Regan's Rumblings: Random First-Half Thoughts

Regan's Rumblings: Random First-Half Thoughts

This article is part of our Regan's Rumblings series.

Random First-Half Thoughts

There's no real structure to this week's article, so here are some random rumblings…

Lots of home runs this year

MLB teams have played anywhere from 75-79 games for the most part, so we're almost at 50% of 162. For argument's sake, let's say guys with 18 or more home runs have a legitimate shot at a 40-homer season. Some won't make it, and others with fewer than 18 will. While we stand in amazement that Adam Duvall's 21 home runs are more than half of what the entire Atlanta Braves team has recorded, we also had 18 guys last year at this time pushing for 40 homers, so maybe the 20 pushing toward that mark this year isn't unusual. That said, a total of 4,909 home runs were hit last year, an average of 164 per team. This year we've already seen 2,653 long balls, a pace that puts the 30 MLB teams on pace for an average of 190, a 16% increase. So what do we do with this from a fantasy perspective? It sure would seem to make it easier to part with a power bat in exchange for another category upgrade, whether it be stolen bases, saves, or a solid starting pitcher.
Among the 20 guys with 18 or more homers, there are several surprises: the aforementioned Duvall, fantasy league-winner Trevor Story, Khris Davis, Wil Myers, Evan Longoria, and 75-year-old Carlos Beltran. If you were lucky to

Random First-Half Thoughts

There's no real structure to this week's article, so here are some random rumblings…

Lots of home runs this year

MLB teams have played anywhere from 75-79 games for the most part, so we're almost at 50% of 162. For argument's sake, let's say guys with 18 or more home runs have a legitimate shot at a 40-homer season. Some won't make it, and others with fewer than 18 will. While we stand in amazement that Adam Duvall's 21 home runs are more than half of what the entire Atlanta Braves team has recorded, we also had 18 guys last year at this time pushing for 40 homers, so maybe the 20 pushing toward that mark this year isn't unusual. That said, a total of 4,909 home runs were hit last year, an average of 164 per team. This year we've already seen 2,653 long balls, a pace that puts the 30 MLB teams on pace for an average of 190, a 16% increase. So what do we do with this from a fantasy perspective? It sure would seem to make it easier to part with a power bat in exchange for another category upgrade, whether it be stolen bases, saves, or a solid starting pitcher.
Among the 20 guys with 18 or more homers, there are several surprises: the aforementioned Duvall, fantasy league-winner Trevor Story, Khris Davis, Wil Myers, Evan Longoria, and 75-year-old Carlos Beltran. If you were lucky to grab a couple of these guys, you are getting great value, and as long as you didn't whiff on your early-round picks by taking guys like Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton, you're golden. Now the key would be to leverage the value that guys like this have provided and plug holes elsewhere.

More prospects coming

We've already seen the likes of Nomar Mazara, Tim Anderson, Julio Urias, Lucas Giolito, and more recently, A.J. Reed get the call, but here are 10 more that we should see sooner rather than later (in order of potential 2016 impact):

1. Alex Bregman (SS/3B-HOU) – The Astros already have a decent shortstop, so Bregman has been playing some third base recently. He will reportedly take his .974 OPS to Triple-A this week, but he may not need to unpack.

2. Josh Bell (1B-PIT) – Bell is batting a strong .323/.409/.526, and after homering just once every 70 at-bats last year, already has 11 homers this season for an AB/HR rate of 26/1. He's also always had excellent plate discipline, and with John Jaso batting .197 with one home run in June, Bell may be closer to a callup than we think.

3. Alex Reyes (SP-STL) – Reyes has arguably the highest ceiling of any pitcher yet to make his big league debut, but has scuffled lately and has a 4.93 ERA despite a 13.5 K/9.

4. Yoan Moncada (???-BOS) – We're not sure where he'd play and whether it makes sense to promote a guy with all of seven games above A-ball, but Moncada is the best prospect in the game right now. With a .412 OBP, 37 stolen bases, and five home runs (two in his last eight games), Moncada could be a fantasy monster. He may be a Hanley Ramirez injury or trade away from getting the call to play third base (Travis Shaw would take over first).

