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The Cut List (Week 14) - Time to Let Go?


We're halfway there in the baseball season, but hopefully your fantasy team is living on more than a prayer. (By Jove, that's terrible. Apologies.)

Unless it's a points league, categories are starting to take more precedence at this point. Every hitter on this week's Cut List comes with a list of categories in which a need indicates greater or lesser use for the player to be on your team.

Stats are through Friday, June 28. Weekly reminders: Recommendations are for mixed leagues. Recommendations in one league size obviously apply to smaller leagues. You can also feel free to drop a shallower suggestion in a deeper league. Generally, however, the dividing line is there for a reason. As usual, you can find ideas on how to replace your cut candidates at the Waiver Wire Pickup List.

Editor's Note: Get any full-season MLB Premium Pass for 50% off, with exclusive access to our season-long articles, 15 in-season lineup tools and over 200 days of expert DFS research/tools. Sign Up Now!

 

10-Team Cut Candidates

David Peralta (OF, ARI)

Especially if you need: HR, SB. Less so if you need: BA.

Peralta is having a decent season, but it's been somewhat more valuable in real life than fantasy. He only has nine home runs and no steals, which is counteracting the .292 average and 82 combined runs and RBI in 69 games. The counting stats are slightly dinged by the days he missed with shoulder inflammation in late May and early June.

Peralta has discouraging Statcast numbers, and either the injury or that lack of good contact has caught up with him since he returned from the injured list on June 3. Statcast would have expected a .254 batting average by now, nearly 40 points below his actual mark, and a .374 slugging average, more than 100 points below his current mark. And since his return, he is hitting .256 with just two home runs, much more in line with the season of Statcast. And if the shoulder is still an issue, even likelier Peralta's rest-of-season production will fall short in shallower leagues.

It's worth at least checking your wire to see who can replace Peralta. Another factor worth watching is that Chase Field is playing very large this season, with a one-year park factor of 91 on Baseball Reference. The humidor is having an even larger effect than last season, and Peralta is feeling it with just four home runs and a .442 SLG at home.

Dee Gordon (2B, SEA)

Especially if you need: R, RBI, HR, rate stats (also known as a good hitter). Less so if you need: SB.

These steals-only players are always tough thanks to the scarcity of the category, but maybe the solution is just to punt the category in shallower leagues. The shallower the league, the more of each category you need to stay competitive, obviously. And so when you roster a one-category player, even steals, it's going to hurt everything else in a 10-teamer more than with 12 or 14 teams. In a standard 5x5, if someone like Gordon gets you four extra steals points, he only needs to cost you one point in each of the other four categories to be a wash.

In Gordon's specific case, no matter what time length you examine, there are no signs of the .308 hitter from 2017. He's hitting .263 in the last seven days, .209 in the last 14, .220 in the last 30, and .255 in the past 365 days. Also, Statcast thinks his .265 average on the season should be closer to .245.

Not only that, but at 31, he's not really a 60-steal player anymore either. He had 30 last year and has 14 in 61 games this year, a 162-game pace of 37. Not hitting, plus less of a steals threat than he used to be? It's okay to move on here. 12-team managers can consider it and 10-teamers should maybe even not think twice.

Pitcher Scary-Peripheral

Instead of a specific 10-team pitching cut, let's talk more generally for a minute. If you've read this column long enough, you know the formula by now for identifying SP cuts: major over-performance, usually judged on the gap between ERA and xFIP and/or SIERA. Perhaps that's a better method for identifying which pitchers to try trade to your results-focused league mates, rather than which ones to just cut loose. Nonetheless, pitchers with bad peripherals are scary.

Are using peripherals more effective than just using ERA and dumping a guy once he strings together a few bad starts? Maybe not, but it's not like that method is risk-free. It comes down to your preferred risk: would you rather lose out on good starts, or take a big hit from bad starts? Because unless you're talking aces, that's the trade-off involved.

Don't assume that all ERA's are created equal. If you are going to create an edge, sometimes you have to cut the less sustainable ratios.

 

12-Team Cut Candidates

Jonathan Schoop (2B, MIN)

Especially if you need: BA, OBP, SB, consistency. Less so if you need: a body for second base or middle infield.

Schoop's career has been quite the ride: a terrible rookie year in 2014, a nice half-season in '15, a playable 2016, a breakout in 2017, and since then...meh. While this year has been fine in comparison to last season, he peaked on May 18 at .280/.321/.520. Since then, he's hitting .209/.269/.373 and playing less often.

The whole season counts, but this is also now a month-plus-long slump. And 2018 counts as well, perhaps more so than the first several weeks of 2019. Schoop is looking at a .239/.278/.431 line with 34 home runs, 95 RBI, and 98 runs scored in exactly 200 games since the beginning of 2018.

Schoop will likely play less with Byron Buxton and especially Marwin Gonzalez returning to the Twins Saturday. He's not a must-have on any 12-team roster.

Jose Quintana (SP, CHC)

Peripherals aren't the only thing important when it comes to cutting pitchers. Take a look at strikeouts and team support as well. Quintana has the team but not the strikeouts.

Quintana actually has peripherals that indicate better than a 4.50 ERA, but not by enough to matter in standard sizes. With the subpar 19.5 K%, Quintana is running a 4.26 FIP and 4.39 xFIP. The below-average K rate also leaves Quintana susceptible to the long ball when the wind is blowing out at Wrigley. That hasn't happened yet, with only four home runs allowed at home so far, but it's another risk factor to consider.

