make an attempt to determine how you should treat each pitcher.  

K-Rate Risers and Fallers - Premium Tool

Identifying top strikeout rate risers and fallers for each week can help you spot the best pickups before your competition. RotoBaller's Premium K-Rate Risers and Fallers tool has you covered every day. As thoughtful fantasy baseball players, we won't lead you astray. This tool will soon be active once we have a large enough sample size in the season to be considered reliable. This type of data is available as part of our Premium MLB Subscription. Don't settle for basic stats and surface-level advice from other sites. RotoBaller brings you advanced statistics and professional analysis that you need to win your fantasy leagues and DFS games, because we're ballers just like you. We are your secret weapon!  

K-Rate Risers

Nate Karns, Kansas City Royals Season K-Rate: 28%, Last 30 K-Rate: 34% Nate Karns has pitched in a different uniform each of the past three seasons, landing on the Royals in 2017. Luckily for them, Karns saved his best strikeout work for this season. For his career he holds a 9.36 K/9, 2.56 K/BB, and a 4.42 ERA. Through seven starts this season he holds a 4.46 ERA, but that comes with a 10.71 K/9 and 3.69 K/BB. Across three May starts he has racked up two quality starts with a 29:4 K:BB. Karns has been mixing in his changeup more this season, throwing it 5% more than last season at the expense of his fastball. It has held opponents to a .185 batting average against, and induces ground balls at a career-high 61.9% rate. His knuckle-curve has also been extremely impressive this season, generating a 25.6% swinging strike rate (SwStr%) and a .169 BAA. Though his hard contact is up 1.6% this season from last (32% in 2017), he has increased his soft contact to 23% (up 4.3%). Karns has been a victim of the long ball this season with an inflated 19.6% HR/FB rate, after allowing four HR in one game last month against the Rangers. His contact % is the lowest of his career at 72.7%, 10th best among all starters this season. He also has a healthy 31.6% outside swing %, meaning hitters aren’t making contact because they’re swinging at Karns’ nasty curve, which falls out of the zone generating a ton of strikeouts. Karns looks legit in a Royals uniform, and I’m buying the improvements I’m seeing from him. He can be a valuable middle of the rotation starter if he keeps up these changes in his approach. Verdict: Buy   Jake Odorizzi, Tampa Bay Rays Season K-Rate: 20%, Last 30 K-Rate: 33% Outside of a hamstring injury that placed him on the disabled list, it’s been an encouraging start to the season for Jake Odorizzi. Through seven starts he has thrown 37 innings with a 3.16 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, making his biggest strides in his walk rates. His BB% went from 7% last season down to 4.9% this season, resulting in him walking nearly a full hitter less per nine innings. For a pitcher who struggled to make it through six innings last inning, this is welcoming news. Though his pitch selection and velocities remain similar to last season, its easy to see some of the improvements he’s made: he holds a .193 BAA, his hard contact is down from last season, and he holds the highest SwStr% of his career at 11.8%. There is also some cause for concern however. His BABIP is at an unsustainably low .192 right now, which should move closer to his career .274 moving forward. His line drive % is at 27.6%, which is second in the league among starters. He has dropped his hard contact, but his soft contact has fallen as well. He has been able to minimize the damage against him so far, but we could see some regression coming for him soon. Even if some regression does come, Odorizzi has been able to out-pitch his peripherals each of the past two seasons while holding a mid-3.00 ERA. This may be a good time to sell Odorizzi while his value is at its peak, but if you hold him you’ll have a valuable middle of the rotation arm for the entire season. Verdict: Sell/Hold  