5. Hunter Renfroe (OF-SD) –Renfroe may have the slight advantage over the next guy on this list in terms of projected 2016 impact, as he is 24 and hitting .325 with 18 home runs.

6. Brett Phillips (OF-MIL) – A rough April has depressed Phillips' overall numbers, but he has 10 homers since April 30.

7. Jose De Leon (SP-LAD) – He just needs to build up his stamina after missing time with ankle and shoulder injuries. Once he's going 6+ innings, his stuff is good enough to get big league hitters out right now given his 29 strikeouts in 18.1 innings.

8. Tyler Glasnow (SP-PIT) – Glasnow slides down this list given he's walked 20 batters over his last 23.2 innings (four starts). Assuming he fixes that part of his game, Glasnow should be up this summer.

9. Manuel Margot (OF-SD) - He's not a power bat, but Margot has swiped 22 bases in Triple-A while hitting .295/.342/.412 as a 21-year-old. He has the advantage over Renfroe in that Margot is a center fielder.

10. Joe Musgrove (SP-HOU) – Musgrove has found Triple-A (4.73 ERA in 40 innings) a bit more challenging than Double-A (ONE earned run in 26.1 innings), but his overall K:BB is an impressive 65:9 K:BB in 66.1 innings.

Guys who aren't closers now but who could record 15+ saves the rest of the way

This may be a bit obvious, but if you're on the hunt for saves as I always seem to be, keep an eye on our closer's grid, which highlights the job security of all 30 current closers and lets you know who may be next in line. Here are five guys I'm watching closely:

Blake Wood (CIN) – I could put a number of guys here (Ross Ohlendorf, Raisel Iglesias, etc.), but I'll go with Wood for now. The Reds bullpen has been an unmitigated disaster, so while Tony Cingrani is pitching well now, he also has a 26:21 K:BB, making the Reds bullpen likely to undergo further turnover. Wood has a 5.2 BB/9, but he averages 95.6 mph with his fastball and given he doesn't exactly have to leapfrog the Nasty Boys, he's worth monitoring.
Daniel Hudson (ARI) – Brad Ziegler has regressed this year and carries a 1.46 WHIP. Hudson averages 95.6 mph with his fastball and has a 0.99 WHIP.

Cam Bedrosian (LAA) – The Angels aren't going anywhere in the near future considering their dead money and decrepit farm system. As a result, guys like Huston Street will certainly attract trade interest in the next month. That could open up the closer job for a guy like Bedrosian, who has a 1.33 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in 27 innings.

Matt Bush (TEX) – Maybe this is a bit of a stretch, but considering Shawn Tolleson has already lost the job and new closer Sam Dyson has a 6.8 K/9 and has allowed five hits in his last four innings, perhaps Bush gets a look at some point. The No. 1 overall pick has scuffled in his last two appearances, but he undeniably has closer stuff.

Cory Gearrin (SF) – Maybe Santiago Casilla holds this down the rest of the way, but he's had his ups and downs and is far from an established elite closer. Gearrin meanwhile hasn't posted elite numbers (7.0 K/9, 2.7 BB/9, 2.97 ERA), but he could still get a look.

If you're looking for steals…

As mentioned above, power is easier to come by these days, but speed? Not so much. Congrats to you if you wound up with the likes of Jonathan Villar, but apologies if you were expecting more than zero steals from Matt Kemp. If you find yourself lacking in steals and a trade isn't an option, here are some under-the-radar guys to look at:

Travis Janikowski (OF-SD) – 39 at-bats and five steals over the last two weeks? That's not enough playing time to make Janikowski valuable in 12-team mixed leagues, but in very deep formats, those steals are pure gold. The Jon Jay injury should help his playing time.

Wil Myers (OF/1B-SD) – With 18 homers and a .873 OPS, Myers should make his first All-Star team, but fantasy owners should also realize that he also has 11 steals. Myers is likely owned on a fairly high percentage of first-place fantasy teams, but casual owners may not be aware of the stolen bases.

Jose Ramirez (OF-CLE) – Ramirez is owned at a 52% level in my 10-team mixed league, and that's probably a bit low considering he's hitting .292 with 38 runs, 30 RBI, and 10 steals. Given regular playing time the rest of the way, those steals could top 25.

