A Look at National League All-Stars After the Break
Midseason Stats and What to Expect Moving Forward
Getting viewers for the All Star game has been a longstanding problem for the MLB. As simply one game in a season long statistical sample size, it’s easy to see how people like me find no value in it. Further complicating problems with the midsummer classic, is that being an All-Star can be just as much about being lucky as it can about being good. Therein lies the problem: we are making our assumptions on only a half a season’s worth of data.
Something about the All-Star game that few people think about is that it forces EVERYONE to take 4 days off (more for pitchers) from a game that is otherwise played daily. So much of this game is repetition. Timing, rhythm, and repeatability are all a huge part of the consistency that each player strives to achieve. Time off can serve as a reset for many players. Some lose the rhythm that they had in the first half of the season, others get a chance to get healthy and possibly correct flaws in their swing or pitching delivery that can make them look like new in the second half. Either way, this is a very good time to slow down and reassess everyone. Lessen your DFS wager sizes and observe before attacking. Otherwise, your hard-earned bankroll may wind up spiraling down the drain.
Let’s look at a few of the breakouts or lesser known guys on this year’s all-star roster going forward.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s a solid MLB player: a contact hitter who plays decent defense, but at $3,500 on Fan Duel, there is such a lack of sex appeal here. In a career year in Colorado, he hit 11 HRs and stole 11 bags. This year he’s slowed back down to 4 and 5 respectively.
To me, he’s simply a product of hitting between two superstars (Blackmon and Arrenado) and calling Coors Field his home. As long as those things are true, he warrants cash game consideration. Still, unless he’s going for closer to $3,000 on Fan Duel, I want a lot more upside from my 2B. I’d rather take a guy for under $3,000 with a little more speed or pop. Heck, I’d take a DJ LeMahieu type for under $3,000, but not for $3,500.
Finally the Mets quit screwing around with this young talent and let him face lefties. After keeping him on a strict platoon in previous years, the fantasy community had been fearing Conforto may never have a chance to develop his promising plus hit tool (scout jargon for “ability to hit”). His 15 HRs in only 328 plate appearances have been great, but what excites me the most is his incredible 14.2% walk rate. The Mets have been leading him off and those two things scream cash game play.
As long as his price doesn’t get too far away from him like it did early in the year (up around $4,000 on FanDuel for a while), he should be a good play going forward in any format. Just be aware that he is striking out at a rate that is worse than league average and his .338 BABIP suggests he’s probably more of a .260 hitter than a .300 hitter like he started the season as.
After getting results far worse than his 3.45 xFIP last year, Robbie Ray is doing the exact opposite with his 3.72 xFIP in 2017. His 2.97 ERA is probably a little unsustainable, but we are talking about a guy with a season and a half of striking out more than 11 batters per nine innings. An elite strikeout rate like that is ALWAYS worth a look.
Nevertheless, control can be an issue for Ray. He was worse than league average at 3.67 BB/9 last year and currently sits at an awful 4.42 BB/9 that would be unusable if not for that elite strikeout rate. High walk rates mean high variance and that generally means tournaments only as we need low variance (consistency) to feel comfortable playing him in cash games.
The problem here is that Ray went for $9,300 on Fan Duel in his last start. Because of these conflicting data points, I’m inclined to look elsewhere for my pitchers in either format. I’ll pay for consistency in my cash games, but gambling on high variance upside in tournament games needs to be cheap or else you’re not getting an edge.
Scouts always thought he could hit, but what caught people off guard last year was the homeruns. Coming into 2016, there was a buzz about how Lamb was trying to adjust his swing plane to hit for more power and it clearly worked. He added 4.3% more fly balls and hit 29 homeruns last year and has 20 in 2017. He has elite plate discipline (walk rates of 10.8% and 13.2% in 2016 and 2017 respectively) and he hits in a great park for a great offensive team. At $3,600 on FanDuel, I’m happily throwing him in my lineup for cash games or tournaments. I could easily see him finishing the year with hitting .280 with 35 homeruns, 90 runs, and 110 RBI. He’s for real.
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