K-Rate Fallers

Luis Severino, New York Yankees Season K-Rate: 28%, Last 30 K-Rate: 21% One of the biggest question marks in the Yankees rotation heading into the season was Luis Severino. He’s shown flashes of his potential early in his career, but had been inconsistent in his play. This season he came out blazing with two double-digit strikeout games in his first three starts. His April starts were loaded with strikeouts, but in May we’ve seen some of that inconsistent play pop up again. In April opposing hitters hit only .175/.208/.309 over 27 innings against Severino, with a 32.7% K%. In 20 May innings, that line rose to .281/.363/.463, with a 22.8% K%. His BB% is also trending in the wrong direction, rising from 4% to 9.8%. What caused these drastic changes? The problem is nothing changed; Severino has just become more predictable and hitters have caught on to his approach. Below you can see the pitch locations for his fastball and slider over the first month of the season, then over his second month. You can see his pitches have become more centralized, causing his contact % to rise, his SwStr% to fall, and his hard hit % to rise 10%. It is now Severino’s turn to adjust, and if he can he has clearly shown he can have stretches of dominant play. I would be buying Severino now while his value is relatively low. A minor adjustment is all he needs to return to form. Verdict: Buy   Drew Pomeranz, Boston Red Sox Season K-Rate: 26%, Last 30 K-Rate: 22% When the Red Sox acquired Drew Pomeranz, he held a 2.47 ERA and 1.06 WHIP over 17 starts with the Padres. He hasn’t carried that same success with him over to the Sox. Though 20 total starts, he holds a 4.82 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. His strikeout rate is up from last season, but over his past few starts the strikeouts have gone down. He left his last start with triceps tightness, but luckily did not have to miss a start. He was able to last four innings on Saturday while striking out six. It took him 97 pitches to get through those innings. Pomeranz has had a tough time keeping the ball in the yard in his time with the Sox, with a 19.7% HR/FB last season and an 18.9% HR/FB this season. His soft contact % is up this season, but his hard hit % is still at 35.1%. He had similar results to this while he was pitching for the Rockies, though his strikeout rate is much improved since then. It wasn’t until he went to an excellent pitchers environments in Oakland and San Diego before he succeeded. He is using the same mix of pitches and velocities as years past, but since he’s gotten to Boston the positive results have been inconsistent at best. His current FIP/xFIP of 4.65/3.81 show some positive regression are coming his way, though with the difficulty of his division and the ballpark he’s in he may not see the results fantasy owners were looking for when they drafted him. Pomeranz has struggled mightily in his time with the Red Sox, and while the strikeout numbers may be there it’s hard to stomach that ERA. Now isn’t the time to sell with how poorly he’s pitching and his minor injury, but keep expectations in check for the lefty moving forward. Verdict: Hold/Sell  

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Using Sabermetrics For Fantasy Baseball Part 13: Barrels For Pitchers

Last time, we looked at Barrels, a stat combining exit velocity and launch angle to measure how often a batter makes quality hard contact. As much as batters want to hit a Barrel every time, pitchers want to avoid them at all costs. Yet there is some evidence that pitchers do not have the same influence over Barrels as a batter does. While Miguel Cabrera led all of baseball last year with 72 Barrels, Hector Santiago led all pitchers by coughing up 49. Neither performance was an outlier, so it seems to take fewer Barrels to lead pitchers in Barrels given up than it does to lead hitters in Barrels hit. This fits well with DIPS theory, which states that batters can do more to influence batted balls than pitchers can. It is also not fantasy-relevant, as Hector Santiago is only a fantasy factor in the deepest of leagues. Second place went to Yordano Ventura, who sadly will not get the opportunity to prove that the 43 Barrels he allowed last year were a fluke. Third was James Shields (42 Barrels allowed), who seems like a lost cause even without considering Barrels. Fourth was a three way tie between Jake Odorizzi, Chris Archer, and Justin Verlander at 41 Barrels allowed each. Apologies to the admittedly interesting Odorizzi, but the other two are expected to carry fantasy staffs this year. Let's focus our analysis on them.  