Of the strikeout, ERA, and WHIP regression, the strikeout one is the most concerning because it hurts the others. According to Fangraphs, Quintana is throwing a 91.4 mph (on average) fastball as 63.8% of his pitches, and so in today's MLB, it's not a great surprise that the K-rate has suffered. It's okay to move on in standard sizes.

(Saturday's strong start against Cincinnati may reasonably cause some doubt that Quintana is done. Nonetheless, by the end of the year, without strikeouts he's bound to end up with an ERA north of 4.00, the question is by how much.)

Wade Davis (RP, COL)

The 2014-16 version of Davis is gone, and whether or not it's Coors' fault is not quite relevant. That's where he's pitching now, and it hasn't gone great. Sure, the Rockies kept him in the closer role last year as he racked up an NL-leading 43 saves despite a 4.13 ERA. Reports now however are that Davis' role is in serious jeopardy.

That should be enough for owners to start fleeing for the hills (Rockies) given what Davis has produced on the field this season: a 6.00 ERA, a 1.83 WHIP fueled by 6.0 BB/9, and a 7.1% K-BB differential which would be by far the worst of his relief career (he wasn't a good starter).

Managers in the deepest leagues can hope any demotion is brief and/or that Davis recovers, although that may be a risky play. In standard-sized leagues, moving on is already fine.

 

14-Team Cut Candidates

Jose Peraza (IF/OF, CIN)

Especially if you need: almost anything.

Peraza is supposed to help in the steals category, having posted 21 or more each year from 2016-18. But this year, he has all of five in 74 games. It's not for a lack of trying, as he has been caught four times. He's also getting worse at it: after stealing a base on each of the final two days in April, he's just 1-for-4 since May 1.

Who knows where the steals went, but everything else is gone, too. After hitting .288 with 16 home runs last season, Peraza is hitting .224 with five home runs this season. In a year where almost everyone is hitting more home runs, that's a depressing 162-game pace of 11 home runs.

Peraza also plays for a team that changes its lineup day-to-day perhaps more than any other, and when he does play, it's at the bottom of the order. Last year was hope-inducing for an even better campaign this year, since he's in just his age-25 season. But it's nothing doing this year.

Mike Zunino (C, TB)

Especially if you need: anything at all out of your catcher position. Less so if you need: a Hail Mary home run play? But probably not even then.

In an era when there's little differentiation between most catchers, it's hard to reach the point of deep-league cut-worthy ineptitude. But if anyone has crossed the threshold, it's Zunino. Whether his ownership rate remains in the double figures is due to name recognition, inactivity, or something else, Zunino doesn't belong on so many rosters, if any.

Here's the list of catchers who, on Yahoo, are no more than half as owned as Zunino but have been more valuable in standard, batting average 5x5 leagues. Not just less owned at all, but with half the ownership rate. Ready? They are: Kurt Suzuki, Carson Kelly, Pedro Severino, Tony Wolters, Jason Castro, Tom Murphy, Tyler Flowers, Elias Diaz, Curt Casali, Chris Iannetta, Willians Astudillo, Kevan Smith, Martin Maldonado, Alex Avila, Victor Caratini, Travis D'Arnaud, Chance Sisco, Austin Hedges, Isiah Kiner-Falefa, Stephen Vogt, Russell Martin, Austin Romine, Bryan Holaday, Blake Swihart, Jacob Stallings, Will Smith, and Tomas Nido.

Hopefully you can find at least one or two of those 27 catchers still available in your league who will play enough and sustain it enough to be better options than Mike Zunino.

Sandy Alcantara (SP, MIA)

The farther you go into Alcantara's ERA and estimators, the worse it looks: 3.86 ERA, 4.52 FIP, 5.23 xFIP, 5.51 SIERA. Not only does that progression indicate a disaster waiting to happen, but he pitches for Miami. That's good because of the park, of course, but bad because the offense is so terrible. Nor is Alcantara a strikeout pitcher, with a 15.9% rate that is fifth-worst among 82 qualified pitchers (even worse at the K have been: Brett Anderson, Antonio Senzatela, Ivan Nova, and Zach Davies).

In deep leagues, it's hard to find pitching, but Alcantara is not going to be the answer long-term.

 

Last Week's Updates

Player Last Week (links to piece) This Week Reasoning
Yadier Molina Cut in 10 (weak) Cut in 10 (weak) No change in profile
Ryan Braun Cut in 10 (weak) Cut in 10 (weak) No change in profile, .643 BABIP fueled 9-for-18 week
Madison Bumgarner Cut in 10 (weak) Trade in 10 Dominated Colorado, but overall profile still risky
Miguel Cabrera Cut in 12 (strong) Cut in 12 (strong) No change in profile, his or team's: .450 OBP 6/22-28 came w/0 XBH, 0 R, 1 RBI
Franmil Reyes Cut in 12 (weak) Hold in 12 Playing time and the bat are back
Mike Fiers Cut in 12 (strong) Cut in 12 (strong) No change in profile; last start was same risky few-K/few-grounder combination
Josh Reddick Cut in 14 (strong) Cut in 12, Hold in 14 Got 20 plate appearances, which were strong; PT still risky for standard/shallower
Tim Beckham Cut in 14 (strong) Cut in 14 (strong) No change in profile
Mike Leake Cut in 14 (strong) Cut in 14 (strong) No change in profile

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