Collette Calls: 2022 NL East Bold Predictions

Collette Calls: 2022 NL East Bold Predictions

This article is part of our Collette Calls series.

The premise for this year's series was laid out in the first installment, so please review it. ADP  (Average Draft Position) references are looking at Draft Champions leagues in 2021 and 2022. Auction values are based on standard 15-team league formats. 

Atlanta Champions

Adam Duvall's Runs+RBI total is below 140

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

A. Duvall

323

221

$23

$19

Duvall's full-season Runs+RBI totals in recent years are as follows:

  • 2016: 188
  • 2017: 177
  • 2018: 109
  • 2021: 180

Note that 2017 and 2021 had similar totals as Duvall enjoyed hitting in the middle of the lineup for both clubs. It is one of the reasons why I loved Duvall this time last year and strongly recommended picking him up at his market value. Duvall hit sixth when first acquired by Atlanta, but then moved into the fifth spot of the lineup by September and finished there and ended up with 71 Runs+RBI in the two months of play with Atlanta. He had 89 Runs+RBI with Miami where he mostly hit fourth with a handful of games in the fifth spot. With Ronald Acuna back early in the season and Marcell Ozuna expected back in the lineup, there are major roadblocks for Duvall to remain high in the lineup that allowed him to flourish last season.

Hitting with runners in scoring position is not a skill that has any form of stickiness, but when Duvall is hot, he is in some kind

The premise for this year's series was laid out in the first installment, so please review it. ADP  (Average Draft Position) references are looking at Draft Champions leagues in 2021 and 2022. Auction values are based on standard 15-team league formats. 

Atlanta Champions

Adam Duvall's Runs+RBI total is below 140

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

A. Duvall

323

221

$23

$19

Duvall's full-season Runs+RBI totals in recent years are as follows:

  • 2016: 188
  • 2017: 177
  • 2018: 109
  • 2021: 180

Note that 2017 and 2021 had similar totals as Duvall enjoyed hitting in the middle of the lineup for both clubs. It is one of the reasons why I loved Duvall this time last year and strongly recommended picking him up at his market value. Duvall hit sixth when first acquired by Atlanta, but then moved into the fifth spot of the lineup by September and finished there and ended up with 71 Runs+RBI in the two months of play with Atlanta. He had 89 Runs+RBI with Miami where he mostly hit fourth with a handful of games in the fifth spot. With Ronald Acuna back early in the season and Marcell Ozuna expected back in the lineup, there are major roadblocks for Duvall to remain high in the lineup that allowed him to flourish last season.

Hitting with runners in scoring position is not a skill that has any form of stickiness, but when Duvall is hot, he is in some kind of zone. This is what the 2021 leaderboard (min 150 PA) looked like sorted by weighted runs created plus:

PLAYERPAwRC+AVGOBPSLG
Juan Soto163208.396.577.689
Max Muncy160199.346.475.669
Adam Duvall158188.326.367.757
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.179173.315.441.608
Manny Machado169170.344.438.656

Yes, Duvall led the league in slugging percentage with runners in scoring position; 20.6% of the runners on base scored as a result of a Duvall plate appearance. Only Teoscar Hernandez (21.7%) and Manny Machado (21.2%) did better as full-time players. Duvall's rate in that metric has trended as such in recent years:

The run production is more absurd when you compare the numbers above to how he was with nobody on base:

SPLITPAwRC+AVGOBPSLG
Bases Empty29557.172.231.354
Anyone on base260157.293.338.649
Runners in scoring position158188.326.367.757

If it cannot be explained, it is tough to repeat it. Duvall has strong exit velocities and barrel rates, but a career-worst strikeout rate and a bottom 25th percentile plate discipline profile make him a risky bet to repeat his run success. His low-OBP skills leave him best suited down further in a lineup, and should Atlanta convince Freddie Freeman to return, it would all but cement Duvall's spot in the bottom third of the lineup thus limiting his run production opportunities. I am fading Duvall this season as aggressively as I pursued him last season. 

Huascar Ynoa is a top 60 pitcher

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

H. Ynoa

ND

236

-$1

-$2

Ynoa is currently the 87th pitcher on the board between Triston McKenzie and Taylor Rogers. Ynoa went undrafted most everywhere last season, but came up early and immediately showed off his potential, winning four of his first seven starts with a 2.23 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP a 23 K-BB% while holding opposing hitters to a .186 average. A peek at BABIP and LOB% showed that it was obviously unsustainable, but it all came crashing down in a hurry as he was blown up by Milwaukee on May 16 and he got grouchy and took out his frustrations on the bench and broke his pitching hand. He returned to start nine more contests, winning none of them with a 5.05 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 19 K-BB% while holding opposing hitters to a .227 average.