How to Interpret Batted Ball Statistics

As we previously learned, we have retroactive Barrels data for 2015 in addition to last year's numbers. Would 2015 data have been predictive during last year's draft season? Sadly, the answer is no. The leaderboard was populated exclusively by non-factors, including Colby Lewis (50 Barrels), Dan Haren (48), Taijuan Walker (45), Aaron Harang, and Edinson Volquez (44 each). Walker's owners were too early, but his price reflected that he was far from a sure thing already. If we switch to Brls/BBE instead of raw Barrels, we get another disappointing list with a small sample size caveat: Drew Smiley, Henry Owens, Evan Scribner, Fernando Salas, and Matt Cain. There is nothing remotely similar to Chris Carter's 2015 Brls/BBE leading to a HR title the next year. So, I cheated a little by scrolling down the list until I came up with a name who disappointed in 2016. Both James Shields and Wei-Yen Chen allowed 38 Barrels in 2015 before falling apart completely last year. Neither was regarded as an ace, but they were seen as reasonable back end guys for fantasy purposes last year. I thought I had something until I saw Masahiro Tanaka's name with 36 Barrels allowed in 100 fewer batted ball events. He was fine last year, complicating my argument. What about Archer and Verlander themselves? Neither struggled with Barrels in 2015, both posting a rate of 5.3 percent Brls/BBE. Verlander allowed 18 Barrels overall, while Archer gave up 24. In the case of Miguel Cabrera's discrepancy between 2015 and 2016, his elite track record allowed me to project 2016 as his baseline with confidence. Archer is relatively young, while Verlander reinvented himself to the point that his prior track record may no longer be applicable. With only two years of data, I can't predict which season was the fluke. Ultimately, Brls/BBE has a long way to go before fantasy owners should use it for pitcher analysis. I think the performances of Archer and Verlander this year will go a long way toward determining how much we trust the stat in the future, as will the ability to establish a three-year baseline to compare players to. I've personally been avoiding both Verlander and Archer as a precaution in my drafts, but I can't definitively say that is the right call.  

Conclusion

This concludes my 2016 series on using sabermetrics for fantasy baseball analysis. Hopefully, this series helped you understand some of the more abstract statistics utilized by fantasy writers on Rotoballer and elsewhere. If so, you are equipped to win your leagues in 2017!  

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Using Sabermetrics for Fantasy Baseball Part 12 - Barrels for Batters

If you've watched a baseball broadcast in the so-called Statcast Era, you have undoubtedly noticed the broadcasters commenting on a batted ball's exit velocity, or EV. Many have taken to using stats like Hard% and Soft% to forecast how a player should be performing, expecting larger Hard% rates to produce larger BABIP figures. There is a relationship there, but it is not as clear-cut as you might think. The hardest batted ball of the 2016 season was struck by Avisail Garcia against somebody named Tyler Wilson. It was clocked at 125.2 mph and resulted in a ground out. The silver medal goes to Luis Valbuena, who grounded out against Mike Pelfrey. Third place was a double play off the bat of David Freese. You won't find a hit until the the fifth place EV, and it was only a single. The first extra base hit ranked ninth, and you have to go all the way to 18th to get to a home run. Along the way you find a ton of ground balls that MLB infielders can handle no matter how hard they are struck. Clearly, exit velocity is not enough on its own. It works better if you filter out ground balls, but most analysts I've seen do not do so. Baseball broadcasts will cite Launch Angle (LA) to complement their EV figures, but it is given in terms of degrees. Am I evaluating a baseball player or trying to find the hypotenuse of an isosceles triangle? Let's simplify things a bit to see how these numbers can actually benefit our own analysis.  

