MLB Barometer: The Wait is Over

MLB Barometer: The Wait is Over

This article is part of our MLB Barometer series.

The Carlos Correa Era is upon us. Those who already own Correa are thrilled for his arrival while those of us who have been awaiting his availability in the player pool are salivating, hoping we have enough FAAB dollars to secure his services.

You could almost smell the anticipation in NFBC leagues, where folks were scaling back some of their Sunday bids last night, knowing the extra dough would be better spent adding to a Correa bid. It is difficult for even the most conservative of fantasy owners to not be enamored with the 20-year-old shortstop and his expected production in that Astros lineup. Through 52 games at Double-A and Triple-A, Correa is hitting .332 with 10 HR, 43 RBI and 15 SB. Despite his age, Correa has the potential to hit .300 the rest of the way along with double-digit homers and 20 plus steals, and should eventually find himself in the top third of that lineup this year.

That would be quite the contribution for many fantasy teams at a position where Marcus Semien and Brandon Crawford are among the top producers. Almost everyone could use a middle infielder of his caliber. The question is, how much are you willing to spend?

In NFBC leagues, there are very few competitive teams with anything close to the full $1000 in FAAB money that we all started with. Simply looking through the seven NFBC squads I have, most of the teams that are in the top half of the standings

The Carlos Correa Era is upon us. Those who already own Correa are thrilled for his arrival while those of us who have been awaiting his availability in the player pool are salivating, hoping we have enough FAAB dollars to secure his services.

You could almost smell the anticipation in NFBC leagues, where folks were scaling back some of their Sunday bids last night, knowing the extra dough would be better spent adding to a Correa bid. It is difficult for even the most conservative of fantasy owners to not be enamored with the 20-year-old shortstop and his expected production in that Astros lineup. Through 52 games at Double-A and Triple-A, Correa is hitting .332 with 10 HR, 43 RBI and 15 SB. Despite his age, Correa has the potential to hit .300 the rest of the way along with double-digit homers and 20 plus steals, and should eventually find himself in the top third of that lineup this year.

That would be quite the contribution for many fantasy teams at a position where Marcus Semien and Brandon Crawford are among the top producers. Almost everyone could use a middle infielder of his caliber. The question is, how much are you willing to spend?

In NFBC leagues, there are very few competitive teams with anything close to the full $1000 in FAAB money that we all started with. Simply looking through the seven NFBC squads I have, most of the teams that are in the top half of the standings have anywhere between $50 and $400 remaining. When preparing our bid amounts for Correa, we also have to keep in mind that our league's cellar dwellers may play spoilers if they have a lot of money remaining. Someone in 11th place and $900 left may spend almost all of their remaining balance - just because they can. Or because they think Correa can 'save' their fantasy team. Either way, you are going to have to come out with deep pockets for Correa's bottle service, like Jay-Z in an Atlanta night club.

Keep in mind that there were four shortstops over the last 25 years who have made their debut as 20-year olds - Alex Rodriguez, Starlin Castro, Edgar Renteria and Elvis Andrus. All four of them had decent rookie seasons, with either a nice contribution in batting average, runs or stolen bases. That ARod guy hit .358, which I guess isn't too bad.

Of course, success is not the only potential outcome. Correa could get injured or he could struggle. If you are making an all-out play and don't mind busting your budget on one player, by all means, do so. Just keep in mind the feeling you may have with three bucks left and 17 more weeks of the season to go. Correa could be the final piece to your team's championship, but there is probably a better chance that you will regret going all out on a single player in early June.

RISERS
Jose Bautista (OF, TOR)
- Joey Bats was baseball's most productive hitter in Week 9 -- .421, 4 HR, 9 RBI, 6 R and 2 SB. He is currently riding an 11-game hitting streak, raising his batting average from .240 to .262 over that time. Bautista's ailing shoulder appears to be healing quickly as he has launched four of his 11 homers this year in the last five games. The 34-year-old is heating up at just the right time as teammate and leadoff hitter Jose Reyes finally looks healthy for the first time this season. The Jays will also hope to get Devon Travis back and hitting second again sometime before the end of June. Bautista rides into Week 10 with a .395 OBP, an excellent walk-rate (18 percent) and strikeout-rate (17 percent) - showing no signs of decline. Edwin Encarnacion is dealing with a shoulder injury of his own and the Jays will need to rely on Bautista's offense and leadership while Ency recovers. Though we may look at his .265 BABIP and think Bautista has been unlucky, keep in mind that his year-to-year BABIP has not been much higher than his yearly batting average. His .286 BA last season was definitely an outlier. Temper expectations with the batting average, but expect the same power and run production that we have all been accustomed to over the last few years.