Michael Bourn (OF-ARI) – Bourn had four hits Tuesday and is somewhat resurrecting his career with a .324 OBP and six steals in 143 PA for Arizona. He's benefiting from
David Peralta's sore back, but Bourn clearly still has some hop in his step, so look into his availability in deeper leagues.

Max Kepler (OF-MIN) – Kepler isn't a speed merchant, but he's playing pretty much every day and has a pair of steals in 97 at-bats. At his peak, Kepler may be a 20/20 guy, but for now, he's worth a risk as a medium-to-high ceiling guy.

Surprising June starting pitching

Bud Norris (ATL) – Norris has a 2.15 ERA in five starts this month and amazingly will likely return a decent prospect once the Braves trade him in July. Norris had a 6.72 ERA in 83 innings last year, but he still averages north of 93 mph with his fastball and the Braves will likely benefit from his strong June by dealing him to a contender.

Zach Davies (MIL) – Remember Kyle Davies? Well, this Davies is better. The 23-year-old has been a nice surprise for the rebuilding Brewers this year, posting a 3.74 ERA and 65:21 K:BB in 74.2 innings. In June he's been even better with a 1.64 ERA and 36:6 K:BB in 33 innings. Wins could be tough to come by, but Davies is making a name for himself.

Daniel Mengden (OAK) – Mengden is just 1-3 on the month, but that's come with a 2.81 ERA and 26:9 K:BB in 25.2 innings. Mengden had a 1.19 ERA in 11 starts prior to being recalled by the A's, so while he's never been considered an elite prospect, don't sleep on him either.

Trevor Bauer (CLE) – Up until this season, Bauer had yet to fully lock down a rotation spot in the big leagues, but he's on a nice roll right now. In six starts covering 44.2 innings this month, Bauer has posted a 2.01 ERA and 43:12 K:BB in 44.2 innings. Overall, Bauer has a 3.19 ERA in 90.1 innings and he's now entrenched in the Indians' rotation.

Danny Duffy (KC) – Could Duffy finally be over his myriad of injuries and ready to fulfill his former top prospect status? Duffy this month has a 3.25 ERA and 45:9 K:BB in 36 innings to lower his overall ERA to 3.24. Duffy also has a 10.7 K/9 and 2.2 BB/9 in 66.2 overall innings, and his performance is helping the Royals to forget about Yordano Ventura's 5.00 ERA.

What to do with the thinness of the Catcher position?

Guys like Buster Posey and Jonathan Lucroy have been predictably reliable, but we've seen several guys struggle and many others emerge as surprising solid options in 12-team one-catcher mixed leagues. Here, though, have been a few nice surprises, and guys you really hope to have if you either didn't invest in a top-tier guy like Posey or didn't wind up with a Willson Contreras.

J.T. Realmuto (MIA) – At .300/.327/.413 with four homers and the same number of steals, Realmuto has been a huge bonus, particularly in deeper two-catcher leagues. It's unlikely his .348 BABIP continues, and Realmuto's 3.5% BB% limits his OBP upside, but Realmuto did hit .299/.369/.461 in his last extended minor league stint (Double-A, 2014), so there is some upside.

Wilson Ramos (WAS) – Man I wish I had this guy for next year in my 24-team Strat-O-Matic league. Ramos is batting an astounding .343/.387/.561 with 12 homers. It's not surprising that his bat has been above average for his position, but the health and the extent of his performance? Both shockers.

Cameron Rupp (PHI) – The 3.7% BB% is troubling, but Rupp also has seven homers in 188 PA's. He's never shown much offensive upside, but the 27-year-old's power is legitimate.

Kurt Suzuki (MIN) – After posting a .610 OPS last year, it's surprising to see Suzuki batting .279/.316/.424 in 165 at-bats so far this year. He's a solid No. 2 catcher in deeper leagues.

Matt Wieters (BAL) – Wieters appears to be in line for approximately two-thirds of the team's catcher at-bats, and at least so far he's remained relatively healthy. Wieters is batting .276/.329/.464 in 210 PA's. At the age of 30, that .280-30-100 season is a pipe dream, but a relatively healthy Wieters is still a top-10 fantasy catcher with a top-five ceiling.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David Regan
David Regan is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, including the 2015 Baseball Article of the Year and the 2010 Baseball Writer of the Year.
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