Risers and Fallers From Week One

They say that patience is a virtue. Besides the ubiquitous “they,” my fellow colleagues here at RotoGraphs have been reminding you of the same. I’m here to remind you of the same. The first five games of the season should influence your expectations for the rest of the season, but only by the very tiniest bit.

With that said, there are very few ways to analyze what we’ve seen to date in a meaningful way. So I’ll pick out a few guys that maybe, actually should be looked at differently.

Alejandro De Aza (up), Dayan Viciedo (down): The story with De Aza was that the White Sox were ready to move on after acquiring Adam Eaton in the offseason. De Aza was considered a very good fourth outfielder behind Eaton, Avisail Garcia and Viciedo. And a crowded first base situation prevents the club from using the spillover at designated hitter.

Thus far, we’ve seen Viciedo spend most of his time on the bench while the hot hitting De Aza continues to take starts. This should resolve into a straight platoon, but De Aza has a defensive advantage in the corners and could hang on as the starter if he continues to mash. More importantly, his at bat projection has probably increased by 200 after this first week. Viciedo’s playing time projection declines proportionally.

Ryan Braun (down): Braun’s thumb issue is back, which could mean less bat control and power. As someone who invested in Braun in two leagues, this is a big bummer.

Billy Hamilton (down): I so very much wanted to gamble on Hamilton this year, but the draft prices were positively ridiculous. I generally saw him go between rounds three and five or for about $20. So far he’s 0-for-12 with a walk and a million strikeouts (six). For someone who was sent home from winter ball because he couldn’t read breaking balls, this is a disturbing start to the season. I’d consider selling.

Casey McGehee (up) and Jeff Baker (up): Look, I don’t like them either, but they’re batting second and cleanup. Considering that they’re free, you could do worse for an injury replacement or spot start.

Carlos Ruiz (up): He’s batting anywhere from second to seventh depending on the day. He also looks like the second half Ruiz, who was eminently rosterable.

Abraham Almonte (up), Corey Hart (down): Almonte is looking like the full time center fielder and leadoff man. Meanwhile, Hart is on part time duty as he continues to recover.

Juan Lagares (up): With Chris Young on the disabled list, Lagares appears to be the everyday center fielder. He also occasionally bats leadoff. Besides those two factors, he’s no great shakes in fantasy.

Marlon Byrd (up): He’s batting cleanup against lefties and fifth against righties. We kind of expected that, but I think his stock dwindled during draft season as the Phillies offense did nothing in Florida.

Justin Smoak (up): Regression looms, but I’m not sure anyone really factored how nice it would be for Smoak to bat with runners on base. The top three of Almonte, Brad Miller, and Robinson Cano is actually pretty formidable. Smoak might have a shot at 100 RBI with full time reps. I know, that sounds crazy.

B.J. Upton (down): We know he’s on a short leash, so a 1-for-12 start to the season with six strikeouts is concerning. I said stay away, but others couldn’t pass up the history of 50 home runs plus steals. It’s too early to panic, but Upton has less wriggle room than most.

Bryce Harper (down), Adam LaRoche (up): We’ll wrap things up with a possible MVP. He’s currently being used out of the six-hole most nights. I don’t know what’s up with that, but it’s happening and it kills his value. Meanwhile, Adam LaRoche is still batting cleanup.




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Brad is a former collegiate player who writes for FanGraphs, MLB Trade Rumors, The Hardball Times, RotoWorld, and The Fake Baseball. He's also the lead MLB editor for RotoBaller. Follow him on Twitter @BaseballATeam or email him here.


39 Responses to “Risers and Fallers From Week One”

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  1. LHPSU says:

    More relevant rising would be Eric Young, who now probably has an everyday job alongside Lagares for a while.

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  2. OBlock says:

    “Regression looms, but I’m not sure anyone really factored how nice it would be for Smoak to bat with runners on base.”

    I genuinely don’t know if the second part of this is a joke or not. How many games has it been?

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  3. Ruki Motomiya says:

    Probably too early to sell on Billy Hamilton because the doubters won’t bite, I’m not letting him go quite yet but I am glad that I drafted some extra OF depth.