Gregory Polanco (OF, PIT) - Polanco was a fairly overlooked sophomore in March drafts after an uninspiring rookie year that included a 3-for-44 stretch in August and early-September. Folks paid beaucoup free agent bucks for Polanco last June expecting the 23-year-old to save struggling fantasy teams. He started off hot out of the gate, but ended the year at .235, mostly due to his inability to hit lefties (.171). The struggles against lefties continue (.185) though he does hit the pine against them occasionally. Nevertheless, Polanco has been leading off atop a strong lineup lately and has been a force to be reckoned with on the base paths - 16 SB on 20 attempts - tied for third in baseball with Jose Altuve. His 10 game hitting streak came to an end Sunday in a pinch-hit appearance, but it was a very nice week - six runs scored and a .381 average (8-for-21). Despite being a big boy (6-4, 220 lbs), Polanco isn't expected to produce huge power numbers. He also has one of the highest ground ball rates (53.5 percent) in the league. Don't count out the possibility of 20 homer pop in the next couple of years, but for now, enjoy his contributions to runs and stolen base categories.

Aaron Sanchez (SP, TOR) - I preach avoiding AL East pitchers not playing in Tampa Bay, but there are a few worth spot-starting with the right matchup - namely, Drew Hutchison, Wei-Yin Chen and Clay Buchholz. Kevin Gausman should join the group when he gets reinstated into the lineup. As for Sanchez, his quick fall from spring hype is yet another example of our desire as fantasy owners to rely on the quick fix. We can't possibly expect every flame-throwing hurler to spit fire with the gusto and control of Jose Fernandez. Sanchez has struggled mightily with his control early on, including a five-game stretch from April 22 through May 13 where he walked 24 batters over 29.1 innings. Over his latest three starts, Sanchez has walked just five in 20.2 innings including his best performance of the season last week against the Astros - 8 IP, 3 K, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB - his first career outing without a walk. The stuff certainly isn't an issue - a 95 mph two-seamer and a devastating cutter that Sanchez is starting to mix in more often. Sanchez gets a good matchup this week against another high-strikeout team in the Miami Marlins - a start worth streaming if you believe in his recently improved control.

The New Regime (Gerrit Cole, SP PIT, Chris Archer, SP TB) - Cole and Archer have both taken their games to the top level, joining the conversation along with Kershaw, Kluber, Hernandez and Scherzer as the most dominating pitchers in baseball. But let's be careful to get ahead of ourselves with Archer. Cole entered the season highly hyped, though a slight shred of doubt following some struggles last year saw his ADP average in the sixth and seventh rounds (80.4) of 12 team leagues. Archer was available at much more of a discount with an ADP of 175. After yesterday's domination of the Mariners in Seattle, Archer is the first pitcher in the 'modern era' (since 1900) to make three consecutive starts of 10-plus strikeouts with no walks - purely amazing stuff. Archer enters Week 10 with an incredible (and of course, unsustainable) ERA of 1.74 and almost 12 strikeouts-per-nine in 13 starts. Meanwhile, Cole has a similar ERA (1.73) through 12 starts with a 10 K/9, but a better record (9-2) to show for it primarily due to the better run support the Pirates provide him. Cole has not allowed more than three earned runs in any of his starts this year, including zero runs allowed in three of his last four. Meanwhile, Archer has had a couple of rough outings (5 ER in 3.2 vs TEX, 4 ER in 6 IP @ BAL and 3 ER in 5.2 v BAL on Opening Day). In his other ten starts, Archer has allowed two earned runs once - otherwise, all of his starts were 1 ER or none. Archer has been more reliant on his wicked slider this year, which may be better than anyone's in baseball other than Corey Kluber's. Archer (26-years-old) is a couple of years older than Cole with a bit more major league experience, but Cole appears to be the more trustworthy of the two for the rest of the season. Of course, Cole's home park, division and offensive run support gives him the edge. Cole is someone I wouldn't trade away for almost anyone, but Archer I would dangle for the proper return - no matter how solid he will be the rest of the year, his value is at its absolute peak and it may net you a very hefty return.

HONORABLE MENTIONS
Marcell Ozuna (OF, MIA)
- Hit .417 last week. Last year's 23 home run guy has just 3 HR this year. Nothing in his underlying numbers (batted ball data) suggests those balls won't start going over the fence soon.