How to Interpret Batted Ball Statistics

They do not do a good job of publicizing it, but LA is actually fairly simple to understand. Here is the batted ball type produced by the various degree measurements: Batted Ball Type                 Launch Angle Ground ball                          Less than 10 degrees Line Drive                             10-25 degrees Fly ball                                    25-50 degrees Pop-up                                    More than 50 degrees Most batters want to live in the 10-50 degree range, as grounders rarely produce power while pop-ups rarely produce anything other than easy outs. Well-struck balls in this range of launch angles are the batted balls that fantasy owners are most interested in. A new stat called "Barrels" filters out everything else, allowing us to evaluate who is hitting the most of these high-value batted balls. A Barrel is defined as "a ball with a combination of exit velocity and launch angle that averages at least a .500 batting average and 1.500 slugging percentage." It should be noted that the numbers above are only a minimum threshold, as Barrels produced an .822 batting average and 2.386 slugging in 2016. In this respect, the stat is like a Quality Start. It is possible to register a QS with an ERA of 4.50, but the actual avearge ERA of all MLB Quality Starts falls well below 4.50. The range of EVs and LAs that combine to form Barrels are called the Barrel Zone. This means that higher EVs can compensate for less ideal LAs to produce the .500/1.500 minimum. Don't worry too much about this relationship. At a minimum, it must have an EV of at least 98 mph and fall within the 10-50 degree LA range. We care about fantasy production, not the intricacies of a mathematical relationship. With this in mind, Miguel Cabrera led baseball in Barrels last year with 72. He was followed by Nelson Cruz (68), Mark Trumbo (67), Khris Davis (65), and David Ortiz (62). This group passes the sniff test, as it seems like a collection of guys who consistently make high quality contact. Likewise, Billy Hamilton managed only one Barrel all year, living up to his reputation of weak contact. Still, we already knew this. What do Barrels add to the equation? They become more instructive when you stop looking at them as a counting stat and start examining them as a rate stat. By taking the number of Barrels and dividing by the total number of Batted Ball Events, we get a percentage that tells us how frequently a player's batted balls are Barrels. Gary Sanchez topped this list in 2016 with an 18.8 percent Brls/BBE figure, followed by Byung Ho Park (18.7 percent), Khris Davis (18.2 percent), Nelson Cruz, and Chris Carter (17.8 percent each). Cabrera's 16.5 percent rate ranked ninth, suggesting that his PAs were partially responsible for leading the league in Barrels last year.  More importantly, Sanchez, Park, and Davis all seem more attractive in light of this data. This data was not available back in 2015, but data for that year is available now. If we had it at this time last year, Chris Carter could have been an attractive sleeper in fantasy due to his 18.7 percent Brls/BBE in limited 2015 playing time. He led the NL in homers last year with 41, so he was a sleeper worth owning. Likewise, Giancarlo Stanton's amazing 2015 (he hit 27 bombs in 318 PAs) was fueled by a 32.5 percent Brls/BBE, over 10 points higher than the league's second best performance (Miguel Sano's 22.4 percent rate in limited time). We don't know the baselines for this stat yet, but Stanton's performance was almost certainly an outlier. Sure enough, he regressed to a still strong 17.3 percent Brls/BBE last season. Like BABIP, Brls/BBE also seems prone to random fluctuation. Miguel Cabrera posted a Brls/BBE rate of 11.3 percent in 2015. That does not suggest he was a year away from leading MLB in Barrels at all. Considering Cabrera's reputation as one of the best hitters in the game and a career BABIP of .347 despite never possessing speed or a ton of liners (22.1 percent career LD%), I'd wager that his career rate is well above his 2015 mark. The stat could have been used to forecast positive regression last year.  

Conclusion

Barrels are an interesting tool, but the lack of a clearly established baseline makes using them more uncertain than the previous metrics we looked at. LA is historically not the stickiest of stats, but certain players such as Christian Yelich seem to have a swing that reliably produces more ground balls than anything else. Many players are planning to change their swings to produce better launch angles this year, but it remains to be seen if they can actually do so. For now, consider Barrels and Brls/BBE only as a component of a larger analysis. They should not be solely relied upon--yet. Next time, we'll look at pitchers who give up Barrels. As you may have guessed, you really do not want to be a pitcher who gives up a lot of Barrels.  

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Using Sabermetrics For Fantasy Baseball Part 11 - Minor League Stats

Once you've grown accustomed to having advanced tools to help make fantasy decisions, it can feel disorientating to be without them. Prospects are increasingly becoming a focal point in both real and fantasy baseball, but the minors simply do not have all of the data available for MLB players. For example, advanced plate discipline stats, batted ball data, HR/FB, xFIP and PITCHf/x are all currently unavailable for minor league campaigns. Does this mean we go back to looking at ERA and batting average as the only indicators of future performance? Of course not! Instead, we do our best to work with what we have. The process begins by looking at the environment. Higher levels of competition result in more accurate data, so you should start by excluding anything lower than Double-A if a player's track record allows it. In this article, you will learn how to effectively use this data to give you an edge in your fantasy baseball league throughout the season.  