His pitching fortunes hinge upon his slider, and when it is on, it is one of the better pitches in the game. He slings the pitch to righties and lefties alike and generates swings and misses 40% of the time as the league struggles to barrel it up. His fastball has above-average velocity and he loves to use it up in the zone to set up the slider or changeup down in the zone. The stuff and approach force the league to expand the zone more than it would care to, and he has shown enough stuff around his struggles to be very intrigued with him this season. After all, he still managed a 26% strikeout rate after he returned from injury, but some untimely homers down the stretch did a number on his ERA. Simply put, he has the stuff to take a step forward in 2022 if he can gain more consistent command of his non-slider offerings. One of his similarity comps based on velocity and movement last season was Brandon Woodruff

Miami Marlins

Avisail Garcia is a top 100 player

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

A. Garcia

329

178

$19

$11

Recall the reasons I loved Adam Duvall in Miami prior to last season and now apply them to Garcia in the same location. Garcia came over to the Marlins this winter and will immediately occupy a spot high in the lineup and be in a primary run production role. He is coming off a career year for homers and RBI but he may miss the comforts of slugging in Milwaukee. I am not worried about that because Garcia can really destroy a baseball. The clip below does not even include some of the moonshots from this past season. Take particular note of the top homer on the list as it made Marlins Park look rather small in a hurry:

He has been in the top 10th percentile by Max Exit Velocity as long as Statcast has captured the data. Garcia does not accept too many walks and is prone to expanding his zone yet keeps his strikeout rate somewhat in check compared to others with his chase and whiff rates. He also has some deceptive speed with an 88th percentile sprint speed which to date has translated into double-digit steals just once in his career. He is in a prime location to set career highs in run production in 2022 and has a chance to repeat a double-digit stolen base season with a manager who likes to be aggressive on the basepaths.

Jesus Luzardo is a top 75 pitcher

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

J. Luzardo

105

300

-$10

-$7

The hype on the Jesus Lizard last year was red hot last season. He had a horrendous season across the board which belies the quality of his raw stuff. Lefty starters who sit in the mid-to-upper 90s are rare, and a curveball with a 42% whiff rate along with a serviceable change should get better results. Luzardo's issue was centered around bad command and working from behind in the count as the league absolutely punished his fastballs with a .343 average and a .641 slugging percentage. The league hit below .240 against his fastball coming into the season, but he simply pitched from behind too frequently as the splits show:

SPLIT

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

Batter Ahead

163

.387

.568

.757

Even Count

143

.210

.218

.413

Pitcher Ahead

131

.264

.267

.442

We try to look for the best in everyone, and despite the struggles, Luzardo still has an above-average whiff rate and velocity, but little else went his way last season. Still, there were bright spots such as this outing where you could see him executing all three of his offerings against Cincinnati:

There was also some adjustment to his pitch utilization as he dialed back his fastball usage while using more of his slider. The results are not always instantaneous, but our final look at him in 2021 resulted in him striking out 11 Phillies. The beauty here is Luzardo is currently going in the reserve rounds so you do not need to make an aggressive play if you buy into this bold prediction.

New York Mets

Mark Canha is not a top 100 outfielder

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

M. Canha

257

254

$12

$10

Canha finally busted through the 500 plate appearance ceiling and made the most of it with his most valuable fantasy season to date, setting highs in runs, RBI and steals as a 32-year-old. He has developed a profile in recent years of working the count and being very accepting of his walks which helped him score 80 or more runs in each of the past two full seasons. The problem with the move to New York is Canha is now very likely hitting in the bottom half if not bottom third of the Mets' lineup, which will impact both his opportunities to score and opportunities to drive in runners. 82% of Canha'a plate appearances came with him hitting in the top four spots of the Oakland lineup, but those top four spots in New York are filled by Brandon Nimmo, Starling Marte, Francisco Lindor and Pete Alonso. Another Nimmo injury is certainly a possibility, but there is not currently a clear path for Canha to live in the top of the lineup as he did in Oakland .