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    • FeslenR says:

      agreed, I still think Hamilton will do fine, he faced terrific trio of pitchers-most big leaguers will have issues with Wainright, Wacha and Lynn. Let’s see how he fairs against sub-pitchers.

      baseball is LONG, there’s a reason for it.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      My point was that you might find some aggressive owners looking to “buy low” at full price. They’re out there, trust me.

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  4. sailenac says:

    Any word as to why exactly Harper is hitting 6th? Isn’t that absolutely ridiculous? He’s the future of the MLB. Get him grooved into a spot where he is going to feel comfortable his whole career weather it be 2nd 3rd or 4th in the lineup.

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    • SpongeBob says:

      The other ‘future of the MLB’ (sarcasm very much intended) lost his CF job after winning AL ROY. These guys like Trout and Harper are young guys with promise, not irreproachable baseball gods. Now I’m going to go re-read that article from the other day comparing Trout to Babe Ruth and have a nice ‘ole laugh before bed.

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      • Feeding the Abscess says:

        Mike Trout has had two 10 WAR seasons. In his age 20 and 21 seasons. If you prorate his age 19 season to match the number of plate appearances he’s had the past two seasons, you’d come up with 25 HR, 20 SB, 100 R, and 80 RBI. And he had a .247 BABIP, with a near 21% line drive rate and only a 5.4% infield fly rate. That .247 mark would have ended up much closer to his career rate of .367, which would have obviously given him more opportunities to steal bases.

        As it stands, with rotten luck, Trout was on pace to put up 3+ WAR. In his age 19 season. I don’t know exactly where the line is from “young player with promise” to “promise delivered,” but Trout has already passed it.

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    • Karl says:

      I wish I could place a wager with you regarding the future of Bryce Harper. He is lucky to be in the lineup at all.

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  5. sailenac says:

    Any word as to why exactly Harper is hitting 6th? Isn’t that absolutely ridiculous? He’s the future of the MLB. Get him grooved into a spot where he is going to feel comfortable his whole career whether it be 2nd 3rd or 4th in the lineup.

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  6. emrldwpn says:

    As someone else who is invested in Braun in two leagues, should I be trying to trade him right now? What could I even get in return at this point?

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    • FeslenR says:

      too early even if the thumb injury is serious. you can probably still get a decent mid starter like Nova for him.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      1. It’s kind of skeezy to trade a guy with a lingering injury for full price. I’d bet that some of your leaguemates are unaware of the injury.

      2. As Feslen points out, it’s too early to trade him at a discount until we know what’s what.

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  7. kman says:

    Any ideas who could replace BJ Upton if he looses his starting job? Is that possible or is his contract too expensive for that, ala Dan Uggla.

    Also any ideas on what production to expect from Braun going forward? I have him in one league, and wondering if I should hang on, or try to trade now, and if trade, what kind of value to look for in return. His line post injury last year was pretty ugly…

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  8. Ian says:

    Thoughts on Yangervis Solarte? Best case scenario? worst case scenario? Middle ground?

    Thoughts, please..

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Not a fantasy asset. Very little power even in high octane minor league environments and no steals. He might hit for a .280 average with a pinch of luck, but he probably won’t get run or RBI opportunities.

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  9. Jonathan Sher says:

    Even with the caveat in your intro about small sample size, I think you could sharpen your analysis by clearly distinguishing between what is a meaningful change and what is not:

    (1) Any change in performance after 5 games is meaningless with the exception of that which is the result of what might become a lingering or chronic issue.

    (2) A change in opportunity, through playing time or lineup change, may be meaningful, but a more fulsome examination is needed.

    Smoak for example. Last year he mostly batted 5th behind Miller, Franklin, Seager and Morales. Franklin’s OBP is pretty close to what Almonte did last year with the Mariners and, on balance, I would expect his OBP this season to be better, but not substantially so, than what Franklin produced. Miller and Seager are still there. Morales had a better OBP than what I would expect the average OBP of the top 3 batters this year would be.

    If Smoak remains the clean up hitter, he will bat more often and have more chances to drive in runs. But there’s no certainty he will remain in that position. I think Corey Hart is a more likely candidate to claim that spot and he almost certainly will if he regains his health and form.

    (3) I never heard anyone suggest after Eaton’s acquisition that De Aza would be the backup. The expectation from the start was that either he or Viciedo would be traded or that they would platoon. A few days hot start does little to change that.