How to Interpret Minor League Stats

Like MLB, each minor league and ballpark has its own unique quirks and tendencies, skewing the results in one way or another. For example, the Pacific Coast League is a Triple-A league notorious for inflating offensive statistics. Imagine if an entire league played in Coors Field every game. That's basically the PCL. For PCL players, a batting line may look good at first glance, but really represent only an average performance. Likewise, pitchers may put up dreadful numbers even after they are ready for the Show. For instance, three years ago a certain PCL pitcher put up a 9-7 record with a 4.60 ERA in 133 IP in 2014. His K% was a robust 24.9%, but none of his other stats screamed MLB ready. However, some fantasy owners noticed that his BABIP against was a ludicrous .378, a number that would almost certainly regress in a different environment. The pitcher never ran a BABIP that high in any other minor league stop. His LOB% of 67.2% would likely climb as the BABIP dropped. We do have FIP for minor leaguers, and this pitcher's was 3.70--still not great, but much better than his ERA. Despite the ugly Triple-A results in 2014, this pitcher pitched in the majors for 150 innings in 2015. His 9-7 record repeated itself, but his ERA fell to 3.24, right in line with a FIP of 3.25. The K% he flashed in the PCL translated to the majors, where he posted an elite 27.5 percent rate. His name is Noah Syndergaard, and he definitely had owners, who took his 2014 numbers as indicative of his ability, kicking themselves by the end of 2015. Nothing changed last year, as Syndergaard went 14-9 with a 2.60 ERA and 29.3 percent K%. Clearly, he was MLB-ready despite ugly PCL numbers. If memorizing each league's tendencies is too overwhelming for you, you can look at Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) as a shortcut. This metric sets 100 as the league's average offensive output, with each number higher or lower representing a one percent difference in either direction. This means that a wRC+ of 95 is five percent worse than league average, while a mark of 110 is 10 percent better. While the formula does not directly translate to fantasy value, park and league adjustments are already included in the calculation. Another common problem with minor league statistics is sample size. It is easier to run an unsustainable BABIP or HR/FB in a small sample than a larger one. The minor leagues compound this problem by allowing a healthy player to be called up or demoted multiple times in one season, leaving us with two or more partial season samples instead of one full season of statistics. Astros shortstop Carlos Correa illustrates this, as he had a grant total of 246 PAs at Double-A and Triple-A combined before his MLB call up in 2015. Due to the small sample, Correa's BABIP was unreliable. In this situation, I like to examine the player's plate discipline numbers because they stabilize (or become predictive) more quickly. At Double-A, Correa had an 11.3 percent BB% against an 18.8 percent K%, indicating a strong knowledge of the zone. Triple-A saw his BB% drop slightly to 10.6 percent, but a drop in K% to 12.4 percent made his overall plate discipline profile stronger. Correa posted a 9.3 percent BB% and 18.1 percent K% en route to his Rookie of the Year award in 2015. Correa was even more willing to walk last season (11.4 percent BB%), but struck out a little more often as the league adjusted to him (21.1 percent K%). Plate discipline is harder in the majors than the minors, and we don't have the additional information provided by metrics such as O-Swing%. Still, Correa seemed to possess strong discipline in the minors and managed to take it with him as soon as he was called up to the bigs. In general, a player won't be completely over-matched in the majors if he had strong plate discipline numbers in the minors. The minor leagues do not have scouting at anywhere near the level of MLB, so dead pull hitters that manage to hit the ball hard every time tend to have very high BABIPs on the farm. In the majors, these players are confronted with shifts that tend to reduce their BABIPs far below their minor league history. Stealing bases is also easier in the minors, but elite success rates are still something to look for when projecting fast players. Age is also a factor for minor leaguers, as a 28-year-old dominating a bunch of teenagers at Rookie ball isn't really that impressive.  