Carlos Gonzalez (OF, COL) - Flat awful over the last couple months but heating up over the last week - 6-for-18 (.333) and two homers last week. Surprisingly, walk-rate (10.3 percent) is best of his career and the strikeouts (19 percent) are not as bad as they may appear when you watch him. The 20 SB days are over as is the .300 BA, but he can swat 20 from here on out, easily.

Adam Lind (1B, MLW) - Lovely 6 RBI game on Friday and hit .409 for the week. The ultimate CI platoon play in NFBC leagues for when he is facing only RHP. Recurring back issues always a concern. Either way, 2015 versions of Lind, Mark Teixeira and Kendrys Morales are reminders that there is always forgotten-about value available at corner infield late in your draft.

Mark Melancon (RP, PIT) - Five saves last week, velocity back up and no runs allowed in 20 of his last 21 appearances. Ratios back to respectability as well. Sometimes we've just got to weather the small storms when they come. Ditto Greg Holland, Aroldis Chapman, Craig Kimbrel and Cody Allen. No one is perfect.

NOT BUYING IT
Joey Butler (OF, TB)
- Sorry, but when a 29-years-old comes from relatively nowhere, has a .452 BABIP with a 2 % bb-rate and 29 % k-rate, I'm running the other way.

Chi Chi Gonzalez (SP, TEX), Eduardo Rodriguez (SP, BOS), Lance McCullers (SP, HOU) - If we are playing Buy/Sell/Hold, I am buying Rodriguez, selling Chi Chi and holding McCullers. None of these guys are Jose Fernandez. Rookies that take the league by storm almost always get exposed eventually. McCullers has just two pitches in his arsenal (the curve is wow, though) and is just 21 years old. Rodriguez is my favorite of the group - a lefty who can maintain his mid-90's heat throughout the middle innings - but he won't be a top 25 SP this year.

FALLERS
Aramis Ramirez (3B, MIL)
- Ramirez has defied father time for a while now. It finally appears to be catching up to him in what may be Ramirez's final major league season - a decision he hinted towards back in February. His six homers and .170 ISO isn't bad, but the typical batting average benefit is no longer part of his game. Ramirez is hitting .205 through 45 games and has just one hit in his last 20 at-bats. He has been hitting lower in the Brewers' batting order and has been dealing with nagging back issues as well. Traditionally a slow April/May hitter, fantasy owners have experienced several consecutive 'Summers of Aram' as Ramirez has been a fantasy monster in the summer months over the last decade. Ramirez has always had a penchant for turning the switch - that .205 can be .250 in no time - and age is not enough of a factor for us to dismiss this possibility. More so, it's the nagging injuries that he deals with that may not allow him to get into a rhythm for that final strong summer. Apparently some folks still believe as Ramirez is not even among the 20 most dropped third baseman in Yahoo! leagues this week. I'd bet on another strong surge this summer before another eventual injury.

Pablo Sandoval (3B, BOS) - I try not to use the word 'literally' too often. But, Sandoval is literally the coldest hitter in baseball right now. He was out left out of the lineup on Friday and Saturday after having the half-week from hell - two two-error games including two ninth-inning ones that cost Red Sox games. Sandoval is hitting .113 in 53 at-bats against left-handed pitchers and was mired in a 2-for-25 slump prior to his 2-for-4 game on Sunday - his first multi-hit game in almost a month. A career .291 hitter currently hitting .239, nothing in Sandoval's batting profile signifies the beginning of his decline at the plate. In fact, Sandoval was hitting .240 this time last year and ended the year at a respectable .279. Keeping in mind that power is not his strong suit, Sandoval is the epitome of a buy-low. I would take Sandoval for Joey Gallo right now if the deal was offered to me.

Andrew Cashner (SP, SD) - After two rough starts last week, Cashner's ERA rose more than a full run - from 3.00 to 4.05. Monday's start was one for the record books - Cashner was the first pitcher in the modern era to allow double-digit runs while striking out 10 or more in under five innings pitched. Strangely enough, it was a feat repeated the very next day in the very same series by Mets' rookie pitcher Noah Syndergaard. A strange series, indeed. Cashner's next start was much worse. He allowed a season-high seven runs to the Reds in a game where he was unable to locate anything in his arsenal, specifically his fast ball. Cashner certainly isn't as bad as he has appeared over his last two starts, but one red flag this year is his propensity for giving up longballs. Cashner has already allowed more homers this year (11 in 73 IP) than he did all of last year (7 in 123 IP). His strikeouts-per-nine is close to 9.0 on the year - much higher than the 6.8 from last year. Cashner is definitely an unpredictable guy and seems to trade in velocity and strikeouts for control from year to year with ease. Projecting end-of-season numbers, Cashner will likely not come close to his sterling 2.55 ERA from 2014, but should end up with a higher strikeout rate than last year. You give some to get some, and in the end, Cashner calls a friendly pitchers park home and will provide value relative to what we paid for him this year.

