Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera have grabbed most of the headlines, but arguably the best fantasy option this year has been neither of those two players. Cast your gaze to the Rocky Mountains. The biggest fantasy stalwart has been Carlos Gonzalez of the Colorado Rockies.
Gonzalez owns the fourth-best wOBA (.429) in all of baseball and has the second-most home runs with 21 in only 316 plate appearances. The one thing that separates him from the rest of the pack, however, is the fact that he also has 13 stolen bases. In fact, of the 30 players with the most home runs in the league this year, only Carlos Gonzalez and Mike Trout have double-digit stolen bases.
He’s been incredible across the board. Here is how the 27-year-old outfielder stacks up in all standard rotisserie categories:
|Runs Batted In||57||5|
Even in his worst category, batting average, Gonzalez is still performing at an elite level. He’s hitting .307, which currently ranks in the top 14% of all qualified players this season. And though it’s hard to believe, in every other fantasy category, he’s been even better.
This should remind fantasy owners of his phenomenal 2010 campaign, in which he hit .336/.376/.598 with 34 home runs and 26 stolen bases. He even scored 111 runs and knocked in 117 that season. Elite production across the board, and it looks like Carlos Gonzalez is once again on pace to compile those sorts of numbers. Don’t be fooled by his .353 BABIP, either. He has a career .348 BABIP and plays in Coors Field. The Rockies almost always have a team BABIP north of .300 at home.
The real surprise with Gonzalez this year has been the level of his power production. Granted, he’s hit at least 22 home runs in three-consecutive seasons, but he’s currently trending to outperform his career best by a rather large margin. ZiPS projects him to have 39 home runs this season. He also owns a .332 ISO this season, which is well-above his previous best of .262 in 2010.
Gonzalez has experienced a power spike because he’s finally abandoned his ground-ball tendencies and has begun to put the baseball in the air. He only had a 29.5% fly-ball rate last year. It’s not surprising that his ISO fell to a career-low .207 (not counting his half-season in Oakland). In fact, the last three seasons, we’ve seen his power decline as he had begun to put the baseball on the ground more often.
It’s been a dramatic change in GB/FB ratio for Gonzalez, and his power numbers have subsequently increased. That’s wonderful news for fantasy owners, as his power numbers should continue to outpace his career norms if his GB/FB ratio remains consistent throughout the remainder of the season.
We’ve seen everything else before. We’ve seen the high average, the high stolen bases, the high run totals. But this level of power production is new, and it has propelled him to the top of the fantasy ranks. Everyone can talk about Cabrera, Davis, Trout and Goldschmidt. The real diamond, though, is Carlos Gonzalez.