Conclusion

To conclude, the fact that we do not know a minor leaguer's LD% or BABIP on ground balls does not prevent us from analyzing minor league players for fantasy purposes. We have tools such as BABIP and BB% for hitters and FIP and LOB% for pitchers. We can still place these numbers into context by examining any given league's tendencies. Finding rookie breakouts before they happen is still challenging, but that's what makes it a worthy endeavor. Our next article will look at Statcast data, breaking down abstract numbers such as exit velocity and launch angle to produce an easy to understand metric called Barrels.    

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Using Sabermetrics For Fantasy Baseball Part 10: PITCHf/x

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 numerous ways to analyze player performance. PITCHf/x is a publicly available pitch tracking system that provides a lot of different data to help fantasy owners make this determination for mound breakouts and busts alike. In this article, you will learn how to effectively use this data to give you an edge in your fantasy baseball league throughout the season. Editor's note: Be sure to check out all our strategy articles on how to win your fantasy baseball leagues. Our Sabermetrics series - Part 1: BABIP for Hitters, Part 2: HR/FB%Part 3: Batted Ball Distribution, Part 4: Plate Discipline; Part 5, Pull %Part 6: Lineup Slot and Counting Stats, Part 7: FIP and xFIPPoints League Primer; Using SIERA to Win Your League; How Your Brain Messes with Your Drafts; and Why You Shouldn't Overpay for Saves.  