Canha also has some disturbing trends in his Statcast data which leaves me with more worry than excitement about his future:

Throw in the new contract, the move from a quiet media following to a magnified media following and changing from the AL to the NL, and there are enough risk factor in play with Canha to let others chase a potential repeat. He is currently the 69th outfielder by ADP and going 40 spots ahead of the actual leadoff hitter on the club in Nimmo. There are simply too many names with upside going later than Canha to take the chance on a 33-year-old taking things up another level. 

Carlos Carrasco is a top 75 pitcher

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

C. Carrasco

109

310

$2

$2

The oft-injured pitcher is currently 114th by ADP, going just after Trevor Bauer and just before Luis Patino. It is an interesting grouping given Bauer's toxicity and Patino's tremendous upside. It is also quite the acknowledgement of Carrarsco's upside given he is coming off a season in which he was on the bench more often than not and is coming off the second-worst ERA of his career. The most recent injury was a torn hamstring in a spring training drill and what was supposed to be a May return actually didn't come to pass until late July. The very first pitch he threw upon his return was hit out by Jonathan India that served as a warning for what was to come. By season's end, Carrasco was allowing two homers per nine innings and had the worst K-BB% of his career so it should not have surprised us when we learned he had a bone chip in his elbow and required minor surgery to correct it this winter. 

Despite the issues, there is still some hidden signs of life in his numbers. Carrasco had three different pitches (changeup, slider, curve) with at least a 30% swing-and-miss rate, and his fastball even posted a solid 22% whiff rate. The stuff is still there, but the health conditions and injuries have been front and center and holding him back from following up on what he showed us in 2017, 2018 and even in moments of 2020. His ADP was 37 coming off the great 2018 season, 120 coming off the season interrupted by Leukemia and then 109 after his comeback heading into last season. He will likely not be ready to start the season, but his return should not be too long after that. When Carrasco is right, he has the stuff to get strikeouts, does not hurt himself with walks and should have a plentiful offense and bullpen to support his outings. The conditions are there for plenty of support as long as Carrasco's health can hold up over the course of the season.

Philadelphia Phillies

Bryson Stott is a top 25 shortstop

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

B. Stott

ND

479

DNP

-$8

Stott is currently the 44th shortstop by ADP between Ramon Urias and Tyler Wade, but has a golden opportunity in front of him this season as Didi Gregorius is in the final year of his contract and is coming off a horrendous season at the plate. Stott is coming off a minor-league season where he played High-A, Double-A and Triple-A ball and hit .299/.390/.486 across those levels. Before getting too enthralled with the 10 homers in Double-A recall that Reading's home park is one of the friendliest home run environments in the minors. The minor-league success comes on the heels of him hitting .340/.433/.515 as a collegiate player for three seasons and backed up by a solid showing at the Arizona Fall League this winter with him hitting .318/.445/.489 with 24 walks and 14 strikeouts in 119 plate appearances. 

The short-term limitation on Stott's fantasy upside is his power because most project him to be league average with it and scouting profiles do not project him to have any one outstanding tool as much as he does a collection of very good tools. I know it seems like we were just recently here with Scott Kingery and that situation has certainly not played out as expected, but Stott also lacks the pressure of needing to play up to a large guaranteed contract before playing a day in the majors. The sweet-swinging lefty shortstop is primed to replace a once-sweet-swinging lefty shortstop sooner rather than later. He went early in the 15th round of James Anderson's recent Dynasty Mock Draft as well. 

Corey Knebel is a top 10 reliever

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

C. Knebel

545

259

$0

-$4

Knebel is currently the 21st reliever off the board by ADP in a winter where we have seen closer prices climb in ADP because there is is so much uncertainty after exiting the elite tier. As it were, Knebel is being taken 20 spots later than Dylan Floro and just in front of the recovering Ken Giles. Knebel had Tommy John surgery on his elbow in early April of 2019 and then had his rehab disrupted by the craziness of the 2020 season. His 2021 got off to a rough start as he hit the IL with a lat strain in early May and was not seen again until Aug. 10. When he did pitch, he showed he had his lively stuff back both with velocity and movement. He held the league to a .174 average last season with a 21 K-BB%, both of which are welcomed skills to a beleaguered Philadelphia bullpen.

