MLB: One Man's Trash... (Week 4)

MLB: One Man's Trash... (Week 4)

During the season, I'm going to look at some of the players being dropped by fantasy managers to see if their decisions were a little brash. Especially this early in the season with player evaluations up in the air, some of the players dropped will provide fantasy value going forward. Someone who will remain nameless decided it was a good idea to drop Robbie Ray and Tyler O'Neill last year in the first couple of weeks.

The players I'm looking at this week are a mix of immediate adds and those who are just a tweak or two away from taking a step forward.

For the information, I'm going to focus on players dropped at the NFBC and CBS. Both Yahoo and Fantrax's add and drop numbers are based on the past day or so and can be dominated by streaming starters. CBS and NFBC are based on the past week. 

As a general rule, I will stay away from injured players and just focus on players expected to play.

Hitters

Akil Baddoo (122 NFBC drops, -13% at CBS)

Fantasy managers bought into Baddoo's rookie season. In the NFBC Main Event, he had an average ADP of 136. If managers were rostering him, they were hoping Baddoo would build on his 18 steals from his rookie season. 

The FanGraphs Depth Chart projections (combination of ZiPS and Steamer) had him hitting .253/.328/.434 with 17 steals. He's not coming close to living up to those expectations (.128/.190/.231 and 0 SB) as

During the season, I'm going to look at some of the players being dropped by fantasy managers to see if their decisions were a little brash. Especially this early in the season with player evaluations up in the air, some of the players dropped will provide fantasy value going forward. Someone who will remain nameless decided it was a good idea to drop Robbie Ray and Tyler O'Neill last year in the first couple of weeks.

The players I'm looking at this week are a mix of immediate adds and those who are just a tweak or two away from taking a step forward.

For the information, I'm going to focus on players dropped at the NFBC and CBS. Both Yahoo and Fantrax's add and drop numbers are based on the past day or so and can be dominated by streaming starters. CBS and NFBC are based on the past week. 

As a general rule, I will stay away from injured players and just focus on players expected to play.

Hitters

Akil Baddoo (122 NFBC drops, -13% at CBS)

Fantasy managers bought into Baddoo's rookie season. In the NFBC Main Event, he had an average ADP of 136. If managers were rostering him, they were hoping Baddoo would build on his 18 steals from his rookie season. 

The FanGraphs Depth Chart projections (combination of ZiPS and Steamer) had him hitting .253/.328/.434 with 17 steals. He's not coming close to living up to those expectations (.128/.190/.231 and 0 SB) as the league has dropped the number of fastballs he sees (54% to 47%). So far this season, he has a swinging-strike rate of over 13% against curves, changes and sliders. 

Another change with his profile: he's going for more home runs instead of trying to use his legs to get one base. To get the home runs, he's pulling the ball more (38% to 44%) and hitting flyballs (40% GB% to 37%, 13.8 AvgLA to 15.8). 

His struggles have gotten to the point where he's sitting regularly. When he does play, he bats ninth. I could see the Tigers demote him to Triple-A to get him some everyday at-bats.

Bobby Dalbec (112 NFBC drops, -10% at CBS)

A great narrative surrounded a late-season surge by Dalbec, with Kyle Schwarber teaching him to not strike out. Before the trade for Schwarber last season, Dalbec was hitting .216/.260/.399 with a 38% K%, and he hit .288/.369/.683 with a 29% K% after it. This season, the strikeouts are up to 31% and he's just hitting .147/.217/.227. He seems to have made some changes that have backfired.

Simply, he going for a towering home run with every swing. He's dropped his groundball rate from 37% to 33% and raised his launch angle from 17 to 24 degrees. With an almost identical HardHit% (48% to 46%), his Barrel% has dropped from 20% to 9%. His Infield Popup% has jumped from 1.5% to 6.5%. His swing path was fine, but now he's getting way too much air. 

The Red Sox have had enough with his struggles and he is platooning with Franchy Cordero. For Dalbec to become fantasy relevant again, he'll need to start hitting and get his job back. And all this before Triston Casas gets to the majors (.888 OPS with 5 HR in Triple-A). Lots of ifs there. 

It seems like the Red Sox gave Dalbec one more chance to make it in the majors and he failed. It's time for the team and his fantasy managers to move on. 

Lane Thomas (99 NFBC drops, -3% at CBS) and Yoshi Tsutsugo (70 NFBC drops, -1% at CBS)

I grouped Thomas and Tsutsugo together for a reason: they were being drafted round pick 300-350. Both shined with a new team and the hope was that the new production level would continue into this season. And nope, no such luck. 