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  10. sailenac says:

    Whats up with Casey McGehee? He has potential hitting behind Stanton in the cleanup spot. Any reason not to think he jacks 20+ this year?

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    • Eyebrows says:

      “Any reason not to think he jacks 20+ this year?”

      1. He’s Casey McGehee, who is not a very good baseball player.

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      • sailenac says:

        Check out his 2010 season with the Brewers. He has pop, he drove in 100 runners. You sound like a 10 year old with your snarky remark but watch Casey McGehee prove you wrong. It’s gonna be great.

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      • Ruki Motomiya says:

        He’s only hit 20+ HRs once in his entire career…

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        There are a lot of reasons to think McGehee won’t hit 20 bombs this year. But so long as he’s batting cleanup, he just needs to hit some to be valuable.

        Some of those reasons include age, history, and home park.

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  11. johnnycuff says:

    jeff baker is also going to wind up with 2B eligibility soon

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  12. Wigman says:

    Harper is insanely young and still has a LOT to prove before he hits cleanup. Matt Williams is an old-school with a seemingly stacked team on his hands. He’s treating the Vets aka. LaRoche with respect. Bryce needs to force his hand in the lineup with his play and more importantly, attitude. And possibly a haircut.

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    • ncb says:

      my view on the Nats lineup situation is that Matt Williams is trying to keep his 2-7 hitters happy (2-8 when Ramos was here) by rotating them around rather than insulting someone by having them consistently hit 7th.

      When ya look at the differences lineup construction makes (other than L-R rotation) he may actually be on to something.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      What does Harper have left to prove? I mean I get pushing him down against lefties, but he’s established as one of the top 20 or so hitters in baseball against righties. Jayson Werth’s the only hitter who’s obviously better than him on the roster.

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  13. Wigman says:

    Harper is insanely young and still has a LOT to prove before he hits cleanup. Matt Williams is an old-school coach with a seemingly stacked team on his hands. He’s treating the Vets aka. LaRoche with respect. Bryce needs to force his hand in the lineup with his play and more importantly, attitude. And possibly a haircut.

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  14. bbboston says:

    Surprised not to see Ackley as a riser… What are your thoughts on his renaissance?

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      There’s no change in his playing time projection or lineup position. You’ll notice that almost everybody up there has one of those factors in common. Or they’re banged up.

      We’ll need more time before we can do anything with the hitting data.

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  15. SeattleSlew says:

    Why are so many people so high on Brett Lawrie? Is he really that good? I want to believe him but its hard to have faith in a player who struggles to make consistent contact. Should I be patient with him or look for other options?

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  16. Yordano worth the add? says:

    Brad…hoping you’ll see this in time. Yordano Ventura is on the waivers and I have #1 priority in a 12-team, 5×5 roto league. I’m debating whether or not to use it on Yordano Ventura after reading that he had more than a plus fastball in last night’s game. Either that or I save it for potentially something better in the future. Thoughts?

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Switch to FAAB.

      Kidding aside. Do you need pitching with upside? If so then yes, if not then no. I don’t consider it wise to hoard the waiver priority if it hurts your team in the short run, but there’s no sense wasting it if it’s not something you need.

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      • Yordano worth the add? says:

        Thanks. I’d say I’m in the top half in terms fo pitching but has some question marks. Plus, it could always stand to get stronger. My staff includes Straus, J. Zimm, S. Miller,Dickey, Kluber, Paxton and E. Santana. What do you think with this group?

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      • Brad Johnson says:

        Sounds like Paxton’s hurt so it might be worth a move. Is there a reason you need 7 starters?

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  17. Yordano worth the add? says:

    Thanks for the quick replies. re: 7 starters…felt that since I have good but not great arms outside of a couple, I can play matchups opting to sit them against bad matchups to help my stats. Bad idea? How many do you think one needs? I think the innings cap is around 1500 or 1600. If you think I should drop, I’m assuming Paxton is the candidate.

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    • Brad Johnson says:

      Paxton should be on the DL soon, so it’s up to you if you want to wait on him. If your league has 1600 IP then 7 is an average number of starters. If it’s 1500 then you need about 6.25.

      Careful with Ervin.

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      • Yordano worth the add? says:

        Thanks for your input. I’ll keep all this in mind. Have a great night.

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