The attractiveness of Knebel settles around what he has done when he has been healthy before the disjointed recovery from surgery over 2019 and 2020. Take a look at these numbers on his fastball and curveball in recent seasons:

SEASON

FASTBALL BA

FASTBALL xBA

CURVE BA

CURVE xBA

2017

.186

.183

.161

.118

2018

.227

.209

.111

.114

2021

.167

.197

.186

.205

Simply put, he is tough to hit because of the riding fastball and the curveball that he can drop in the zone or out of the zone at will. He can have issues with walks when he falls behind hitters or hitters refuse to expand their zones, but the high volume of strikeouts has helped offset the walks as his K-BB% has been over 20% in each of the seasons referenced in the table above. We know Joe Girardi has longed for a single reliever he can hand the ball to late and not lose the rest of his hair, and he appears to have one now in Knebel. The reliever has the skills to excel in four roto categories and will likely not be an ADP bargain much longer. Last season, I felt this strongly about Raisel Iglesias, a reliever with a very similar profile, which paid off handsomely. 

Washington Nationals

Cesar Hernandez is a top 20 second baseman

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

C. Hernandez

109

310

$5

$9

Hernandez is coming off a crazy season in which he was two completely different players, and it impacted his fantasy value to the point he is currently the 38th second baseman by ADP. These were his splits last year with Cleveland and Chicago:

TEAM

PA

BA

OBP

SLG

HR

Cleveland

420

.231

.307

.431

18

Chicago

217

.232

.309

.299

3

One would assume that a trade within the same division would ease some transition concerns, but Hernandez lost his power groove and was a well-below-average hitter once he donned the pinstripes. The Nationals acquired him on a nice deal and plan on hitting him second between Lane Thomas and, more importantly, Juan Soto. Hernandez has a career .345 OBP and last year's .308 OBP was his lowest full-season effort of his career, and those OBP skills will come in handy while hitting in front of Soto's RBI talents. From 2017-21, this is the top five leaderboard for runs scored while spending at least 50% of the time at second base:

PLAYER

RUNS

OBP

Jose Altuve

434

.368

DJ LeMahieu

419

.361

Whit Merrifield

408

.338

Cesar Hernandez

372

.343

Ozzie Albies

365

.325

Hernandez rarely steals bases these days, but that appears to be by design as his sprint speed was in the 89th percentile last season. If he hits in front of Soto, we should expect him to continue to elect not to steal after walks or singles as it would invite the opposition to pitch Soto differently, but Hernandez will have the opportunity to compile plenty of runs this year and has proven himself to be an everyday player with his defense and normal offensive outputs. He could hit 20 homers, drive in 75, and score 85+ runs, and with some batting average regression turn himself into a rather solid four-category contributor who is apparently suffering from a strong case of recency bias in early drafts. 

Josiah Gray is a top 75 pitcher

Player

2021 ADP

2022 ADP

2021 Earned $

2022 Projected $

J. Gray

626

283

-$1

-$1

Gray entered the season as the second-ranked prospect in the Dodger system and finished the season as a member of the Nationals after being included in the deal for Trea Turner. He had but two brief outings for the Dodgers but made 12 starts for the Nationals, finishing with some rough numbers and a high 4.20 walk rate. He has above-average velocity and good breaking stuff, but rookies struggle, especially when they're thrust into a rotation after being acquired for one of the faces of the franchise. Gray worked his way up the minors with strong strikeout rates, small walk rates and nary a homer, so the 19 homers in 70.2 innings last season was a rather humbling experience. Around the struggles, we saw flashes of brilliance such as this back-foot curveball which completely locked up Ozzie Albies:

or this slider which made Vladimir Guerrero look human:

or this fastball/slider combo which retired Adam Duvall:

I take one pitching prospect a year in my local keeper leagues and Gray was the guy I took prior to the 2020 season because I loved everything I read about him and heard of him from interviews. The stuff is there even if the results are not yet there, and that is to be expected of someone whose 2020 season was spent pitching in anything but real games. We cannot get greedy with wins for Gray on the rebuilding Nationals club, but the strikeouts should be there with the potential for a major rebound in his ratios. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jason Collette
Jason has been helping fantasy owners since 1999 at RotoJunkie, Fanball, Baseball Prospectus and now here at RotoWire. You can hear Jason weekly on many of the Sirius/XM Fantasy channel offerings throughout the season as well as on the Sleeper and the Bust podcast on iTunes. A ten-time FSWA finalist, Jason won the FSWA's Fantasy Baseball Writer of the Year award in 2013 and the Baseball Series of the Year award in 2018 for Collette Calls.
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