Here is how both have performed before the breakout, during the breakout, and this season.

Lane Thomas: OPS

  • Before trade: .384
  • After trade: .853
  • 2022: .584

Yoshi Tsutsugo: OPS

  • Before trade: .451
  • After trade: .883
  • 2022: .498

I don't mind taking a chance on a hitter making an adjustment with a new team. Sometimes it might stick, but most of the time the hitter just reverts back to their old self. The key to evaluating such players is to make sure you aren't counting on them. I'm sure only a few teams were counting on Tsutsugo (i.e. waited on first base), but Thomas had the potential for 12-plus steals. Those have evaporated. 

As for what went wrong, it was simply both reverting back to their old ways. Thomas could no longer maintain the 22% K% and it's back to about 33% this year. As for Tsutugo, there is no power, with just one extra-base hit in 78 PA.

Starters

Yusei Kikuchi (116 NFBC drops, -11% at CBS)

Kikuchi is just walking too many batters, and the trend started last season. 

Month: BB/9

2021

  • April: 3.2
  • May: 2.5
  • June: 3.8
  • July: 2.6
  • August: 4.5
  • September: 6.4

2022

  • April: 8.0

The walk-rate-induced high WHIP would make any pitcher unplayable.

To be able to buy back in, I'm thinking he needs to be at six or fewer combined walks over three starts. Otherwise, he belongs on a bench or the waiver wire.

Matt Brash (105 NFBC drops, -19% at CBS)

Expect more this weekend. Brash's hype started when he had a 0.96 ERA and 0.54 WHIP in nine spring training innings. Then in his first major-league start, he flashed a 96-mph fastball and had six strikeouts and one walk in five innings. Since then, he's been a complete disaster, with an 8.49 ERA, 2.23 WHIP, but at least a 7.7 K/9. 

The walks are the value killer. He has to find a way to not allow a walk almost every inning. The 8.5 K/9 and 60% GB% are acceptable. With a high groundball rate, he just needs to allow his defense to make some plays. 

With the news that Brash is shifting to the bullpen at Triple-A, Brash's fantasy appeal takes a big hit.

Jordan Hicks (88 NFBC drops, -9% at CBS)

Hicks is just another example of a pitcher who is unable to find the plate (5.8 BB/9) this season, but he has always struggled with walks (career 5.2 BB/9). In all fairness, I think he would not have been added if it weren't for his 2019 season when his fastball averaged over 100 mph and accumulated 20 saves. He wasn't even an elite closer that season with a 9.7 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9. 

There is some hope of a rebound if he gets his walks under control. The 9.5 K/9 is acceptable with all the swings-and-misses coming from his slider (19% SwStr%) that he throws a third of the time. The only other pitch he throws regularly is his worm-killing sinker (65% GB%), leading to an overall 64% GB%. 

Since he is just a two-pitch guy, he's struggled with a 6.85 xFIP the second time through the order. Additionally, he has not thrown four innings yet this season, meaning there is just no chance for him to tally a win.

Maybe he'll have value later in the season. Watch the walks and innings pitched.  

Relievers

Hector Neris (133 NFBC drops, -4% at CBS)

I don't understand the euphoria behind spending lots of resources on a possible 1-2 week closer option. It wasn't even 100% clear if Neris was going to step into the closer's role. On top of that, he hasn't gotten one chance at a save, and Ryan Pressly is now back.

Instead, focus on struggling closers with an obvious stud backup. I'm monitoring the Detroit situation where Gregory Soto has just a 7.9 K/9 and 5.6 BB/9. Somehow, he's been insanely lucky with a 2.25 ERA while his ERA estimators are around 5.00. Michael Fulmer has been great even with the low strikeout numbers. Additionally, Fulmer has been setting up Soto and already has one save and one win on the season. 

 Diego Castillo (83 NFBC drops, -3% at CBS)

Wait… what? While Castillo has been bad (8.1 K/9, 4.5 BB/9) in a Gregory Soto sort of way, he's still in the closer's mix with one save and one win this season. It's not been pretty, but he has a partial job and has to be rostered in all NFBC formats based on the chance he rattles off 10-20 saves.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jeff Zimmerman
Zimmerman writes analytics-focused baseball and football articles for RotoWire. He is a three-time FSWA award winner, including the Football Writer of the Year and Best Football Print Article awards in 2016. The 2017 Tout Wars Mixed Auction champion and 2016 Tout Wars Head-to-Head champ, Zimmerman also contributes to FanGraphs.com, BaseballHQ and Baseball America.
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