Garrett Richards (SP, LAA) - Richards had an inning against the Yankees on Saturday that can ruin your weekend (and it did mine). Richards was unable to get out of the first inning, serving up six earned runs and recording just two outs before getting yanked. Prior to that meltdown, Richards had been uncharacteristically pedestrian, allowing at least three earned runs and two walks in each of his last three starts. Through 10 starts, Richards has very disappointing ratios (4.14 ERA, 1.31 WHIP), though of course those numbers looked much better before Sunday. Even the FIP (4.07) and xFIP (4.37) hover around his ERA which doesn't bring us any closer to finding out what is wrong. Richards rehabbed properly and didn't return too quickly, at least from what we know. His fastball velocity has dipped ever so slightly (less than one mile per hour), but one thing that stands out is that Richards has been relying more heavily on his slider this year, and less on his fast ball. Either way, there is nothing Richards owners can do but continue to run him out there. He is a very important part of my most important team, so of course I will be watching his next start closely. That will be this Thursday in Tropicana Field against the Rays.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS
Steven Souza (OF, TB)
- Just two hits in 26 at-bats last week, a true BA killer. Of course, one of those hits was a homer. Recently surpassed in the league lead in strikeouts by Giancarlo Stanton, Chris Carter and Chris Davis, but it's close - all have between 75 and 79 through nine weeks. It sure doesn't hurt you too much to have a Carter/Davis/Souza type on your team - but I'm sure there are teams out there that have all three, yikes.

Anthony Gose (OF, DET) - Played in just four games this week and collected one hit in 17 at-bats (.058). Doesn't get consistent playing time, sits versus lefties and rightfully so - hitting .171 against them in 70 at-bats last two seasons. Strikes out a ton too - 26.5 percent last two years. Kid can run, but you can't steal bases if you don't get on said base.

Luis Valbuena (3B, HOU) - Another guy allergic to line drives. Dude either strikes out, pops up or homers. Last week, he hit 3-for-20 - I'm sure you're not shocked when I tell you two of those hits were home runs. Valbuena now has 12, which is great. How about a .188 BA in 212 PA, and a downright depressing .123 BA against left-handed pitchers. Guess what his next three opponents have in common (Sale, Rodon, Quintana)?

Ubaldo Jimenez (SP, BAL) - Where's Baldo? We never really know which Ubaldo is going to show up each start. Is it the Ubaldo who tossed a one-hit gem in his first start of the year against the Blue Jays? Or the one who gave up six hits and walked six in five innings last outing. It's a game some don't want to play, and that is why you've probably seen him available in your player pool over the last few days. Andrew and I are gamblers tried and true, so we are keeping him another week, and will probably bench him. That means Ubaldo Jekyll throws a CGSO against the Yanks from our bench, and when we put him in against the Phillies the following week, we will get pummeled by Jimenez Hyde.

DON'T PANIC ON
Rubby de la Rosa (SP, ARI)
- Probably want to drop him after the 7 ER outing, and 15 ER in his last 16 IP, I get it. Rubby has been unlucky though (3.33 xFIP, 5.09 ERA) with lots going for him - a lovely 8.7 K/9 rate, velocity uptick and his contact rate and swinging-strike rate are both the best he has ever had. Not to mention a career-best walk-rate. Give him a shot this week @ LAD, @ SF. He may surprise you in Chavez Ravine.

Jason Heyward (OF, STL) - I have no problem admitting defeat. Heyward definitely does not look like he will be competing for the NL MVP. Bats in the lower third of the order when he does play (which isn't every day now) and is hitting .221 against righties. Still, has 5 HR, 6 SB and 27 R. His season is not yet lost.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Vlad Sedler
Vlad Sedler covers baseball and football for RotoWire. He is a veteran NFBC player and CDM Hall of Famer, winning the Football Super Challenge in 2013. A native Angeleno, Vlad loves the Dodgers and Kings and is quite possibly the world's only Packers/Raiders fan. You can follow him @RotoGut.
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