How to Interpret PITCHf/x Data

The first data point, and the easiest to understand, is velocity. Generally speaking, a pitcher that loses fastball velocity is losing something to either an undisclosed injury or the aging process. Pitchers that gain velocity can expect to increase their production. For example, Seattle's James Paxton increased his average fastball velocity from 94.1 mph in 2015 to 96.7 last season, striking out more batters (18.9 percent K% in 2015 to 22.9 percent last year) as a result. The average major league heater was 92.6 mph in 2016, though of course a pitcher's established baseline is a better indicator of future performance. Other variables like movement and location also matter, but velocity is a good introduction to using PITCHf/x data. Slightly more advanced is pitch mix, or what pitches a pitcher throws and how often he throws them. A pitcher may improve his production by abandoning a poor pitch or developing a new, effective one. This is a good stat to consult if a pitcher sees a sharp change in his GB% or K%, as a change in pitch mix could represent the change in approach that justifies the new number. If the change does not have a corresponding pitch mix shift, it may be less sustainable. For example, consider Johnny Cueto. His GB% increased last year relative to 2015, 42.4 percent GB% to 50.2 percent. His K% spiked in the same time frame, from 20.3 percent to 22.5 percent. Are these numbers the result of random fluctuation, or did Cueto change his pitch selection to bring them about? PITCHf/x tracks each pitch's individual results, so any change in pitch selection can be evaluated by comparing an offering's usage percentage and its performance, in this case GB% and SwStr%. The biggest change in Cueto's pitch selection was that he threw fewer heaters (30.6 percent to 23.2 percent) in favor of sliders (11.9 percent to 19.3 percent) relative to 2015. Cueto's fastball posted the lowest GB% in his arsenal with a rate of 38.1 percent. The slider produced a 50.3 percent rate, so additional sliders at the expense of fastballs would indeed be expected to increase Cueto's GB%. Cueto's strikeouts are not supported by the switch however. His big K pitch is his change, which compensates for a low Zone% of 35.2 percent with a strong SwStr% (18.4 percent) and chase rate (43.6 percent). His heater sets this up well with a Zone% (55.6 percent) that gets him ahead in the count while also boasting a strong SwStr% (9.7 percent). The slider is weaker on both fronts (52.5 percent Zone% and 8 percent SwStr%), so we would expect more Ks from the fastball. Cueto's strikeout rate is due for regression. The same type of analysis may be performed for a number of other stats, including FB%, LD%, BB%, HR/FB and even BABIP. There is no point in looking at a league average pitch mix, as every pitcher owns a different arsenal. All of these variables may be considered over a pitcher's complete repertoire to determine how good he is (or should be) without relying on any conventional metrics. This can be good for identifying sleepers, as pitchers that have one or two stand out pitches could break out by simply using them more often. Let's have some fun with our example and look at Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw threw four different pitches in 2016: a fastball 50.5 percent of the time, a slider 33.3 percent of the time, a curve 15.6 percent of the time, and a change 0.6 percent of the time. The change was thrown 13 times over the entire season, so it may have been a misrecorded slider or a rare mistake pitch. At any rate, the sample size is too small to consider it in this discussion, leaving three offerings for our analysis. His fastball registered a Zone% of 62.8 percent, explaining how he barely walked anyone (11 all season). Most pitchers who live in the zone like this get hammered, but Kershaw is not an average pitcher. The heater recorded an above average 9 percent SwStr% despite living in the zone, allowing batters to hit only .246/.269/.371 (AVG/OBP/SLG) against it. It was a good pitch, but not enough to make Kershaw his vintage self. That is what the slider is for. It was only a strike 46.6 percent of the time, but compensated by making hitters chase it at a whopping 47.7 percent clip. That helped give it a SwStr% of 25.7 percent, absolutely obliterating the league's 10.1 percent SwStr% rate and explaining how Kershaw compiled 172 Ks in just 149 IP last year. Kershaw also has a curveball. It was a strike even less frequently than the slider at 32.4 percent, and also posted a mediocre O-Swing% of 31.8 percent. This gave it a SwStr% of 14.6 percent--very good, but inferior to Kershaw's slider. Why throw it? Sometimes, hitters actually put the ball in play. Batters managed a triple slash line of only .118/.118/.161 against Kershaw's curveball in 2016, compared to .138/.152/.191 against the slider and .246/.269/.371 against the heat. All three are well above average, and Kershaw's arsenal is an embarrassment of riches if there ever was one. He's fun to look at, but he can't be a baseline. What is the baseline for this type of analysis? It depends on the observer, as there are almost as many ways to interpret this data as there are data points to consider. The league average O-Swing% was 3o.6 percent in 2016, and most good wipeout-type pitches need to beat this number substantially. The overall Zone% was 47.8 percent, including pitches like splitters in the dirt and high fastballs that were never intended as strikes. The fastball will always be inferior in results to pitches that do not need to live in the strike zone, like Kershaw's slider, as pitches hit outside of the zone offer better results than offerings in the hitting zone when they are put into play. However, getting ahead in the count is necessary to make those pitches work as intended, making mediocre fastball results a necessity. It is dangerous to generalize, but 2-seam fastballs and sinkers tend to stink for fantasy purposes. They're usually in the strike zone, but get hit harder than fastballs. They may post strong GB% rates, but also have high BABIPs and scary triple slash lines. Any sinker hit in the air was probably a mistake, so the HR/FB rate is usually high for the limited number of fly balls hit against them. Their SwStr% rates also tend to be poor. Overall, fantasy owners prefer a fastball or cutter to be the strike zone pitch in a pitcher's repertoire. Personally, I like a fastball with a SwStr% of around 9 percent and a Zone% of at least 53%. Many pitchers succeed with a lower Zone%, but I can't stand watching walks. I then look for a wipeout pitch that offers a SwStr% of at least 15% and an O-Swing% of 40%. Ideally, there is a secondary K pitch, like Kershaw's curve, that prevents the 0-2 pitch from being too predictable. Only aces really fulfill all of these criteria, but I can dream, right?  

Conclusion

To conclude, PITCHf/x tracks a lot of data of interest to fantasy owners, including average velocity, pitch mix and individual pitch results. All of this data may be used to predict who will break out or which breakouts can sustain their current performance. The next entry in this series will discuss how to deal with minor league stats, which do not include all of the advanced metrics discussed thus far. Projecting prospects has increasingly become a part of every fantasy owner's job, and there are ways to analyze them beyond a blind faith in homers and ERA.  

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